History Files


Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia




MapArzawa (Luwia)

FeatureThis was a poorly-recorded state with uncertain borders sited in the south-western corner of Anatolia. A large region composed of several principalities, it emerged during the dark age of the sixteenth century BC from West Luwian-speaking Indo-Europeans. Their language group seems to have been the first to begin a migration away from the original Indo-European homeland, to the north of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, so they were well settled by the time they entered the historical record. The earliest Hittite records refer both to Arzawa and neighbouring Kizzuwatna as Luwia, so it is possible that they emerged from a single territorial association (see feature link, right, for an examination of Luwian origins).

FeatureThe name was initially pronounced Ar-tzau-wa, and perhaps later as Ar-tzau-va (the original 'w' having been pronounced as a 'v' anyway). The capital may have been at Zippasla (just east of Magnesia) or more likely at Apasas (possibly Ephesos). The Arzawan state had the Hittites as its immediate neighbour to the east, and the barbarian Kaskans and Pala to the north. Mycenaean states began to appear on the western coastline (including, perhaps, Ahhiyawa), and in the mid to late fourteenth century BC the minor Luwian state (or vassal region) of Lukka lay to the immediate south. The north-western region of Wilusa was apparently Arzawan, but may have been independent of the Arzawan state itself, as it traditionally maintained friendly relations with the Hittites. Initially, during the fifteenth century BC at least, the Indo-European rulers of Arzawa were counted amongst the 'great kings' of the day. However, letters from Arzawa were written in the Hittite language, instead of the otherwise universally-used Babylonian cuneiform, revealing that the state court was not fully integrated into the existing 'international system' and had a secondary status to its more powerful neighbour. Eventual conquest by the Hittites removed it from the international picture, and no major Arzawan sites have been found by archaeologists.

FeatureLike other Luwians, the Arzawans chiefly worshipped the storm god (Teshub in Hurrian, and later the Greek Zeus took on the storm god's role). They called him 'Tarhun' but this was rendered as 'Tarhunta' in theophoric names. Another god was Uhha, as seen in the names Uhha-Muwa ('Uhha's Might') and Uhha-Ziti ('Uhha's Man'). When the Arzawans made treaties with the Hittites, they also called the river and mountain gods to witness. Another element that appears in the personal names is 'Kurunta', often under the Sumerograms KAL and LAMMA. 'Kurunta' alone became a personal name for a later prince of the kingdom of Tarhuntassa, which was founded by Luwians, so it seems likely that Kurunta was a local hero as much as a god (like Heracles).

Tarhun stands out as being another contraction of 'tu arun', meaning 'your protector'. Other pronunciations of this asura god are Varuna, Ouranos, Taranis and, of course, the Germanic contracted form of Thor. This presence of an asura in an Anatolian branch of Indo-Europeans is intriguing. Either the cult was borrowed, or the god is so old that it dates back to a time in which all branches of IEs were in contact with one another - ie. somewhere around a date of 4000-4500 BC at the latest.

(Additional information by Edward Dawson, from The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, David W Anthony, and from External Links: Indo-European Chronology - Countries and Peoples, and Indo-European Etymological Dictionary, J Pokorny.)

c.2300 BC

Some time after this point the Luwians settle in Anatolia, just to the south of the (probably indigenous) Hatti. The Luwians are Indo-Europeans of the southern group - generally agreed to have been the first group to migrate out of the original Indo-European homeland to the north of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. The route they have taken in their migration is open to interpretation (and guesswork!), but a route through the Caucuses seems most likely, followed by a more easterly route around the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea. Once in the region of north-eastern Anatolia they will have settled into a semi-nomadic existence for a couple of millennia, before migrating westwards into Anatolia itself and settling permanently. Once there, the Luwians form two major regional states, Arzawa and Kizzuwatna (possibly a single state or region initially, which only later divides into two states).

