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Rozette
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

VBadJuJu wrote:
I think you'd be hard pressed to find something he did right. He changed their religion, ostracized the priesthood (who, in spite of any failings do seem to have been able administrators), changed the artwork, allowed the military to fall into disuse and misuse, neglected foreign policy (though Egypt was somewhat on the wane before his arrival, he still did little or nothing to attend to it), didnt build much (at least that could be seen by the general public) and seems to have surrounded himself with lackeys.


In following article they say that Akhenaten's foreign policy was succesful not only in Asia but also in Nubia.


93.0450
GESTOSO, Graciela N., La política exterior egipcia en la época de El Amarna, Buenos Aires, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, 1992 = Anexos de la Revista de Estudios de Egiptología. Colección Estudios, 4. (20 x 28 cm; 112 p., pl.). ISBN 950-692-017-6
This book aims to demonstrate the military intervention of Akhenaten in Nubia and Asia, thus confirming the real Egyptian domination during his reign. Analyzing this subject, other connected problems, such as the internal situation in Egypt during Akhenaten's reign and the administrative organization of the Egyptian posessions in Nubia and Asia, arise. This subject is analyzed before dealing with the foreign relations in Nubia and Asia during the Amarna Period, with special reference to the reign of Akhenaten. The purpose is to establish which was the Egyptian attitude towards the existing political organization in Nubia and Asia, to characterize the use of diplomacy and the military intervention as traditional means of the monarchy on which Akhenaten's power was based, and to determine which were the mechanisms of control during the reign. Akhenaten's foreign policy was successful not only in Asia but also in Nubia.

The Amarna letters allow to confirm the high degree of success of the control mechanisms. The diplomatic correspondence also confirms that in the northern territories of Syria-Palestine there was a superstructure of Egyptian government in charge of the governors (rabisu) who, residing in different places, controlled its interests. The local government was left in the hands of the native princes (khazanu) of Syria and Palestine. The vassal princes in exchange for their loyalty demanded order and security. But in case of any weakening in the Egyptian government they did not hesitate to rebel and seize power. In the Asiatic possessions, different from the attributions of the Viceroy of Kush in Nubia, the Egyptian governors shared power with the local chiefs of Syria and Palestine. In spite of these differences the functional similarity between positions in the Egyptian administration in Nubia and Syria-Palestine has rightfully been pointed out.

The problems facing the Egyptian administrative organization are outlined through a regional analysis of the political situation. The relations between the Egyptian court of Akhenaten and the districts or areas in which Syria-Palestine was divided, are analyzed in an enquiry into the similarities and differences in the diplomatic handlings during the Amarna period. The traditional approach has suggested the decline of the Egyptian empire at the end of the XVIIIth Dynasty, particularly during the reign of Akhenathen. The view that the Amarna letters document this has been partially based on the belief that these problems were exclusive, in their manner and frequency, to a period of decline. The problems, however, existed since long before and continued long after after these had been sent. They were generally written when a problem arose, such as an interruption in trade or in the sending of tribute. Most of the letters were sent by the princes to attract the king's attention. The Amarna letters state that the Egyptian imperial institutions were active and legal in Palestine during the first half of the 14th century B.C. In Syria, Hatti maintained an indirect activity against Egypt and its allies using as representatives the local princes of Syria-Palestine and the habiru, who acted according to its wishes until the right moment for a direct intervention came. By the end of Akhenaten's reign part of north and central Syria resisted the Hittite advance and maintained its loyalty to Egypt. Suppiluliuma found the right moment to act in Syria directly, attacking Amka, the Egyptian borderline area, around the year 15 of Akhenaten's reign. The Amarna letters show that the Egyptian army was active in Syria-Palestine during Akhenaten's reign. Until the year 15 Egypt kept its border in Amka, in the valley of the Litani. The hostilities bwreen Egypt and Hatti were not renewed before the last years of the reign. The Hittite attacks over Byblos, Ugarit, Tunip and Amurru mentioned in the Amarna letters and the Hittite documents, in general relate to the last stage of the second Hittite war in Syria at the end of the reign.

