Amarna Tablet 17

A Letter from Tuisheratta to Amenophis III


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Language: Akkadian
Medium: clay tablet
Length: 54 lines of writing
Genre: Letter
Sender: Tuisheratta
(King of Mitanni)
Recipient: Amenophis III
(Pharoah of Egypt)
Date: 14th cent. BCE
Place of Discovery: Tel el-Amarna, Egypt
(ancient Akhetaten)
Date of Discovery: 1887
Discoverer: peasant woman
Acquirer: E. A. Wallis Budge
Current Location: British Museum
Inventory Number: BM 29792
Tablet Number: EA 17
Knudtzon 1907–1915
BB 9
Bezold & Budge 1892

(from Mercer 1939:1:62, 64)

(adapted from Mercer 1939:1:63, 65;
and Moran 1992:41-42)
a-na mNi-ib-mu-a-ri-ia Š ar mâtMi-is-ri-i 1 To Nibmuaria, King of Egypt,
ahi-ia ki-bí-ma 2 my brother, say:
um-ma mTu-iŠ-e-rat-ta Šàr mât Mi-it-ta-an-ni 3 Thus says Tuisheratta, King of Mittani,
ahu-ka-ma a-na ia-Ši Šul-mu 4 your brother. It is well with me.
a-na ka-a-Šá lu-ú Š ul-mu a-na amêlitKe-lu-He-ba 5 May it be well with you; with Kelu-Heba,
a-ha-ti-ia lu-ú Šul-mu a-na bîti-ka 6 my sister, may it be well; with your household—
a-na aŠŠâti-ka a-na mârê-ka a-na amêlrabûti-ka 7 your wives, your sons, your elites,
a-na sâbê hu-ra-ti-ka a-na sisê-ka 8 your warriors, your horses
a-na isnarkabâti-ka ù a-na libbi bimâti-ka 9 your chariots—and throughout your land
ta-an-ni-iŠ lu-ú Šul-mu 10 may it be very well.
iŠ-tu i-na is kussî Šá a-bi-ia ú-Š i-bu 11 When I sat upon my father's throne,
ù si-ih-ri-ku ù mTu-hi a-ma-ta 12 I was still young, and Tuhi
la pa-ni-ta a-na mâtitiia i-te-pu-u Š-ma 13 did evil to my land,
ù be-el-Šú id-du-uk ùá Š-Šum an-ni-tim 14 and he killed his lord. And, therefore,
ia-Ši it-ti Šá i-ra-'a-ma-an-ni-ni ta-bu-ú-ta 15 he did not treat me well,
la ú-ma-áŠ- Šá-ra-an-ni ù a-na-ku ap-pu-na-ma 16 nor the one who was on friendly terms with me. I, however,
áŠ-Šum a-ma-a-ti an-na-tim la pa-na-a-tim 17 especially because of those evils,
Šá i-na mâtiti ia in-ni-ip- Šú ul im-te-ki 18 which were perpetrated on my land, made no delay.
ù amêlûtta-i-qa-ni-Šú Šá mAr-ta-áŠ-Šú-ma-ra 19 But the murderers of Artashumara,
ahi-ia qa-du mi-im-mu-Šú-nu ad-du-uk- Šú-nu-ti 20 my brother, along with all that they had, I killed.
ki-i at-ta it-ti a-bi-ia ta-ba-a-ta 21 Because you were friendly with my father,
ù áŠ-Š um an-ni-tim al-ta-par-ma aq-ta-ba-ak-ku 22 for this reason I sent and spoke to you,
ki-me-e ahi-ia i-Še-im-me- Šú-nu-ma 23 so that my brother might hear of this deed
ù i-ha-ad-du a-bu-ia i-ra-'a-am-ka 24 and rejoice. My father loved you,
ù at-ta ap-pu-na-ma a-bu-ia 25 and you loved my father still more.
ta-ra-'a-am-Šú ù a-bu-ia 26 And my father,
ki-i ra-a-mi a-ha-a-ti a-na ka-a-Šá 27 because of his love, has given my sister to you.
it-ta-na-ak-ku ù ma-an-nu-um-ma Šá-nu-ú 28 And who else
ak-ki-i ka-a-Šá it-ti a-bi-ia 29 stood with my father as you did?
i-na-ti-ma ap-pu-na-ma Šá ahi-ia 30 The very next year, moreover, my brother's
ma- . . . id-du-ú . .-bi mâtHa-at-ti 31 . . . the whole land of Hatti.
gab-pa-am-ma ki-iamêlnakrûtu a-na mâti ti-ia 32 As the enemy came to my land,
it-ta-al-ka TeŠub be-li a-na qa-ti-ia 33 Teshub, my lord, gave him
id-din-Šú-ma ù ad-du-uk- Šú 34 into my hand, and I destroyed him.
iŠ-tu libbibi-Šú-nu Šá i-na mâti ti - Šú Š á i-du-ru ia-nu 35 And not one of them returned to his own land.
a-nu-um-ma 1isnarkabtu 2 sisê 36 Behold, one chariot, two horses,
1amêlzu-ha-ru 1amêlit zu-ha-ar-tum 37 one male servant, one female servant,
Šá hu-ub-ti Šá mâtHa-at-ti ul-te-bi-la-ak-ku 38 out of the booty from the land of Hatti I have sent you.
a-na Šul-ma-ni Š á ahi-ia 5 is narkabâti 39 And as a gift for my brother, five chariots
5 si-mi-it-tum sisê ul-te-bi-la-ak-ku 40 (and) five teams of horses I have sent you.
ù a-na Šul-ma-ni Šá amêlit Ke-lu-He-ba 41 And as a gift for Kelu-Heba,
a-ha-ti-ia 1 nu-tum tu-ti-na-tum hurâs u 42 my sister, one set of gold pins,
1 nu-tum an-sa-ba-tum hurâsu 1 ma-aŠ-hu hurâsu 43 one set of gold earrings, one gold idol,
ù 1abanta-ba-tum Šá Šamna tâba ma-lu-ú 44 and one container of "sweet oil."
ul-te-bi-la-áŠ-Ši 45 I have sent her.
a-nu-um-mamKe-li-ia amêl sukal-li 46 Behold, Keliya, my deputy,
ù Tun-ni-ip-ib-ri al-ta-par-Šú-nu ahi-ia ha-mu-ut-ta 47 along with Tunip-ibri, I have sent. May my brother quickly
li-me-eŠ-Šer-Šú-nu-ma te-e-ma ha-mu-ut-ta 48 dispatch them so that they may quickly
li-te-ru-ni-im-ma ki-me-e Šul-ma-an- Šú 49 bring back word so that I may hear
Šá ahi-ia e- Š e-im-me-ma ù a-ha-ad-du 50 my brother's greeting and rejoice.
ahi-ia ta-bu-ú-ta it-ti-ia li-bi-'i-i 51 May my brother seek friendship with me,
ù ahi-ia mârê Š ipriri -Šú li-i Š-pu-ra-am-ma 52 and may my brother send his messengers
ki-me-e Šul-ma-an-Š ú Šá ahi-ia 53 so that they may bring my brother's greeting
i-li-ik-ku-ni-im-ma ù e-Še-im-me 54 and I may receive them.
Nibmuaria was one of the names of Amenophis III, who reigned in Egypt approximately 1386-1349 BCE.
Mitanni was the Hurrian kingdom located between the Upper Euphrates and Upper Tigris rivers (located in northern Iraq and Syria).
Tuhi (or UD-hi) is an unknown person; he is evidently the leader of the conspirators who murdered Artashumara.
Murderers: political assassination was a regular occurrence in ancient empires; for biblical examples, see 2 Kings 11:1, 13-15; 15:10, 14, 25, 30; 21:23-24.
Artashumara is called Tuisheratta's brother here; but this may refer to fictive kinship, and he may have been one of Tuisheratta's allies.
Given my sister: political marriages were common practice among ancient royalty (for biblical examples, see the marriages of David and Solomon in 2 Samuel 3:2-5 and 1 Kings 3:1; 11:1-3).
Hatti refers to the Hittite kingdom (located in eastern modern Turkey).
Teshub is the name of the Hurrian storm-god (parallel to Baal and Hadad among West Semitic peoples). His female consort is Hebat, the Queen of Heaven.
Idol (maŠhu) is a disputed term here; Moran thinks that it refers to another form of jewelry rather than a divine image.
Deputy (sukkal) is a general term for a ranking official.


