15th century BC
The 15th century BC is a century which lasted from 1500 BC to 1401 BC. 1504 BC – 1492 BC: Egypt conquers Nubia and the Levant. 1500 BC – 1400 BC: The Rigveda was composed around this time. 1500 BC – 1400 BC: The Battle of the Ten Kings took place around this time. 1500 BC: Coalescence of a number of cultural traits including undecorated pottery, megalithic burials, millet-bean-rice agriculture indicate the beginning of the Mumun Pottery Period in the Korean peninsula. C. 1490 BC: Cranaus, legendary King of Athens, is deposed after a reign of 10 years by his son-in-law Amphictyon of Thessaly, son of Deucalion and Pyrrha. 1487 BC: Amphictyon, son of Deucalion and Pyrrha and legendary King of Athens, dies after a reign of 10 years and is succeeded by Erichthonius I of Athens, a grandson of Cranaus. C. 1480 BC: Queen Hatshepsut succeeded by her stepson and nephew Thutmosis III. Period of greatest Egyptian expansion. C. 1469 BC: In the Battle of Megiddo, Egypt defeats Canaan. C. 1460 BC: The Kassites overrun Babylonia and found a dynasty there that lasts for 576 years and nine months.
1437 BC: Legendary King Erichthonius I of Athens dies after a reign of 50 years and is succeeded by his son Pandion I. 1430 BC – 1160 BC: Hittite New Kingdom established. 1430 BC – 1178 BC: Beginning of Hittite empire. C. 1420 BC: Crete conquered by Mycenae—start of the Mycenaean period. First Linear B tablets. 1400 BC: In Crete the use of bronze helmets. 1400 BC: Palace of Minos destroyed by fire. C. 1400 BC: Linear A reaches its peak of popularity. C. 1400 BC: The height of the Canaanite town of Ugarit. Royal Palace of Ugarit is built. Myceneans conquers border of Anatolia; the Tumulus culture flourishes. Earliest traces of Olmec civilization. Hatshepsut of Egypt, female Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty Thutmose III of Egypt, Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty Amenhotep II, Pharaoh of Egypt The Shang Dynasty Chinese capital city at Ao had massive defensive walls of 20 metres in width at the base and enclosed an area of some 2,100 square yards. See: List of sovereign states in the 15th century BC
The Amarna letters are an archive, written on clay tablets consisting of diplomatic correspondence between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru during the New Kingdom, between c. 1360-1332 BC. The letters were found in Upper Egypt at el-Amarna, the modern name for the ancient Egyptian capital of Akhetaten, founded by pharaoh Akhenaten during the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt; the Amarna letters are unusual in Egyptological research, because they are written in a script known as Akkadian cuneiform, the writing system of ancient Mesopotamia, rather than that of ancient Egypt, the language used has sometimes been characterised as a mixed language, Canaanite-Akkadian. The written correspondence spans a period of at most thirty years; the known tablets total 382, of which 358 have been published by the Norwegian Assyriologist Jørgen Alexander Knudtzon's in his work, Die El-Amarna-Tafeln, which came out in two volumes and remains the standard edition to this day.
The texts of the remaining 24 complete or fragmentary tablets excavated since Knudtzon have been made available. The Amarna letters are of great significance for biblical studies as well as Semitic linguistics, since they shed light on the culture and language of the Canaanite peoples in pre-biblical times; the letters, though written in Akkadian, are colored by the mother tongue of their writers, who spoke an early form of Canaanite, the language family which would evolve into its daughter languages and Phoenician. These "Canaanisms" provide valuable insights into the proto-stage of those languages several centuries prior to their first actual manifestation; these letters, comprising cuneiform tablets written in Akkadian – the regional language of diplomacy for this period – were first discovered around 1887 by local Egyptians who secretly dug most of them from the ruined city of Amarna, sold them in the antiquities market. They had been stored in an ancient building that archaeologists have since called the Bureau of Correspondence of Pharaoh.
Once the location where they were found was determined, the ruins were explored for more. The first archaeologist who recovered more tablets was Flinders Petrie, who in 1891 and 1892 uncovered 21 fragments. Émile Chassinat director of the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology in Cairo, acquired two more tablets in 1903. Since Knudtzon's edition, some 24 more tablets, or fragments, have been found, either in Egypt, or identified in the collections of various museums; the initial group of letters recovered by local Egyptians have been scattered among museums in Germany, Egypt, France and the United States. Either 202 or 203 tablets are at the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin; the archive contains a wealth of information about cultures, kingdoms and individuals in a period from which few written sources survive. It includes correspondence from Akhenaten's reign, as well as his predecessor Amenhotep III's reign; the tablets consist of over 300 diplomatic letters. These tablets shed much light on Egyptian relations with Babylonia, Syria and Alashiya as well as relations with the Mitanni, the Hittites.