As to the internal situation, there were problems in different social groups, such as the priesthood of Amon and the civil bureaucracy, displaced during the reign by a new one. Furthermore, the centralization of the economy in Akhetaten broke apart the local economies. The new studies on the economic roles of the temples show that these had a specific function as particular organizations within the Egyptian state. In the light of these events the reactions of the different social groups against the government of Akhenaten were due more to religious than to socio-economic factors. These internal problems did not prevent the successful development of foreign relations and the skillful management of the military power.

Akhenaten was not a pacifist in his foreign dealings. On the contrary, like his father Amenhotep III, he was a shrewd diplomat. His policies were firm and he knew how to use the traditional mechanisms of goverment, such as diplomacy, military expeditions and the presentation of the king as warrior. His power was as well based on the new ways of control as on the enhancement of the majesty of the king through his identification with the god Aten. His special devotion to Aten and the characteristics of his cult, the building of a new residence and the strong political centralization are different aspects in a wider context that includes the reign of his father Amenhotep III. The exclusive monotheism was the outcome of a process of centralization which tried to accomplish a higher degree of absolutism.

Abridged author's summary

http://www.leidenuniv.nl/nino/aeb93/aeb93_4.html

During the early years of the Amarna period , Akhenaten and his family are depicted with ugly features.
But in the later years of the reign the art developed a graceful naturalistic style.
Scenes of intimacy, the royal couple mourning at the bier of their dead daughter, Nefertiti as a nursing mother.
No fear of showing emotion that occur only the art of Amarna.

On this link you wil see many pictures of the gypsum masks , they are very realistic. I dont think that they can not compared to any other art work in Egyptian history before or after the Amarna period.

http://www.hieroglyphen.net/andere/berlinaegmus4a.htm
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's interesting Rozette.

In the "Akhenaten Temple Project Vol2: Rwd-mnw and Inscriptions".
(by D Redford 1988) there is a contribution by A.R. Schulman.

Chapter 6: Hittites, Helmets and Amarna: Akhenaten's First Hittite War, talks about some evidence for a Hittite war in the early years of Akhenaten's reign.

This then gives us three wars that Akhenaten likely engaged in:
1. First Hittite War: talatats show that a war was fought and not only that, the Egyptians appear to have been successful.
2. Nubian war in Year 12
3. Second Hittite War in ca Year 15.

It's quite an interesting read actually Smile

The author does point out as well that just because not many battles were represented in art doesn't mean that none were waged. Using this as a criteria we would have to conclude that no wars were fought during the reigns of Tuthmosis III, Amenhotep II and Tuthmosis IV.

Some of you may know that I have been collecting info about court official for the different reigns. I always found it extremely peculiar that so many army officials are known from the reign of Akhenaten. Two Generals and a Commander of the army, as well as several Masters of the Horses (=Commanders of the Cavalry). That's quite an impressive list of army laders for a ruler who supposedly did not have a fully functioning army? Or at least a crappy one?
The only king for whom I can find more army officials is Ramses II! And that is partially due to the fact that several of Ramses' sons served in the army.

Another fact is the huge tribute from year 12. If he was so incredibly weak, then why the large amount of tribute paid?
Then there's also the depictions of the royal palace in Amarna. The depictions of the harem clearly show many Syrian dressed women at court. Both their hair and dress clearly identify these women as Syrio-Palestinian. These women are either there because they were part of a tribute or because they represent some diplomatic marriage. Why would these king either pay tribute or even hand over their female relatives if Egypt had no power?
I guess I could bend over backwards and explain all this away, but it really (for me at least) it doesn't really paint a picture of a severely weakened Egypt. Some decline" Possibly. But just not the degenerate type of hype you read about sometimes Smile

It seems that most everything from Akhenaten's reign is put in these extreme terms. I guess it makes for a better book/story, but I'm not so sure it's the truth.


