Egyptian People > Irimayassa


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Irimayassa, sometimes referenced in the Amarna Letters, is a figure whose exact identity and role remain somewhat ambiguous due to the fragmentary nature of these ancient correspondences. The Amarna Letters are a collection of diplomatic correspondence between the Egyptian administration and various Near Eastern rulers during the reigns of Pharaohs Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, and, to a lesser extent, Tutankhamun. These letters, written primarily in Akkadian cuneiform, provide valuable insights into the political, diplomatic, and economic interactions of the time.

The Amarna Letters

  1. Historical Context:

    • The Amarna Letters date to the mid-14th century BCE and were discovered in the late 19th century at Tell el-Amarna, the site of Akhenaten's capital city, Akhetaten.
    • The letters include correspondence between the Egyptian court and various city-states, kingdoms, and vassals in the Near East, including Babylonia, Assyria, Mitanni, the Hittites, and various Canaanite city-states.
  2. Content of the Letters:

    • The letters cover a wide range of topics, including diplomatic marriages, alliances, trade negotiations, requests for military assistance, and expressions of loyalty or dissatisfaction from vassal rulers.
    • They provide a detailed picture of the complex and interconnected political landscape of the Late Bronze Age Near East.

Irimayassa in the Amarna Letters

  1. Role and Identity:

    • Irimayassa is mentioned in the Amarna Letters, but details about this figure are sparse and somewhat speculative due to the incomplete and fragmentary nature of the texts.
    • Based on the context, Irimayassa could be a regional official, a local ruler, or a messenger involved in the diplomatic exchanges documented in the letters.
  2. References in Correspondence:

    • The references to Irimayassa suggest involvement in diplomatic or administrative matters, potentially dealing with issues such as tribute, loyalty to the Egyptian pharaoh, or local governance.
    • The letters mentioning Irimayassa would typically involve interactions with Egyptian officials or other local rulers, reflecting the broader administrative and diplomatic network overseen by the Egyptian administration.

Significance of the Amarna Letters

  1. Diplomatic Relations:

    • The Amarna Letters are a crucial source for understanding the diplomatic relations between Egypt and its neighbors during the 18th Dynasty. They highlight the importance of alliances, marriages, and military support in maintaining regional stability.
    • The letters also reveal the complexities of vassalage, with local rulers negotiating their positions and expressing grievances or loyalty to the Egyptian court.
  2. Economic and Trade Interactions:

    • Trade is a recurrent theme in the letters, with discussions about the exchange of goods such as gold, silver, textiles, and luxury items. These exchanges were vital for maintaining economic ties and political alliances.
    • The letters also provide insights into the movement of goods and resources across the Near East, reflecting the interconnected nature of ancient economies.
  3. Cultural Exchange:

    • The correspondence sheds light on cultural interactions, including the exchange of ideas, practices, and technologies between different regions. This period saw significant cultural diffusion, influenced by the diplomatic and trade networks documented in the letters.
    • The use of Akkadian cuneiform, a lingua franca of the time, in the letters highlights the shared cultural and administrative practices across the Near East.

Legacy and Impact

  1. Historical Insights:

    • The Amarna Letters are invaluable for reconstructing the political history of the Late Bronze Age Near East. They provide a first-hand account of the interactions between major powers and smaller polities.
    • The letters offer a unique perspective on the reigns of Amenhotep III and Akhenaten, particularly regarding their foreign policies and diplomatic strategies.
  2. Archaeological Significance:

    • The discovery of the Amarna Letters has had a profound impact on the field of archaeology, providing direct evidence of the administrative and diplomatic practices of ancient Egypt.
    • The letters have also prompted further excavations and research at Tell el-Amarna and other related sites, deepening our understanding of this critical period.


Irimayassa, mentioned in the Amarna Letters, is a somewhat obscure figure whose role is primarily inferred from the fragmentary and limited references within these ancient texts. The Amarna Letters themselves are a crucial source of information about the diplomatic, political, and economic interactions between Egypt and its neighbors during the 18th Dynasty, particularly during the reigns of Amenhotep III and Akhenaten. These letters provide valuable insights into the complexities of Near Eastern diplomacy, trade, and cultural exchange, highlighting the interconnected nature of the ancient world.

The 2 letters of: Official Irimayašša

EA 130, by Rib-Hadda of Gubla/Byblos

Title: "Life among the 'Apiru", (Sub-corpus of Rib-Hadda: no. 59 of 68).

"Say [t]o the king, my lord: Message of Rib-Hadda, your servant. May the Lady of Gubla grant power to the king, my lord. I fall at the feet of the king, my lord, my Sun, 7 times and 7 times. As to the king's having written to me,

"Irimayašša is coming to you,"

..he has not come to me. As to the king's having written to me,

"Guard yourself and guard the city of the king where you are,"

..who can guard me? Look, formerly my ancestors [were str]ong. There was war against the[m, but] a garrison [of the king] was wi(t)h them.

There were provisions from the king at their disposal. [Though the war against me] is seve[re], I have [n]o [provision]s [from the king or gar]ri[son of the king]. Wh[at shall I] do? As for the mayors, [the]y are the ones who strik[e] our city. They are like dogs, and there is no one who wants to serve them. What am I, who live among 'Apiru, —to do? If now there are no provisions from the king for me, my peasantry is going to fi[gh]t (against me). A[ll] lands are at war against me. If the desire of the king is to guard his city and his servant, send a garrison to guard the city. [I] will guard it while I am [a]live. When [I] die, who is going to [gu]ard it?" -EA 130, lines 1-52 (complete)(See note at talk, for the paragraphing of the two quotes.)

EA 370, by Pharaoh to Yidya of Ašqaluna-(Ashkelon)

EA 370, "From the Pharaoh to a vassal" has the body of the letter damaged, and only includes the introduction to Yidya, "to guard", and also the ending formula of the Pharaoh's letters. See: letter 370, Yidya.

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Moran, William L. The Amarna Letters. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987, 1992. (softcover, ISBN 0-8018-6715-0)

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