The letters have been important in establishing the chronology of the period. Letters from the Babylonian king, Kadashman-Enlil I, anchor the timeframe of Akhenaten's reign to the mid-14th century BC, they contain the first mention of a Near Eastern group known as the Habiru, whose possible connection with the Hebrews — due to the similarity of the words and their geographic location — remains debated. Other rulers involved in the letters include Tushratta of Mitanni, Lib'ayu of Shechem, Abdi-Heba of Jerusalem, the quarrelsome king, Rib-Hadda, of Byblos, who, in over 58 letters, continuously pleads for Egyptian military help; the letters include requests for military help in the north against Hittite invaders, in the south to fight against the Habiru. Amarna Letters are politically arranged in rough counterclockwise fashion: 001–014 Babylonia 015–016 Assyria 017–030 Mitanni 031–032 Arzawa 033–040 Alashiya 041–044 Hatti 045–380+ Syria/Lebanon/CanaanAmarna Letters from Syria/Lebanon/Canaan are distributed roughly: 045–067 Syria 068–227 Lebanon 227–380 Canaan.
Note: Many assignments are tentative. This is just a guide. William L. Moran summarizes the state of the chronology of these tablets as follows: Despite a long history of inquiry, the chronology of the Amarna letters, both relative and absolute, presents many problems, some of bewildering complexity, that still elude definitive solution. Consensus obtains only about what is obvious, certain established facts, these provide only a broad framework within which many and quite different reconstructions of the course of events reflected in the Amarna letters are possible and have been defended.... The Amarna archive, it is now agreed, spans at most about thirty years only fifteen or so. From the internal evidence, the earliest possible date for this correspondence is the final decade of the reign of Amenhotep III, who ruled from 1388 to 1351 BC as early as this king's
Colossi of Memnon
The Colossi of Memnon are two massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, who reigned in Egypt during the Dynasty XVIII. For the past 3,400 years, they have stood in the Theban Necropolis, located west of the River Nile from the modern city of Luxor; the twin statues depict Amenhotep III in a seated position, his hands resting on his knees and his gaze facing eastwards towards the river. Two shorter figures are carved into the front throne alongside his legs: these are his wife Tiye and mother Mutemwiya; the side panels depict the Nile god Hapy. The statues are made from blocks of quartzite sandstone, quarried at el-Gabal el-Ahmar and transported 675 km overland to Thebes; the stones are believed to be too heavy to have been transported upstream on the Nile. The blocks used by Roman engineers to reconstruct the northern colossus may have come from Edfu. Including the stone platforms on which they stand – themselves about 4 m – the colossi reach a towering 18 m in height and weigh an estimated 720 tons each.
The two figures are about 15 m apart. Both statues are quite damaged, with the features above the waist unrecognizable; the southern statue comprises a single piece of stone, but the northern figure has a large extensive crack in the lower half and above the waist consists of 5 tiers of stone. These upper levels consist of a different type of sandstone, are the result of a reconstruction attempt, which William de Wiveleslie Abney attributed to Septimus Severus, it is believed that the two statues were identical to each other, although inscriptions and minor art may have varied. The original function of the Colossi was to stand guard at the entrance to Amenhotep's memorial temple: a massive construct built during the pharaoh's lifetime, where he was worshipped as a god-on-earth both before and after his departure from this world. In its day, this temple complex was most opulent in Egypt. Covering a total of 35 hectares later rivals such as Ramesses II's Ramesseum or Ramesses III's Medinet Habu were unable to match it in area.
With the exception of the Colossi, however little remains today of Amenhotep's temple. It stood on the edge of the Nile floodplain, successive annual inundations gnawed away at its foundations – a famous 1840s lithograph by David Roberts shows the Colossi surrounded by water – and it was not unknown for rulers to dismantle and reuse portions of their predecessors' monuments. Soon after its construction it was destroyed by an earthquake dated by the Armenian Institute of Seismology to around 1200 BC, which left only the 2 huge colossi at the entrance still standing; these were further destroyed by an earthquake in 27 BC, after which they were reconstructed by the Roman authorities. The 1200 BC earthquake opened numerous chasms in the ground which meant that many statues were buried, some in pristine condition; these have been the subject of extensive restoration and excavation conducted by the Armenian/German archaeologist Hourig Sourouzian, who has revealed that the complex consisted of three pylons, each fronted by colossal statues, while at the far end a rectangular Temple complex consisted of a peristyle court surrounded by columns.
