Alalakh (Hittite: Alalaḫ) was an ancient city-state, a late Bronze Age capital in the Amuq River valley of Turkey's Hatay Province. It was occupied from before 2000 BC, when the first palace was built, and likely destroyed in the 12th century BC and never reoccupied. The city contained palaces, temples, private houses and fortifications. Modern Antakya has developed near the site.

The remains of Alalakh have formed an extensive mound; the modern archaeological site is known as Tell Atchana. It was first excavated in the 1930s and 1940s by a British team. A team sponsored by the University of Chicago started surveys in the late 20th century, and has conducted excavations led by K. Aslihan Yener in the early 21st century. She is now leading work sponsored by Mustafa Kemal University and the Turkish government.

Archaeological site of Alalakh (Tell Atchana)
Archaeological site of Alalakh (Tell Açana)
Alalakh is located in Turkey
Shown within Turkey
Alternative nameTell Atchana
LocationHatay Province, Turkey
Coordinates36°14′16″N 36°23′05″E / 36.23778°N 36.38472°ECoordinates: 36°14′16″N 36°23′05″E / 36.23778°N 36.38472°E
Founded2nd millennium BC
Abandoned12th century BC
Site notes
ConditionIn ruins


Treaty clay tablet
Slave treaty tablet
Fugitive slave treaty between Idrimi of Alalakh (now Tell Atchana) and Pillia of Kizzuwatna (now Cilicia)
SizeLength: 12 cm (4.7 in)
Width: 6.4 cm (2.5 in)
Created1480BC (about)
Present locationRoom 54, British Museum, London

Alalakh was founded by the Amorites (in the territory of present-day Turkey) during the early Middle Bronze Age in the late 3nd millennium BC. The first palace was built c. 2000 BC, contemporary with the Third Dynasty of Ur.

The written history of the site may begin under the name Alakhtum, with tablets from Mari in the 18th century BC, when the city was part of the kingdom of Yamhad (modern Aleppo). A dossier of tablets records that King Sumu-Epuh sold the territory of Alakhtum to his son-in-law Zimri-Lim, king of Mari, retaining for himself overlordship. After the fall of Mari in 1765 BC, Alalakh seems to have come under the rule of Yamhad again. King Abba-El I of Aleppo bestowed it upon his brother Yarim-Lim, to replace the city of Irridu. Abba-El had destroyed the latter after it revolted against his brother Yarim-Lim.[1] A dynasty of Yarim-Lim's descendants was founded, under the hegemony of Aleppo, that lasted to the 16th century. According to the short chronology found at Mari, at that time Alalakh was destroyed, most likely by Hittite king Hattusili I, in the second year of his campaigns.

After a hiatus of less than a century, written records for Alalakh resume. At this time, it was again the seat of a local dynasty. Most of the information about the founding of this dynasty comes from a statue inscribed with what seems to be an autobiography of the dynasty's founding king.[2]

According to his inscription, in the 15th century BC, Idrimi, son of the king of Yamhad, may have fled his city for Emar, traveled to Alalakh, gained control of the city, and been recognized as a vassal by Barattarna. The inscription records Idrimi's vicissitudes: after his family had been forced to flee to Emar, he left them and joined the "Hapiru people" in "Ammija in the land of Canaan." The Hapiru recognized him as the "son of their overlord" and "gathered around him"; after living among them for seven years, he led his Habiru warriors in a successful attack by sea on Alalakh, where he became king.

However, according to the archeological site report, this statue was discovered in a level of occupation dating several centuries after the time that Idrimi lived. There has been much scholarly debate as to its historicity. Archeologically-dated tablets recount that Idrimi's son Niqmepuh was contemporaneous with the Mitanni king Saushtatar. This seems to support the inscription on the statue claiming that Idrimi was contemporaneous with Barattarna, Saushtatar's predecessor.[3]

The socio-economic history of Alalakh during the reign of Idrimi's son and grandson, Niqmepuh and Ilim-ilimma, is well documented by tablets excavated from the site. Idrimi is referred to rarely in these tablets.

