Kurunta was a Hittite king, a son of Muwatalli II born in the 13th century BC, and cousin of Tudhaliya IV. Kurunta is a Luwian name; he also bore the Hurrian name Ulmi-Tessup (often spelled Ulmi-Teshub").
Muwatalli entrusted Kurunta to his brother Hattusili III to raise in his own household. Hattusili's son Tudhaliya, in his later treaty with Kurunta, claims that the two developed a deep bond of friendship.
In the struggle for the throne between Mursili III and Hattusili, Kurunta gave his loyalty to Hattusili. His reward was rich: after seizing the throne, Hattusili granted him vassal kingship over Tarhuntassa, his father's former capital. In that treaty he bore the name Ulmi-Tessup. However, most of the territory under Tarhuntassa's nominal sway had fallen into the hands of Lukkan warriors acting with support from Ahhiyawa. Kurunta apparently spent all of Hattusili's reign slowly reconquering the lost territory.
A bronze tablet found in Hattusa records a treaty between Tudhaliya IV and Kurunta, wherein Tudhaliya re-grants Kurunta authority over Tarhuntassa. At the time the treaty was sealed, it is clear that Kurunta was still actively reconquering the west, where the city Parha (Classical Perge in Pamphylia) was expected to fall into his hands. For modern scholarship, this treaty is very important, as it has been used to resolve many of the disputes about west Anatolian geography. Further, it is in a state of near perfect preservation, making it a rare and valuable artifact.
Ultimately, Kurunta does not appear to have been content with his fiefdom, and at some point he began using the title of 'Great King' on his seals and on a rock inscription at Hatip, just outside of Konya. The seals were found in Hattusa itself, and the bronze tablet was intentionally buried under a paved area near the great southern Sphinx Gate, suggesting some severe breach between the two lands.
The general supposition is that Kurunta usurped the throne from Tudhaliya or his successor Arnuwanda III, although there is no agreement on the course of events. It has also been suggested, for instance, that Kurunta simply declared independence from the Hittite Great Kings, and that Tarhuntassa was then able to maintain that independence for some time. A Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription on a wall of the southern acropolis of Hattusa mentioned an attack by Suppiluliuma II, son of Tudhaliya IV, on Tarhuntassa.
Ulmi-Tessup and Kurunta
There has been scholarly debate about whether Ulmi-Tessup and Kurunta were the same person. Comparisons between the Ulmi-Tessup treaty and the Kurunta treaty have led some scholars to conclude they are the same person, and others to conclude that they are different. For instance, the later treaty between Tudhaliya and Kurunta mentions that in a former treaty, Hattusili had demanded that Kurunta marry a woman of queen Pudu-Hepa's choice; Tudhaliya then revoked that demand. This requirement is not found in the Ulmi-Tessup's treaty, although the beginning of that treaty is missing.
- Bryce, Trevor. The Kingdom of the Hittites, 2005 (pp.270-71)
- Bryce, Trevor. The Kingdom of the Hittites. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005. 270-321.