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the cuneiform tablets

In 1887 a woman from Amarna found nearly 400 cuneiform tablets. The tablets contain international diplomatic correspondence of the Amarna period, of the utmost importance for studying the history of the Near East in the 14th century BC.

Petrie located the building in which the tablets were found and finally uncovered some further tablets.

building at Amarna

cuneiform tablets published by Petrie, click on the image
(Petrie 1894: pl. XXXI)

further information


Missive en caractères cunéiformes
Elément 16 sur 40

Antiquités égyptiennes
Ecrit (Missive)

XVIIIème dynastie

Matériaux : Argile

Artiste : Anonyme


Lieu : Metropolitan Museum of Art
XVIIIème dynastie - Période d'Amarna
Droite - Rez-de-Chaussée - Section 16

Vitrine : 01

Régions en relation : Assyrie

Acquisition : Fonds Roger (1924)

El Amarna Letters www.bible-history.com/.../ el-amarna-letters.html


El Amarna Letters

  Tel el Amarna was in ancient Egypt near the Nile River about halfway between Memphis and Thebes. In 1988 there were about 400 cuneiform tablets discovered at this site which were part of the royal archives of Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) who reigned about 1400 BC. Among them were letters written in Babylonian cuneiform script to these Pharaohs of Egypt by various kings dwelling in the land of Canaan and Syria, they were written during the time of Moses. They provide the first evidence of the Hebrew tribes entering into the land of Canaan in ancient times. 

Some of the tablets were anxious letters written from Jerusalem (Urusalim), warning the pharaoh an invasion by the 'Habiru [Khabiru]', who were approaching from Trans-Jordan.

It is interesting that Ikhnaton's capital, Akhetaton, was in Tell el Amarna. 

The Amarna Letters discovery is highly important in the study of Biblical Archaeology because they refer to events in the middle east in the 15th and 14th centuries BC. They refer to the Hebrews, they give evidence of the trustworthiness of the book of Judges. They mention a lot about Canaan, the half of Israel to the west of the Jordan. This name "Canaan" has been found in Egyptian inscriptions of the New Kingdom. The king of Babylon used the word Canaan to designate the entire Egyptian province of Canaan when he wrote to Pharaoh: "Canaan is thy land and its kings are thy servants" (El-Amarna 8, 25) 

The Tablets are from 3 inches wide and anywhere from 3 to 9 inches in length, and they are inscribed on both sides. The letters were written in Akkadian, which had been the language of international relations for some time. Today the Tell el Amarna Tablets are mainly in the British, Berlin and Cairo museums. 

The original name of Jerusalem was Babylonian, Uru-Salim, "the city of Salim," shortened into Salem in Ge 14:18 and in the inscriptions of the Egyptian kings Ramses II and Ramses III. In the Tell el-Amarna Letters (1400 BC) Jerusalem is still known as Uru-Salim, and its king bears a Hittite name, implying that it was at the time in the possession of the Hittites. His enemies, however, were closing around him, and one of the tablets shows that the city was eventually captured and its king slain. These enemies would seem to have been the Jebusites, since it is after this period that the name "Jebus" makes its appearance for the first time in the Old Testament (Judges 19:10,11).

"But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him. And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it."  Judges 19:10-11

British Museum Excerpt

Tell el-Amarna (ancient Akhetaten, Egypt)

In the fifth year of his reign, Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV, 1352-1336 BC) moved the royal residence to a previously uninhabited site in Middle Egypt. He called the new capital Akhetaten, 'the horizon of the sun-disc', and marked its limits on both banks of the River Nile with a series of boundary stelae.

The central part of the city was occupied by the main religious and administrative buildings. An archive of diplomatic correspondence between the kings of the Amarna period and rulers of the Levant was found in the records office. The official buildings were linked to the outlying palaces by the Royal Road, a wide processional way. The main royal residence was the fortified North Riverside Palace.

Timeline of Egypt's New Kingdom Beginnings

18th Dynasty
Ahmose (Nebpehtyre) 1539 - 1514
Amenhotep I (Djeserkare) 1514 - 1493 
Thutmose I (Akheperkare) 1493 - 1481
Thutmose II (Akheperenre) 1491 - 1479
Hatshepsut (Maatkare) 1473 - 1458
Thutmose III (Menkheperre) 1504 - 1450
Amenhotep II (Akheperure) 1427 - 1392
Thutmose IV (Menkheperure) 1419 - 1386
Amenhotep III (Nebmaatre) 1382 - 1344 
Amenhotep IV / Akhenaten 1350 - 1334
Smenkhkare (Ankhkheperure) 1336-1334
Tutankhamun (Nebkheperure) 1334 - 1325 
Ay (Kheperkheperure) 1325 - 1321
Horemheb (Djeserkheperure) 1323 - 1295 

19th Dynasty
Ramesses I (Menpehtyre) 1295 - 1294
Seti I (Menmaatre) 1394 - 1279
Ramesses II (Usermaatresetepenre) 1279 - 1213
Merenptah (Baenrehotephirmaat) 1213 - 1203
Amenmesse (Menmire) 1203 - 1200
Seti II (Userkheperuresetepenre) 1200 - 1194
Siptah (Akhenresetepenre) 1194 - 1188
Tausert (Sitremeritamun) 1185-1187 


Images may be used for non-commercial use.

