Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Who does Jerusalem belong to?

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 17, 2014

It lived people in Jerusalem both befor the Jews, even before the Hebrews and the first ever semites, it might even be the Hurrians, or proto Armenians, and after the Jews lost the control over the city for over 2000 years ago. What right do the Jews, or the Zionists, when it comes to the city?

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Jebusites; Hebrew: יְבוּסִי, Modern Yevusi Tiberian Yəḇûsî ISO 259-3 Ybusi) were a Canaanite tribe who built and inhabited Jerusalem prior to its conquest by King David. The Books of Kings state that Jerusalem was known as Jebus prior to this event. According to some biblical chronologies, the city was conquered by King David in 1003 BCE, or according to other sources 869 BCE.

In the Amarna letters, mention is made that the contemporaneous king of Jerusalem was named Abdi-Heba, which is a theophoric name invoking a Hurrian goddess named Hebat; unless a different ethnic group occupied Jerusalem in this period. This implies that the Jebusites were Hurrians themselves, were heavily influenced by Hurrian culture, or were dominated by a Hurrian maryannu class.

Given the city’s central position in both Jewish nationalism (Zionism) and Palestinian nationalism, the selectivity required to summarise more than 5,000 years of inhabited history is often influenced by ideological bias or background (see Historiography and nationalism).

For example, the Jewish periods of the city’s history are important to Israeli nationalists (Zionists), whose discourse suggests that modern Jews descend from the Israelites and Maccabees, while the Islamic, Christian and other non-Jewish periods of the city’s history are important to Palestinian nationalism, whose discourse suggests that modern Palestinians descend from all the different peoples who have lived in the region.

As a result, both sides claim the history of the city has been politicized by the other in order to strengthen their relative claims to the city, and that this is borne out by the different focuses the different writers place on the various events and eras in the city’s history.


It lived people in Jerusalem both befor the Jews, even before the Hebrews and the first ever semites, it might even be Hurrians, or proto Armenians, and after the Jews lost the control over the city for over 2000 years ago. What right do the Jews, or the Zionists, when it comes to the city?

A city called Rušalim in the Execration texts of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (c. 19th century BCE) is widely, but not universally, identified as Jerusalem. Jerusalem is called Urušalim in the Amarna letters of Abdi-Heba (1330s BCE).

The name “Jerusalem” is variously etymologized to mean “foundation (Sumerian yeru, ‘settlement’/Semitic yry’ ‘to found, to lay a cornerstone’) of the god Shalem”, the god Shalem was thus the original tutelary deity of the Bronze Age city.

Shalim (derived from the triconsonantal Semitic root S-L-M, and also romanized as Shalem, Salem, and Salim from which the Hebrew word for “peace” is derived (Salam or Shalom in modern Arabic and Hebrew), was the name of a god in the Canaanite religion pantheon, mentioned in inscriptions found in Ugarit (Ras Shamra) in Syria.

Many scholars believe that the Semitic root S-L-M in the name of the city Jerusalem is thought to refer to either “peace” (Salam or Shalom in modern Arabic and Hebrew) or Shalim, who may have been associated with dusk and the evening star in the etymological senses of a ‘completion’ of the day, ‘sunset’ and ‘peace’ in the Canaanite religion.

The name thus offered itself to etymologizations such as “The City of Peace”, “Abode of Peace”, “dwelling of peace” (“founded in safety”), alternately “Vision of Peace” in some Christian authors.

The ending -ayim indicates the dual, thus leading to the suggestion that the name Yerushalayim refers to the fact that the city sits on two hills. However, the pronunciation of the last syllable as -ayim appears to be a late development, which had not yet appeared at the time of the Septuagint.

William F. Albright identified Shalim as the god of dusk, and Shahar as god of the dawn. In the Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible, Shalim is also identified as the deity representing Venus or the “Evening Star,” and Shahar, the “Morning Star”.

The form Yerushalem or Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) first appears in the Bible, in the book of Joshua. According to a Midrash, the name is a combination of Yhwh Yir’eh (“God will see to it”, the name given by Abraham to the place where he began to sacrifice his son) and the town “Shalem”.

The earliest extra-biblical Hebrew writing of the word Jerusalem is dated to the sixth or seventh century BCE and was discovered in Khirbet Beit Lei near Beit Guvrin in 1961.

The inscription states: “I am Yahweh thy God, I will accept the cities of Judah and I will redeem Jerusalem”, or as other scholars suggest: “Yahweh is the God of the whole earth. The mountains of Judah belong to him, to the God of Jerusalem”.

The most ancient settlement of Jerusalem, founded as early as the Bronze Age on the hill above the Gihon Spring, was according to the Bible named Jebus. Called the “Fortress of Zion” (metsudat Zion), it was renamed by David as the City of David, and was known by this name in antiquity.

Another name, “Zion”, initially referred to a distinct part of the city, but later came to signify the city as a whole and to represent the biblical Land of Israel. In Greek and Latin the city’s name was transliterated Hierosolyma (Greek: Ἱεροσόλυμα; in Greek hieròs, ἱερός, means holy), although the city was renamed Aelia Capitolina for part of the Roman period of its history.

In Arabic, Jerusalem is most commonly known as al-Quds and meaning “The Holy” or “The Holy Sanctuary”. Official Israeli government policy mandates that Ūršalīm, which is the cognate of the Hebrew and English names, be used as the Arabic language name for the city.

Given the city’s central position in both Jewish nationalism (Zionism) and Palestinian nationalism, the selectivity required to summarize more than 5,000 years of inhabited history is often influenced by ideological bias or background (see Historiography and nationalism).

Given the city’s central position in both Jewish nationalism (Zionism) and Palestinian nationalism, the selectivity required to summarize more than 5,000 years of inhabited history is often influenced by ideological bias or background (see Historiography and nationalism).

