Parratarna of Mitanni and Shamsi-Adad I

Published December 18, 2017 by amaic
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 Damien F. Mackey


[A] lack of due information for Parratarna and other early Mitannian kings has compelled the likes of professor Gunnar Heinsohn and Emmet Sweeney to look for alternative explanations.





The kingdom of Mitanni, estimated to have coincided with the Old Babylonian Kingdom [OBK], is considered to have become a superpower by the time of Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty.

Yet there is a disturbing lack of archaeology, and also of documentation, for the Mitannians.

Mirko Novák, following a conventional line that would well separate in time OBK from Eighteenth Dynasty Egypt, tells of the generally perceived archaeological situation for Mitanni:




When the Hittite king Hattušili I started his forays to Northern Syria, a certain “King of the Hurrians” appeared as one of his main opponents. Nowadays it is widely accepted that this person must have been one of the first rulers of the political entity later known as “Mittani” …. Therefore, the formation of this powerful kingdom must have taken place

during the latest phase of the Old Babylonian Period and predated the sack of Babylon by the Hittites under Hattušili’s grandson Muršili I by at least two generations …. From an archaeological point of view there must be a significant overlap of what is called “Old Babylonian” and “Mittani” Periods in Northern Mesopotamia, although they appear in nearly all chronological charts as succeeding one the other with a distinctive break in between.

Still, until today archaeology has failed in establishing a stratigraphical and chronological sequence of late Old Babylonian and early Mittanian layers on sites in the core area of the kingdom, the so-called Habur-triangle”. …. One reason for that may be that none of the major urban capitals of the Mittani Empire has been excavated or investigated in a serious degree. Even the locations of its political centres Waššukanni … Ta‘idu … and Irride … are still uncertain. ….


Mitanni’s great king, Parratarna (or Parshatar), Idrimi’s contemporary, has apparently left us pitifully few records (


…. Parshatatar – Parshatatar, Paršatar, Barattarna, or Parattarna was the name of a Hurrian king of Mitanni in the fifteenth century BC. Very few records of him are known as sources from Mitanni are rare, most information we have about the kingdom, especially its early history and kings come from records outside of the state. Dates for the kings can be deduced by comparing the chronology of Mitanni and other states, especially ancient Egypt, at a later date, information is found in the biography of Idrimi of Alalakh. Parshatatar conquered the area and made Idrimi his vassal, Idrimi becoming king of Aleppo, Mitanni in his time probably extended as far as Arrapha in the east, Terqa in the south, and Kizzuwatna in the West. Parshatatar may have been the Mitannian king the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmosis I met at the Euphrates River in an early in his reign. Information about his death is mentioned in a record from Nuzi dated to the death of king Parshatatar, possibly around 1420.


This lack of due information for Parratarna and other early Mitannian kings has compelled the likes of professor Gunnar Heinsohn and Emmet Sweeney to look for alternative explanations.


Connecting with Assyria


Emmet Sweeney, for example, has explained in his article, “Shalmaneser III and Egypt”:


We see that, without exception, the Mitannian levels are followed immediately, and without any gap, by the Neo-Assyrian ones; and the Neo-Assyrian material is that of the early Neo-Assyrians, Ashurnasirpal II and his son Shalmaneser III. Now, since the last Mitannian king, Tushratta, was a contemporary of Akhenaton, this would suggest that Ashuruballit, who wrote several letters to Akhenaton, was the same person as Ashurnasirpal II, father of Shalmaneser III.

The end of the Mitannian kingdom is documented in a series of texts from the Hittite capital. We are told that Tushratta was murdered by one of his sons, a man named Kurtiwaza. The latter then feld, half naked, to the court of the Hittite King, Suppiluliumas, who put an army at his disposal; with which the parricide conquered the Mitannian lands. The capital city, Washukanni, was taken, and Kurtiwaza was presumably rewarded for his treachery.

The region of Assyrian was a mainstay of the Mitannian kingdom. A few years earlier Tushratta had sent the cult statue of Ishtar of Nineveh to Egypt. So, if Kurtiwaza was established as a puppet king by Suppiluliumas, it is likely that his kingdom would have included Assyria.


