Erich Lessing

“They say you have many sons; so give me one of yours.” Thus requests the young widow of King Tutankhamun (1336‒1327 B.C.), Ankhesenamun, in a letter sent to the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I. The Hittite king dispatched one of his sons southward, but the prince was ambushed and murdered before reaching Egypt. Other attempts at cementing dynastic links between the two superpowers met with happier results. When the Hittites and Egyptians signed a treaty following the battle of Kadesh (1274 B.C.), a royal wedding was arranged between Pharaoh Ramesses II and a daughter of the Hittite king Hattusili III. Ramesses discussed the wedding plans in a 2-inch-high letter-tablet (shown here, compare with photo of quartzite bust of Queen Ankhesenamun), which was inscribed in Akkadian (a Semitic language attested in Babylonia and Assyria and used as the diplomatic lingua franca in the Near East of the Late Bronze Age) and sent to the Hittite king in Hattusa. A text carved on stelae at Karnak, Elephantine and Abu Simbel reports that Ramesses was delighted with his new bride: “(His) majesty saw that she was fair of face (like) a goddess. Now (it was) a great, marvelous, and fortunate affair.”