In the mid-14th century BC, the Hittite Suppiluliuma I defeated king Tushratta of Mitanni and assumed control of northern Syria, then including Alalakh, which he incorporated into the Hittite Empire. A tablet records his grant of much of Mukish's land (that is, Alalakh's) to Ugarit, after the king of Ugarit alerted the Hittite king to a revolt by the kingdoms of Mukish, Nuhassa, and Niye. The majority of the city was abandoned by 1300 BC.[4] Alalakh was probably destroyed by the Sea People in the 12th century BC, as were many other cities of coastal Anatolia and the Levant. The site was never reoccupied, the port of Al Mina taking its place during the Iron Age.


Tell Atchana was excavated by the British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley in the years 1937–1939 and 1946–1949. His team discovered palaces, temples, private houses and fortification walls, in 17 archaeological levels reaching from late Early Bronze Age (Level XVII, c. 2200–2000 BC to Late Bronze Age (Level 0, 13th century BC). Among their finds was the inscribed statue of Idrimi, a king of Alalakh c.early 15th century BC. [5]

After several years' surveys in the late 20th century, the University of Chicago team had its first full season of excavation in 2003 directed by K. Aslihan Yener. In 2004, the team had a short excavation and study season in order to process finds.[6][7][8][9] In 2006 the project changed sponsorship and resumed excavations directed by Aslihan Yener under the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Mustafa Kemal University in Antakya.

About five hundred cuneiform tablets were retrieved at Level VII, (Middle Bronze Age) and Level IV (Late Bronze Age).[10] The inscribed statue of Idrimi, a king of Alalakh c. early 15th century BC, has provided a unique autobiography of Idrimi's youth, his rise to power, and his military and other successes. The statue is now held in the British Museum. Akkadian texts from Alalakh primarily consist of juridical tablets, which record the ruling family's control over land and the income that followed, and administrative documents, which record the flow of commodities in and out of the palace. In addition, there are a few word lists, astrological omens and conjurations.


  1. ^ Donald J. Wiseman, Abban and Alalah, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 12, pp. 124-129, 1958
  2. ^ "IDRIMI INSCRIPTION". Archived from the original on 2009-10-20.
  3. ^ W. F. Albright, "Further Observations on the Chronology of Alalah," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, vol. 146, pp. 26-34, 1957
  4. ^ Eric H. Cline, 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, p. 124
  5. ^ Leonard Woolley, Alalakh, An Account of the Excavations at Tell Atchana 1937-1949 (Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London), Oxford, 1955
  6. ^ [1] K. Aslihan Yener, Alalakh: A Late Bronze Age Capital In The Amuq Valley, Southern Turkey, Oriental Institute, 2001
  7. ^ [2] K. Aslihan Yener, "Tell Atchana (Ancient Alalakh) Survey 2001," in Oriental Institute 2001-2002 Annual Report, pp. 13–19, 2002
  8. ^ [3] K. Aslihan Yener, Amuq Valley Regional Projects: Tell Atchana (Alalakh) 2002, Oriental Institute, 2003
  9. ^ [4] Yener et al., Reliving the Legend: The Expedition to Alalakh 2003, Oriental Institute, 2004
  10. ^ Jesse Casana, Alalakh and the Archaeological Landscape of Mukish: The Political Geography and Population of a Late Bronze Age Kingdom, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 353 , pp. 7-37, (February 2009)

