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Amarna tablets: Letters from the king of Alasiya
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Alasiya
The eastern Mediterranean
 

Letters from the king of Alasiya

EA 35

    Speak to the King of Egypt, my brother. Thus says the King of Alashiya [9], your brother:
    All goes well with me. With my houses, my wife, my sons, my chief men, my horses, my chariots, and in my lands, it is well. And with my brother may it be well. With your houses, your wives, your sons, your chief men, your horses, your chariots, and in your lands, may it be very well.
    My brother, behold, my messenger I have sent with your messenger to you to Egypt. Now I have sent 500 (talents [1]) of copper to you; I have sent it to you as a gift [2] - for my brother. Do not let my brother be concerned that the amount of copper is too little, for in my land the hand of Nergal [3], my lord, has killed all the men of my land, and so there is not a (single) copper-worker.
    Therefore, do not let my brother be concerned. Send your messenger along with my messenger quickly and all the copper that you desire I will send you, my brother.
    You are my brother; you should send me silver [4], my brother - a great quantity. Give me the best silver, then I will send you, my brother, all that you, my brother, request.
    Furthermore, my brother, the ox my messenger requested give to me, my brother. And sweet oil, my brother send to me, my brother: two containers; and send me a specialist in eagle-omens [5].
    Furthermore, my brother, the people of my land speak to me about the lumber [6] that the king of Egypt receives from me. So, my brother, make the payment to me.
    Furthermore, a man of Alashiya died in Egypt, and his possessions are in your land, but his son and wife are with me. Let my brother, therefore, attend to the affairs of the man of Alashiya; and give it into the hand of my messenger, my brother.
    Do not be concerned, my brother, that your messenger has remained three years in my land, for the hand of Nergal is upon my land and upon my house. My wife bore a son, who is now dead, my brother.
    Send your messenger with my messenger very promptly, then a gift for my brother I will send you.
    Furthermore, my brother, the silver for which I asked you, let my brother send in great quantity. And, my brother, the gifts for which I asked you, send, and all my desires let my brother fulfill, and whatever desires you mention to me I will do.
    With the King of Hatti [7] and the King of Shanhar [8] you have not been placed on the same level (?).
    As for me, whatever presents my brother has sent to me, I have returned to you double.
    Your messenger has come to me promptly, and my messenger shall come to you promptly.
Source of this text: http://www.kchanson.com/ANCDOCS/meso/amarna35.html
K.C.Hanson after W. Moran, The Amarna Letters, 1992, and Samuel A. B. Mercer, The Tell El-Amarna Tablets, 1939

EA 38

    Say to the king of Egypt, my brother: Message of the king of Alashiya, your brother. For me all goes well, and for you may all go well. For your household, your chief wives, your sons, your horses, your chariots, among your numerous troops, in your country, among your magnates, may all go very well.
    Why, my brother, do you say such a thing to me: "Does my brother not know this?"
    As far as I am concerned, I have done nothing of the sort. Indeed, men of Lukki [11], year by year, seize villages in my own country.
    My brother, you say to me: "Men from your country were with them."
    My brother, I myself do not know that they were with them. If men from my country were (with them), send (them back) and I will act as I see fit. You yourself do not know men from my country. They would not do such a thing. But if men from my country did do this, then you yourself do as you see fit.
    Now, my brother, since you have not sent back my messenger, for this tablet it is the king's brother (as messenger). Let him write. Your messengers must tell me what I am to do. Furthermore, which ancestors of yours did such a thing to my ancestors? So no, my brother, do not be concerned.
Source of this text: http://www.courses.psu.edu/cams/cams400w_aek11/letters.html,
accessed December 2004

[1] talent: about 25 kg to the Greeks. If the 500 refers to the flat fourhandled copper ingots current in the Late Bronze Age which weighed a talent each, the transport would have amounted to about 12.5 tons of copper. See copper mining
[2] gift: 'Brothers' did not trade with each other, but they certainly could exchange gifts, even if these exchanges were accompanied by requests and manifestations of dissatisfaction. Moreover as a brother king the ruler of Cyprus does not prostrate himself in front of the pharaoh.
[3] Nergal: Mesopotamian sun god and ruler of the world of the dead. In his role as god of the midday heat he caused pestilences, wars and destruction. He was also god of health and fertility.
[4] silver: compared with the later silver mines in Greece, Egyptian production of silver as an adjunct of gold was relatively small scale.
[5] eagle-omens: the Egyptians were known for their magicians throughout the Levant: Ten measures of magic have come into this world. Egypt received nine of them, the rest of the world only one measure
[6] lumber: Egypt imported much of its timber from the Levant, above all from Byblos in today's Lebanon
[7] Hatti: Major Anatolian power during the second millennium BCE. Rivalled Egypt for hegemony in Syria.
[8] Shanhar: country in northern Syria
[9] Alasiya: generally identified as Cyprus, sites on the Syrian mainland have also been proposed. Wherever it was located it would have to satisfy a few conditions: Local copper production during the Egyptian New Kingdom would have to have been sizable, and it had to have direct access to the sea. In EA40 the governor of Alasiya wrote to Pharaoh:
Another (matter): My brother, these people and this ship belong to the king, my lord. Send back the ship of the king, my lord, quickly and safely.
April 2003: Petrographic analysis of the Alasyia tablets performed by Yuval Goren, Shlomo Bunimovitz, Israel Finkelstein, and Nadav Na'aman proves that the clay came from the Troodos mountains in Cyprus (American Journal of Archaology, April 2003). [10]
[11] Lukki: possibly the Sea People of the Lukka.

 


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-[10] The Location of Alashiya by Goren, Bunimovitz, Finkelstein and Naaman
 

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