Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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The Great Musasir Temple of Armenia – Proignitor of the Greco-Roman Temples

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on October 12, 2013

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/81/Musasir_1.jpg/800px-Musasir_1.jpg

Muṣaṣir (Assyrian; Mu-ṣa-ṣir and variants, including Mutsatsir, Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake ), in Urartian Ardini (likely from Armenian Artin) was an ancient city of Urartu, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. It was a semi-independent buffer state bordering Mannai between Assyria and Urartu. It was a vassal state of Assyria yet Urartu had some claim over it. It was acquired by the Urartian King Ishpuini ca. 800 BC.

The city’s location is not known with certainty, although there are a number of hypotheses, all in the general area in the Zagros south of Lake Urmia. A team of archaeologists has discovered a brick bearing bas-reliefs of four winged goddesses at the 3000-year-old site of Rabat near the town of Sardasht in Iran’s West Azarbaijan Province. The upper parts of the goddesses resemble a woman and the lower parts are similar to an animal like a deer or cow with wings on both their sides.

The bas-reliefs are very unique. Similar bas-reliefs depicting winged goddesses have not been found, even at Persepolis with all its grandeur. Such bas-reliefs have never been seen in any ancient site of the county so far.

In its higher strata, Rabat dates back to some time around 1000 BC. It is one of the richest archaeological sites of northwestern Iran. Archaeologists had estimated the site covered only a four-hectare area, but new studies have extended the area to 25 hectares. The team of archaeologists working in the region believes that Rabat Tepe was the seat of government of Musasir about 3000 years ago.

Experts believe that it was an ancient city probably located near the upper Great Zab River between Lake Urmia and Lake Van, the present Turkey. Musasir was particularly important during the first half of the 1st millennium BC and is known primarily from reliefs and inscriptions obtained during the reign of the Assyrian king Sargon II, who captured it in 714 BC. According to the inscriptions, Sargon seized the contents of the temple of Haldi, the god of the ancient kingdom of Urartu.

Tushpa was the 9th-century BC capital of Urartu, later becoming known as Van, which is derived from Biaina the native name of Urartu. The ancient ruins are located just west of Van and east of Lake Van in the Van Province of Turkey.

Archaeological excavations and surveys carried out in the Van Province indicate that the history of human settlement in this region dates back at least as far as 5000 BC. The Tilkitepe Mound located along the shores of Lake Van and a few kilometres to the south of the citadel of Van, is the only the known source of information about the oldest cultures of Van predating the founding of Tushpa.

Khaldi (also known as Hayk) was one of the three chief deities of Urartu. His shrine was at Ardini. Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) panthenon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him. His wife was the goddess Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art. He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion. The other two chief deities in the triad were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa.

Khaldi was a warrior god whom the kings of Urartu would pray to for victories in battle. The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons, such as swords, spears, bow and arrows, and shields hung off the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.

Scholars such as Carl Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi. Chaldea or Chaldæa (Akkadian: māt Ḫaldu, Aramaic: Kaldo) was a marshy land located in south eastern Mesopotamia which came to rule Babylon briefly. Tribes of Semitic settlers who arrived in the region from the 10th century BC became known as the Chaldeans or the Chaldees.

At the height of its power, during the 14th century BC, Mitanni had outposts centered around its capital, Washukanni, whose location has been determined by archaeologists to be on the headwaters of the Khabur River. Eventually, Mitanni succumbed to Hittite and later Assyrian attacks, and was reduced to the status of a province of the Middle Assyrian Empire.

In the time of Ashur-nirari III (ca. 1200 BC, the beginning Bronze Age collapse), the Phrygians and others invaded and destroyed the Hittite Empire, already weakened by defeats against Assyria. Some parts of Assyrian ruled Hanilgalbat was temporarily lost to the Phrygians also, however the Assyrians defeated the Phrygians and regained these colonies . The Hurrians still held Katmuhu and Paphu. In the transitional period to the Early Iron Age, Mitanni was settled by invading Semitic Aramaean tribes.

