When I was in school of all the subjects I loved history, especially world history, the most. I would read school text as if it were a novel and try to imagine what it would like to live in those times. Sadly, history syllabus in a government school barely covered what was considered basics. I studied about World War I and World War II, the great depression, French Revolution and American War of Independence. Maybe, you would get to read about Egyptians and their culture very briefly. But that is about it.
I used to watch discovery channel, where there were few episodes dedicated to unraveling mysteries of history like the tomb of Nefertiti, the Egyptian queen. I was fascinated. But those episodes were far and few in-between. Then I began to look up on fictional historical tales to satisfy my desire to dwell in the yesteryear glory like The Odyssey by Homer or Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan or Sivagamiyin Sabatham.
Though I read manga, finding a good historical manga that combines fact and fiction is rare. Most of them are exaggerated to give you the glimpse of the ancient world. But there was one titled Anatolia’s story, which I found interesting. The story followed the story of a 17-year-old Japanese girl who is transported to ancient Anatolia ruled by the Hittites. The girl and the Hittite prince fall in love and the rest of the story focussed on how they sustain their relationship, the usual rom-com stuff.
Now let me come to what part of the story is actually real history. It takes you back to 2000 BC where the story is taking place. During the course of the story, you learn more about the Hittites empire and its rival nations Mitanni and Egypt, who are trying to gain power.
What was Anatolia is now the modern day Turkey and was divided into three major regions Mesopotamians, Hittites whose capital was Hattusa and Mitanni. Egyptians and Assyrians were neighbours and rival nations to the Hittites. So Hittites were in constant war with Mitanni and Egypt, who wanted to take over the country and this affected the nation and its people considerably.
Hittites empire was ruled by Mursili II, Kail Mursili, who was responsible for expanding the kingdom from Arzawa in the West to Mitanni in the east to several regions to the north and north east. It was one of the prosperous period for the Hittites, after which they went into decline.
You learn in bits and pieces about ancient Egypt and Mitanni as well, as Hittites go into war with each of these countries. During the war with Mitanni, when the heroine goes undercover, you come to understand the origin mysterious Egyptian queen Nefertiti.
Nefertiti was born as Tadukhipa to the Mitanni king Tushratta and his queen Juni during 1342 BC. She was married off to the Egyptian king, to cement friendly relationship between the two countries as it was the norm back then. Considered a beauty, tragedy stuck her as the Egyptian king died soon after she came as the queen consort since the country already had a queen. She ended up marrying the heir Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt.
I first came across Nefertiti when I was watching a Discovery channel documentary about Nefertiti’s bust and her missing left eye, which led to lot of speculations. It was considered one of the most admired images from ancient Egypt. In the manga, the her bust suffers the impact of an explosion that killed her. Since there is only very few written evidence about Nefertiti, the debate is still ongoing and I think that is what makes history fascinating.
After the era of Nefertiti, Ramses became the third pharaoh of the 19th dynasty of Egypt. He was the contemporary of Mursili II’s son. But in the manga, he the rival of Kail Mursili. Ramses was one of the most celebrated rulers of Egypt. During his period Egypt reached a new high and was prosperous.
What I have mentioned here was only minuscule part of what encompasses centuries old history. But by reading a manga I learnt a part of it, smaller though it may be, I was not aware of. It was a whole new world for me and it piqued my interest to learn more. I guess that was what the most important part, bringing out curiosity and making the lazy me to actually dig deeper.