Polynesian objects from early European exploration, £19.99
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The Empire of Mitanni was clearly one of the most powerful states in the Near East in the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries BC. The geography of the empire is poorly understood, but at its height the Mitannian empire controlled north Mesopotamia and Syria, from the River Tigris and the region of Assyria to the Mediterranean. It has been suggested that the empire was a federation of people speaking the Hurrian language. The Mitannian capital cities, Washshukanni and Taide, have not been located, but probably lie in the area of the River Khabur in modern Syria.
Some indication of the Mitannian empire's strength is given by the Egyptian records of Thutmosis I which describe it as a major military power. The empire also blocked the expansion of the pharaoh Thutmosis III to the River Euphrates.
A lack of excavated documents means that the exact chronology and relationship of the Mitannian kings are uncertain. The Amarna letters from Egypt include examples from King Tushratta of Mitanni to Amenhotep III discussing a diplomatic marriage alliance. These friendly relations may have resulted from the threat of the Hittites, expanding into Mitannian territory from Anatolia. Eventually the empire was divided between the Hittites in the west and the Assyrians in the east.