There are two letters in the el-Amarna collection signed by Assuruballit. These letters, though rather unimportant, are given much attention by the chronologists, not for their content, but for the name of their author. Assuruballit is not an unusual name, but the existence of an Assuruballit in the fourteenth century would link the Assyrian king lists with the Egyptian dynasties of the New Kingdom. Thus, the letters play an important role in conventional chronology, being the sole link in the space of many centuries between the Egyptian and Assyrian histories.

In Assyria were found king lists in which the names of the kings and the number of years of their reigns are given, and nothing more. The extant versions of the lists are of a later origin, since they give the succession until the end period of the Assyrian Kingdom.

If in the Assyrian lists there is a king who wrote letters to a pharaoh known by name, then a first and single link in the space of many centuries could be established between Egypt and Assyria. And, actually, efforts were made to synchronize Egyptian and Assyrian histories starting with Assuruballit I, who is called upon to hold together the two histories which otherwise appear to have no contact—and a great strain it is: This link was destined to carry the load of many centuries of disjointed histories, not only of these two lands but, more than that, of the entire history of the ancient East for the second half of the second millennium before the present era.

Probably such efforts would not have been made to accommodate this matter if it were not for the fact that in the period before Shalmaneser III, who mentions a tribute from Mizri (the name of the pharaoh is not mentioned), the Assyrian annals are silent on Egypt; and Egyptian annals, aside from the tribute paid to Thutmose III by Assur, interpreted as Assur (the name of the king is not mentioned), are silent on Assyria.


I will offer here a few observations that may erode the link. In the first place, Assuruballit is not an unusual name among the Assyrian kings. Actually, the very last king of Assyria, who continued to resist the Chaldeans and the Medes from his hideout in Harran, upon the destruction of Nineveh in ca. -612, also bore the name of Assuruballit. His number in the succession of monarchs is 117, whereas that of Assuruballit of the fourteenth century is no. 73: Shalmaneser III (-858 to -824) has the 102nd place.(2) A linking of two histories, the Egyptian and the Assyrian, is rather arbitrary if it is founded on nothing else than on the provenance of one name.


In the list of Assyrian kings, Assuruballit is the son of Eriba-Adad. But Assuruballit of the letters was, as he himself attests in one of the letters, son of Assur-nadin-ahe.

The idea of Schnabel and Weber that Assur-nadin-ahe, called “Abu” by Assuruballit, was “not father but forefather”, is a strained argument, because—according to the king lists—Assuruballit was neither a son, nor a grandson, nor a descendant of Assur-nadin-ahe. Assur-nadin-ahe II was a cousin of Assuruballit and he had no offspring on the throne.(3)

On this problem Luckenbill had wondered:

In the second of the two letters Assur-uballit . . . refers to “the time when Assur-nadin-ahe, his father, wrote to Egypt.” The word “father” may here have the meaning “ancestor”, as often in the Assyrian texts, but even so our difficulties are not all cleared up. In the texts given below, Assur-uballit does not include Assur-nadin-ahe among his ancestors, although he carries his line back six generations. ...

On a clay table, having the common Assyrian amulet form, we have Assur-uballit’s account of the rebuilding of the palace in the new city (text, KAH, II, No. 27).

. . . Assur-uballit, priest of Assur, son of Eriba-Adad; Eriba-Adad, priest of Assur, son of Assur-bel-nisheshu; Assur-bel-nisheshu . . . son of Assur-nirari; Assur-nirari . . . he is the son of Assur-rabi, Assur-rabi . . . son of Enlil-nasir; Enlil-nasir . . . son of Puzur Assur.(4)

And, in Section 60, Lukenbill brings another such list by Assuruballit of his ancestors where again there is no mention of Assur-nadin-ahe.