So far four of the statues have been re-erected, with 8 waiting to be re-erected, while some 200 statues or pieces of statues are in the Luxor Museum, some on display, others in store awaiting conservation. The modern Arabic name is Kom el-Hatan, but it is known by the Roman name as the Temple of Memnon. Memnon was a hero of the Trojan War, a King of Ethiopia who led his armies from Africa into Asia Minor to help defend the beleaguered city but was slain by Achilles. Memnon was said to be the son of the goddess of dawn, he was associated with colossi built several centuries earlier, because of the reported cry at dawn of the northern statue, which became known as the Colossus of Memnon. The entire Theban Necropolis became referred to as the Memnonium making him "Ruler of the west" as in the case of the god Osiris, called chief of the west. in the 19th century, William de Wiveleslie Abney noted that "he Arabs called these statues'Shama' and'Tama', when speaking of them together gave them the appelation of Sanamât, or the idols."
In 27 BC, a large earthquake shattered the northern colossus, collapsing it from the waist up and cracking the lower half. Following its rupture, the remaining lower half of this statue was reputed to "sing" on various occasions – always within an hour or two of sunrise right at dawn; the sound was most reported in February or March, but this is more a reflection of the tourist season rather than any actual pattern. The earliest report in literature is that of the Greek historian and geographer Strabo, who claimed to have heard the sound during a visit in 20 BC, by which time it was well known; the description varied. Other ancient sources include Pliny, Tacitus and Juvenal. In addition, the base of the statue is inscribed with about 90 surviving inscriptions of contemporary tourists reporting whether they had heard the sound or not; the legend of the "Vocal Memnon", the luck
Aten is the disk of the sun in ancient Egyptian mythology, an aspect of the god Ra. The deified Aten is the focus of the monotheistic religion of Atenism established by Amenhotep IV, who took the name Akhenaten in worship and recognition of Aten. In his poem "Great Hymn to the Aten", Akhenaten praises Aten as the creator, giver of life, nurturing spirit of the world. Aten is mentioned in the Book of the Dead; the worship of Aten was eradicated by Horemheb. The first known reference to Aten the sun-disk as a deity is in The Story of Sinuhe from the 12th dynasty, in which the deceased king is described as rising as a god to the heavens and uniting with the sun-disk, the divine body merging with its maker. By analogy, the term "silver aten" was sometimes used to refer to the moon; the solar Aten was extensively worshipped as a god in the reign of Amenhotep III when it was depicted as a falcon-headed man much like Ra. In the reign of Amenhotep III's successor, Amenhotep IV, the Aten became the central god of the Egyptian state religion, Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten to reflect his close link with the new supreme deity.
The full title of Akhenaten's god was "Ra-Horakhty who rejoices in the horizon, in his Name as the Light, in the sun disc." This lengthy name was shortened to Ra-Horus-Aten or just Aten in many texts, but the god of Akhenaten raised to supremacy is considered a synthesis of ancient gods viewed in a new and different way. The god is considered to be both masculine and feminine simultaneously. All creation was thought to exist within the god. In particular, the god was not depicted in anthropomorphic form, but as rays of light extending from the sun's disk. Furthermore, the god's name came to be written within a cartouche, along with the titles given to a Pharaoh, another break with ancient tradition. Ra-Horus, more referred to as Ra-Horakhty, is a synthesis of two other gods, both of which are attested from early on. During the Amarna period, this synthesis was seen as the invisible source of energy of the sun god, of which the visible manifestation was the Aten, the solar disk, thus Ra-Horus-Aten was a development of old ideas.
The real change, as some see it, was the apparent abandonment of all other gods Amun-Ra, prohibition of idolatry, the debatable introduction of quasi-monotheism by Akhenaten. The syncretism is apparent in the Great Hymn to the Aten in which Re-Herakhty and Aten are merged into the creator god. Others see Akhenaten as a practitioner of an Aten monolatry, as he did not deny the existence of other gods. Other scholars call the religion henotheistic. In the Old Kingdom Egypt, the word "Aten" is a noun meaning "disc" which referred to anything flat and circular. Only in Middle Kingdom Egypt, did it come to be the name of a god during Akhenaten's rule. Aten's name is displayed in two cartouches, carrying royal implications in the framework around the name; some have interpreted this to mean that Akhenaten was the embodiment of Aten, the worship of Aten is directly worship of Akhenaten. Principles of Aten's religion were recorded on the rock tomb walls of Akhetaten. In the religion of Aten, night is a time to fear.