For example, the Jewish periods of the city’s history are important to Israeli nationalists (Zionists), whose discourse suggests that modern Jews descend from the Israelites and Maccabees, while the Islamic, Christian and other non-Jewish periods of the city’s history are important to Palestinian nationalism, whose discourse suggests that modern Palestinians descend from all the different peoples who have lived in the region.

As a result, both sides claim the history of the city has been politicized by the other in order to strengthen their relative claims to the city, and that this is borne out by the different focuses the different writers place on the various events and eras in the city’s history.

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Jebusites; Hebrew: יְבוּסִי, Modern Yevusi Tiberian Yəḇûsî ISO 259-3 Ybusi) were a Canaanite tribe who built and inhabited Jerusalem prior to its conquest by King David. The Books of Kings state that Jerusalem was known as Jebus prior to this event. According to some biblical chronologies, the city was conquered by King David in 1003 BCE, or according to other sources 869 BCE.

In the Amarna letters, mention is made that the contemporaneous king of Jerusalem was named Abdi-Heba, which is a the ophoric name invoking a Hurrian goddess named Hebat; unless a different ethnic group occupied Jerusalem in this period.

Abdi-Heba (Abdi-Kheba, Abdi-Hepat, or Abdi-Hebat) was a local chieftain of Jerusalem during the Amarna period (mid-1330s BC). Abdi-Heba’s name can be translated as “servant of Hebat”, a Hurrian goddess. This implies that the Jebusites were Hurrians themselves, were heavily influenced by Hurrian culture, or were dominated by a Hurrian maryannu class.

Hebat, also transcribed, Kheba or Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. Hebat is married to Teshub and is the mother of Sarruma and Alanzu, as well mother-in-law of the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka. The name may be transliterated in different versions – Khebat with the feminine ending -t is primarily the Syrian and Ugaritic version.

In the Hurrian language Hepa is the most likely pronunciation of the name of the goddess. In modern literature the sound /h/ in cuneiform sometimes is transliterated as kh. During Aramaean times Hebat also appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve. Hebat was venerated all over the ancient Near East. Her name appears in many theophoric personal names.

The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubeleyan Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”; Lydian Kuvava; Greek: Kybele, Kybebe, Kybelis), an originally Anatolian mother goddess.

Cybele, ancient Phrygia’s only known goddess, and probably the highest deity of the Phrygian State, may have evolved from an Anatolian Mother Goddess of a type found in the earliest Neolithic at Çatalhöyük (in the Konya region), where the statue of a pregnant goddess seated on a lion throne was found in a granary dated to the 6th millennium BCE.

This corpulent, fertile Mother Goddess appears to be giving birth on her throne, which has two feline-headed hand rests. In Phrygian art of the 8th century BCE, the cult attributes of the Phrygian mother-goddess include attendant lions, a bird of prey, and a small vase for her libations or other offerings.

The inscription Matar Kubileya at a Phrygian rock-cut shrine, dated to the first half of the 6th century BCE, is usually read as “Mother of the mountain”, a reading supported by ancient Classical sources, and consistent with Cybele as any of several similar tutelary goddesses, each known as “mother” and associated with specific Anatolian mountains or other localities: a goddess thus “born from stone”.

In the 2nd century CE, the geographer Pausanias attests to a Magnesian (Lydian) cult to “the Mother of the Gods”, whose image was carved into a rock-spur of Mount Sipylus. This was believed to be the oldest image of the goddess, and was attributed to the legendary Broteas.

The gigantic remains of such a figure at Mount Sipylus, though lacking inscriptions and much eroded, are consistent with later representations of a seated Cybele, with a supporting or attendant lion beneath each arm.

Xi Wangmu (Hsi Wang-mu; literally: “Queen Mother of the West”) is a Chinese goddess known from the ancient times. The first historical information on her can be traced back to oracle bone inscriptions of the fifteenth century BCE that record sacrifices to a “Western Mother”.

Even though these inscriptions illustrate that she predates organized Taoism, she is most often associated with Taoism, which connected with the dualism of the Armenian concepts of Ar/Char, the Zoroastrian Aša and Arta/druj, the Sumerian concepts about me or parşu, the Egyptian Maat/Isfet or the two sides of the Nordic goddess Hel.

At Pessinos in Phrygia, the mother goddess—identified by the Greeks as Cybele—took the form of an unshaped stone of black meteoric iron, and may have been associated with or identical to Agdistis, Pessinos’ mountain deity.

The Kaaba or Ka’aba (Arabic‎‎ al-Kaʿbah, “The Cube”), is a cuboid building at the centre of Islam’s most sacred mosque, Al-Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is the most sacred point within this most sacred mosque, making it the most sacred location in Islam. Wherever they are in the world, Muslims are expected to face the Kaaba – i.e. when outside Mecca, to face toward Mecca – when performing salat (prayers).

The Kaaba was thought to be at the center of the world, with the Gate of Heaven directly above it. The Kaaba marked the location where the sacred world intersected with the profane; the embedded Black Stone was a further symbol of this as a meteorite that had fallen from the sky and linked heaven and earth.

Whether Abdi-Heba was himself of Hurrian descent is unknown, as is the relationship between the general populace of pre-Israelite Jerusalem (called, several centuries later, Jebusites in the Bible) and the Hurrians.

During Abdi-Heba’s reign the region was under attack from marauding bands of Apiru, also known as Habiru or Apiru (Egyptian: pr.w), the name given by various Sumerian, Egyptian, Akkadian, Hittite, Mitanni, and Ugaritic sources (dated, roughly, between 1800 BC and 1100 BC) to a group of people living as nomadic invaders in areas of the Fertile Crescent from Northeastern Mesopotamia and Iran to the borders of Egypt in Canaan.