I sometimes wonder if he got into trouble because he tried to do way too much all at once. At the same time that he was trying to push through his religious reforms, the diplomatic ways of dealing with foreign relations seems to have broken down.
His father and grand-father seem to have fought a combined grand-total of 2 wars (both punitive excursions into Nubia). They are usually depicted as using diplomacy as the tool of choice to deal with foreign powers (diplomatics marriages, negotiations and such). Under Akhenaten there seems to be a sudden(?) change in the status quo. There is evidence now of Asiatic turmoil after possibly some 40-50 years of relative peace.

It's also still a question as to why he would persecute the other religious beliefs in his own country. He could have just added Atenism to the mix, but left the rest alone.
Instead he went after the priests and temples in a way reminiscent of the way Henry the VIII went after the monasteries in England.
There may have been financial and power related aspects to this religious revolution as well.

Thinking of it this way, he may have just loaded a tad too much hay on his fork.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Thru history a number of leaders used monotheism as a way to forge unifications among tribes, extend or consolidate their power.


Not just monotheism, mind you, but religion in general. Down through time it has been a tool of government to keep the population in control. Witness the rigid modern Muslim theocracies of the Middle East. Ancient Egypt is a classic example of a polytheistic theocracy. The "democratization" of the religion in the First Intermediate Period was almost certainly a means employed by the government to try to restore the strength of the monarchy, and by all accounts it was successful. The religion of ancient Egypt and its powerful temples were one of the bases of the Egyptian economy, not to mention a huge source of employment for all levels of society.

By the time Akhenaten stumbled onto the throne the religious infrastructure of his country had been in place for thousands of years. This civilization had founded a concept of maat, and anything that was counter to maat was viewed with innate suspicion. Akhenaten profoundly upset the balance of things and, though he may well have intended no harm, he nearly crippled his own country's economy and regional grasp. Akhenaten was a visionary and a sort of renaissance man of his time, but he was also too much like many other powerful leaders of history: a megalomaniacal and selfish dreamer of grandeur.

That doesn't make him any less interesting to study. Of course, were he not that way, he would have been just another god-king in a list of god-kings stretching for over 3000 years. Wink
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
Quote:
Thru history a number of leaders used monotheism as a way to forge unifications among tribes, extend or consolidate their power.


Not just monotheism, mind you, but religion in general.


Very true, but with monotheism you have less to control, contain or influence.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 1:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt-sesh wrote:
Quote:
Akhenaten profoundly upset the balance of things and, though he may well have intended no harm, he nearly crippled his own country's economy and regional grasp.


People easily throw these statement about, but what is the actual proof for that? It may be true, but how do you even measure an economy such as the one in Ancient Egypt.

It is true that during the reign of say Tuthmosis III there is a tremendous influx of materials into the country. There is tribute, taxes, booty from war, etc.
I once did a rough estimate based on what is described in Breasted's histories and the modern day value of what flowed into the country ran into the millions.

I can't find much info on the impost, tributes and taxes during the reigns of the rulers after that.

What are the signs that Akhenaten ran the country down? There is no break in the building projects. I really see no evidence for this.

And why the singling out of Akhenaten? I don't see any evidence of Amenhotep III acquiring great wealth. He doesn't conquer any lands. He does build like crazy and certainly seems to know how to SPEND money Smile. Is he the one then who sets the decline into motion? Did Akhenaten inherit some of his problems?


It is true that his religious reforms must have seemed scary to quite few.
Upsetting Maat is never good....

I don't think that Akhenaten was a great ruler (don't get me wrong on that) but I do get the feeling that what is sometimes presented to us is a bit of a cardboard cutout of the man and his times.

For as far as the stature of Egypt in the region goes. Yes that did go into decline. But like I said above. Some of that may have started under Tuthmosis IV and Amenhotep III. They did not show any military might either.

For all their posturing Tutankhamen, Horemheb, Ramses I, Seti I and Ramses II were not able to really control the Levant either. Ramses II may have claimed victory at Kadesh, but that may have been more of a stalemate. It may have been just as much a matter of the rise of a new superpower as a decline of the egyptians.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
What are the signs that Akhenaten ran the country down? There is no break in the building projects. I really see no evidence for this.