Assur-uballit, viceroy of Assur, son of Iriba-Adad; Iriba-Adad, viceroy of Assur, son of Assur-bel-nisheshu; Assur-bel-nisheshu, viceroy of Assur, son of Assur-nirari; Assur-nirari . . .(5)


Then the computations made on the king lists showed a discrepancy of several decades between the reign of Assuruballit and the time allotted to Amenhotep III and Akhnaton, his supposed correspondents.(6) When the el-Amarna letters were found in 1881 they were ascribed to the fourteenth century because they were partly addressed to Amenhotep III and Akhnaton. Since these kings, by the conventional chronology, were placed in the 14th century, the Assyrian king Assuruballit was looked for in the then available king lists. Thus, the desire to find the names mentioned in his letters in the king lists was already there. This required quite a bit of stretching.

In 1917 Weidner admitted:

The dates we have established for the Assyrian and Babylonian kings do not fit those established by Egyptian historians for the dates of the Egyptian kings.(7)

In order to make the reign of Assuruballit and the time of these pharaohs contemporaneous, it was necessary to shift both chronologies, the Egyptian and the Assyrian. The Amarna Period, in order to meet the the earlier found king lists,(8) was moved back into the 15th century. For, as Professor Mahler brought out, the leveling of these histories required the placing of Amenhotep III at the end of the fifteenth century and Akhnaton in the years -1403 to -1391 —far too high by the standards of the next generation of chronologists. What had first led to raising the age of Amenhotep III and Akhnaton into the Fifteenth century, then required lowering it. (Due to “Poebel’s publication of the contents of the Khorsabad List in 1942/43, which proved that all previous chronologies were too high”, the age of the Assyrian kings of the period had to be reduced by 64 years.(9)) However, to lower the age of Akhnaton enough, in order to make him a contemporary of Assuruballit, was impossible because conventional Egyptian chronology is built on the premise that Ramses I started to reign in -1322 and after Akhnaton and before Ramses I, Tutankhamen, Smenkhkare, Aye, and Haremhab must have reigned.

About this M. B. Rowton wrote:

The Mesopotamian evidence discussed in this article indicates 1356 for the accession of Assuruballit 1. . . . Egyptologists believe that the lowest possible date for the death of Akhnaton is 1358. . . a discrepancy of only two years may not seem very significant. But closer examination reveals that the discrepancy is considerably greater . . . Moreover if the Menophres theory is accepted that the Sothic cycle began in the first year of Seti I, the date 1358 for the death of Akhnaton does not allow for a sufficient interval between Akhnaton and Seti. . . . But if this discrepancy is a matter of ten years or more we are no longer entitled to regard it as insignificant.(10)

The difference in years would be greater if the reign of Assuruballit, son of Eriba-Adad were not already brought as close as possible to the reign of Amenhotep IV, the incertitude in the duration of some reigns of later Assyrian kings being exploited to make the most of it, with all ruling years being regarded as full years—though kings, like other mortals, die on every day of the year—which in a long list may make a difference of a few decades. Also, no allowance was left for co-regencies or common occupation of the throne, of father and son, a possibility which is always taken into account by chronologists.

Presently, Akhnaton is placed between 1375 and 1358 and Assuruballit between 1362 and 1327. This enables the Assyrian king Assuruballit I to write letters to the Egyptian king Akhnaton.

However, as late as 1974, Ronald D. Long was making the same point as Rowton:

Mesopotamian chronology . . . does not coordinate with the eighteenth dynasty chronology which is dependent on the era of Menophreos dating. Assuruballit I and Akhnaton were contemporaries, yet if the era’s dating is maintained their contemporaneity is non-existent.(11)


Since great stress has been put on the reliance of the chronology of the ancient world on the Assyrian king lists, a lesson needs to be drawn. The case of Hammurabi and the entire First Babylonian dynasty being lowered in age by four hundred years, because of a correlation with Egyptian material of the Middle Kingdom,(12) exemplifies the dependence of cuneiform chronology on the Egyptian time-table.(13) This is appropriate to remember during any effort to fortify the accepted Egyptian chronology by evidence coming from the Babylonian or Assyrian king lists.

