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Hittite Empire showing "Zalpa of the Black Sea" at the north. "Zalpa of the Annals of Hattusili I" is located at Tilmen Hoyuk, c. 90 kilometers to the northeast of Alalah

Zalpuwa, also Zalpa, was a still-undiscovered Bronze Age city in Anatolia of around the 17th century BC. Its history is largely known from the Proclamation of Anitta, CTH 1.[1][2] But the Zalpa mentioned in the Annals of Hattusili I, CTH 13, is now convincingly identified as Tilmen Höyük, in the Karasu River Valley south of the Taurus Mountains by Tubingen and Chicago Universities recent excavations.[3]

Earlier Identification of Zalpa near the Black Sea

Zalpuwa was by a "Sea of Zalpa". It was the setting for an ancient legend about the Queen of Kanesh, which was either composed in or translated into the Hurrian language:

"[The Queen] of Kanesh once bore thirty sons in a single year. She said: 'What a horde is this which I have born[e]!' She caulked(?) baskets with dung, put her sons in them, and launched them in the river. The river carried them down to the sea at the land of Zalpuwa. Then the gods took them up out of the sea and reared them. When some years had passed, the queen again gave birth, this time to thirty daughters. This time she herself reared them."

The river at Kanesh (Sar?msakl? Çay?) drains into the Black Sea, not (for example) Lake Tuz. "Zalpuwa" is further mentioned alongside Nerik in Arnuwanda I's prayer. Nerik was a Hattic language speaking city which had fallen to the Kaskians by Arnuwanda's time. This portion of the prayer also mentioned Kammama, which was Kaskian as of the reign of Arnuwanda II. The conclusion until recently, was to locate Zalpuwa in a region of Hattian cities of northern central Anatolia: as were Nerik, Hattusa, and probably Sapinuwa, and Zalpuwa was thought to have been founded by Hattians, like its neighbours.

Around the 17th century BC, Uhna the king of Zalpuwa invaded Ne?a, after which the Zalpuwans carried off the city's "Sius" idol. Under Huzziya's reign, the king of Ne?a, Anitta, invaded Zalpuwa. Anitta took Huzziya captive, and recovered the Sius idol for Ne?a. Soon after that, Zalpuwa seems to have become culturally and linguistically Hittite.

Arnuwanda's prayer implies that Zalpuwa was laid waste by Kaskians, at the same time that Nerik fell to them, in the early 14th century BC.

?kiztepe on the K?z?l?rmak Delta near the Black Sea coast was suggested as a possible location for Zalpuwa.[4]

New Identification of Zalpa

The city of Zalpa was formerly equated by scholars with Zalpuwa in Anatolia, located to the north of ?attu?a near the Black Sea. But the Zalpa mentioned in the Annals of Hattusili I is now convincingly identified as Tilmen Höyük, in the Karasu River Valley south of the Taurus Mountains, which had a palace and temple that were violently destroyed near the end of the Middle Bronze Age II. This North Syrian Zalpa was called Zalwar in Old Babylonian texts. The military exploits of Hattusili I, a Hittite king who reigned in the latter part of the seventeenth century BCE, are described both in Hittite and Akkadian in clay tablets, now in the Catalogue of Hittite Texts, excavated in Hattusa, the Hittite capital, and mention that he destroyed the city of Zalpa (written Za-al-pa in Hittite and Za-al-ba-ar in Akkadian).[3]

See also


  1. ^ Kimball, Sara E., & Jonathan Slocum. "Hittite Online", Proclamation of Anitta CHT 1, The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved: 6 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Information about the Hittites", Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b Chicago-Tubingen Expedition to Zincirli, "Annals of ?attu?ili I (mid- to late 17th cent. BCE)", Retrieved: 18 November 2020.
  4. ^ Bajramovic, Gojko, (2011). Historical Geography of Anatolia in the Old Assyrian Colony Period, Museum Tusculanum Press, p.120, ISBN 8763536455

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