That's an easy one. In closing down huge temple precincts such as the Temple of Amun, Akhenaten put many people out of work and cost them their livelihoods. I'm not just talking about the priests here. Many commoners and serfs worked the land, but in many cases (if not most), the fields they tended or the animals they herded were owned by those temples.

Most of the large temples were basically self-sufficient in this way, and that's why there's perhaps some validity in the argument some make that Akhenaten did this to put a stranglehold on the power and wealth of folks like the priests of Amun. Also, as the titulary high priest of all of the Two Lands, pharaoh was obligated to make gifts to these temples; and the more time went on, the more the lands and herds given to the temples were tax free. The high priests in particular grew to be incredibly wealthy and powerful, as we see in the Third Intermediate Period when they set themselves up as pharaohs and ruled Upper Egypt.

Quote:
And why the singling out of Akhenaten? I don't see any evidence of Amenhotep III acquiring great wealth. He doesn't conquer any lands.


This is definitely true. Amunhotep III was one of the wealthiest and most secure kings of the New Kingdom, and he was able to lounge about and live off the spoils of earlier rulers like Tuthmosis I and Tuthmosis III. The hold Egypt had on its vassals began to slip under him, particularly the lands of Canaan, but the problem was exponentially worse under his son.

I think it's pretty clear from existing evidence such as the Amarna Letters that Akhenaten was not a responsible ruler. Many kings throughout the pharanoic period were not, to be sure, but to me it seems clear that Akhenaten ranks pretty high up on the list of reckless-rulers. Very Happy

But like I said, it was his very life and nature that has made him one of history's most intriguing figures.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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That's an easy one. In closing down huge temple precincts such as the Temple of Amun, Akhenaten put many people out of work and cost them their livelihoods. I'm not just talking about the priests here. Many commoners and serfs worked the land, but in many cases (if not most), the fields they tended or the animals they herded were owned by those temples.


The closing of the temples is something that deserves consideration, but I'm not sure it's so open and shut a case as you make it out to be.

While some (not all) temples were closed, there is no mention of what happened to the lands associated with the temples. We simply do not know what happened to the people who worked in these temples.
Besides closing some temples, he also opened several temples. The workers had to come from somewhere. So do the supplies, the workers to create the temples, not to mention the priests. It seems much more likely that large numbers of people were reassigned to work elsewhere, or at least have their products shipped elsewhere.


The temples of Aten were huge structures. The number of offering tables is rather huge and so were the number of offerings made every day so there is evidence that these new temples needed many supplies and many workers.

So to just claim that all the temple workers were out of work is not necessarily true. I have never read about widespread poverty or other unrests throughout the land. Putting that many people out on the street would lead to unrest and there is no evidence of that.

Again, something that people just claim but I have in fact never seen any evidence for.

Quote:
The high priests in particular grew to be incredibly wealthy and powerful, as we see in the Third Intermediate Period when they set themselves up as pharaohs and ruled Upper Egypt.

True. Still a very good possibility that this was one of the contributing factors to the religious revolution. A way to break the power of the priesthood.

It's funny really, because they did bounce right back Smile By the time of Ramses II you start seeing the first signs of high priest-hoods being controlled by families and even being passed on to sons.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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The temples of Aten were huge structures. The number of offering tables is rather huge and so were the number of offerings made every day so there is evidence that these new temples needed many supplies and many workers.


Quite right, but miniscule in comparison to the size of the complex at Karnak, by far the largest religious structure on earth. And that's just one major temple complex. You could throw in the complex of Ptah at Memphis which, although little of it survives today, must have been massive.

For certain Akhenaten brought a great many people to populate his new city and to support it, but bear in mind that the population of Egypt at this time was approximately two million people. In the end, only a modest percentage would have journeyed for a new life to Akhetaten.

I have read of suspected poverty in regions of Egypt at this time. Perhaps some of this comes from things written on such monuments as restoration stelae, so it's hard to say how much of this may be hype by later rulers.