Abdi-Heba made frequent pleas to the Pharaoh of Egypt (probably Amenhotep III), for an army or, at least, an officer to command. Abdi-Heba also made other requests for military aid in fighting off his enemies, both Canaanite warlords and bands of Apiru. In later years Abdi-Heba appears to have reconciled with the Apiru, or at least certain bands of them, and hired mercenaries from among their ranks.

Depending on the source and epoch, these Habiru are variously described as nomadic or semi-nomadic, rebels, outlaws, raiders, mercenaries, and bowmen, servants, slaves, migrant laborers, etc.

The names Habiru and Apiru are used in Akkadian cuneiform texts. The corresponding name in the Egyptian script appears to be pr.w, conventionally pronounced Apiru (W,or u-vowel “quail-chick” being used as the Egyptian plural suffix).

The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary states that Habiru is not an ethnic identification and is used to refer to both Semites and non-Semites, adding that “the connection, if there is any, remains obscure.”

Since the discovery of the 2nd millennium inscriptions mentioning the Habiru there have been many theories linking these to the Hebrews of the Bible. Anson Rainey has argued that “the plethora of attempts to relate apiru (Habiru) to the gentilic ibri are all nothing but wishful thinking.”

Shasu (from Egyptian Š3sw, probably pronounced Shasw) were Semitic-speaking cattle nomads in the Levant from the late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age or Third Intermediate Period of Egypt. They were organized in clans under a tribal chieftain, and were described as brigands active from the Jezreel Valley to Ashkelon and the Sinai.

The name evolved from a transliteration of the Egyptian word š3sw, meaning “those who move on foot”, into the term for Bedouin-type wanderers. The term originated in a 15th-century BCE list of peoples in Transjordan. It is used in a list of enemies inscribed on column bases at the temple of Soleb built by Amenhotep III.

Copied later by either Seti I or Ramesses II at Amarah-West, the list mentions six groups of Shasu: the Shasu of S’rr, the Shasu of Rbn, the Shasu of Sm’t, the Shasu of Wrbr, the Shasu of Yhw, and the Shasu of Pysps.

In Mesopotamian records they are also identified by the Sumerian logogram SA.GAZ. The name Habiru was also found in the Amarna letters to Egyptian pharaohs, along with many names of Canaanite peoples written in Akkadian.

There are two Egyptian texts, one dated to the period of Amenophis III (14th century BCE), the other to the age of Ramses II (13th century BCE) which refer to ‘Yahu in the land of the Šosū-Bedouins’,(t3 š3św jhw3), in which Yahu is a toponym.

Regarding the Shasu of Yhw, Michael Astour observed that the “hieroglyphic rendering corresponds very precisely to the Hebrew tetragrammaton YHWH, or Yahweh, and antedates the hitherto oldest occurrence of that Divine Name – on the Moabite Stone – by over five hundred years.”

One hypothesis is that it is reasonable to infer that the demonym ‘Israel’ recorded on the Merneptah Stele refers to a Shasu enclave, and that, since later Biblical tradition portrays Yahweh “coming forth from Se’ir” the Shasu, originally from Moab and northern Edom, went on to form one major element in the amalgam that was to constitute the “Israel” which later established the Kingdom of Israel. Rainey has a similar view in his analysis of the el-Amarna letters. K. Van Der Toorn concludes that,

By the 14th century BC, before the cult of Yahweh had reached Israel, groups of Edomite and Midianites worshipped Yahweh as their god.

Objections exist that state that the proposed link between the Yahweh of the Israelites and the Shasu is uncertain, given that in the Merneptah reliefs, the group later known as the Israelites are not described or depicted as Shasu.

Gösta Werner Ahlström argued that the reason Shasu and Israelites are differentiated from each other in the Merneptah Stele is that these Shasu were nomads while the Israelites were a sedentary subset of the Shasu.

Shutu or Sutu is the name given in ancient Akkadian language sources to certain nomadic groups of the Trans-Jordanian highlands, extending deep into Mesopotamia and Southern Iraq. It has speculated that “Shutu” may be a variant of the Egyptian phrase shasu.

An Egyptian execration text of the 17th century BCE refers to an “Ayyab” (possibly a variant form of the name Job) as king of the Shutu. Some scholars have tenuously identified the Shutu as the progenitors of the Moabites and Ammonites.

SA.GAZ ‘murderer, robber’, literally ‘one who smashes sinews’, is an original Sumerian nominal compound attested as early as ca. 2500 BC. It is later equated with Akkadian habbātu ‘plunderer, bandit’ and šaggāšu ‘murderer’.

It has been suggested that a second Sumerian logogram SAG.GAZ ‘one who smashes heads’, a variant of SA.GAZ, may be artificially derived from the like-sounding šaggāšu, even though SAG.GAZ is attested in several unilingual Sumerian texts from at least 2100 BC.

SA.GAZ and occasionally SAG.GAZ are equated with Akkadian hāpiru, a West Semitic loanword first attested in early 2nd millennium Assyrian and Babylonian texts, in texts from El Amarna in Egypt.

Mitanni (Hittite cuneiform Mi-ta-an-ni; also Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni) or Hanigalbat (Assyrian Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) or Naharin in ancient Egyptian texts was an Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC.

At the height of its power, during the 14th century BC, Mitanni had outposts centered on its capital, Washukanni, whose location has been determined by archaeologists to be on the headwaters of the Khabur River. Their sphere of influence is shown in Hurrian place names, personal names and the spread through Syria and the Levant of a distinct pottery type.

The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.

Hittite annals mention a people called Hurri (Ḫu-ur-ri), located in northeastern Syria. A Hittite fragment, probably from the time of Mursili I, mentions a “King of the Hurri”, or “Hurrians”. The Assyro-Akkadian version of the text renders “Hurri” as Hanigalbat. Tushratta, who styles himself “king of Mitanni” in his Akkadian Amarna letters, refers to his kingdom as Hanigalbat.