The following quotes emphasize the direct dependence of Assyrian and Babylonian chronologies on that of Egypt:

Sidney Smith in Alalakh and Chronology wrote:

an approximate dating, subject to a very small margin of error, is possible for the period from 1450 on the basis of Egyptian chronology, which can be fixed within narrow limits.(14)

Or, as J. D. Weir wrote:

objects of Egyptian origin had been unearthed at various levels of the site. These discoveries made it possible to synchronise the development of the town of Alalak, with the main periods of Egyptian history. So Egyptian chronology could now be used as a guide to Babylonian dating. The result of this link-up was a provisional date of ± 1600 for the end of the First Babylonian dynasty.(15)

In the chapter “Astronomy and Chronology”,(16) I showed on what unfirm foundations the chronology of Egypt has been erected and how chronologies of countries that do not possess an absolute chronology of their own are built on the chronology of Egypt by the strength of archaeologically discovered contacts.


• Assuruballit was a common name, still in use 750 years later.

• Assuruballit of the list was the son of Eriba-Adad; Assuruballit of the letters was the son of Assur-nadin-ahe.

• The time of Assuruballit of the king lists was not exactly the time of Akhnaton; and efforts to synchronize them were made at the cost of inner contradictions in the Egyptian chronology (which is based on the Sothis-Menophres theory).

• Assyrian chronology is itself dependent on Egyptian chronology and therefore cannot be used as proof of its validity.

Thus, if there is no other synchronization of the Eighteenth Dynasty in Egypt with the Assyrian kings, the case of Assuruballit cannot present an invincible argument.(17)


But if it were only a matter of evaluating my dating of the el-Amarna letters contra the conventional dating, we would use names alone. The list of identified persons in the el-Amarna letters in chapters of the Scriptures of the time of the middle of the ninth century, as presented in Ages in Chaos, is imposing. Among those names mentioned in both the letters and in the books of Kings and Chronicles are such unusual ones as Jehozabad, Adaja, Ben Zichri, Biridri, and many more. And is it little that, from five generals of king Jehoshaphat named by the Scriptures, four of them signed their letter by the very same names and one is referred to by his name?

Captains of Jehoshaphat el-Amarna correspondents
Adnah (II Chr. 17:14) Addudani (EA 292)
Son of Zichri (II Chr. 17:16) Son of Zuchru (EA 334, 335)
Jehozabab (II Chr. 17:18) Iahzibada (EA 275)
Adaia (II Chr. 23:1) Addaia (EA 285, 287, 289)

Not only personal names, but dozens of parallels are found between the texts of those tablets and the scriptural narrative in the books of Kings and Chronicles, and also between them and the Assyrian texts of the ninth century. Events—down to the smallest details—were illuminated in the chapters dealing with el-Amarna: actions, wars, sieges, a seven-year famine, and geographical names were compared.

Although the el-Amarna correspondence covers only a few decades at the most, the many details that could be and have been brought to comparison lend an unshakeable support to the reconstruction of the larger period covering the time from the end of the Middle Kingdom to the time of the Ptolemies in Egypt, a span of twelve hundred years. Therefore, a single name, even were it to appear in the king lists and in the letters, would not amount to much without any support from the entire sum of evidence.


Was Assuruballit I, son of Eriba-Adad of the 14th century, the king who wrote to Akhnaton?

In the Assyrian sources there is no reference to any contact of the king Assuruballit, son of Eriba-Adad, with Amenhotep III or Akhnaton, and nothing that would substantiate the claim that he was the author of two letters in the el-Amarna collection.

All her history long, Assyria was an important kingdom in the ancient world. Assuruballit, son of Eriba-Adad of the king list, is regarded as one of the greatest kings of ancient Assyria,(18) and his grandson Adad-Nirari was proud to be an offspring of this great king. The letters of Assuruballit in the el-Amarna collection do not convey the impression of their author being an important suzerain. It is worthwhile to compare the meek way of writing of Assuruballit, and the self-assured way of Burraburiash. And letters of other kings on the Near Eastern scene, extensive as they are, make it by contrast little probable that Assuruballit was an important king. But decisive is the fact that the author of very extensive letters, Burraburiash, clearly refers to his “Assyrian subjects” .

