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The Dahamunzu and Zannanza Affair is an event recorded in the Hittite annals called The Deeds of Šuppiluliuma, which were composed by the Hittite king Muršili II, who is the son of king Šuppiluliuma I.


The Dahamunzu episode should be seen against the background of Egypt's relations with the other major powers in Western Asia during the second half of the 14th century BC, more specifically the three-cornered struggle for power between Egypt, Mitanni and the newly arising power of the Hittites under Šuppiluliuma I.[1] During the late-Amarna period and its immediate aftermath we are almost totally dependent on the Hittite records for information on these matters.[2]

While involved in war with Mitanni, the Hittites were attacked by Egyptian forces in the region of Kadesh, which had only recently come under Hittite control. Šuppiluliuma retaliated by simultaneously besieging Mitanni forces at Karkemish and sending forces into the region of the city Amqi, at that time an Egyptian vassal state.[1] At this point the annals inform us that:

"[The Egyptians] were afraid. And since, in addition, their lord Nibhururiya had died, therefore the queen of Egypt, who was Dahamunzu, sent a messenger to [Šuppiluliuma]".[3]

The Dahamunzu and Zannanza Affair[]

The annals then recount the message the Egyptian widow queen wrote to Šuppiluliuma:

"My husband died. A son I have not. But to thee, they say, the sons are many. If thou wouldst give me one son of thine, he would become my husband. Never shall I pick out a servant of mine and make him my husband. I am afraid".[3]

Such an offer to marry a female member of the Egyptian royal family is unprecedented;[1] as Amenhotep III made clear in his correspondence with a foreign king, the gift of women in marriage was, for Egypt, a one-way trade: From time immemorial no daughter of the king of Egypt is given to anyone.[4] Šuppiluliuma is therefore surprised and suspicious,[1] stating: Such a thing has never happened to me in my whole life![5] Intrigued, he sends his chamberlain to Egypt to investigate the matter.[1] He orders him:

"Go and bring thou the true word back to me! Maybe they deceive me! Maybe (in fact) they do have a son of their lord!"[5]

In the meantime, Šuppiluliuma concludes the siege of Carchemish, then returns to his capital Hattuša for the winter. The following spring his chamberlain and a messenger from Egypt return to him, bringing a further letter of the queen:[6]

"Why didst thou say "they deceive me" in that way? Had I a son, would I have written about my own and my country's shame to a foreign land? Thou didst not believe me and hast even spoke thus to me! He who was my husband has died. A son I have not! Never shall I take a servant of mine and make him my husband! I have written to no other country, only to thee have I written! They say thy sons are many: so give me one son of thine! To me he will be husband, but to Egypt he will be king".[7]

Šuppiluliuma however remains suspicious and he tells the Egyptian messenger: ...You keep asking me for a son of mine (as if it were my) duty. [H]e will in some way become a hostage, but [king] you will not make him![8] Nevertheless, after further negotiations with the Egyptian messenger and consultation of an earlier peace treaty between the Hittites and Egypt, Šuppiluliuma agrees to send one of his sons to Egypt. But this prince, named Zannanza, is killed, possibly before he even reaches Egypt.[9] As the annals make clear, the Hittites accuse the Egyptians for this murder:

"The people of Egypt killed Zannanza and brought word: 'Zannanza died!' And when [Šuppiluliuma] heard of the slaying of Zannanza, he began to lament for Zannanza and to the gods he spoke thus: 'Oh gods! I did no evil, yet the people of Egypt did this to me, and they also attacked the frontier of my country".[10]

This leads to recriminations on behalf of Šuppiluliuma, who again attacks Amqi, drives the Egyptians from it, and returns with prisoners to Hattuša.[11]


Nothing is told of the eventual fate of Dahamunzu, but the draft for a letter written by Šuppiluliuma might shed more light on the matter. This letter is addressed to an unnamed pharaoh, written in response to an earlier letter from this pharaoh to Šuppiluliuma. From this correspondence, it appears that this pharaoh came to the throne of Egypt at some time before the murder of Zannanza, and that Šuppiluliuma seems to have been unaware of this development at the Egyptian court at the time he sent his son there. This new pharaoh might be seen either as a servant to whom Dahamunzu was married against her own wish or as supplanting her on the throne, depending on the identification of the individuals involved (see below).

The deaths of both Šuppiluliuma and his immediate successor Arnuwanda II might be seen as an indirect result of the Zannanza affair because both succumbed to a plague brought to Hattuša by the prisoners from Amqi.[11]


The identifications of the deceased pharaoh Nibhururiya and his widow queen Dahamunzu have been a topic of debate among Egyptologists. Dahamunzu is the Hittite transcription of the Egyptian title tꜣ ḥmt nswt (King's Great Wife),[12] while the Hittite prince Zannanza comes from the Egyptian title zꜣ nswt (King's Son).[13] Both their names thus remain unknown.

Nibhururiya, the name of the recently deceased Pharaoh as it is recorded in the annals, has been seen as a rendering of the prenomen of either Akhenaten (Neferkheperure) or Tutankhamun (Nebkheperure),[9][14] the latter being the more popular choice among Egyptologists. However, the flexibility of the chronology of this period admits both possibilities.[15] Another possible candidate that cannot be ruled out is the obscure pharaoh that might have ruled briefly in between; Smenkhkare. Since the annals account for an event that took place a decade earlier, and given the obscurity of the short-lived reign of Smenkhkare, it is possible that the throne name of his direct predecessor or successor was written down by mistake.

The identity of Dahamunzu is completely dependent on that of her deceased husband. If Akhenaten was the deceased pharaoh, Nefertiti must be Dahamunzu. In the case of Smenkhkare, Dahamunzu must be identified with Meritaten. While in the case of Tutankhamun, she must have been Ankhesenamun.

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Reeves 2001, p. 175.
  2. Aldred 1988, p. 297.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Güterbock 1956, p. 94.
  4. Reeves 2001, p. 64.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Güterbock 1956, p. 95.
  6. Güterbock 1956, p. 96.
  7. Güterbock 1956, p. 96-97.
  8. Güterbock 1956, p. 97.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Reeves 2001, p. 176.
  10. Güterbock 1956, p. 108.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Aldred 1988, p. 298.
  12. Federn 1960, p. 33.
  13. Liverani 1971, p. 161-162.
  14. Breyer 2010, p. 445–451.
  15. Aldred 1988, p. 229.


  • Aldred, C., 1988: Akhenaten, King of Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Breyer, F., 2010: Egytological Remarks Concerning Dahamunzu. Ägypten und Levante / Egypt and the Levant. Vol. 20.
  • Federn, W., 1960: Dahamunzu (KBo V 6 iii 8). Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol. 14.
  • Güterbock, H.G., 1956: The Deeds of Suppiluliuma as told by his son, Mursilli II. Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol. 10.
  • Liverani, M., 1971: Zannanza. Studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici, Vol. 14.
  • Reeves, C.N., 2001: Akhenaten, Egypt's False Prophet. Thames & Hudson, London.