History Files


Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia




MapAhhiyawa (Ahhiya)

The most important Bronze Age kingdom in western Anatolia during the latter part of the thirteenth century BC was that of Ahhiyawa. Unfortunately, little is known of it, even down to its exact location and the origin of its people. While scholarly opinion is hotly divided, there may be a connection with the Mycenaeans, who certainly established commercial outposts on the Anatolian coast. The possibility is that they also established a political and military presence there, as a loose confederation of Mycenaean-period cities from the Greek mainland, Rhodes, and Thrace. The similarity between the names Ahhiyawa and Achaeans, the Homeric term for the Greeks of this period, has suggested this link since the kingdom's existence was first discovered.

Mycenaeans or not, Ahhiyawa was situated between the western Anatolian coast and the Luwian state of Arzawa, with the Lukka on its south-eastern border. It first became prominent in the fifteenth century BC, but it was in the mid-thirteenth century that it became a serious problem for the Hittites, once Arzawa had become a Hittite vassal. Chronicled by them as the state of Ekmesh or Ekwesh (a name also linked to the Sea Peoples), Ahhiyawa clearly became one of the major powers of that period, and was also one with a strong seaborne trade which provided certain important trade goods to Syrian cities and through them, the Assyrians.

Towards the end of that same century - the thirteenth - the international system started to break down. At the same time it was hit by drought and a loss of crops. Food supplies dwindled and the number of raids by disenfranchised groups who had banded together greatly increased until, by about 1200 BC, this flood turned into a tidal wave which destroyed the Hittites and many Anatolia and Syrian cities and states. The term 'sea peoples' was used to collectively refer to this mass of raiding peoples. Judging by various contemporary accounts regarding them, it seems that the origin of many of them (if not all) was either in western Anatolia (from places probably including Ahhiyawa, and the Lukka, and perhaps Karkissa too), or mainland Greece (Mycenaeans escaping the Dorian invasion), or the islands in between. It seems likely that the Ahhiyawa kingdom similarly collapsed and its people went hunting for new territory.

(Additional information from Hittite Diplomatic Texts, Gary Beckman (Second Edition, 1999), and The Kingdom of the Hittites, T Bryce (1998), and from External Link: Hittites.info (dead link).)

c.1450 BC

Ahhiyawa first becomes prominent on the Aegean coast of Anatolia, being mentioned in Hittite texts, but it remains of minor importance. Its main base or capital is Milawata (Millawanda, classical Miletus).

Map of Ahhiyama
Whilst this map concentrates principally on neighbouring Arzawa to show a rough estimation of its borders at the kingdom's height, it also clearly shows the approximate location of Ahhiyawa which, if anything, is even more mysterious than the little-recorded Arzawa

fl c.1430s BC


The only monarch to have his name recorded.

c.1430 BC

Attarsiyya conquers the Cypriot kingdom of Alashiya, and the ruler, Madduwattas, flees to the protection of the Hittite king, Tudhaliya II (I). With Hittite support, Madduwattas later conquers the kingdom of Arzawa while the Hittites take Alashiya.

c.1330? BC

Ahhiyawa shares peaceful relations with the Hittites at this point in time, bringing a statue of their main god to Mursili II to cure his illness.

c.1325 BC

Ahhiyawa is attacked by the Hittites as they invade and conquer Arzawa, bringing their power and presence right up to Ahhiyawa's borders. Perhaps as part of a 'cold war', Ahhiyawa later supports an overthrow of the ruler of Wilusa by one Piyama-Radu (see circa 1245 BC).

c.1250 BC

An elusive 'king of Ahhiyawa', is a major player, and is addressed as 'brother' by the Hittite king, Hattusili III, This makes him a recognised equal, but he is hard to pinpoint in any detail. The peaceful relations of the previous century are now harder to find as the two kingdoms vie for supremacy. Hattusili mentions that Wilusa has previously been a bone of contention between the two kingdoms.

Hittite pottery of an Ahhiyawan?
Shown here is a representation on Hittite pottery of an Anatolian warrior of about 1350 BC, possibly representing an Ahhiyawan


fl c.1245 BC


'Great King'.

fl c.1245 BC


Brother. Gave aid to Piyama-Radu.

c.1240 BC

Hittite vassals in the west and south-west of Anatolia rebel under Piyama-Radu, perhaps inspired by the king of Ahhiyawa. Piyama-Radu's name suggests he may be an Arzawan and he already seems to have been expelled from Wilusa after taking control there. King Tudhaliya is unable to suppress him, despite invading and taking Milawata and perhaps the nearby dependant city of Atriya.

c.1230 BC

Amurru concludes a treaty with the Hittite king, preventing seaborne trade between Assyria and Ahhiyawa. The treaty lists the great kings of the period with whom the Hittite king considers himself to be equal: Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, and lastly Ahhiyawa. After writing the treaty, the scribe crosses out the final name. Clearly Ahhiyawa is a borderline case.

c.1220 BC

With the decline of the Hittites, the textual information regarding the Ahhiyawans also disappears. It seems unlikely they are definitively defeated as this is bound to be recorded - instead, they are probably assimilated into the newly emergent kingdoms of the twelfth century, some of which have a Greek heritage which the Ahhiyawans may share.

It is theoretically possible that they become involved in the Mycenaean fight against Troy. When the latter is defeated, further areas of the Anatolian coastline are opened up to Greek settlement, and pressures caused by the regional drought and instability of this period force the dissipation of Ahhiyawa as its people find safer settlement in the north.

Ekwesh warriors in relief
The group of people known as the Ekwesh were involved in the destruction of the Hittite kingdom around 1200 BC, although their origins are clouded in mystery


Another possibility is that some of the Ahhiyawan population can be equated with the Ekwesh, part of the Sea Peoples according to Egyptian accounts. If so, their hostility towards the Hittites probably leads to their being involved in the destruction of that state when it falls in about 1200 BC. Doubt about a Mycenaean link (and therefore an Ahhiyawan one if they are similarly Greek in origin) comes from Ekwesh prisoners taken by Egypt. To be sure of the numbers of enemy dead (6,000, with 9,000 prisoners), the pharaoh orders that the penises of all the uncircumcised victims be cut off, along with the hands of those who had been circumcised. The Ekwesh number amongst the latter, making a Greek connection doubtful.