Biblical Archaeology

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Hittite Internet Links


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www.robotwisdom.com/ science/luxor/tablets.html

Web resources for the Amarna tablets

Jorn Barger September 2001 (updated Oct2001)


"Come yourself, or send your son, and you will see the king at whose sight all lands live."
--Akhenaten to Aziru, c1337 BC (tablet 162)

[one, color] [source] another [different] 282, 34; three one one one 245

NEW: encyclopedia

A3 called 'Nibmuaria'

Great Kings: Babylon, Mitanni

Hatti, Cyprus



map of mideast, map of Amarna; discovery

Info: AndiD; intro, Lab'aya; Jerusalem; scholarly; politics; minerology, Megiddo ditto; personae; new chronology?; 1913 Cath; newage



280, 286, 288 Jerusalem

237, 244, 245, 246, 250, 252, 253, 254, 255, 280, 287, 289 Lab'aya

17, 35, 75, 79, 244, 286, 298, 365, 367, bridewealth

Lachish, Babylon 1 w/pic 2 3 w/pic, Cyprus (35), Byblos, Assyria, Megiddo, Shechem, Jerusalem 2, Keilah


phonetic: 60-114, 115-162, 163-262, 263-381, 340-359, 368, 372-377, 379 'scholarly'


Correspondents by place


Mitanni (Hanigalbat, Haligalbat, Habingalbat, Nahma, Naharima) [kh58]

king: Tusratta (Tuisheratta)

17: to A3, sends servants, chariots, horses, jewelry and sweet-oil for sister Kelu-Heba [etext] defeated a Hittite attack [kh171]


19: T sends daughter Taduhepa [kh171]






29: mentions T4's marriage to Artatama's daughter [eci165]



Hatti (Khatte, Hittites, Hattusa)

king: Suppiluliuma

41: S to Smenk: 'O King' [kh172] S to A4? ('brother') claims pharaoh's father had approached S's father to normalise relations [eci173]




Amurru (SA.GAZ, 'apiru, habiru)

kings: Abdi-Asirta (Abdi-Ashirta); Aziru

princes: Duppi-Tesub, ?Ba'aluya, ?Batti'ilu (sons of Aziru)

60: A-A to ?A4 ('my Sun, my Lord', 'a servant of the king and a dog of his house') seeks recognition as Egyptian deputy [kh182, eci170]

101? death of A-A mentioned; A-A had some official appointment [kh183, eci170]

95? A-A died of natural causes? or suicide after arrest? [kh184] Tusratta expedition against Amurru [eci171, cf EA85?]

90? Amurru overtaxed by Mitanni [eci171]


98? sons of A-A reoccupy Irqata, Ambi, Sigata, Ardata [kh185]

157: Az to A4 ('my Lord') asks only to serve [kh185]

165: Aziru to A4 claims fears invasion by Hatti [kh186]

164: Aziru to A4's officials ditto [kh186]

149? (report on Aziru's conquests)

151? (report on Aziru's alliance w/Aitakkama)

59? Az threatening Tunip

161? Az residing in Tunip [eci176]

162? (from A4?) Aziru has delivered Rib-Addi to Sidon; dined and drunk with ruler of Kadesh [kh186]

168? Aziru goes to Egypt [kh188]

169: ?D-T to A4 requesting return [kh188]

170: Ba'aluya and Batti'ilu to Aziru reporting Hittite attacks [kh188]



Byblos (Gubla, Gebel)

king: Rib-Addi (Rib-Hadda)

sender of: 68-71, 73-79, 81-96, 102-114, 116-119, 121-126, 129-130, 132, 136-138, 362 (141, 142? kh186)

75: plea to ?A4 ('my lord') to send archers re Abdi-Asirta's conquest of Irqata (Arkite, Tell Arqa), Miya of Arasni conquers Ardata [etext] [kh182]

74: A-A conquers Ammiya (Amyun?), threatens Gubla "Like a bird in a trap so I am in Gubla." [k182, 183]

79: [etext]

84? Sumur falls to A-A [kh182]


62? Egyptian commissioner Pahannate withdrawn [kh182]

107: R-A begs for troops [kh185]

106? commissioner killed, Sumur evacuated [kh185]

126: Hittites burning lands [eci174]

136? R-A in exile in Beirut with Ammunira (Hammuniri) [etext]



Kadesh (Qidsa)

kings: Suttarna (Sutatarra); Aitakkama (Etakkama)

140: alliance with Aziru [kh176] (cf 162)

55? Ait conquers Qatna (king Akizzi) [kh190]

174? Ait attacks Biryawaza [eic176]



189: Ait is Egyptian vassal [eic167]




king: Ammistamru (Amishtamru); Niqmaddu

45: Am declares allegiance to A4 [kh178, eci168] begs help against Hittites? [eci173]



49: Niq servant of A4 [eci168]




king: Abi-milki

147: "My lord is the Sun god who rises over the foreign lands every day as his gracious father the sun has ordained; one who gives life by his sweet breath and languor when he is hidden, who pacifies the entire land with the power of his mighty arm, who emits his roar in heaven like Ba'al, and the whole earth shakes with his roar." [eci387]



Nukhashshe (Qatna?)

east of Orontes

kings: Akizzi; Addu-nirari

51: to A4, your grandfather annointed my grandfather [eci160]


53: Ak refuses oath to Sup; rumor A4 won't act [eci176]






Cyprus (Alasiya, Alashiya)

34: speaks of A4's accession [eci174]

35: sends copper,lumber; requests silver, ox, sweet-oil, expert in eagle-omens, possessions of citizen who died in Egypt; apologises for three year absence of Egyptian messenger; alliance of Egypt w/Hatti pending? [eci173] [etext] w/transliteration

38: raids by Lukkas on coasts of Cyprus and Egypt; refers to A as 'my brother' [kh368]




written in Hittite (Nesite)

king: Tarhundaradu

31: from A3 seeking princess; "the country Hattusa is paralysed" [kh160]





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