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Mursili II (also spelled Mursilis II) was a king of the Hittite Empire (New kingdom) ca. 1321 – 1295 BC (short chronology). He was the younger son of Suppiluliuma I, one of the most powerful rulers


This prince assumed the throne after the premature death of Arnuwanda II who, like their father, fell victim to the plague which ravaged the Hatti in the 1320s BC. He was greeted with contempt by Hatti's enemies and faced numerous rebellions early in his reign, the most serious of which were those initiated by the Kaskas in the mountains of Anatolia, but also by the Arzawa kingdom in southwest Turkey because he was perceived to be an inexperienced ruler who only became king due to the early death of Arnuwanda II. Mursili II records the scorn of his foes in his Annals:

While Mursili II was a young and inexperienced king, he was almost certainly not a child when he took the Hittite throne and must have reached an age to be capable of ruling in his own right. Had he been a child, other arrangements would have been made to secure the stability of the Empire; Mursili after all had two surviving elder brothers who served as the viceroys of Carchemish (ie: Sarri-Kush) and Aleppo respectively. Mursili II would prove to be more than a match for his successful father, Suppiluliuma I, in his military deeds and diplomacy. The Annals for the first ten years of his reign have survived and record that he carried out punitive campaigns against the Kaska tribes in the first two years of his reign in order to secure his kingdom's northern borders. The king then turned to the West to resist the aggression of Uhhaziti, king of Arzawa who was attempting to lure away Hittite allies into his camp. The Annals also reveal that an "omen of the sun," or solar eclipse, occurred in his tenth year as king, just as he was about to launch his campaign against the Kaska peoples. While Mursili II's highest confirmed date was his twenty-second year, he is believed to have lived beyond this date for a few more years and died after a reign of around 25 to 27 years. He was succeeded by Muwatalli.

The eclipse

Mursili's Year 10 solar eclipse is of great importance for the absolute dating of the Hittite Empire within the chronology of the Ancient Near East. There are only two possible dates for the eclipse: 24 June 1312 BC or 13 April 1308 BC. The earlier date is accepted by most Hittitologists such as Trevor R. Bryce (1998), while Paul Åström (1993) has suggested the later date. However, most scholars accept the 1312 BC event because this eclipse's effects would have been particularly dramatic with a near total eclipse over the Peloponesemarker region and Anatolia (where Mursili II was campaigning) around noon. In contrast, the 1308 BC astronomical event began in Arabia and then travelled eastwards in a northeasterly direction; it only reached its maximum impact over Mongolia and Central Asia. It occurred over Anatolia around 8:20 in the morning making it less noticeable.

Literary Ref

It is also worth noting that Mursili II plays a vital role in the graphic novel series "Red River " where he is portrayed as the romantic lead. The books follow Mursili's life from being a young prince through much of his rein, primarily focusing on the conflicts that occurred within the first few years of succeeding the throne. While much of the historical data is dated to when the series was written, it still offers a window into Hittite culture and history.

See also


  1. p.xiii
  2. Bryce, p.208
  3. Bryce, p.208
  4. Bryce, p.234
  5. [1]


  • Astrom, Paul, 'The Omen of the Sun in the Tenth Year of the Reign of Mursilis II', in Horizons and Styles: Studies in Early Art and Archaeology in Honour of Professor Homer L. Thomas (1993)
  • Bryce, Trevor, The Kingdom of the Hittites. Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0199240104
  • Bryce, Trevor, Life and society in the Hittite world. Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN 0199241708

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