Egyptian sources call Mitanni “nhrn”, which is usually pronounced as Naharin/Naharina from the Assyro-Akkadian word for “river”, cf. Aram-Naharaim. The name Mitanni is first found in the “memoirs” of the Syrian wars (ca. 1480 BC) of the official astronomer and clockmaker Amememhet, who returned from the “foreign country called Me-ta-ni” at the time of Thutmose I.

The expedition to the Naharina announced by Thutmosis I at the beginning of his reign may have actually taken place during the long previous reign of Amenhotep I Helck believes that this was the expedition mentioned by Amenhotep II.

The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya), though some think that they are more immediately related to the Kassites.

The common people’s language, the Hurrian language, is neither Indo-European nor Semitic. Hurrian is related to Urartian, the language of Urartu, both belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family. It had been held that nothing more can be deduced from current evidence.

A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which dominated many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi.

Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix. He suggests that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.

Urartian is closely related to Hurrian, a somewhat better documented language attested for an earlier, non-overlapping period, approximately from 2000 BCE to 1200 BCE (written by native speakers until about 1350 BCE). The two languages must have developed quite independently from approximately 2000 BCE onwards.

Although Urartian is not a direct continuation of any of the attested dialects of Hurrian, many of its features are best explained as innovative developments with respect to Hurrian as we know it from the preceding millennium. The closeness holds especially true of the so-called Old Hurrian dialect, known above all from Hurro-Hittite bilingual texts. Igor Diakonoff and others have suggested ties between the Hurro-Urartian languages and the Northeastern Caucasian languages.

The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end, but it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC.

The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; thence it spread northward in Caucasus by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, and finally down to the borders of present day Syria. Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km.

The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ingushetia and North Ossetia. It may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

Their pottery was distinctive; in fact, the spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs for ornamentation. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya.

The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.

Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory.

The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.

Urartian, Vannic, and (in older literature) Chaldean (Khaldian, or Haldian) are conventional names for the language spoken by the inhabitants of the ancient kingdom of Urartu that was located in the region of Lake Van, with its capital near the site of the modern town of Van, in the Armenian Highland, modern-day Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey. It was probably spoken by the majority of the population around Lake Van and in the areas along the upper Zab valley.

Scholars believe that Urartu is an Akkadian variation of Ararat of the Old Testament. Indeed, Mount Ararat is located in ancient Urartian territory, approximately 120 km north of its former capital. In addition to referring to the famous Biblical mountain, Ararat also appears as the name of a kingdom in Jeremiah 51:27, mentioned together with Minni and Ashkenaz.

Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi, also known as Ḫaldi or Hayk, one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). His shrine was at Ardini (likely from Armenian Artin), in Assyrian Mu-ṣa-ṣir and variants, including Mutsatsir, Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake. The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa.

Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him. His wife was the goddess Arubani. He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion.

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’.

Hayk or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (Հայկ Նահապետ, Hayk the Tribal Chief) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. His story is told in the History of Armenia attributed to the Armenian historian Moses of Chorene (410 to 490).

First attested in the 9th century BCE, Urartian ceased to be written after the fall of the Urartian state in 585 BCE, and presumably it became extinct due to the fall of Urartu. It must have been replaced by an early form of Armenian, perhaps during the period of Achaemenid Persian rule, although it is only in the fifth century CE that the first written examples of Armenian appear.

Urartu (Armenian: Urartu, Assyrian: māt Urarṭu; Babylonian: Urashtu), corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat (Armenian: Արարատյան Թագավորություն) or Kingdom of Van (Urartian: Biai, Biainili) was an Iron Age kingdom centred on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands.

Strictly speaking, Urartu is the Assyrian term for a geographical region, while “kingdom of Urartu” or “Biainili lands” are terms used in modern historiography for the Proto-Armenian (Hurro-Urartian) speaking Iron Age state that arose in that region.

In the early 6th century BC, the Urartian Kingdom was replaced by the Armenian Orontid dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 521 or 520 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.

Shubria was part of the Urartu confederation. Later, there is reference to a district in the area called Arme or Urme, which some scholars have linked to the name Armenia.

Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Armenian: Շուպրիա; Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) 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. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, 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).

The land of Subartu (Akkadian Šubartum/Subartum/ina Šú-ba-ri, Assyrian mât Šubarri) or Subar (Sumerian Su-bir4/Subar/Šubur) is mentioned in Bronze Age literature. The name also appears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit, and came to be known as the Hurrians or Subarians and their country was known as Subir, Subartu or Shubar.

Subartu was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris. Most scholars accept Subartu as an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east, north or west of there.

Its precise location has not been identified. From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.

The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites).

Sumer (from Akkadian Šumeru; Sumerian ki-en-ĝir, approximately “land of the civilized kings” or “native land”) was one of the ancient civilizations and historical regions in southern Mesopotamia, modern-day southern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age.

Although the earliest forms of writing in the region do not go back much further than c. 3500 BCE, modern historians have suggested that Sumer was first permanently settled between c. 5500 and 4000 BCE by a non-Semitic people who spoke the Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic occupations, etc. as evidence).

These conjectured, prehistoric people are now called “proto-Euphrateans” or “Ubaidians”, and are theorized to have evolved from the Samarra culture of northern Mesopotamia (Assyria). The Ubaidians were the first civilizing force in Sumer, draining the marshes for agriculture, developing trade, and establishing industries, including weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry, and pottery.

However, some scholars such as Piotr Michalowski and Gerd Steiner, contest the idea of a Proto-Euphratean language or one substrate language. It has been suggested by them and others, that the Sumerian language was originally that of the hunter and fisher peoples, who lived in the marshland and the Eastern Arabia littoral region, and were part of the Arabian bifacial culture.

Reliable historical records begin much later; there are none in Sumer of any kind that have been dated before Enmebaragesi (c. 26th century BCE). Professor Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians were settled along the coast of Eastern Arabia, today’s Persian Gulf region, before it flooded at the end of the Ice Age. Sumerian literature speaks of their homeland being Dilmun, the Persian Gulf.

