Ancient Egypt Wiki
Dynasty 18th Dynasty
Pharaoh(s) Akhenaten, Smenkhkare or Tutankhamun
Titles King's Son
Father Šuppiluliuma I
Mother Henti (?)
Spouse(s) Dahamunzu (engaged)
Burial Hattuša (?)

Zannanza (transliteration: zꜣ-nswt, meaning: "King's Son") was a Hittite Prince sent off to Egypt to enter a diplomatic marriage with the widowed Queen Dahamunzu of the Eighteenth Dynasty during the New Kingdom. He thus almost became Pharaoh of Egypt.


His actual name remains unknown; in The Deeds of Šuppiluliuma and the Amarna letters he is called Zannanza in cuneiform which is a reference to the ancient Egyptian title "King's Son" itself (zꜣ nswt).[1]


Zannanza was one of the numerous sons of the Hittite King Šuppiluliuma I. His mother was probably Šuppiluliuma's first Queen Henti, who may have been banished to the land of Ahhiyawa as a result of an advantageous marriage with a Babylonian princess, who replaced her as queen.[2] Notible siblings of Zannanza include his father's heir and successor Arnuwanda II who succumbed to the Egyptian plague, and the next Hittite king Muršili II, who wrote The Deeds of Šuppiluliuma through which Zannanza initially became known.

The Dahamunzu and Zannanza Affair[]

Main article: Dahamunzu and Zannanza Affair.

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

The annals 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, leaving Šuppiluliuma surprised and suspicious.[4] Ultimately, after much negotiation, Šuppiluliuma agreed and selected his son Zannanza to enter a diplomatic marriage in Egypt and become Pharaoh. It is the only instance in ancient Egyptian history where a foreign prince was sent into diplomatic marriage with the Egyptian queen. However, Zannanza is killed, possibly before reaching Egypt's borders.[4] The further circumstances of his death remain unknown. 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".[5]

In the unfolding events, Šuppiluliuma became enraged and invaded the Egyptian territory at Amqi, taking prisoners of war back home to the Hittite capital city Hattuša. 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 by these prisoners.[6]

See also[]


  1. Liverani 1971, p. 161-162.
  2. Bryce 1999.
  3. Güterbock 1956, p. 94.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Reeves 2001, p. 175-176.
  5. Güterbock 1956, p. 108.
  6. Aldred 1988, p. 298.


  • Aldred, C., 1988: Akhenaten, King of Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Bryce, T., 1999: The Kingdom of the Hittites. Oxford University Press.
  • 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.