Assuruballit, son of Assur-nadin-ahe, could have been a provincial prince, or a pretender to the crown of Assyria. In a later age we find a prince Assuruballit installed by his brother Assurbanipal as the governor of the Harran province. Assuruballit could have been a provincial pretender in the days of Burraburiash; and Burraburiash actually complained to the pharaoh Akhnaton for entering into direct relations with some Assyrian potentates, despite the fact that he, Burraburiash, is the lord of Assyria.

Letter 9: Burraburiash to Amenophis IV
31 - Now as to the Assyrians, my subjects
32 - have I not written thee? So is the situation!
33 - Why have they come into the land?
34 - If thou lovest me, they should not carry on any business.
35 - Let them accomplish nothing.(19)


In Ages in Chaos, in chapters Vl-VIII, it is claimed that Shalmaneser III, was a contemporary of Kings Amenhotep III and Akhnaton, and that Burraburiash must have been the Babylonian name of Shalmaneser III, who had actually occupied Babylon. To the reader of these lines, if unfamiliar with Ages in Chaos (and he should judge the discussion only upon its reading), it is not superfluous to report that the kings of Mesopotamia regularly applied to themselves different names in Assyria and in Babylonia. In the el-Amarna correspondence, he signed his Babylonian name (used more in the sense of a title) also on the tablet in which he referred to his Assyrian subjects (letter no. 9).

Our identifying Shalmaneser III as Burraburiash of the letters and as a contemporary and correspondent of Akhnaton(20) could receive direct archaeological verification. In the section “The Age of Ivory”, I quoted from the letters of Burraburiash in which he demanded as presents, more in the nature of a tribute, ivory objects of art, “looking like plants and land and water animals”, and from letters of Akhnaton in which he enumerated the very many objects of ivory art, vases, and carved likenesses of animals of land and water and of paints that were sent by him to Burraburiash.

Calakh (Nimrud) was the headquarters of Shalmaneser: what could we wish for more than that ivory objects made in Egypt in the time of Akhnaton should be found there. This also happened.

The excavation project at Nimrud on the Tigris in Iraq was initiated by M. E. L. Mallowan (1959) and continued by David Gates. Recent excavations there have been carried on in Fort Shalmaneser III that served as headquarters from the ninth to the end of the eighth century before the present era.

The reader of The New York Times of November 26, 1961,(21) must have been surprised to find a news story titled “Ancient Swindle is Dug Up in Iraq” . The report carried news of the finds of the British School of Archaeology’s Nimrud Expedition:

When archaeologists dug into the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in Iraq earlier this year, they were surprised to find not Assyrian but “Egyptian” carvings. . .
The explanation given . . . by David Oates, director of the British School of Archaeology’s Nimrud Expedition, is that the archaeologists had dug into an ancient Assyrian antique shop. The “Egyptian” carvings had been cut by local craftsmen . . . to satisfy their rich clients’ demands for foreign “antiquities” .

There could be no question that this was Shalmaneser’s loot or collection, for in one of the storage rooms was found his statue and an inscription attests to the king’s approval of the portrait as “a very good likeness of himself” .

Although the cut-away skirts worn by the bearers are typically Assyrian, the carvings are of a style that antedates by hundreds of years the period in which they were made. If found elsewhere, they would have been identified as Egyptian . . . they are considered to be “manufactured antiquities”, designed to satisfy a rich man’s taste for antiques.

The quantity of ivory found was so great that, in three seasons, the excavating team did not empty the first of the three storage rooms. The excavators strained their wits to understand why so much ivory work reflecting Egyptian styles of over five hundred years earlier should fill, of all places, the military headquarters of Shalmaneser III. Mallowan and his representative archaeologist on the site, David Oates, could not come up with anything better than the theory that, in the military headquarters of Shalmaneser, a factory for manufacturing fake antiques had been established.