The Sumerians were a non-Semitic people, and spoke a language isolate; a number of linguists believed they could detect a substrate language beneath Sumerian, something which is shown by the fact that the names of some of Sumer’s major cities are not Sumerian, revealing influences of earlier inhabitants.

However, the archaeological record shows clear uninterrupted cultural continuity from the time of the Early Ubaid period (5300 – 4700 BCE C-14) settlements in southern Mesopotamia. The Sumerian people who settled here farmed the lands in this region that were made fertile by silt deposited by the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.

It is speculated by some archaeologists that Sumerian speakers were farmers who moved down from the north, after perfecting irrigation agriculture there [note there is no consensus among scholars on the origins of the Sumerians].

The Ubaid pottery of southern Mesopotamia has been connected via Choga Mami Transitional ware to the pottery of the Samarra period culture (c. 5700 – 4900 BCE C-14) in the north, who were the first to practice a primitive form of irrigation agriculture along the middle Tigris River and its tributaries.

The connection is most clearly seen at Tell Awayli (Oueilli, Oueili) near Larsa, excavated by the French in the 1980s, where eight levels yielded pre-Ubaid pottery resembling Samarran ware. Farming peoples spread down into southern Mesopotamia because they had developed a temple-centered social organization for mobilizing labor and technology for water control, enabling them to survive and prosper in a difficult environment.

Others have suggested a continuity of Sumerians, from the indigenous hunter-fisherfolk traditions, associated with the Arabian bifacial assemblages found on the Arabian littoral. The Sumerians themselves claimed kinship with the people of Dilmun, associated with Bahrein in the Persian Gulf. Professor Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians may have been the people living in the Persian Gulf region before it flooded at the end of the last Ice Age.

Aratta in sumerian, Uratri in Hurrian, Urartu/Ararat in Semitic and Armenia in Persian – the birth place of the Caucasian, Indo-European and Semitic languages. It all started at Portasar (navel in Armenian)/Gobekli Tepe – the garden of Paradise/Eden/Ekur. From here people spread in all directions. With them they had agriculture, domesticated animals and knowledge about the stars and religion, the production of metals, wine, proto writing.

Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer. Subartu in the earliest texts seem to have been farming mountain dwellers, frequently raided for slaves.

Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu; in a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani (Armenians), -which has been identified with Aleppo-, among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar.

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.

Akhundov (2007) recently uncovered pre-Kura-Araxes/Late Chalcolithic materials  from the settlement of Boyuk Kesik and the kurgan necropolis of Soyuq Bulaq in  northwestern Azerbaijan, and Makharadze (2007) has also excavated a pre-Kura-Araxes kurgan, Kavtiskhevi, in central Georgia.

Materials recovered from both these recent excavations can be related to remains from the metal-working Late Chalcolithic site of Leilatepe on the Karabakh steppe near Agdam (Narimanov et al. 2007) and from the earliest level at the multi-period site of Berikldeebi in Kvemo Kartli (Glonti and Dzavakhishvili 1987). They reveal the presence of early 4th millennium raised burial mounds or kurgans in the southern Caucasus.

Similarly, on the basis of her survey work  in eastern Anatolia north of the Oriental Taurus mountains, C. Marro (2007)likens chafffaced wares collected at Hanago in the Sürmeli Plain and Astepe and Colpan in the eastern  Lake Van district in northeastern Turkey with those found at the sites mentioned above  and relates these to similar wares (Amuq E/F) found south of the Taurus Mountains in  northern Mesopotamia

The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 B.C.

The Leyla-Tepe culture includes a settlement in the lower layer of the settlements Poilu I, Poilu II, Boyuk-Kesik I and Boyuk-Kesik II. They apparently buried their dead in ceramic vessels. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture. The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region (Arslan-tepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.).

The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets. It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture. An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.

Archaeological excavations in the early 1980s at the old Leylatapa residential area in the Garadagh region of Azerbaijan revealed novel traces of the Eneolithic Period. It was later discovered that the architectural findings (ironware, infant graves in clay pots, earthenware prepared using potter’s wheel and other features) significantly differ from the archaeological complexes of the same period in the South Caucasus. From these findings, a new archaeological culture (the Leylatapa) was discovered.

Research indicates that this culture was genetically connected with the Ubeid and Uruk cultures, which were archaeological complexes in Northern Mesopotamia that date to the first half of the 4th millennium BC. It has been determined that the Leylatapa residential area was built by ancient tribes migrating from the Northern Mesopotamia to the South Caucasus during the Eneolithic Period.

The new high dating of the Maikop culture essentially signifies that there is no chronological hiatus separating the collapse of the Chalcolithic Balkan centre of metallurgical production and the appearance of Maikop and the sudden explosion of  Caucasian metallurgical production and use of arsenical copper/bronzes.

More than  forty calibrated radiocarbon dates on Maikop and related materials now support this high  chronology; and the revised dating for the Maikop culture means that the earliest kurgans  occur in the northwestern and southern Caucasus and precede by several centuries those of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) cultures of the western Eurasian steppes (cf. Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a and b).

The calibrated radiocarbon dates suggest that the Maikop ‘culture’ seems to have had a formative influence on steppe kurgan burial rituals and what now appears to be the later development of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) culture on the Eurasian steppes (Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a: 97).

In other words, sometime around the middle of the 4th millennium BCE or slightly subsequent to the initial appearance of the Maikop culture of the NW Caucasus, settlements containing proto-Kura-Araxes or early Kura-Araxes materials first appear across a broad area that stretches from the Caspian littoral of the northeastern Caucasus in the north to the Erzurum region of the Anatolian Plateau in the west.