See also


  • Donald J. Wiseman, 1953. The Alalakh Tablets, (London: British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara); reviewed by Joan Lines in American Journal of Archaeology 59.4 (October 1955), pp. 331–332; Reprinted 1983 in series AMS Studies in Anthropology ISBN 0-404-18237-2
  • Frank Zeeb, "Die Palastwirtschaft in Altsyrien nach den spätaltbabylonischen Getreidelieferlisten aus Alalah (Schicht VII)", Alter Orient und Altes Testament, no. 282. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2001, ISBN 3-934628-06-0
  • Marlies Heinz, Tell Atchana, Alalakh. Die Schichten VII-XVII, Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1992.
  • Nadav Na'aman, "The Ishtar Temple at Alalakh," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 39, no. 3, pp. 209–214, 1980
  • Juan Oliva, "New Collations and Remarks on Alalakh VII Tablets," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 64, no.1, pp. 1–22, 2005
  • Dominique Collon, The Seal Impressions from Tell Atchana/Alalakh (Alter Orient und Altes Testament), Butzon & Bercker, 1975, ISBN 3-7666-8896-0
  • Amir Sumaka'i Fink, Late Bronze Age Tell Atchana (Alalakh): Stratigraphy, chronology, history, British Archaeological Reports, 2010, ISBN 1-4073-0661-8
  • C. E. Morris and J. H. Crouwel, "Mycenaean Pictorial Pottery from Tell Atchana (Alalakh)," The Annual of the British School at Athens, vol. 80, pp. 85–98, 1985
  • C. Leonard Woolley, Alalakh: An Account of the Excavations at Tell, Oxford University Press, 1955

External links

Abba-El I

Abba-El I (reigned c. 1750 BC – c. 1720 BC - Middle chronology ) was the king of Yamhad (Halab), succeeding his father Hammurabi I.

Amik Valley

The Amik, Amuk, or Amuq Valley (Arabic: الأعماق‎ al-A’maq) is located in the southern part of Turkey, in the Hatay Province, close to the city of Antakya (Antioch on the Orontes). Along with Dabiq in north western Syria, it is believed to be one of the future sites of the battle of Armageddon according to Islamic eschatology.It is notable for a series of archaeological sites in the "plain of Antioch".

The primary sites of the series are Tell al-Judaidah, Çatalhöyük (Amuq) (not to be confused with Çatalhöyük in Anatolia), Tell Tayinat, Tell Kurdu, Alalakh, and Tell Dhahab. Tell Judaidah was surveyed by Robert Braidwood and excavated by C. MacEwan of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in the 1930s.

Amorite language

Amorite is an extinct early Semitic language, formerly spoken during the Bronze Age by the Amorite tribes prominent in ancient Near Eastern history. It is known from Ugaritic, classed by some as its westernmost dialect and the only known Amorite dialect preserved in writing, and non-Akkadian proper names recorded by Akkadian scribes during periods of Amorite rule in Babylonia (the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC), notably from Mari and to a lesser extent Alalakh, Tell Harmal and Khafajah. Occasionally, such names are also found in early Egyptian texts; and one placename, "Sənīr" (שְׂנִיר) for Mount Hermon, is known from the Bible (Deuteronomy 3:9).Amorite is considered an archaic Northwest Semitic language, but there is also some evidence for other groupings.

Notable characteristics include the following:

The usual Northwest Semitic imperfective-perfective distinction is found: Yantin-Dagan, 'Dagon gives' (ntn); Raṣa-Dagan, 'Dagon was pleased' (rṣy). It included a 3rd-person suffix -a (unlike Akkadian or Hebrew) and an imperfect vowel, a-, as in Arabic rather than the Hebrew and Aramaic -i-.

There was a verb form with a geminate second consonant — Yabanni-Il, 'God creates' (root bny).

In several cases that Akkadian has š, Amorite, like Hebrew and Arabic, has h, thus hu 'his', -haa 'her', causative h- or ʼ- (I. Gelb 1958).

The 1st-person perfect is in -ti (singular), -nu (plural), as in the Canaanite languages.


Habiru (sometimes written as Hapiru, and more accurately as ʿApiru, meaning "dusty, dirty") is a term used in 2nd-millennium BCE texts throughout the Fertile Crescent for people variously described as rebels, outlaws, raiders, mercenaries, bowmen, servants, slaves, and laborers.

Hammurabi II

Hammurabi II (reigned Middle 17th century BC - Middle chronology) was an obscure king of Yamhad (Halab), probably reigning after Irkabtum.