Work is done best when Aten, is present. Aten cares for every creature, created a Nile river in the sky for the Syrians. Aten created all people; the rays of the sun disk only holds out life to the royal family. There is only one known instance of the Aten talking, "said by the'Living Aten': my rays illuminate..."When a good person dies, they continue to live in the City of Light for the dead in Akhetaten. The conditions are the same after death; the explanation as to why Aten could not be represented was that Aten was beyond creation. Thus the scenes of gods carved in stone depicted animals and human forms, now showed Aten as an orb above with life-giving rays stretching toward the royal figure; the king was depicted singularly in relation to divine power. This power transcended animal form. Akhenaten represented himself not as a god, but as a son of Aten, shifting the previous methods of pharaohs claiming to be the embodiment of Horus; this contributes to the belief that Atenism should be considered a monotheistic religion where "the living Aten beside whom there is no other.
The cult centre of Aten was at the new city Akhetaten. The principles of Aten's cult were recorded on the rock walls of tombs of Tall al-Amarnah. Different from other ancient Egyptian temples, temples of Aten were colorful and open-roofed to allow the rays of the sun. Doorways had raised thresholds. No statues of Aten were allowed. However, these were replaced by functionally equivalent representations of Akhenaten and his family venerating the Aten and receiving the ankh from him. Priests had less to do since offerings were limited, oracles were not needed. Temples of Aten did not collect tax. Elite women were
C. 1356 BC – Amenhotep IV begins the worship of Aten in Ancient Egypt, changing his name to Akhenaten and moving the capital to Akhetaten, starting the Amarna Period. C. 1352 BC – Amenhotep III dies and is succeeded as Pharaoh by Amenhotep IV. 1350 BC – Yin becomes the new capital of Shang dynasty China
Egypt the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, across the Mediterranean lie Greece and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt. Egypt has one of the longest histories of any country, tracing its heritage back to the 6th–4th millennia BCE. Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of scientific and popular interest. Egypt's long and rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Roman, Ottoman Turkish, Nubian.
Egypt was an early and important centre of Christianity, but was Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority. From the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century, Egypt was ruled by foreign imperial powers: The Ottoman Empire and the British Empire. Modern Egypt dates back to 1922, when it gained nominal independence from the British Empire as a monarchy. However, British military occupation of Egypt continued, many Egyptians believed that the monarchy was an instrument of British colonialism. Following the 1952 revolution, Egypt expelled British soldiers and bureaucrats and ended British occupation, nationalized the British-held Suez Canal, exiled King Farouk and his family, declared itself a republic. In 1958 it merged with Syria to form the United Arab Republic, which dissolved in 1961. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Egypt endured social and religious strife and political instability, fighting several armed conflicts with Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, occupying the Gaza Strip intermittently until 1967.
In 1978, Egypt signed the Camp David Accords withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and recognising Israel. The country continues to face challenges, from political unrest, including the recent 2011 revolution and its aftermath, to terrorism and economic underdevelopment. Egypt's current government is a presidential republic headed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, described by a number of watchdogs as authoritarian. Islam is the official religion of Egypt and Arabic is its official language. With over 95 million inhabitants, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa, the Middle East, the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa, the fifteenth-most populous in the world; the great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres, where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of Egypt's territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo and other major cities in the Nile Delta.
The sovereign state of Egypt is a transcontinental country considered to be a regional power in North Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim world, a middle power worldwide. Egypt's economy is one of the largest and most diversified in the Middle East, is projected to become one of the largest in the world in the 21st century. In 2016, Egypt became Africa's second largest economy. Egypt is a founding member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, Arab League, African Union, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. "Miṣr" is the Classical Quranic Arabic and modern official name of Egypt, while "Maṣr" is the local pronunciation in Egyptian Arabic. The name is of Semitic origin, directly cognate with other Semitic words for Egypt such as the Hebrew "מִצְרַיִם"; the oldest attestation of this name for Egypt is the Akkadian "mi-iṣ-ru" related to miṣru/miṣirru/miṣaru, meaning "border" or "frontier". There is evidence of rock carvings in desert oases. In the 10th millennium BCE, a culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers was replaced by a grain-grinding culture.