It seems more than coincidental that 'barbarians from the north' are causing problems in cities within Syria such as Ebla at the same time as the Gutians are first mentioned. These are possible Indo-European tribes who inhabit the Zagros Mountains. In the same period, the Luwians are settling across southern Anatolia, making it likely that one of these groups is responsible for probing expeditions farther south.

c.1640 BC

The newly founded Hittite state to the east invades Arzawa, which is apparently already in existence by this time. However, records of this attack survive only in much later copies, so the use of Arzawa may be an error.

c.1450 BC

Arzawa consists of the south-western corner of Anatolia, plus a wide strip of the Mediterranean coastline up to the border of Kizzuwatna (roughly in the region of Mersin in modern Turkey), some of which later emerges as Tarhuntassa. The Lukka exist to the immediate south, on the Mediterranean coast, while Ahhiyawa begins to be mentioned as occupying the Aegean coast.

fl c.1430s BC


Eventually lost the throne to Madduwattas.

c.1430 BC

MapArzawa concludes a treaty with the Hittite king, Tudhaliya II (I). However, according to an internal Hittite memo, the 'Indictment of Madduwattas', by Tudhaliya's heir, Arnuwanda I, one Madduwattas, an exile from Ahhiyawa, appears to be in regular conflict with Kupanta-Kurunta from his Hittite-supported mountain kingdom of Zippasla. Regularly defeated by the Arzawan king, Madduwattas eventually wins the Arzawan throne with Hittite help (primarily from his son-in-law, King Arnuwanda I), and then moves his capital into Arzawa proper and enlarges the state in western Anatolia.

fl c.1420s BC

Madduwattas of Zippasla

Former king of Alashiya. Initially Zippasla, but later all of Arzawa.

fl c.1370 BC

Tarhundaradus / Tarhunta-Radu

Stronger than Hittite king Tudhaliya IV (III), Tarhundaradus redraws Arzawa's frontier to a line between Tuwanuwa and Tyana, a hundred miles to the south of Hattusa, and along to Uda. A contributor to the Egyptian Amarna letters, Arzawa still uses the Hittite language. Egypt attempts to weaken the Hittites (or recognises that they might have ceased to exist as a viable state) by establishing good relations and proposing a diplomatic marriage with Arzawa, as well as requesting some of the Kaskan people of whom the pharaoh has heard. Apparently, Arzawa is strong enough to reach past the Hittites and take Kaskan prisoners for themselves.

Hittite tablet mentioning Arzawa
This Hittite tablet mentions the kingdom of Arzawa, although generally the Anatolia kingdom is little-known and barely mentioned in the historical record

The Hittites under Suppiluliuma eventually manage to destroy the Arzawan fort of Sallapare and retake Tuwanuwa. Arzawa loses its eastern coastal strip of Tarhuntassa at around the same time (the name bears a startling similarity to that of the Arzawan king). However, the state still holds the rest of its territory intact, which seems to be made up of a series of tribal areas according to Hittite documents (it is possible that it always remains this way, as witnessed by the later regional feuding within the state).

fl c.1350s BC


Anzapahhadu routs an incursion under the Hittite general Himuili, but succumbs to the next one under Suppiluliuma. Arzawa seems to fragment to an extent. Non-Hittite rulers emerge in various locations within the state, and rule independently of one another in a state of continual conflict. Probably the northernmost, the kingdom of Mira borders the Arzawan state of Masa (ruler unknown until about 1323 BC) and the kingdom of Wilusa, while south of it is the Seha River Land kingdom.

1343/42 BC


1342/41 BC


Muwa-Walwis ('Lion-Might')

King of the Seha River Land.

Muwa-Walwis bequeaths his territory to Manappa-Tarhunta, probably one of his younger sons, leaving the others to plot in secret.

fl c.1340 - 1315 BC


Son. King of the Seha River Land. His throne briefly usurped.

fl c.1340 - 1320 BC

Mashhiuiluwa / Maskhuiluwas

Brother. King of Mira.

fl c.1340 - 1315 BC

Targashnalli / Targasnallis

Brother. King of Happalla.

before c.1336 BC

Mashhiuiluwa's brothers besiege him at Mira and force him to flee to the Hittite capital. One of them has an heir named Kupanta-Kurunta after the Arzawan who had previously stood up to the Hittites (c.1430 BC). Suppiluliumas understands this revolt is dangerous for his frontier so he marries his daughter Muwatti to Mashhiuiluwa, after which the couple return to Mira.

fl c.1330s BC


Brother. Usurper king of the Seha River Land.

