The Astarpa (1312 BC)

Mursilis II mounted a major campaign to conquer Anawa. The Hittite forces were mustered at Sallapa, where they were joined by the contingent of the King of Carchemish, a brother of Mursilis. The army crossed the river Schiriya (sangarius) and marched on Anawa. At this point the troops witnessed a meteorite pass over them, convincing them that the storm-god approved of their cause (this anecdote is probably Hittite propaganda). They were then joined by the King of Mira, who had recently beaten off an Anawan attack. He informed Mursilis that the Anawan king, Ukha-zitish, lay in his palace at Apsus (Ephesus?), having been injured when the meteorite landed, and that the Anawan army under his son, Piyama-radus, was forming up at the river Astarpa on the frontier of Arzawa.

Further elated, the Hittite forces engaged those of Arzawa on the Astarpa and defeated them. During the pursuit and mopping up following the battle, Ukha-zitish and some fugitives fled overseas, while others fled into the mountains of Arinnanda. Here they had to be surrounded and starved out as the terrain was impassable for horses. 15,000 were deported to Hani as forced labour.

Some refugees fled into the highlands of Puranda, ruled by a son of Ukha-zitish, Tapala-zunaulis. He led his forces out to attack the Hittites but was defeated and pursued back into the hills. Pumndo was besieged and its water supply cut off. Tapala-zunaulis attempted to escape by night but was overtaken by pursuing Hittite chariotry.

Little is known about life on campaign for the Hittites soldiers. As noted in a previous chapter, plague seems to have been a particular problem for Hittite armies. The Deeds of Suppiluliuma recount how a plague broke out among the army behind the lines. 257 In the Plague Prayers of Mursili II, the Hittite king prays to the gods to take away the plague that had been brought to the Hittites by prisoners of war. The Hittites sometimes wintered out in the field. Mursili II recorded that at the end of his third year he constructed a walled military camp at the Astarpa river, most likely to spend the winter. The Hittite laws contain one reference to the death of a soldier, although it might be only a business trip rather than a military campaign. “If anyone hires a person, and that person goes on a military campaign and is killed, if the hire has been paid, there shall be no compensation. But if the hire has not been paid, the hirer shall give one slave.”

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