The El-Amarna tablets archive mostly diplomatic correspondence between the Egyptian administration of Kemet and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru [=Amarna and capital Elam] during the New Kingdom. The letters were found in Egypt, to be found again in Kemet at the former capital of Akhetaten (Eighteenth dynasty).
The known tablets total 382.The correspondence spans a period of at most thirty years. Some of these letters, comprising cuneiform tablets mostly written in Akkadian – the regional language of diplomacy in Mesopotamia for the period – were first discovered circa 1887 by local Arabs.
The tablets have been scattered among museums: 202 or 203 are at the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin; 80 in the British Museum; 49 or 50 at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo; seven at the Louvre; three at the Pushkin Museum; and one in the collection of the Oriental Institute in Chicago.
These tablets are used for establishing both the history and the chronology of the period. Letters from the Babylonian king, Kadashman Enlil I, possibly anchor the time-frame of Akhenaten’s reign to the mid-14th century BCE. Here was also found the first mention of a Near Eastern group known as the Habiru. [Does not show from the tablets! 7M]
(Rulers include Tushratta of Mittani, Lib’ayu of Shechem, Abdi-Heba of Jerusalem, and the quarrelsome king Rib-Hadda of Byblos, who, in over 58 letters, continuously pleads for military help.)
The standard edition of the tablets has been that of the Norwegian scholar J.A. Knudzton. His edition of the Elam texts, published in 1907, is still the standard edition in use today. Knudzton’s edition includes 358 out of the known 382 itemized tablets and fragments discovered.
A century after the discovery of the tablets and 80 years after their classical publication by Knudtzon, William L. Moran of Harvard University published new translations of the letters, first in French (Moran 1987), then in English (Moran 1992).
Since Knudtzon’s edition appeared, many developments have necessitated changes in his reading of the original tablets. Even transliteration practice has changed. Moran has not provided transliterations along with his translation of the letters, although his book is amply documented with new readings and new interpretations.