Hittite king, contemporary with Amenhotpe III and the following era, under Akhenaten, the Amarna period. Shuppiluliumas—roughly “he who originated in the pure pool”—was the son of the unfortunate Tudkhaliash III, during whose reign the Hittite state had suffered considerable setbacks. By contrast, the reign of Shuppiluliumas is considered so successful as to represent the beginning of a new dynasty and the Hittite Empire. His accession date is uncertain but certainly falls in the last third of Amenhotpe III's reign (c.1380 BCE). Shuppiluliumas is the author of an Amarna Letter of uncertain date (EA 34) which indicates that the two lands were initially friendly.

The first (and main) antagonist of Shuppiluliumas was the Mitannian monarch Tushratta, with whom he contended for control of northern Syria. In much of the minor turmoil reported to the Egyptians in the Amarna Letters one can see the consequences of the Hittites' struggles with the Mitannians, which had rippled throughout Syria-Palestine. The Hittite defeat of Tushratta in the “Great Syrian War” made Hatti the dominant power in northern Syria. Yet the decline of Mitanni and its replacement by the rump state of Khanigalbat also had the unintended consequence of liberating Assyria, then probably under the rule of Adad-nirari (I). Shuppiluliumas's Syrian ventures also brought Kadesh into the Hittite orbit. This town was to be a major focal point in later struggles between Egypt and Hatti.

Another interesting event in Shuppiluliumas's reign was his marriage to a Babylonian princess, probably a daughter of Burnaburiash. She was given the name of Tawannannash and became the chief queen of the realm.

Perhaps the most fateful (and enigmatic) incident in Hittite-Egyptian relations during the reign of Shuppiluliumas occurred when he dispatched his son Zannanash to Egypt at the request of an Egyptian queen, almost certainly Tutankhamun's widow, who wished to marry a Hittite prince. Unfortunately, Zannanash was assassinated en route, and in a letter found at Boghazköy, his father threatens the Egyptians with war over what he views as Egyptian treachery. This event apparently led to about fifty years of conflict between the two powers, eventually culminating in the Battle of Kadesh.

Shuppiluliumas may have fallen victim to a plague, possibly brought back to Hatti by Egyptian prisoners seized at Amqa. He was immediately succeeded by the crown prince, his son Aranwandash, who reigned briefly before another son, Murshilis I, assumed the throne.


  • Beckman, G. Hittite Diplomatic Texts. Edited by H. A. Hofner, Jr. (SBL Writings from the Ancient World, 7.) Atlanta, 1996. Contains a good selection from Hittite treaties and diplomatic correspondence, not only between Egypt and Hatti but also with other contemporary countries.
  • Goetze, A. “The Struggle for the Domination of Syria (1400–1300 B.C.).” In Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 2, pt. 2, pp. 1–20. 3d ed. Cambridge, 1975. A good description of the history and society of the Hittite nation and its empire during the time of Shuppiluliumas.
  • Murnane, W. J. The Road to Kadesh: A Historic Interpretation of the Battle Relief of King Sety I at Karnak. 2d ed. Chicago, 1990. A wideranging study, primarily concerned with international affairs in the Near East at the time of Shuppiluliumas and the Amarna period.
  • Moran, W. L. The Amarna Letters. Baltimore and London. 1992. The best translation of the Amarna correspondence, providing much indirect evidence for the results of Shuppiluliumas's foreign policy.

Ogden Goelet