Qatna, modernly known as Al Mishrifeh, is an ancient city
in Syria, present day Tell-el-Mishrifeh in the Wadi il-Aswad, a
tributary of the Orontes, 18 km northeast of Homs. The tell
occupies 1 km², which makes it one of the biggest bronze Age towns
in central Syria. The tell is located at the edge of the
limestone-plateau of the Syrian desert towards the fertile Homs-Bassin
Al Mishrifeh or Qatna was founded around 2700/2600 BC during the Early Bronze
Age III on a limestone plateau. The first occupation of the site
is distinguished by the presence of dwellings equipped with
storage and other domestic installations such as fireplaces.
The first finds in Qatna date to the third dynasty of Ur. The find
of an Egyptian sphinx belonging to Princess Ita, daughter of
Amenemhat II (1875 - 1840 BC, 12th dynasty) shows early Egyptian
influence, although it is not clear at what time the sphinx got to
Qatna (the sphinx was found within the debris of the Late Bronze
The first king of Qatna (Qatanum) known by name from the Mari
archives is Ishi-Addu (Adda is my help), an Amurru. He was a
confederate of Shamshi-Addu of upper Mesopotamia. He was succeeded
by his son Amut-pî-el who had been governor of Nazala as crown
prince. This was in the time of Hammurabi of Babylon (1792-1750).
Beltum, the sister of Amut-pî-el was married to Jasmah-Addu of
Mari. Contracts between Mari and Qatna define her as the principal
wife of Jasmah-Addu. Her mother might have been Lammassi-Ashur
from Assur or Ekallatum. Zimrilim of Mari was married to another
princess from Qatna, Dam-hurasim. After the destruction of Mari by
Hammurapi, the written sources become sparse. Aleppo (Yamkhad) now
became Qatna's most powerful neighbour, during the reign of Jarim–Lim
III. Qatna was temporarily dominated by Aleppo.
With the development of the Mitanni empire in upper Mesopotamia,
Qatna was incorporated but was located in disputed territory
between the Mitanni and Egypt. The inscriptions of the so-called
Nin-Egal temple (part of the Royal palace, room C) show that
Mittanni were resident in Qatna. The campaigns of Pharaohs
Amenhotep I (1515-1494) and Thutmose I (1494-1482) in Syria might
have reached Qatna, but there is no conclusive evidence. On the
7th Pylon of the temple of Amun in Karnak, Thutmose III (1479-1425
BC) mentions that he stayed in the land of Qatna in the 33rd year
of his reign. Amenhotep II (1427-1401) was attacked by the host of
Qatna while crossing the Orontes, but of course he remained
victorious and acquired booty, among which the equipment of a
Mitanni charioteer is mentioned. Qatna is mentioned in Egyptian
topographic lists till the time of Ramesses III (1180 BC).
Cuneiform tablets discovered under the Royal palace in Qatna
mention a previously unknown king Idanda who ruled ca. 1400 BC.
During the Syrian campaign of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I
(1380-1340), Prince Akizzi of Qatna asked for the help of
Akhenaten/Amenhotep IV, but as he was only concerned with his
monotheistic reform symbolized by his own thone name Akhnaton and
his new capital Amarna (abandoned after his death as all reforms
were reversed), the town was among several Syrian city-states
captured and plundered by the Hittites, the inhabitants deported
to Hatti. During this same Amarna letters period, Prince Akizzi
wrote 5 letters to Akhenaten.
Texts from Emar describe how Qatna was attacked by Aramaic tribes
in the late Bronze Age, so the town must still have been in
The tell was settled in Neo-Babylonian times as well (a hilani has
been excavated), but the town remained insignificant as nearby
Homs (Emesa) had taken over its position on the trade routes.