2ndlook

3 That Changed History – The Amarna Letters

Posted in Current Affairs, History, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on December 23, 2007

A Thousand Miles up the Nile

A hundred and twenty years ago, in 1887 AD, a peasant woman of Tell el-Amarna, now a small village on the Nile and midway between Cairo and Luxor, was digging for sebakh (a form of natural, domestic fertiliser). Instead, what she came up with were 380 clay tablets from beneath the floor of a ruined mudbrick house. These were the “Amarna” letters – a treasure trove of clay tablets. These clay tablets, that survived, are now divided between the British Museum, the Berlin Museum, and Cairo Museum.

Tushrutta Letter to Egyptian PharoahWhat were these letters

These were later identified as part of Tutankhamen’s lost “The Place of the Letters of the Pharaoh” or ‘Pharoah’s House of Correspondence’. These letters were from notables of the Levant or Pharaoh’s record copies of replies – including letters to both Akhenaten and his Queen Nefertiti. These letters were seemingly “lost” when Amarna was abandoned early in the reign of Tutankhamun. What these clay tablet letters showed was a significant Indo Aryan connection.

Enter The Mittanis

One series are letters written by a Mittani king named Tushratta (meaning ” of splendid chariots”, similar to Dashratha meaning ” of ten chariots”) writes to his son-in-law, Amenhotep III, the king of Egypt ( the letter reads much like an Indian father-in-law’s letter will). Amenhotep married Tadukhepa, Tushratta’s daughter.

In these letters Tushrutta reminds Amenhotep, how his father, Thutmose IV had sought marriage seven times, with Tushrutta’s daughter, before this marriage to, Tadukhipa, was agreed upon. Similarly, in order to marry Hattusil II’s daughter, the Amorite King Putakhi agreed, in the treaty of alliance for a specific clause “to the effect that the sovereignty over the Amorite should belong to the son and descendants of his daughter for evermore”.

What is it, about these Indic princesses, that made them so sought after?

Tushrutta’s (was an Indo-Aryan king) ‘grandson’ (son of his son-in-law) became Akhenathen (ऐकःनाथें, 1352-1336 B.C) – who formed a new monotheistic religion (apart from Sanskrit, in current Hindi also, one God is एकनाथ). He was one of the first few kings who differentiated between his kingliness and the Godliness of Aten (The One). His chief wife was Nefertiti – who was given an important position – much against the male centred kingdoms and religions that were to follow. He founded the city of Akhetaten (The Horizon of the Aten), at the modern Amarna – where these tablets were found. His mother was Tiye. And the name of their eldest daughter – Sita (full name Sita-amen; Sitamen's Nameamen after the Sun god Amen Ra).

Queen NefertitiAkhenathen died in his seventeenth year on the throne and his reforms did not survive for much longer. His co-regent and successor Smenkhare, died after a short reign and power passed to the boy king, Tutankhamun (originally Tutankhaten).

Tutankhamen – The Boy King

During his reign the city of Akhetaten (modern Amarna) was abandoned and Amun and the other gods were reinstated. In Western terms, the “Atenist heresy” was overturned, Akhenaten´s image and names were chiseled from his monuments and his sun temples were dismantled. Modern Amarna, till then a glorious city, crumbled back into the desert and his name (and that of his two immediate successors) was left out of the Kings lists produced shortly after.

After Tutankhamen

Akhenathen’s successor for a short while was Tutankhamen (yes, of the Howard Carter fame). Tutankhamen was Akhenathen son (not by Nefertiti) by Kiya (possibly the mother of Smenkhare and Tutankhamun).

Tutankhamen (1336-1327 BC) ruled for a short while, and there are numerous theories swirling regarding his death. His widow, Queen Ankhesenamen, was widowed at an early age. The Kingdom was adrift. Akhenathen had cut away the rulers from the powerful nobles and priests with his new religion. And the Queen Ankhesenamen, sent an emissary to another Indo Aryan kingdom in that area.

And that is another story. And another nail in the old history coffin.

Tutankhamen’s dynasty (18th dynasty) was succeeded by Ramesses of the 19th dynasty. Ramesses name can also be transcribed as RaMeSein. We also know that Sin was the Assyrian moon goddess, popular in that area, hence Ramesses actually will be translated to Ramachandra in Sanskrit!

Who were the Mittanis

Were some Egyptian dynasties possibly related to the various Indian ‘chandravanshis’ ruler families?