Based on how the economy of ancient Egypt functioned, I do see it as entirely believable that many common people suffered greatly at this time.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just don't really agree that all of this adds up to these "obvious" lay-offs you claim.

There is clearly still quite a bit of cultic activity going on in Memphis. There are plenty of people associated with the Aten cult buried there.

There was a repression of Amen and other cults, but have you ever seen any evidence that all of Thebes was closed? Because I sure have not.
Akhenaten and Nefertiti had a temple and palace complex at Karnak.
People could have just been reassigned. And the fact that this is just what happened in Memphis leads me to believe that the center of worship in Karnak just shifted to the Rud-menu, Teni-menu and Hut-Benben. All in honor of the Aten.
Not to mention that the large Osiride figures at Karnak seem to point to cult activity there.


I think that there were clearly problems. I still think that these need to be seen in the context of what preceded the Amarna age. I don't think it's the case that he ran a prosperous country into the ground.
I think he inherited a trooubled country and was not able to turn the tide. And that was partially due to the fact that he was a megalomaniac and a tad removed from the real world Very Happy But then again anyone with a crown on thier head in that time would have been a bit wacky by our standards.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The author does point out as well that just because not many battles were represented in art doesn't mean that none were waged. Using this as a criteria we would have to conclude that no wars were fought during the reigns of Tuthmosis III, Amenhotep II and Tuthmosis IV.

That's a good point, Anneke - I think a similar argument has been raised to counter suggestions that Hatchepsut was an unsuccessful monarch because of a paucity of evidence regarding military activities during her reign.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Akhenaten doesnt deserve ALL the blame for what happened to the empire, but it seems clear he could have done more to preserve it. Conversely, Suppiliuliumas deserves credit for siezing opportunities and as a master strategist.


Quote:

The vassal princes in exchange for their loyalty demanded order and security. But in case of any weakening in the Egyptian government they did not hesitate to rebel and seize power.


Not so. Egypt's hands off approach to empire actually gave little reason for rebellion except when strong leaders arose or an irritating cause emerged. You just had to pay tribute, you didnt have to worship their gods, accept their laws or traditions and you didnt have to accept a large garrison.

In return, you were a friend of The Power in the area so there was no need to fear your slightly stronger neighbor. You could even develop vassals of your own to pay the tribute. Intertia is a powerful force and the status quo worked for them as well.

In any event, little credit flows to AKhenaten for lack of motivation on the part of vassals.



Quote:

By the end of Akhenaten's reign part of north and central Syria resisted the Hittite advance and maintained its loyalty to Egypt.


This is hardly supportive of Akhenaten as a "shrewd diplomat".

Akhenaten either thru mere inaction or treaty basically gave up the vassal Mittani kingdom to the Hittites. The states mentioned above had been the vassal states of the Mittani - proxy vassals of Egypt. They expected that with the Mittani gone, Egypt would step in to balance things out. Akizzi wrote to Akhenaten:

"O my lord, just as I love the king my lord, so also do the king of Nukhashshe, the king of Niya, the king of Zinzar, the king of Tunamat. [he was acting as spokesman for the kings hoping for help; everyone loves Akhenaten, dont ya know]...If the king, my lord, so desires he marches out; [HELP!] but they say the king my lord will not march out. [some of them didnt think so highly of Akhenaten by this time either] So let my lord dispatch archers, and let them come alone. [HELP!] Let my lord ministers say what will be their tribute and they shall pay it... [HELP! We've got lots of tribute]"

What the article doesnt state, is that Egypt did nothing and those states fell to Suppiliuliumas. So, our shrewd diplomat, after loosing Mittani to the Hittites, then lost the Mittani's vassal kingdoms to them as well.

The case of the Amurru goes much the same way. In this case, the warlord more or less recognized that Egypt under Akhenaten was a paper tiger and renounced his allegiance to Egpyt and signed up with the Hittites.


Bravo, Well done indeed!
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

VBJuju wrote:
Quote:
Akhenaten doesnt deserve ALL the blame for what happened to the empire, but it seems clear he could have done more to preserve it. Conversely, Suppiliuliumas deserves credit for siezing opportunities and as a master strategist.


