A kingdom established by the Hurrians in the 1500s B. C. in northern Syria and the lands lying between the upper Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Mitanni was called Hani-galbat by the Assyrians, Naharina by the Babylonians, and Naharin by the Egyptians. All of these peoples, along with the Hittites in Anatolia, shared with the Mi-tannians a sort of international balance of power in the Near East from about 1500 to 1300 B. C. During this period, all engaged in diplomacy and/or limited military disputes with one or more of the others.
Very little of a definite nature is known about Mitanni’s leaders, internal history, and society. It appears that Mitannian society was dominated by a chariotowning warrior class known as the mary-annu, who owned large country estates and bred horses and sheep. Some or all of the members of this class may have been Indo-Europeans, suggesting some sort of cultural or political fusion of that group and the Hurrians in Mitanni. They established a capital at Wassukanni, the location of which remains unknown. The principal god of Mitanni was Teshub, a weather deity similar to the Storm God of the Hittites.
In the early 1400s the Mitannians tried to expand into southern Syria, which brought them into conflict with the Egyptians. Both sides soon recognized the threat of the Hittites, who also sought control of Syria. So the Mitannian king Sausatatar and the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III formed an anti-Hittite alliance in about 1460 b. c. In the century that followed, the Mitannian ruler Tushratta gave his daughter in marriage to the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III.
It was not long after this royal marriage that Mitanni’s fortunes started to wane. The exact events are uncertain, but evidently some kind of dynastic dispute or civil war took place within the country and the Hittites took advantage of the situation. The Hittite king Suppiluliumas I backed one side of the dispute against the other, then invaded northern Mitanni and captured Wassukanni. Mitanni still existed for a while longer, but only as a vassal state of the Hittites. Soon, however, the Assyrians challenged the Hittites by attacking Mitanni from the east. Sometime in the early 1200s b. c. the former Hurrian kingdom was transformed into the Assyrian province of Hanigalbat.
See Also: Hittites; Hurrians; Mesopotamia, history of