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Ancient Syria /
Other spelling: Katna


Decorative mask ca. 14th century BCE, with Egyptian characteristics. Qatna
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Decorative mask of Qatna, ca. 14th century BCE.

Qatna ruins.
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Decorative mask of Qatna, ca. 14th century BCE.

Ancient city and kingdom of Syria, 19th-15th century BCE (Bronze Age). Its location corresponds to modern Al-Mashrafa, 20 km northeast of Homs.
Qatna emerged as a prosperous city and a regional power when immigrating Amorite tribes established a royal court here. The city was built with a square shape, protected by thick, high city walls, one gate along each side. The royal palace was in the northwestern section of the city, and was one of the biggest of its time. A defensive fortress was built on a hill outside the city.
Qatna benefitted from rich agriculture in the surrounding lands, and a strategic position between the Anatolian highlands to the north, Mesopotamia to the east, and Egypt to the south. Foreign trade was organized through Qatna, but there is little evidence of Qatna producing its own products for export.
Qatna was parallel to Yamkhad further north, another Amorite kingdom. Early on, Mari to the east, also competed with Qatna for influence over Syrian trade routes. In Egypt, this was the period now called the Middle Kingdom, with the 12th and 13th dynasties.
Qatna has notable proofs of its long-distant trade, with a Egyptian sphinx (ca. 1900 BCE) and vases from Mycene.
Among the most noteworthy finds at Qatna is a temple dedicated to the Sumerian goddess, Nin-e-gal.

20th or 19th century: Qatna emerges as a kingdom, with a royal family of Amorite origin. The first known king is Ishi-Addad.
1759: Mari is destroyed by Babylonian king, Hammurabi, allowing economic growth for Qatna, but also for Yamkhad, Qatna's contender for regional power.
First half 15th century: Qatna is subjected to Mitanni, a kingdom of northern Mesopotamia.
Middle 15th century: Wars between Egypt and Mitanni for control over the region of Qatna. According to inscriptions on the 7th pylon in the Temple of Amon at Karnak, Tuthmosis 3 waged war here ca. 1446.
1375 BCE: Qatna is destroyed by Hittite king, Suppiluliumas. Many inhabitants are enslaved and deported to Hattusha, but Qatna would remain inhabited, but no longer as one of Syria's strong cities.
1924: Excavations begin at Qatna, first phase last 3 years.

By Tore Kjeilen