The Mittanis, one of the at least three Indo Aryan groups (the other two were the Hittites and Elamites) were major players in West Asia sphere. The Mitanni worshiped Vedic gods, were connected by marriage across several generations to the Egyptian 18th dynasty – the most prominent dynasty during whose rule Egyptian power, prosperity and culture peaked – and to which Akhenaten belonged.

The first Mitanni king was Sutarna I (Sanskrit meaning “good sun”). Mitanni kings were named (who followed Sutarna-I) Paratarna I (Sanskritic meaning “great sun”), Parashukshatra (the Egyptian Parashurama, “ruler with axe”), Saukshatra (“son of Sukshatra, the good ruler”), Artatama or Ritadhama (“abiding in cosmic law”), Tushratta, (Dasharatha), and finally Matiwazza (Mativaja, “whose wealth is prayer”) during whose lifetime the Mitanni state was subordinated to Assyria.

The daughter of King Artatama was married to Tuthmose IV, Akhenaten’s grandfather, and the daughter of Sutarna II (Gilukhipa, – “khipa” of these names is the Sanskrit “kshipa,” night) was married to his father, Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC), the great temple builder (alike the focus on temple construction in South East Asia 1000 years later).

Queen SitamenIn his old age, Amenhotep wrote to Dasharatha many (7 requests are documented and evidenced) times wishing to marry his daughter, Tadukhipa. It appears that by the time she arrived Amenhotep III was dead. Tadukhipa married the new king Akhenaten and she became famous as the queen Kiya (short for Khipa).

The Egyptian kings had other wives as well. Akhenaten’s mother, Tiye, was the daughter of Yuya, a Mitanni married to a Nubian. Nefertiti was, possibly, the daughter of Tiye’s brother Ay, who was to become king himself. The 18th dynasty had a liberal dose of Indic blood.

Other Linkages

There was a Sun Temple at Karnak in Egypt – and there is a sun temple at Konark in Orissa even today. There are many Pharaohs named Sheshonk /Sheshenq under various dynasties. Shashank शशांक (meaning moon) is common name in India even today – which ties in with the many names that Pharoahs took . This name also is also similar to Sheshnag, शेषनाग, the infinite serpent on whom Vishnu rests – and Egyptians revered snakes.

RenenutetApart from these archaeological finds, there is huge supporting body of philological and linguistic evidence (based on which most modern historical theories have been postulated) which point to significant presence and influence in the Middle East – between Turkey to Syria and Iran; right upto the borders of modern sub-continental India.

The Loyal Black Rat

Who is a witness to these path breaking adventures and long, lonely journeys across Asia, by these interpid Indians?

The Black Rat (Rattus rattus).

As per a new report by an Australian researcher, the Indian rat migration began 20,000 years – a corollary of human travel, and not natural migration. The route of this spread is through the Middle East – and later to Europe.

Speculatively speaking

When enterprising Indian traders set out from India and slowly spread across the Middle East to Turkey – spreading their languages, religion and social systems, travelling in caravans of bullock-carts. And ships of the fabled land of Ophir, from South India, known as Oviyarnadu, came to West Asia, carrying ivory, peacocks, monkeys, sandalwood (says the Bible).

These loyal rats travelled with the interpid Indian traders, on their ships and bullock carts, is how I think these rats spread. This is yet another part of the jigsaw – in which the Amarna letters, the Boghazkoi tablets and the DNA sampling of Indians (and Indian rats) disprove the AMT /AIT theory. These incidents point to another version of history.

History Re-write

Ancient history as we know it today is at the cusp of a major re-writing, Three independent developments, in the last 100 years completely invalidate existing versions of history – and will clear the way for a major re-write.

Current (euro-centric) history basically starts from: -

  • Sumeria and Babylon (current day Syria, Iraq) where the world’s first civilisations were born.
  • From there the action moved to Egypt. The Rise of the Egyptian civilisation thereafter.
  • Meanwhile, Aryans from Siberia and Central Asia came to Iran and split in two directions. One came to India, defeated the Dravidians, set up the Vedic civilisation. Indians did not count much for much. (After all, they were not interested in massacres, killings, loot, plunder, persecution).
  • The other branch went to Europe. Greece and Rome were the other Aryan civilisations. The Greeks and Romans learnt a few things from the Egyptians – but were generally great people and the rest is history.
  • The Chinese civilisation started in 1000 BC and were also great guys.
  • But the best were the Greeks and Romans – and modern Europe is the successor of Rome and Greece.
  • Red Indians, Africans also have some history – but generally nothing much about these guys.

Some parts of this history are false. New history based more on archaeology and modern science is definitely getting re-written – especially about India, Middle East and Europe.

The first major re-write happened quietly. In this post, I will lay out the first major re-write.

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