From this point onwards, some dates given for Arzawan kings appear to be too generous, with the state falling in about 1250 BC. However, in a campaign well-documented in his 'Ten Year Annals', the young Mursili II invades Arzawa and captures it within two years. Given that his reign ends in c.1308 BC, the Arzawan dates have been compressed to fall into line (the alternate dates are shown in parenthesis).

before c.1336 BC


Son of one of the brothers. Usurper king of Mira. (fl c.1320 BC.)

c.1336 - 1333? BC

Manapa-Tarhunta's brothers, led by Ura-Tarhunta, plot to kill him, but he escapes to Karkissa (Caria), and Ura-Tarhunta claims his throne. Hittite joint king Mursili II tries writing to Ura-Tarhunta but is ignored. Both Mursili and his incapacitated brother, Arnuwanda, then both write to the men of Karkissa, asking them to keep Manapa-Tarhunta safe. Ura-Tarhunta meanwhile proves to be both an ineffectual and unpopular usurper. Arnuwanda lives to see a revolt throw out Ura-Tarhunta and reinstall Manapa-Tarhunta.

Uhhaziti / Uhha-Ziti

Took over the main body of Arzawa.

c.1335? - 1327 BC

(Or c.1310-1270 BC.) Uhhaziti clearly causes the Hittites problems, who label him a rebel, probably by reunifying much of Arzawa in the face of their likely attempts to keep it fragmented, and even allying himself with Ahhiyawa. Manappa-Tarhunta (the Seha River Land king) is clearly a client of his. His base is the city of Apasas, a western port town (possibly Ephesos, due to the phonetic similarity).

fl c.1327 BC


Son of Uhhaziti. Capital unknown. (fl c.1260 BC.)

c.1326 - 1325 BC

(Or c.1250 BC.) The Hittite king, Mursili II and his brother, the king of Carchemish, invade the country. Mashhiuiluwa of Mira reports that Uhhaziti is incapacitated, so Mursili attacks the allied Ahhiyawan forces. Piyama-Kurunta and his father have long struggled to keep the Hittites out of Arzawa but after the death of Uhhaziti, his son eventually realises his cause is lost. He surrenders and is deported to Hattusa. Mursili II signs a treaty with the minor Arzawan kingdoms of Mira, Happalla and Seha River Land, recognising them as free men, and of course Hittite clients. Arzawa disappears as a state. However, it retains a special status even as a Hittite subject.

fl c.1323 BC


Client king of Masa (between Mira & Wilusa). Killed by Mursili II?

c.1323 BC

Mashhiuiluwa joins up with an otherwise unknown king of Masa in Arzawa in rebellion against Mursili II. The Hittite king invades Masa and Mira, causing great damage in the latter. The king of Masa is presumably killed and Mashhiuiluwa is handed over by the dead king's people, to be deported back to Hattusa. His adopted son, the usurping Kupanta-Kurunta of about 1336 BC, is handed the throne.

c.1323 - 1270s BC


Client king of Mira. Survived into Hattusili III's reign.

fl c.1320? BC


Client king of Mira. Last recorded king there. (fl c.1260? BC.)

fl c.1315 - 1308 BC


Client king of Happalla. Luwian name.

fl c.1310? BC


Client king of the Seha River Land. (fl c.1280 BC.)

fl c.1300? BC


King? Seizes Wilusa.

c.1295 BC

Piyama-Radu is mentioned in connection with Arzawa and Wilusa, and apparently seizes the throne of the latter before being overthrown by the Hittites. Whether he is a king in part of Arzawa who has been pushed aside by the Hittites or perhaps a member of a royal house is not known, but he does seem to have the intention of asserting a rightful status to rule.

c.1280 BC

At Mira, Kupanta-Kurunta, is considered to be a Hittite family member so Alaksandu of Wilusa is duty-bound to help him even against his own people if need be. The kingdom of Masa (on Wilusa's south-eastern border) attacks Alaksandu and is destroyed (again) by Muwatalli.

c.1275 BC

Hittite king Hattusili III deposes Mursili III, and the latter establishes his powerbase in Arzawa, where he is supported by the populace. Hattusili makes Mursili's son, Karunta, 'king of Tarhuntassa', while exiling Mursili himself.

fl c.1245? BC


Client king of the Seha River Land. Stirred up trouble.

c.1200 BC

Arzawa appears to be a victim of the Sea Peoples (although there is the slight possibility that, given its probable position in the north of Arzawa, the sub-kingdom of Masa may be the kingdom of Mysia, which survives a little longer). While the Hittite empire is destroyed, Arzawa is largely abandoned for at least a century, although in part the neo-Hittite kingdom of Maeonia emerges to take Arzawa's place, along with the Phrygian kingdom.