1. Why does the King of Mitanni use kinship language (ahi-ia, "my brother") when writing to the Pharaoh? Could this be what anthropologists call "pseudo-kinship" or "fictive kinship"? See Pitt-Rivers (1968).

2. What are the relationships of Kelu-Heba to Tuisheratta and to Amenophis?
3. What sorts of gifts does Tuisheratta send to Amenophis?
4. What role does Teshub play in Tuisheratta's worldview?
5. What roles do messengers play in the transactions described in this letter?
6. What are the possible interpretations of the "gifts" Tuisheratta gives besides simple personal presents? See Gregory (1974); and Stansell (2001).
7. What formal characteristics of ancient letters can you identify when comparing this letter to other Amarna letters?

Albright, W. F. "The Amarna Letters from Palestine." In Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. II.2: History of the Middle East and the Aegean Region 1380-1000 B.C., 98-116. 3d edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975.
Aldred, Cyril. "Egypt: The Amarna Period and the End of the Eighteenth Dynasty." In Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. II.2: History of the Middle East and the Aegean Region 1380-1000 B.C., 49-97. 3d edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975.
Bezold, Carl, and E. A. Wallis Budge. The Tell-el Amarna Tablets in the British Museum. London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1892.
Campbell, Edward A. "The Amarna Letters and the Amarna Period." In Biblical Archaeologist Reader, vol. 3, 54-75. New York: Doubleday, 1970.
Gregory, C. A. "Exchange and Reciprocity." In Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropology: Humanity, Culture and Social Life, edited by Tim Ingold, 911-39. London: Routledge, 1994.
Knudtzon, J. A. Die El-Amarna-Tafeln. Vorderasiatische Bibliotek, vol. 2. Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1907–1915. Reprinted, Aalen: Zeller, 1964.
Liverani, Mario. "Political Lexicon and Political Ideologies in the Amarna Letters." Berytus 31 (1982) 42.
Mercer, Samuel A. B. The Tell El-Amarna Tablets. 2 vols. Toronto: Macmillan, 1939.
Moran, Willam. The Amarna Letters. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1992.
Morrison, Martha A. "Mitanni." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D. N. Freedman, 4:874-76. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Na'aman, Nadav. "Amarna Letters." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D. N. Freedman, 1:174-81. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Pitt-Rivers, Julian. "Pseudo-Kinship." In International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, edited by D. L. Sills, 5:408-13. New York: Free Press, 1968.
Stansell, Gary. "The Gift in Ancient Israel." Semeia 87 (2001) 65-90.
Winckler, Hugo. The Tell-el-Amarna Letters. Translated by J. Metcalf. New York: Lemcke & Buechner, 1896.

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