For simplicity’s sake these roughly simultaneous developments across this broad area will be considered as representing the beginnings of the Early Bronze Age or the initial stages of development of the KuraAraxes/Early Transcaucasian culture.

The ‘homeland’ (itself a very problematic concept) of the Kura-Araxes culture-historical community is difficult to pinpoint precisely, a fact that may suggest that there is no single well-demarcated area of origin, but multiple interacting areas including northeastern Anatolia as far as the Erzurum area, the catchment area drained by the Upper Middle Kura and Araxes Rivers in Transcaucasia and the Caspian corridor and adjacent mountainous regions of northeastern Azerbaijan and southeastern Daghestan.

While broadly (and somewhat imprecisely) defined, these regions constitute on present evidence the original core area out of which the Kura-Araxes ‘culture-historical community’ emerged.

Kura-Araxes materials found in other areas are primarily intrusive in the local sequences. Indeed, many, but not all, sites in the Malatya area along the Upper Euphrates drainage of eastern Anatolia (e.g., Norsun-tepe, Arslantepe) and western Iran (e.g., Yanik Tepe, Godin Tepe) exhibit – albeit with some overlap – a relatively sharp break in material remains, including new forms of architecture and domestic dwellings, and such changes support the interpretation of a subsequent spread or dispersal from this broadly defined core area in the north to the southwest and southeast.

The archaeological record seems to document a movement of peoples north to south across a very extensive part of the Ancient Near East from the end of the 4th to the first half of the 3rd millennium BCE. Although migrations are notoriously difficult to document on archaeological evidence, these materials constitute one of the best examples of prehistoric movements of peoples available for the Early Bronze Age.

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””, the Assyrian name (KUR.KUR Na-i-ri, also Na-‘i-ru) for a Proto-Armenian (Hurrian-speaking) tribe in the Armenian Highlands, roughly corresponding to the modern Van and Hakkâri provinces of modern Turkey.

Beth Nahrain or Bit Nahrain (Syriac: “house (of the) rivers”) is the Syriac name for the region known as Mesopotamia (Greek “land between the rivers”) as well as its surrounding periphery.

Geographically, it refers to the areas around the Euphrates and Tigris rivers (as well as their tributaries). The Aramaic name loosely describes the area of the rivers, not between the rivers like the literal Greek term; however both names refer to the same region.

While it may be erroneously thought that the name is derived from the Greek “Mesopotamia”, the opposite is more probable as the Aramaic name has been attested since the adoption of Old Aramaic as the lingua franca of the Neo Assyrian Empire in the 10th century BCE, while the Greek name Mesopotamia was first coined in the 2nd century BCE by the historian Polybius during the Seleucid period. The name Bayn al-Nahrayn is also found in Arabic; “between the two rivers”).

This area roughly encompasses Iraq, northeastern Syria and parts of southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran. The Assyrians are considered to be indigenous inhabitants of Beth Nahrain. “Nahrainean” or “Nahrainian” is the Anglicized name for “Nahraya”, which is the Aramaic equivalent of “Mesopotamian”.

Aššur (Akkadian) (English: Ashur/Assyria, Assyrian: Aššur; Assyrian Neo-Aramaic: Ātûr; Hebrew: Aššûr; Arabic: ALA-LC: Āshūr), is a remnant city of the last Ashurite Kingdom.

The remains of the city are situated on the western bank of the river Tigris, north of the confluence with the tributary Little Zab river, in modern-day Iraq, more precisely in the Al-Shirqat District (a small panhandle of the Salah al-Din Governorate).

The city was occupied from the mid-3rd millennium BC (Circa 2600–2500 BC) to the 14th Century AD, when Tamurlane conducted a massacre of its population.

Archaeology reveals the site of the city was occupied by the middle of the third millennium BC. This was still the Sumerian period, before the Assyrian kingdom emerged in the 23rd to 21st century BC.

The oldest remains of the city were discovered in the foundations of the Ishtar temple, as well as at the Old Palace. In the following Old Akkadian period, the city was ruled by kings from Akkad. During the “Sumerian Renaissance”, the city was ruled by a Sumerian governor.

The Akkadian Empire was an ancient Semitic empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in ancient Mesopotamia which united all the indigenous Akkadian speaking Semites and the Sumerian speakers under one rule within a multilingual empire. The Akkadian Empire controlled Mesopotamia, the Levant, and parts of Iran.

During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Semitic Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism. Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as a spoken language somewhere around the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennia BC (the exact dating being a matter of debate).

Speakers of the Akkadian language seem to have already been present in Mesopotamia at the dawn of the historical period, and soon achieved pre-eminence with the first Dynasty of Kish and numerous localities to the north of Sumer, where rulers with Akkadian names had already established themselves by the 3rd millennium BC.

Sargon of Akkad (Sharru-kin = “legitimate king”, possibly a title he took on gaining power) was claimed to be the son of La’ibum or Itti-Bel, a humble gardener, and possibly a hierodule, or priestess to Ishtar or Inanna.

Later claims on behalf of Sargon, that his mother was an “entu” priestess (high priestess). The claims might have been made to ensure a descendancy of nobility, considering only a high placed family can be made such a position.

Sargon, throughout his long life, showed special deference to the Sumerian deities, particularly Inanna (Ishtar), his patroness, and Zababa, the tutelary and warrior god of Kish. He called himself “The anointed priest of Anu” and “the great ensi of Enlil” and his daughter, Enheduanna, was installed as priestess to Nanna at the temple in Ur.

Zababa (also Zamama) was the Hittite way of writing the name of a war god, using Akkadian writing conventions. Most likely, this spelling represents the native Anatolian Hattian god [Wurunkatte]. His Hurrian name was Astabis. He is connected with the Akkadian god Ninurta (Nin Ur: God of War). The symbol of Zababa – the eagle-headed staff was often depicted next to Ninurta’s symbol.