The “Middle Assyrians” were a mysterious line of kings who ruled Assyria before the time of the Neo-Assyrians and supposedly after the time of the Mitannians. Yet we know of no Assyrian stratigraphy which can give a clear line from Mitannian to Middle Assyrian to Neo-Assyrian. On the contrary, as we saw, the Mitannians are followed immediately by the Neo-Assyrians of Ashurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III. This can only mean that the Middle Assyrians must have been contemporaries of the Mitannians, and were most likely Mitannian kings using Assyrian names. We know that ancient rulers often bore several titles in accordance with the various nations and ethnic groups over which they reigned. Since the Mitannian royal names are Indo-Iranian, and therefore meaningless and probably unpronounceable to the Semitic speakers of Assyria, it is almost certain that they would also have used Assyrian-sounding titles.

That the Middle Assyrians were in fact contemporary with the Mitannians is shown in numberless details of artwork, pottery, epigraphy, etc. (See for example P. Pfalzner, Mittanische und Mittelassyrische Keramik (Berlin, 1995) ….


Emmet’s conclusion about Idrimi’s powerful Mitannian contemporary, Parratarna – that he was the ‘Assyrian’ king Shamsi-Adad I (our biblical Hadadezer contemporary of David’s) – would now appear to make chronological – and probably geographical – sense.

And it is also now likely that, as we read above: “[Parratarna] Parshatatar may have been the Mitannian king the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmosis I met at the Euphrates River in an early in his reign”. For, according to this present series, pharaoh Thutmose [Thutmosis] I was a late contemporary of king David’s.

Whilst Shamsi-Adad I is quite well known, I have wondered why we know so little about his long-reigning son, Ishme-Dagan I (c. 1776 BC – c. 1736 BC, conventional dating). Sweeney has duly suggested that Ishme-Dagan I was the Mitannian, Shaushtatar, son of Parratarna. Conventional date figures given for the reign of Shaushtatar are c. 1440 BC – 1415 BC.


As we would expect, if Parratarna was Shamsi-Adad I (= David’s for, Hadadezer), then the Mitannian king would be no ally of Idrimi (= David’s ally, Adoniram = Hiram). And, indeed, we learn of Parratarna’s (initial, at least) “hostility” towards Idrimi, with possible “warfare”:


…. Edward Greenstein’s and David Marcus’s translation of the inscription on lines 42-51 revealed that despite Parratarna’s hostility to Idrimi while he was in exile in Canaan, he actually respected Idrimi’s coalition, maybe submitting to Idrimi out of fear that his social outcast army could overthrow him. Idrimi said that King Parshatatar for “seven years … was hostile to me. I sent Anwanda to Parrattarna, the mighty king, the king of the Hurrian warriors, and told him of the treaties of my ancestors … and that our actions were pleasing to the former kings of the Hurrian warriors for they had made a binding agreement. The mighty king heard of the treaties of our predecessors and the agreement made between them and … read to him the words of the treaty in detail. So on account of our treaty terms he received my tribute … I … restored to him a lost estate. I swore to him a binding oath as a loyal vassal.”.[16] Here, possibly influenced by the nature of Hittite oaths, Idrimi swore loyalty to Parshatatar after seven years despite him overthrowing his father on the throne in Aleppo. He made his request to the throne peacefully by restoring [Parattarna’s] estate and swore him an ultimate Hurrian loyalty oath, which was the first step to Idrimi regaining his power again.


The inscription in lines 42-51 of Greenstein and Marcus’s translation described Idrimi’s capture of Alalakh as a peaceful effort to appease Parrattarna with tributes of restoring his estate and swearing a loyalty oath unto him rather than using warfare to capture the city. Marc Van de Mieroop mentioned that Idrimi “captured” Alalakh implying a warfare approach that the inscription doesn’t give. Author Paul Collins described Idrimi’s maneuver as a “greeting-present, the traditional form of establishing and maintaining friendly relations between rulers, even those of different rank, and reminded him (Parrattarna) of earlier oaths sworn between the kings of Halab (Aleppo) and the kings of Mitanni.” Also, Collins mentioned that Parratarna had accepted Idrimi’s tribute to him as a loyal vassal ruler. He only allowed Idrimi limited independence of making his own military and diplomatic decisions just as long as it didn’t interfere with Mitanni’s overall policy. This further allowed Idrimi to set his sights on his diplomatic and military aims in Kizzuwatna and act as an independent ruler.[17] Idrimi’s “capture” of Alalakh was evidenced in his statue inscription and Collins’ analysis as a peaceful movement rather than a military movement”.



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