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The solar eclipse mentioned in the annals of Mursili II is of great importance for the absolute dating of the Hittite Empire within the chronology of the Ancient Near East. The annals record an "omen of the sun," for the tenth year of Mursili's reign, which appeared just as he was about to launch a campaign against the Kaskas of northern Anatolia. There are only two possible dates for the eclipse: 13 April 1308 BC or 24 June 1312 BC. The 1312 BC date is accepted by most Hittitologists, e.g. Trevor Bryce (1998), while Paul Åström (1993) has suggested the 1308 BC date.

The 1312 eclipse occurred over northern Anatolia in the early afternoon, and its effects would have been quite spectacular for Mursili and his men at their base in Hattusa:

24 June 1312 BC, total eclipse, maximum at 10:44 UTC, 38°12′N 13°42′E / 38.2°N 13.7°E / 38.2; 13.7 (Sicily)

In contrast, the 1308 eclipse was annular, and began very early in the morning over Arabia (and only penumbral over Anatolia and Syria), reaching its height over Central Asia:

13 April 1308 BC, annular eclipse (94.8%), maximum at 04:16 UTC, 44°54′N 85°42′E / 44.9°N 85.7°E / 44.9; 85.7 (Tian Shan)

Therefore, the 1312 eclipse would seem to best suit the eclipse mentioned in the annals. This means that Mursili would have begun his reign in either 1322 or 1321 BC.

References

  • Paul Astrom, '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)
  • Trevor R. Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites, Clarendon Oxford University Press, (1998)

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