Sabazios is the nomadic horseman and sky father god of the Phrygians and Thracians. In Indo-European languages, such as Phrygian, the -zios element in his name derives from dyeus, the common precursor of Latin deus (‘god’) and Greek Zeus.

Though the Greeks interpreted Phrygian Sabazios as both Zeus and Dionysus, representations of him, even into Roman times, show him always on horseback, as a nomadic horseman god, wielding his characteristic staff of power.

It seems likely that the migrating Phrygians brought Sabazios with them when they settled in Anatolia in the early first millennium BCE, and that the god’s origins are to be looked for in Macedonia and Thrace.

The recently discovered ancient sanctuary of Perperikon in modern day Bulgaria is believed to be that of Sabazios. The Macedonians were also noted horsemen, horse-breeders and horse-worshippers up to the time of Philip II, whose name signifies “lover of horses”.

Possible early conflict between Sabazios and his followers and the indigenous mother goddess of Phrygia (Cybele) may be reflected in Homer’s brief reference to the youthful feats of Priam, who aided the Phrygians in their battles with Amazons.

An aspect of the compromise religious settlement, similar to the other such mythic adjustments throughout Aegean culture, can be read in the later Phrygian King Gordias’ adoption “with Cybele” of Midas, the name of at least three members of the royal house of Phrygia.

The most famous King Midas is popularly remembered in Greek mythology for his ability to turn everything he touched with his hand into gold. This came to be called the Golden touch, or the Midas touch.

Another King Midas ruled Phrygia in the late 8th century BC, up until the sacking of Gordium by the Cimmerians, when he is said to have committed suicide. Most historians believe this Midas is the same person as the Mita, called king of the Mushki in Assyrian texts, who warred with Assyria and its Anatolian provinces during the same period.

The Mushki were an Iron Age people of Anatolia, known from Assyrian sources. They do not appear in Hittite records. Several authors have connected them with the Moschoi of Greek sources and the Georgian tribe of the Meskhi. Josephus Flavius identified the Moschoi with the Biblical Meshech.

Two different groups are called Muški in the Assyrian sources, one from the 12th to 9th centuries, located near the confluence of the Arsanias and the Euphrates (“Eastern Mushki”), and the other in the 8th to 7th centuries, located in Cappadocia and Cilicia (“Western Mushki”). Assyrian sources identify the Western Mushki with the Phrygians, while Greek sources clearly distinguish between Phrygians and Moschoi.

Identification of the Eastern with the Western Mushki is uncertain, but it is of course possible to assume a migration of at least part of the Eastern Mushki to Cilicia in the course of the 10th to 8th centuries, and this possibility has been repeatedly suggested, variously identifying the Mushki as speakers of a Georgian, Armenian or Anatolian idiom.

The Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture notes that “the Armenians according to Diakonoff, are then an amalgam of the Hurrian (and Urartians), Luvians and the Proto-Armenian Mushki (or Armeno-Phrygians) who carried their IE language eastwards across Anatolia.”

The Eastern Muski appears to have moved into Hatti in the 12th century, completing the downfall of the collapsing Hittite state, along with various Sea Peoples. They established themselves in a post-Hittite kingdom in Cappadocia.

Whether they moved into the core Hittite areas from the east or west has been a matter of some discussion by historians. Some speculate that they may have originally occupied a territory in the area of Urartu; alternatively, ancient accounts suggest that they first arrived from a homeland in the west (as part of the Armeno-Phrygian migration), from the region of Troy, or even from as far as Macedonia, as the Bryges.

Together with the Hurrians and Kaskas, they invaded the Assyrian provinces of Alzi and Puruhuzzi in about 1160, but they were pushed back and defeated, along with the Kaskas, by Tiglath-Pileser I in 1115 BC, who until 1110 advanced as far as Milid.

One of the native religion’s creatures was the Lunar Bull. Sabazios’ relations with the goddess may be surmised in the way that his horse places a hoof on the head of the bull, in a Roman marble relief at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Though Roman in date, the iconic image appears to be much earlier.

More “rider god” steles are at the Burdur Museum, in Turkey. Under the Roman Emperor Gordian III the god on horseback appears on coins minted at Tlos, in neighboring Lycia, and at Istrus, in the province of Lower Moesia, between Thrace and the Danube. It is generally thought that the young emperor’s grandfather came from an Anatolian family, because of his unusual cognomen, Gordianus.

The iconic image of the god or hero on horseback battling the chthonic serpent, on which his horse tramples, appears on Celtic votive columns, and with the coming of Christianity it was easily transformed into the image of Saint George and the Dragon, whose earliest known depictions are from tenth- and eleventh-century Cappadocia and eleventh-century Georgia and Armenia.

The ecstatic Eastern rites practiced largely by women in Athens were thrown together for rhetorical purposes by Demosthenes in undermining his opponent Aeschines for participating in his mother’s cultic associations: “On attaining manhood you abetted your mother in her initiations and the other rituals, and read aloud from the cultic writings …You rubbed the fat-cheeked snakes and swung them above your head, crying Euoi saboi and hues attes, attes hues.

In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity. A number of scholars have suggested that either the god Ninurta or the Assyrian king bearing his name (Tukulti-Ninurta I) was the inspiration for the Biblical character Nimrod.

In Nippur, Ninurta was worshiped as part of a triad of deities including his father, Enlil and his mother, Ninlil. In variant mythology, his mother is said to be the harvest goddess Ninhursag. The consort of Ninurta was Ugallu in Nippur and Bau when he was called Ningirsu.

Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur: Sharur is capable of speech in the Sumerian legend “Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and can take the form of a winged lion and may represent an archetype for the later Shedu.

Nintinugga was a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta. She is identical with the goddess of Akkadian mythology, known as Bau or Baba, though it would seem that the two were originally independent. She was the daughter of An.