No better explanation was in sight. Neither did the late Agatha Christie (the spouse of Mallowan), who took an intense interest in the archaeological work of her husband, know of a better solution to the mystery. Yet, the first volume of Ages in Chaos, with its el-Amarna chapters, had been on the shelves since 1952.

In complete accord with our historical scheme, Egyptian art of Akhnaton was found in the headquarters of Shalmaneser III. I could not say, “as we expected”, because this was too much to expect. From the point of view of the reconstruction, we could only wish that these objects would be found in Assyria, but we could hardly expect that they would be found almost intact in the fort of Shalmaneser III. Again it is too much to expect, but maybe there will still be found, in the same compound or in a room of archives to be discovered in Nimrud, original el-Amarna letters.

  1. [This article was put together from several different versions written by I. Velikovsky at very different times; from a letter to Mercer written in 1947 and up to an unfinished drafted answer to Burgstahler’s article in Pensée IVR V (1973). Almost all the quotes were added, but at the locations that Velikovsky had indicated. Combining such different versions and adding quotes and their connecting sentences probably caused some shift in emphasis. Also, in combining such different versions, some changes seemed necessary; and I take the responsibility for such editing pitfalls.—Shulamit F. Kogan]

  2. A. Poebel. “The Assyrian King List from Khorsabad”, The Journal of Near Eastern Studies (1942-1943). [In the eponym list, as published by Daniel D. Luckenbill, an Adad-uballit appears as the limmu in -786 (in the time of Adad-Nerari III), between Shalmaneser II and Shalmaneser IV. A Nergal-uballit appears in -731. Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia (1926), Vol. II, pp. 434, 436.]

  3. Though, according to Poebel in “The Assyrian King List from Khorsabad”, Assur-nadin-ahe II was a cousin of Assuruballit’s father, Eriba-Adad. I. J. Gelb in “Two Assyrian King Lists” brings the following list where Assur-nadin-ahe was a first cousin of Assuruballit:

    JNES, Vol. XIII, no. 4, Oct. 1954, pp. 216-219:  
    69 Assur-bel-nisesu son of Assur-nirari
    70 Assur-rim-nisesu son of Assur-bel-nisesu
    71 Assur-nadin-ahe son of Assur-rim-nisesu
    72 Eriba-Adad (I) son of Assur-bel-nisesu
    73 Assur-uballit son of Eriba-Adad
    This can be tabulated as follows:  
    Assur-rim-nisesu Eriba-Adad  
    Assur-nadin-ahe Assur-uballit  

  4. Daniel D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia (1926), pp. 21-22.

  5. Ibid., p. 22.

  6. Actually, after the el-Amarna tablets were first published, Weber and Knudtzon had disagreed where to place Assuruballit. Weber had him reigning not only in the days of Thutmose IV, but also of Seti, because Seti was the Egyptian king who waged war against Merosar son of Subbiluliuma, and Merosar simultaneously waged war against Assuruballit in Harran. But nobody could reign from the time of Thutmose IV through the reign of Seti. Therefore, Knudtzon sounded more acceptable having two kings by the name of Assuruballit, one grandson of the other; but the second was not found in the lists. It was also stressed by M. Müller and Breasted (Records) that Subbiluliuma of the el-Amarna letters could not have been the grandfather of Hattusilis, or father of Merosar, because of the same chronological difficulty: there must have been a minimum of 105 years from some point in the reign of his grandson, which is regarded as unusual.

  7. Weidner, 1917, quoted in E. Mahler, Scripta Universitatis atque Bibliothecae Hierosolymitanarum, 1924.

  8. The Khorsabad list was found in 1933 and the almost identical SDAS list was published in 1953.

  9. F. W. Albright, “An Indirect Synchronism between Egypt and Mesopotamia, circa 1730 B. C.”, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 99, Oct. 1945, p. 10.

