suppiluliuma ii

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Ancient Worlds - BBC Two 

Episode 2 “The Age of Iron”

The ruins of the ancient Canaanite city-state of Ugarit, one of the great cities of the Bronze Age world. 

Ugarit flourished most from about 1450 to 1200 BCE but sometime around the 1190s the city declined and then mysteriously came to an end. A group of people called the Sea Peoples conquered the Hittites and migrated into Canaan. The Sea Peoples was a collective name applied to several peoples, which may include the Philistines and the Sherden, who sailed around the eastern Mediterranean and invaded Anatolia, Syria, Canaan, Cyprus, and Egypt toward the end of the Bronze Age. Ugarit likely found itself utterly destroyed from wars, the invasion of the Sea Peoples and natural disasters.

On excavation of the site, several deposits of cuneiform clay tablets were found; all dating from the last phase of Ugarit, around 1200 BC. The tablets are written in Sumerian, Hurrian, Akkadian (the language of diplomacy at this time in the ancient Near East), and Ugaritic.

Some letters to and from the “last king of Ugarit”, Ammurapi, are preserved. One fragment comes in a letter from the Hittite king Suppiluliuma II to Ammurapi. He asks for assistance from Ugarit:

“The enemy [advances(?)] against us and there is no number […]. Our number is (?) […] Whatever is available, look for it and send it to me.”

Another letter, from Ammurapi to the ruler of Alasiya (Cyprus), his father-in-law highlights the desperate situation facing Ugarit: 

“My father behold, the enemy’s ships came (here); my cities were burned, and they did evil things in my country. Does not my father know that all my troops and chariots(?) are in the Land of Hatti, and all my ships are in the Land of Lukka?…Thus, the country is abandoned to itself. May my father know it: the seven ships of the enemy that came here inflicted much damage upon us.”

A dramatic letter to someone called Zrdn says:

“Our food on the threshing floor is burned and also the vineyards are destroyed. Our city is destroyed and may you know it.”

Ugarit, Ras Shamra, Syria