Within a few centuries of the fall of Washshukanni to Assyria, Mitanni became fully Assyrianized and linguistically Aramaized, and use of the Hurrian language began to be discouraged throughout the Neo-Assyrian Empire. However, Urartean, a dialect closely related to Hurrian seems to have survived in the new state of Urartu, in the mountainous areas to the north. In the 10th to 9th century BC inscriptions of Adad-nirari II and Shalmaneser III, Hanigalbat is still used as a geographical term.

Though belonging to the same Semitic ethnic group, they are to be differentiated from the Aramean stock; and the Assyrian king Sennacherib, for example, is careful in his inscriptions to distinguish them. When they came to possess the whole of southern Mesopotamia, the name “Chaldean” became synonymous with “Babylonian”, particularly to the Greeks and Jews.

The language used by the Chaldeans was the Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, the same Semitic language, save for slight peculiarities in sound and in characters, as Assyrian Akkadian. In late periods both the Babylonian and Assyrian dialects of Akkadian ceased to be spoken, and Aramaic took its place across Mesopotamia, and remains the mother tongue of the Assyrian (also known as Chaldo-Assyrian) Christians of Iraq and its surrounds to this day. One form of this widespread language is used in Daniel and Ezra, but the use of the name “Chaldee” to describe it, first introduced by Jerome, is incorrect and a misnomer.

The origin of the Arameans remains uncertain, with limited mention of Arameans in Mesopotamian inscriptions supplemented by a few descriptive incidents associated with Rebekah from Aram-Naharaim in the book of Genesis in the Bible.

The toponym A-ra-mu appears in an inscription at Ebla listing geographical names, and the term Armi, which is the Eblaite term for nearby Aleppo, occurs frequently in the Ebla tablets (ca. 2300 BC). One of the annals of Naram-Sin of Akkad (c. 2250 BC) mentions that he captured “Dubul, the ensi of A-ra-me” (Arame is seemingly a genitive form), in the course of a campaign against Simurrum in the northern mountains.

Other early references to a place or people of “Aram” have appeared at the archives of Mari (c. 1900 BC) and at Ugarit (c. 1300 BC). There is little agreement concerning what, if any, relationship there was between these places, or if the Aramu were actually Arameans; the earliest undisputed mention of Arameans as a people appears in the inscriptions of Tiglath Pileser I (c. 1100 BC).

For the first time, an inscription of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115-1077 BC) refers to the “Ahlamû-Aramaeans” (Ahlame Armaia) and shortly after, the Ahlamû rapidly disappear from Assyrian annals, to be replaced by the Aramaeans (Aramu, Arimi). “Ahlamû-Aramaeans” would consider the Arameans as an important and in time dominant faction of the Ahlamû tribes, however it is possible that the two peoples had nothing in common, but operated in the same area. It is conceivable that the name “Aramaeans” was a more accurate form of the earlier ethnonym Martu (Amorites, westerners) in the Assyrian tablets.

The Arameans conquered, during the 11th and the 10th centuries, Sam’al (Zenjirli), also known as Yaudi, the region from Arpad to Aleppo which they renamed Bît-Agushi, and Til Barsip, which became the chief town of Bît-Adini, also known as Beth Eden.

At the same time, Arameans moved to the east of the Euphrates, where they settled in such numbers that the whole region became known as Aram-Naharaim or “Aram of the two rivers”. One of their earliest kingdoms in Mesopotamia was Bît-bahiâni (Tell Halaf).

North of Sam’al was the Arameans state of Bit-Gabari, sandwiched between the Neo-Hittite states of Carchemish, Gurgum, Tabal, Khattina and Unqi. Whilst these later states maintained a Neo-Hittite hieroglyphic for official communication, it would seem that the population of these small states was progressively Aramaeanised.

Boris Piotrovsky wrote that “the Urartians first appear in history in the 13th century BC. as a league of tribes or countries which did not yet constitute a unitary state. In the Assyrian annals the term Uruatri (Urartu) as a name for this league was superseded during a considerable period of years by the term “land of Nairi”.

Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was part of the Urartu confederation. It was a Hurrian-speaking kingdom, known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper. The capital was called Ubbumu. Later, there is reference to a district in the area called Arme or Urme, which some scholars have linked to the name Armenia.

Weidner interpreted textual evidence to indicate that after the Hurrian king Shattuara of Mitanni was defeated by Adad-nirari I of Assyria in the early 13th century BC, he then became ruler of a reduced vassal state known as Shubria or Subartu. The name Subartu (Sumerian: Shubur) for the region is attested much earlier, from the time of the earliest Mesopotamian records (mid 3rd millennium BC).

Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Urartian (Kingdom of Ararat) rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants, according to most scholars, later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the early Armenians.

In the early 6th century BC, the Urartian Kingdom was replaced by the Armenian Orontid dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 521/0 BC by the order of Darius the Great of Persia, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in Elamite.

Theispas of Kumenu was the Urartian weather-god, notably the god of storms and thunder. He was also sometimes the god of war. He is a counterpart to the Assyrian god Adad, and the Hurrian god, Teshub. He was often depicted as a man standing on a bull, holding a handful of thunderbolts. His wife was the goddess Huba, who was the counterpart of the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

Shivini or Artinis (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”, and it persists in Armenian names to this day) was a solar god in the mythology of the Urartu. The Assyrian god Shamash is a counterpart to Shivini. He is cognate with the Hindu deity Shiva.

He was depicted as a man on his knees, holding up a solar disc. His wife was most likely a goddess called Tushpuea who is listed as the third goddess on the Mheri-Dur inscription. Shivini is generally considered a good god, like that of the Egyptian solar god, Aten, and unlike the solar god of the Assyrians, Ashur to whom sometimes human sacrifices were made.

The Musasir temple was an important Urartian temple in Musasir, the holy city of Urartu, and was built in 825 BC. The Temple appears in an Assyrian bas-relief which adorned the palace of King Sargon II at Khorsapat, to commemorate his victory over “the seven kings of Ararat” in 714 BC.

During this period of Assyrian campaigns, the northern Urartian regions were governed by Sardur, and later by his son Rusa, with the capital at Tushpa located near the great city and the capital of the mighty Kingdom of Urartu, Van (Biaina) on the eastern shore of Lake Van. Sardur placed Urzana as the governor of the spiritual center, the temple of Khaldi, the city’s tutelary deity.

During the early 1850s, the British Assyrian Excavation Fund entered the field under William Kennett Loftus and many antiquities and accurate drawings of wall sculptures were apportioned between the British Museum and the Louvre. However, a convoy of antiquities was attacked by Arab robbers while being shipped down the Tigris River, and today lies buried somewhere in the bed of that river. Fortunately that particular bas-relief was copied at its original location in the palace onto a drawing by Eugene Flandin as Botta’s chief artist.

The Kelashin Stele (also Kelishin Stele) found in Kelashin, Iraq, bears an important Urartian-Assyrian bilingual text dating to ca. 800 BC, first described by Friedrich Eduard Schulz in 1827. The inscription describes the acquisition of the city of Musasir (Ardini) by the Urartian king Ishpuini.

Part of Schulz’s notes were lost when he was killed by Kurdish bandits, and later expeditions were either prevented by weather conditions or the brigands, so that a copy (latex squeeze) of the inscription could only be made in 1951 by G. Cameron, and again in 1976 by an Italian party under heavy military protection.

The historic significance of the Urartian era Musasir Temple is fundamentally this: the Greco-Roman looking architecture preceded the earliest Greco-Roman style constructions by hundreds of years. The Musasir Temple is yet another clear indicator that the advanced culture of the Armenian Highlands radiated far beyond its boundaries. Ancient civilizations such as the Minoans, who germinated Greek culture, and the Etruscans, who germinated Roman culture, trace their origin to within the vicinity of the Armenian Highlands.

The Great Musasir Temple of Armenia

Musasir temple

Musasir

Garni

Garni Temple

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