That's an excellent way of summarizing the situation I think.

After as much as a half a century of dealing mainly with foreign affairs through diplomacy, Akhenaten was not able to move back to the more militaristic approach that was needed to deal with Suppiliuliumas.

It seems that he tried, but was not able to make a big enough fist to contain the Hittites. It seems that part of that equation may just be that the Hittites were to well organized to be contained as would be necessary to ensure the continued existance of the Egyptian Empire.

Always makes me think of all the "what ifs" of the 18th dynasty Smile
Tuthmosis IV was apparently not the original heir to the throne. There's some sign that there was a power struggle in which some faction at court managed to get Tuthmosis on the throne.

Then there's Akhenaten's older brother Tuthmose who died before the end of Amenhotep III's reign.

Two definite times when history could ahve taken a different course.
Considering that Tuthmosis IV is the first that is "credited" with reducing the military, his rise to the throne could be seen as the seed (but not the reason of course) for the situation at the end of the dynasty. He did however start the wheels moving in a certain direction.

Really too bad that Amenhotep III couldn't have produced a more capable royal prince to take the throne.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

anneke wrote:

After as much as a half a century of dealing mainly with foreign affairs through diplomacy, Akhenaten was not able to move back to the more militaristic approach that was needed to deal with Suppiliuliumas.


It is not clear if Akehenaten entered into some sort of treaty with Suppiliuliumas which the latter leveraged to relieve the former of serveal vassal kingdoms. In which case, it was far less than shrewd diplomacy on Akhenaaten's part.

On the other hand, Akhenaten may have literally sat on his thumbs as vassal after vassal fell to the Hittites.

Quote:

It seems that he tried, but was not able to make a big enough fist to contain the Hittites.


There is not much evidence that he did try, though. Suppiliuliumas came to power just a little before Akhenaten, those northern Syria kingdoms fell at the end of Akhenaten's reign. So it is not like a whirlwind sweeping across the land, it was about a 20 year long period. At the end of Akhenaten's reign we see signs of the military being restored. But way too little, way too late.


Suppiliuliumas was a master strategist and deserves much of the credit. That much of his expansion came at the expense of Egpyt without a shooting war with them is a fantastic accomplishment.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
There is not much evidence that he did try, though.


I have only been able to find the book that Rozette mentioned and the article in the excavation report from the Akhenaten temple project that claim that Akhenaten waged a successful war against the Hittites in the early years of his reign. Those date to 1988 and 1992. CAn't find anything more recent than that.

It's interesting that no more time has been devoted to this. It seems like an interesting question.

Quote:
Suppiliuliumas was a master strategist and deserves much of the credit. That much of his expansion came at the expense of Egpyt without a shooting war with them is a fantastic accomplishment.

It is pretty amazing what he was able to accomplish.
Makes me wonder if even someone of the calibre of say Tuthmosis III or Amenhotep II could have made much of a difference.

And we all know Akhenaten was definitely not in the same league Laughing
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

anneke wrote:

I have only been able to find the book that Rozette mentioned and the article in the excavation report from the Akhenaten temple project that claim that Akhenaten waged a successful war against the Hittites in the early years of his reign. Those date to 1988 and 1992. CAn't find anything more recent than that.


Most of the campaigns in his time barely merit the term - one of the big Nubian ones was more like a slave raid (300 cattle taken).

Speculating, but Suppiliuliumas may have suckered the hapless Akhenaten into some battle, the result being some sort of treaty/non agression pact. This might have been the thing that freed the Hittites to go after Mittani as long as Egyptian interests werent directly attacked (which Suppiliuliumas was careful not to do).

It's interesting that no more time has been devoted to this. It seems like an interesting question.

Quote:

Makes me wonder if even someone of the calibre of say Tuthmosis III or Amenhotep II could have made much of a difference.

And we all know Akhenaten was definitely not in the same league


Given the state the military was in under Akhenaten, it is probably better that they didnt go to war. Could have be very, very bad for them.
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