Climate changes or overgrazing around 8000 BCE began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara. Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralised society. By about 6000 BCE, a Neolithic culture rooted in the Nile Valley. During the Neolithic era, several predynastic cultures developed independently in Upper and Lower Egypt; the Badarian culture and the successor Naqada series are regarded as precursors to dynastic Egypt. The earliest known Lower Egyptian site, predates the Badarian by about seven hundred years. Contemporaneous Lower Egyptian communities coexisted with their southern counterparts for more than two thousand years, remaining culturally distinct, but maintaining frequent contact through trade; the earliest known evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions appeared during the predynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels, dated to about 3200 BCE. A unified kingdom was founded c. 3150 BCE
Assyria called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamian kingdom and empire of the ancient Near East and the Levant. It existed as a state from as early as the 25th century BC until its collapse between 612 BC and 609 BC - spanning the periods of the Early to Middle Bronze Age through to the late Iron Age. From the end of the seventh century BC to the mid-seventh century AD, it survived as a geopolitical entity, for the most part ruled by foreign powers such as the Parthian and early Sasanian Empires between the mid-second century BC and late third century AD, the final part of which period saw Mesopotamia become a major centre of Syriac Christianity and the birthplace of the Church of the East. A Semitic-speaking realm, Assyria was centred on the Tigris in Upper Mesopotamia; the Assyrians came to rule powerful empires in several periods. Making up a substantial part of the greater Mesopotamian "cradle of civilization", which included Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, Babylonia, Assyria reached the height of technological and cultural achievements for its time.
At its peak, the Neo-Assyrian Empire of 911 to 609 BC stretched from Cyprus and the East Mediterranean to Iran, from present-day Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus to the Arabian Peninsula and eastern Libya. The name "Assyria" originates with the Assyrian state's original capital, the ancient city of Aššur, which dates to c. 2600 BC - one of a number of Akkadian-speaking city-states in Mesopotamia. In the 25th and 24th centuries BC, Assyrian kings were pastoral leaders. From the late 24th century BC, the Assyrians became subject to Sargon of Akkad, who united all the Akkadian- and Sumerian-speaking peoples of Mesopotamia under the Akkadian Empire, which lasted from c. 2334 BC to 2154 BC. After the Assyrian Empire fell from power, the greater remaining part of Assyria formed a geopolitical region and province of other empires, although between the mid-2nd century BC and late 3rd century AD a patchwork of small independent Assyrian kingdoms arose in the form of Assur, Osroene, Beth Nuhadra, Beth Garmai and Hatra.
The region of Assyria fell under the successive control of the Median Empire of 678 to 549 BC, the Achaemenid Empire of 550 to 330 BC, the Macedonian Empire, the Seleucid Empire of 312 to 63 BC, the Parthian Empire of 247 BC to 224 AD, the Roman Empire and the Sasanian Empire of 224 to 651 AD. The Arab Islamic conquest of the area in the mid-seventh century dissolved Assyria as a single entity, after which the remnants of the Assyrian people became an ethnic, linguistic and religious minority in the Assyrian homeland, surviving there to this day as an indigenous people of the region. Assyria was sometimes known as Subartu and Azuhinum prior to the rise of the city-state of Ashur, after which it was Aššūrāyu, after its fall, from 605 BC through to the late seventh century AD variously as Achaemenid Assyria, referenced as Atouria, Ator and sometimes as Syria which etymologically derives from Assyria according to Strabo, Assyria and Asōristān. "Assyria" can refer to the geographic region or heartland where Assyria, its empires and the Assyrian people were centered.
The indigenous modern Eastern Aramaic-speaking Assyrian Christian ethnic minority in northern Iraq, north east Syria, southeast Turkey and northwest Iran are the descendants of the ancient Assyrians. As Babylonia is called after the city of Babylon, Assyria means "land of Asshur"Etymologically, Assyria is connected to the name of Syria, with both being derived from the Akkadian Aššur. Theodor Nöldeke in 1881 was the first to give philological support to the assumption that Syria and Assyria have the same etymology, a suggestion going back to John Selden. A 21st-century discovery of the Çineköy inscription confirmed that Syria, being a Greek corruption of the name Assyria, is derived from the Assyrian term Aššūrāyu. In prehistoric times, the region, to become known as Assyria was home to a Neanderthal culture such as has been found at the Shanidar Cave; the earliest Neolithic sites in what will be Assyria were the Jarmo culture c. 7100 BC, the Halaf culture c. 6100 BC, the Hassuna culture c. 6000 BC.
The Akkadian-speaking people who would found Assyria appear to have entered Mesopotamia at some point during the latter 4th millennium BC intermingling with the earlier Sumerian-speaking population, who came from northern Mesopotamia, with Akkadian names appearing in written record from as early as the 29th century BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, a intimate cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Akkadians throughout Mesopotamia, which included widespread bilingualism; the influence of Sumerian on Akkadian, vice versa, is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic and phonological convergence. This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the third millennium BC as a sprachbund. Akkadian replaced Sumerian as the spoken language of Mesopotamia somewhere after the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium BC, although Sumerian continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial and scientific language in Mesopotamia until the 1st century AD, as did use of the Akkadian cuneiform.
The cities of A