Idrimi was the king of Alalakh in the 15th century BC (c. 1460–1400 BC). He was a Hurrianised son of Ilim-Ilimma I the king of Halab, now Aleppo, who had possibly been deposed by the new regional master, Barattarna or Parshatatar, king of the Mitanni. Nevertheless, he succeeded in gaining the throne of Alalakh with the assistance of a group known as the Habiru. Idrimi founded the kingdom of Mukish and ruled from Alalakh as a vassal to the Mitanni state. He also invaded the Hittite territories to the north, resulting in a treaty with the country Kizzuwatna. Idrimi is known from an inscription on a statue found at Alalakh by Leonard Woolley in the 1930s and 1940s, revealing new insights about the history of Syria in the mid-second millennium.


Irkabtum (reigned c. Middle 17th century BC - Middle chronology ) was the king of Yamhad (Halab) succeeding his father Niqmi-Epuh.

Niqmepa, King of Alalakh

Niqmepa, son of Idrimi, was King of Alalakh in the first half of 15th century BC.


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 and working back the figures. Information is found in the biography of Idrimi of Alalakh (or Alalah, which became the capital of Aleppo). 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 a campaign early in his reign (around 1493). Information about his death is mentioned in a record from Nuzi dated to the death of king Parshatatar, possibly around 1420.


Pilliya was a king of Kizzuwatna ca. the 15th century BC (short chronology). He signed a treaty with Idrimi of Alalakh, allying with the Mitanni empire.He made peace with Zidanta II.

Shuttarna I

Shuttarna I was an early king of the Mitanni. His name is recorded on a seal found at Alalakh. The inscription reads "son of Kirta" and is the only reference about this king yet discovered. He would have reigned in the early 15th century BC.

Tell Tayinat

Tell Ta'yinat is a low-lying ancient tell on the east bank at the bend of the ancient Orontes river, in the Hatay province of southeastern Turkey about 25 kilometers south east of Antakya (ancient Antioch). It is located along the southwestern edge of the Amuq valley. The site lies some 800 meters from Tell Atchana, the site of the ancient city of Alalakh. It is a possible site of the city of Calneh mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Umm el-Marra

Umm el-Marra, Arabic: أم المرى‎, east of modern Aleppo in the Jabbul Plain of northern Syria, was one of the ancient Near East's oldest cities, located on a crossroads of two trade routes northwest of Ebla, in a landscape that was much more fertile than it is today. Possibly this is the city of Tuba mentioned in Egyptian inscriptions listing cities that were defeated or destroyed in the Pharaoh Thutmose III's north Syrian campaign. The city of Tuba is also mentioned

in epigraphic remains from Ebla, Mari, and Alalakh.


Yamhad was an ancient Semitic kingdom centered on Ḥalab (Aleppo), Syria. The kingdom emerged at the end of the 19th century BC, and was ruled by the Yamhadite dynasty kings, who counted on both military and diplomacy to expand their realm. From the beginning of its establishment, the kingdom withstood the aggressions of its neighbors Mari, Qatna and Assyria, and was turned into the most powerful Syrian kingdom of its era through the actions of its king Yarim-Lim I. By the middle of the 18th century BC, most of Syria minus the south came under the authority of Yamhad, either as a direct possession or through vassalage, and for nearly a century and a half, Yamhad dominated northern, northwestern and eastern Syria, and had influence over small kingdoms in Mesopotamia at the borders of Elam. The kingdom was eventually destroyed by the Hittites, then annexed by Mitanni in the 16th century BC.

Yamhad's population was predominately Amorite, and had a typical Bronze Age Syrian culture. Yamhad was also inhabited by a substantial Hurrian population that settled in the kingdom, adding the influence of their culture. Yamhad controlled a wide trading network, being a gateway between the eastern Iranian plateau and the Aegean region in the west. Yamhad worshiped the traditional Northwest Semitic deities, and the capital Halab was considered a holy city among the other Syrian cities as a center of worship for Hadad, who was regarded as the main deity of northern Syria.

Yamhad dynasty

The Yamhad dynasty was an ancient Amorite royal family founded in c. 1810 BC by Sumu-Epuh of Yamhad who had his capital in the city of Aleppo. Started as a local dynasty, the family expanded its influence through the actions of its energetic ruler Yarim-Lim I who turned it into the most influential family in the Levant through both diplomatic and military tools. At its height the dynasty controlled most of northern Syria and the modern Turkish province of Hatay with a cadet branch ruling in the city of Alalakh (Land of Mukish).