  10. M. B. Rowton, “Mesopotamian Chronology and the ‘Era of Menophres,’” Iraq 8 (1946), p. 94.

  11. Ronald W. Long, Orientalia, 43 (1974), pp. 261-274; Ibid., KRONOS 11:4 (Summer, 1977), pp. 89-101 (p. 96).

  12. [See I. Velikovsky, “Hammurabi and the Revised Chronology”, KRONOS VIII: I (1982), pp. 78-84. -SK]

  13. Of this, Bickerman writes: “The fixing in time of the famous Babylonian legislator, Hammurabi, on whose dating many others depend . . . illustrates the inherent difficulty of working with king-lists.” Chronology of the Ancient World, p. 84.

  14. Alalakh and Chronology (1940), p. I (emphasis added). (See also W. F. Albright, “An Indirect Synchronism Between Egypt and Mesopotamia”, BASOR, 99 (1945), pp. 9-18, where synchronism between prince Entin of Byblus and Nefer-hetep of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt helped date Hammurabi.)

  15. John D. Weir, The Venus Tablets of Ammizaduga (1972), p. 6 (emphasis added).

  16. Written for Ages in Chaos, Vol. II, and published as a supplement to Peoples of the Sea (New York, 1977).

  17. Concerning the Kassite kings - Burnaburiash (Burraburiash), Karaindash, Kadashman-Harbe, and Kurigalzu—who are listed in the synchronistic tables the following excerpts can be cited:
    Edward F. Campbell writes:

    The synchronistic histories and king lists cannot establish the dates of Burnaburias’ reign, nor those of his predecessors. But information from the letters written by them can give some clear information as to the spread of the letters in the reigns of the contemporary Egyptian kings.
    It is to be remembered that this particular period lies just before the time when specific information about the Kassites begins to appear in the king lists.

    (Edward F. Campbell, Jr., The Chronology of the Amarna Letters (Johns Hopkins Press, 1963), pp. 44-47.)

    Or as A. Goetze writes:

    The names of the [Kassite] kings 16-23 have securely been recovered from the chronicles and contemporaneous sources like the Amarna letters . . . This leaves the places 10-15 still . . . open. To fill the gap attention should be called to three groups of Kassite kings of whom we have record but whose place in the dynasty still remains to be determined:
    (a) Firstly, there is Burna-burias who, according to the “Synchronistic History” . . . concluded a treaty with Puzur-Assur of Assyria . . .
    (b) Secondly, the available material forces us to posit another group of Kassite kings in which again a Burna-burias figures. . . .

    (A. Goetze, “The Kassites and Near Eastern Chronology”, The Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 18 (1964), pp. 97-98.)

    Obviously these names are not independent evidence. In the synchronistic table published by Van der Meer, the sequence of the four kings Burraburiash, Karaindash, Kadashman-Harbe, and Kurigalzu, is exactly repeated twice in succession, besides appearing separately in the list repeatedly. See Van der Meer, Chronology (1963), pp. 35-36. See also D. Courville on Kurigalzu, The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications, Vol. 11(1971), pp. 316-317.

  18. “Assuruballit was really the first of those great men who created the Assyrian empire.” S. A. Mercer, The Tel El Amarna Tablets, p. 820.

  19. Mercer, op. cit., p. 31. See Mercer’s note to the letter (no. 15) of Assuruballit: “As we learn from no. 9, Burraburiash II reminded Amenophis IV that the Assyrians, his subjects, had against his will intercourse with Egypt.”

  20. [See I. Velikovsky, “Hammurabi and the Revised Chronology”, op. cit., p. 78-79, about the inscription found by Nabonidus, according to which Hammurabi reigned a few years before Burraburiash. Since the time of Hammurabi was reduced from the 21st to the 17th century, the time of Burraburiash should also be reduced by the same amount of time. - SK]

  21. The same story can be found in Science Digest of March, 1962.