The name Bau is more common in the oldest period and gives way to Gula after the First Babylonian Dynasty. Since it is probable that Ninib has absorbed the cults of minor sun-deities, the two names may represent consorts of different gods. However this may be, the qualities of both are alike, and the two occur as synonymous designations of Ninib’s female consort.

In Sumerian mythology, Ninsun or Ninsuna (“Rimat-Ninsun”, the “August cow”, the “Wild Cow of the Enclosure”, and “The Great Queen”) is a goddess, best known as the mother of the legendary hero Gilgamesh, and as the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash. Her parents are the deities Anu and Uras. Ninsun was called Gula in Sumerian Mythology until the name was later changed to Ninisina. Gula in the latter became a Babylonian goddess.

Nanibgal (NANIBGAL, NÁNIBGAL), also Nisaba or Nidaba (NÍDABA, NIDABA) was the Sumerian goddess of writing, learning, and the harvest. Her sanctuaries were E-zagin at Eresh and at Umma.

On a depiction found in Lagash, she appears with flowing hair, crowned with horned tiara bearing supporting ears of grain and a crescent moon. Her dense hair is evoked in comparison in the description of similarly hairy Enkidu in the Gilgamesh epic.

As with many Sumerian deities, Nisaba’s exact place in the pantheon and her heritage appears somewhat ambiguous. She is the daughter of An and Urash. From Sumerian texts, the language used to describe Urash is very similar to the language used to describe Ninhursag. Therefore, the two goddess may be one and the same.

Nisaba, the goddess of grain and scribes, is the sister of Ninsun, the mother of Gilgamesh. If Urash and Ninhursag are the same goddess, then Nisaba is also the half sister of Nanshe and (in some versions) Ninurta. In some other tales, she is considered the mother of Ninlil, and by extension, the mother-in-law of Enlil.

Haya (god), the spouse of Nidaba/Nissaba, is known both as a “door-keeper” and associated with the scribal arts, and may have had an association with grain. There is also a divine name Haia(-)amma in a bilingual Hattic-Hittite text from Anatolia which is used as an equivalent for the Hattic grain-goddess Kait in an invocation to the Hittite grain-god Halki, although it is unclear whether this appellation can be related to ha-ià.

Haya is also characterised, beyond being the spouse of Nidaba/Nissaba, as an “agrig”-official of the god Enlil. The god-list AN = Anu ša amēli (lines 97-98) designates him as “the Nissaba of wealth”, as opposed to his wife, who is the “Nissaba of Wisdom”.

The Akkadian Empire reached its political peak between the 24th and 22nd centuries BC, following the conquests by its founder Sargon of Akkad (2334–2279 BC). Under Sargon and his successors, Akkadian language was briefly imposed on neighboring conquered states such as Elam.

Akkad (also spelled Akkade or Agade) was the capital of the Akkadian Empire. The name of the city is spelled as a-ga-dèKI or URIKI, which is variously transcribed into English as Akkad, Akkade or Agade. The etymology and meaning of Akkad (writtenèKI or URIKI) are unknown.

The etymology of a-ga-dè is unclear but not of Akkadian origin. Sumerian, Hurrian and Lullubean etymologies have been proposed instead. The non-Akkadian origin of the city’s name suggests that the site may have already been occupied in pre-Sargonic times, as also suggested by the mentioning of the city in one pre-Sargonic year-name. The inscription on the Bassetki Statue records that the inhabitants of Akkad built a temple for Naram-Sin after he had crushed a revolt against his rule.

The main goddess of Akkad was Ishtar, who was called ‘Aštar-annunîtum or ‘Warlike Ishtar’ and who was identified with the Sumerian goddess Inanna. Her husband Ilaba was also revered in Akkad. Ishtar and Ilaba were later worshipped at Sippar in the Old Babylonian period, possibly because Akkad itself had been destroyed by that time.

The first known mention of the city-state of Akkad is in an inscription of Enshakushanna of Uruk, where he claims to have defeated Agade – indicating that it was in existence well before the days of Sargon of Akkad, whom the Sumerian King List claims to have built it.

Akkad is mentioned once in the Tanakh – Book of Genesis 10:10: The mainstays of his [Nimrod’s] kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar (JPS). The Greek (LXX) spelling in this passage is Archad.

Centuries later, the neo-Babylonian king Nabonidus mentioned in his archaeological records that Ishtar’s worship in Agade was later superseded by that of the goddess Anunit, whose shrine was at Sippar – suggesting proximity of Sippar and Agade.

Sippar (Sumerian: Zimbir) was an ancient Near Eastern city on the east bank of the Euphrates river, located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah in Iraq’s Babil Governorate, some 60 km north of Babylon and 30 km southwest of Baghdad.

The city’s ancient name, Sippar, could also refer to its sister city, Sippar-Amnanum (located at the modern site of Tell ed-Der); a more specific designation for the city here referred to as Sippar was Sippar-Yahrurum.

Aššur is the name of the city, of the land ruled by the city, and of its tutelary deity. At a late date it appears in Assyrian literature in the forms An-sar, An-sar (ki), which form was presumably read Assur. The name of the deity is written A-šur or Aš-sùr, and in Neo-assyrian often shortened to Aš. In the Creation tablet, the heavens personified collectively were indicated by this term An-sar, “host of heaven,” in contradistinction to the earth, Ki-sar, “host of earth.”

In view of this fact, it seems highly probable that the late writing An-sar for Assur was a more or less conscious attempt on the part of the Assyrian scribes to identify the peculiarly Assyrian deity Asur with the Creation deity An-sar.

On the other hand, there is an epithet Asir or Ashir (“overseer”) applied to several gods and particularly to the deity Asur, a fact which introduced a third element of confusion into the discussion of the name Assur. It is probable then that there is a triple popular etymology in the various forms of writing the name Assur; viz. A-usar, An-sar and the stem asdru.


History of Jerusalem

Timeline of Jerusalem


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