The dynasty was ousted during a short Hittite occupation of Aleppo in the beginning of the 16th century BC but was restored and expanded the kingdom again before being driven out of Aleppo by the Mitannians in c. 1524. Idrimi a member of the dynasty was able to conquer Alalakh leaving his descendants to rule until the last of them was dethroned by the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I in c. 1344 BC.

Yarim-Lim II

Yarim-Lim II (reigned c. 1720 BC – c. 1700 BC - Middle chronology ) was the king of Yamhad (Halab, Aleppo) succeeding his father Abba-El I

Yarim-Lim of Alalakh

Yarim-Lim (reigned c. 1735 BC – c.  ? BC – Middle chronology ) was a king of Alalakh and son of Hammurabi I of Yamhad. He was granted the city of Alalakh by his brother Abba-El I of Yamhad and started a cadet branch of the Yamhadite dynasty that lasted until the conquest of Alalakh by the Hittite king Hattusili I.


Zarzur (Arabic: زرزور‎, also spelled Zerzur, Zarzour or Zurzur) is a town in northern Syria, administratively part of the Idlib Governorate, located northwest of Idlib along the Syrian–Turkish borders on the western bank of the Orontes River. Nearby localities include nahiyah ("subdistrict") center Darkush to the north, al-Ghafar to the east, Kafr Dibbin to the southeast, district center Jisr al-Shughur to the south and al-Janudiyah to the southwest. According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics, Zarzur had a population of 3,126 in the 2004 census.Zarzur has been identified as the Bronze Age town of Zuzzura (known as Zunzurha by the Hittites) of the kingdom of Alalakh. It is mentioned as Tundura in Thutmose III's list of settlements.In the early 1960s it was described as a little village of 375 inhabitants. Although most of the inhabitants are Sunni Muslims, conversions to Shia Islam began in 1945 as a result of the missionary activities of Muhammad Naji al-Ghafri. Naji's work was supported by the embassy of Iran in the capital Damascus and included funding the construction of a hussainia, a congregation hall for Shia commemorations. The entire clans of Tarmash, al-Manjad and Asayyad became Shia Muslims. Presently, roughly 25% of Zarzur's population follow Shia Islam.During the ongoing Syrian civil war, on 14 December 2012, a Shia mosque (hussainia) was set alight by opposition rebels from an Islamist unit of the Free Syrian Army. As sectarian slogan promoting civil strife was written on the wall of the building. Human Rights Watch condemned the targeting of the hussainia by rebel forces, as well as the government's apparent use of the building for military purposes. Following the torching of the hussainia, locals claimed Zarzur's Shia inhabitants fled the village fearing retaliatory attacks on the community as a result of their perceived support of the government.

Ḫattušili I

Hattusili I (Ḫattušili I) was a king of the Hittite Old Kingdom. He reigned ca. 1586–1556 BC (short chronology).

He used the title of Labarna at the beginning of his reign. It is uncertain whether he is the second king so identified, making him Labarna II, or whether he is identical to Labarna I, who is treated as his predecessor in Hittite chronologies.

During his reign, he moved the capital from Neša (Kaneš, near modern Kültepe) to Ḫattuša (near modern Boğazkale), taking the throne name of Ḫattušili to mark the occasion.

He is the earliest Hittite ruler for whom contemporary records have been found. In addition to "King of Ḫattuša", he took the title "Man of Kuššara", a reference to the prehistoric capital and home of the Hittites, before they had occupied Neša.

A cuneiform tablet found in 1957 written in both the Hittite and the Akkadian language provides details of six years of his reign.

In it, he claims to have extended the Hittite domain to the sea, and in the second year, to have subdued Alalakh and other cities in Syria. In the third year, he campaigned against Arzawa in western Anatolia, then returned to Syria to spend the next three years retaking his former conquests from the Hurrians, who had occupied them in his absence.

Black Sea
Central Anatolia
Eastern Anatolia


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