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Suppiluliuma I

Suppiluliuma I

King of the hittites
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro King of the hittites
Occupations Sovereign
Gender male
Birth January 1, 1358
Death January 1, 1321 (Hattusa, Boğazkale, Çorum Province, Turkey)
Mother: Malnigal
Father: Tudhaliya III
Siblings: Tudhaliya III
Spouse: MalnigalHenti
Children: Arnuwanda IITelepinuPiyassiliZannanzaMursili IIMuwatti
The details

Suppiluliuma I () or Suppiluliumas I () was king of the Hittites (r. c. 1344–1322 BC (short chronology)). He achieved fame as a great warrior and statesman, successfully challenging the then-dominant Egyptian empire for control of the lands between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates.

Early life

Suppiluliuma was the son of Tudhaliya II and Queen Daduhepa. He began his career as the chief advisor and general to Tudhaliya II, then based at Samuha. In this capacity, he defeated the Hittites' enemies among the Azzi-Hayasa and the Kaskas. Both enemies then united around charismatic leaders to counter him; of these Karanni founded a semblance of a royal court in Hayasa, and Piyapili failed to do likewise for the Kaska. Suppiluliuma and Tudhaliya defeated these threats in turn, to the extent that the Hittite court could settle in Hattusa again.

When Tudhaliya II died, Tudhaliya III succeeded to the throne. Soon after his accession, however, he was overthrown and succeeded by his younger brother Suppiluliuma. Some of the Hittite priests later reported this to Suppiluliumas's son, successor, and biographer Mursili II, holding it out as an outstanding crime of the whole dynasty.


Suppiluliuma I' deeds, 14th century BC, from Hattusa, Istanbul Archaeological Museum
Suppiluliuma I and Hukkana treaty, 13th century BC, from Hattusa, Istanbul Archaeological Museum

Suppiluliuma married a sister to the Hayasan king Hukkana, and his daughter Muwatti to Maskhuiluwa of the Arzawan state Mira. He also married a Babylonian princess and retook Arzawan territory as far as Hapalla. His most permanent victory was against the Mitanni kingdom, which he reduced to a client state under his son-in-law Shattiwazza. He was also a master builder of large stone structures decorated with stone reliefs. It was during his reign that concepts of the sacred nature of royal leaders developed.

Suppiluliuma then took advantage of the tumultuous reign of the Pharaoh Akhenaten, and seized control of Egyptian territory in Syria, inciting many Egyptian vassals to revolt.

His success encouraged the widow (who is called Dakhamunzu in the annals) of the Egyptian king Nibhururiya (usually identified with Tutankhamun) to write to him, asking him to send one of his sons to be her husband and rule Egypt, since she had no heir and was on the verge of being forced to marry "a servant", usually thought to be the Egyptian general Horemheb or her late husband's vizier Ay. Suppiluliuma dispatched an ambassador to Egypt to investigate; he reported that the situation was accurately described, and the king decided to take advantage of this windfall; unfortunately, Prince Zannanza died on the way, and the marriage alliance never was consummated. Angry letters were exchanged between Suppiluliuma and the Pharaoh Ay, who had assumed the Egyptian throne, over the circumstances of Zannanza's death.

Suppililiuma was furious at this turn of events and unleashed his armies against Egypt's vassal states in Canaan and Northern Syria, capturing much territory.

Unfortunately, many of the Egyptian prisoners carried a plague which would eventually ravage the Hittite heartland and lead to the deaths of both Suppiluliuma I and his successor, Arnuwanda II.


Suppiluliuma had two wives. The first wife who served as his queen was a woman named Henti. A badly damaged text from the reign of her son Mursili II implies that Queen Henti may have been banished by her husband to the land of Ahhiyawa. An advantageous marriage with a Babylonian Princess might have resulted in her banishment. She is likely the mother of all of Suppiluliuma's sons.

  • Arnuwanda II a king of the Hittite Empire (new kingdom) c. 1322–1321 BC
  • Telipinu, who is known from a decree appointing him as a priest of Kizzuwadna.
  • Piyassili, later known as Sarri-Kusuh and governor of the former territory of Hanigabat west of the Euphrates
  • Mursili II a king of the Hittite Empire (New kingdom) c. 1321–1295 BC
  • Zannanza, the Hittite Prince who was sent to Egypt in response to the Dakhamunzu letter and possibly murdered en route.

After Henti's disappearance the next queen is a Babylonian princess named Malignal. She is the daughter of King Burna-Buriash II. Malignal adopts the title Tawananna as her personal name.

Suppiluliuma is known to have had at least one daughter. Her name was Muwatti.

In fiction

To the non-specialist general public, Suppiluliuma I is mainly known from the best-selling historical novel The Egyptian by Mika Waltari, in which the Hittite king is presented as the ultimate villain, a ruthless conqueror and utterly tyrannical ruler. Popular culture researcher Abe Brown notes that "As Waltari's book was written during the Second World War, Suppiluliuma's depiction is likely to be at least in part inspired by Hitler, rather than by historical facts. Unlike quite a few other historical figures of many times and places who got cast in the role of Hitler, Suppiluliuma has not yet attracted the attention of any historical novelist to write a bit more nuanced popular account—though his life certainly offers rich untapped material".

Janet Morris wrote a detailed biographical novel, I, the Sun, whose subject was Suppiluliuma I, in which all characters are from the historical record, about which O.M. Gurney, Hittite scholar and author of The Hittites, commented that "the author is familiar with every aspect of Hittite culture".

Suppiluliuma appears in a minor role in the novel 'The Shadow Prince' by Philip Armstrong, as the grandfather of the hero, Tupiluliuma, in which he is Tudhaliyas 's nephew and adopted son. It is explained that he was reluctantly forced to take the throne and exclude his adoptive brother, the younger Tudhaliyas, as a result of his predecessor's descent into madness. He is regarded as one of the greatest of the Great Kings of Hatti, but is not a man to be crossed lightly.

He is also a character in the historical fiction manga Red River.

Suppilulima may be depicted in the 'Nantucket' novels of S.M. Stirling, but under an alternative name, with a son called Kalkash.


  • Beckman, Gary (1996). Harry A. Hoffner, ed. Hittite Diplomatic Texts. Scholars Press. ISBN 978-0788505515.
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