Myth and Politics in Ancient Near Eastern Historiography - Mario Liverani

Myth and Politics in Ancient Near Eastern Historiography - Mario Liverani

3. Shunashura, or: on reciprocity

Myth and Politics in Ancient Near Eastern Historiography - Mario Liverani

Mario Liverani [+-]
University of Rome “La Sapienza”, (Emeritus)
Mario Liverani is Emeritus Professor of “History of the Ancient Near East” in the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. Member of the Italian National “Lincei” Academy, honorary member of the American Oriental Society. His most recent book is Immaginare Babele (2013); his general handbook Ancient Orient is now available in English translation.


The Hittites, who ruled Anatolia and large parts of northern Syria in the second half of the second millennium, have left us the largest number of political treaties from the ancient Near East. Those can be divided into two groups based on the status of the other treaty partner. There are parity treaties with equals and vassal treaties with subordinates, and the latter group is by far the largest. Treaties had to be renewed repeatedly as they were agreements between two individuals, the kings, rather than between two states. They also had to take into account changes in the political relations, and these shifts produced awkward diplomatic circumstances, when a previously equal ruler became subject. While the political reality was known to all, diplomacy did not permit a categorical statement of the fact. Such a situation is examined here. The south east Anatolian state of Kizzuwatna had been equal to Hatti, but in the early fourteenth century it became a vassal to the Hittite king Tudhaliya II. That new reality was ascertained in a treaty, which was very careful in its language not to offend the king of Kizzuwatna. The discrepancies between political reality and diplomatic language are examined in this chapter. The identity of the Hittite partner of the treaty as Tudhaliya II was determined by Wilhelm (1988). The Shunashura treaty and many other Hittite treaties mentioned in this chapter were recently translated into English by Beckman (1996).

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Liverani, Mario. 3. Shunashura, or: on reciprocity. Myth and Politics in Ancient Near Eastern Historiography. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 53 - 81 Aug 2004. ISBN 9781845532802. Date accessed: 27 Sep 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.18750. Aug 2004

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