Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The Indo-Iranian conquest of SW Asia

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 26, 2014

According to Jeremiah 51:27, a kingdom of Ashkenaz (Scythians) was called together with Ararat (Urartu-Armenia) and Minni (Mannai) against Babylon, which reads:

”Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her [ie. Babylon], call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillars.”

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc.

There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla (Ebla) as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in ca. 2250 BC.

Urartu (Armenian: Ուրարտու – Urartu, Assyrian: māt Urarṭu; Babylonian: Urashtu), corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat (Armenian: Արարատյան Թագավորություն) or Kingdom of Van (Armenian: Վանի Թագավորություն, 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 Armenian (Hurro-Urartian) speaking Iron Age state that arose in that region.

That a distinction should be made between the geographical and the political entity was already pointed out by König (1955). The landscape corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and the Caucasus mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands. The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but was conquered by Media in the early 6th century BC.

In 714 BC, the Urartu kingdom suffered heavily from Cimmerian raids and the campaigns of Sargon II. The main temple at Mushashir was sacked, and the Urartian king Rusa I was crushingly defeated by Sargon II at Lake Urmia. He subsequently committed suicide in shame.

Rusa’s son Argishti II (714 – 685 BC) restored Urartu’s position against the Cimmerians, however it was no longer a threat to Assyria and peace was made with the new king of Assyria Sennacherib in 705 BC. This in turn helped Urartu enter a long period of development and prosperity, which continued through the reign of Argishti’s son Rusa II (685–645 BC).

After Rusa II, however, the Urartu grew weaker under constant attacks from Cimmerian and Scythian invaders. As a result it became dependent on Assyria, as evidenced by Rusa II’s son Sardur III (645–635 BC) referring to the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal as his “father.”

According to Urartian epigraphy, Sarduri III was followed by three kings—Erimena (635–620 BC), his son Rusa III (620–609 BC), and the latter’s son Rusa IV (609–590 or 585 BC).

Late during the 600s BC (during or after Sardur III’s reign), Urartu was invaded by Scythians and their allies—the Medes. Many Urartian ruins of the period show evidence of destruction by fire, but Urartu maintained its independence and power, going through a mere dynastic change, as a local Armenian dynasty (later to be called the Orontids) overthrew the ruling family.

The name has also been claimed as a variant of Urmani (or Urmenu), attested epigraphically in an inscription of Menuas of Urartu. Minni is also a Biblical name of the region, appearing in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 51:27) alongside Ararat and Ashchenaz, probably the same as the Minnai of Assyrian inscriptions, corresponding to the Mannai.

The Mannaeans (country name usually Mannea; Akkadian: Mannai, possibly Biblical Minni, מנּי) were an ancient people who lived in the territory of present-day northwestern Iran south of lake Urmia, around the 10th to 7th centuries BC. At that time they were neighbors of the empires of Assyria and Urartu, as well as other small buffer states between the two, such as Musasir and Zikirta.

Muṣaṣir (Armenian: Մուծածիր, Assyrian Mu-ṣa-ṣir and variants, including Mutsatsir, Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake), in Urartian Ardini (likely from Armenian Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”) was an ancient city of Urartu, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. It was acquired by the Urartian King Ishpuini ca. 800 BC. The city’s tutelary deity was Ḫaldi.

Ḫaldi (Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi or Hayk) was one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). The other two chief deities were was the Urartian weather-god, notably the god of storms and thunder, Theispas (also known as Teisheba or Teišeba) of Kumenu and the solar god Shivini or Artinis (the present form of the name is Artin) of Tushpa, the 9th-century BC capital of Urartu, later becoming known as Van, which is derived from Biaina the native name of Urartu.

The city of Teishebaini (also Teshebani, modern Karmir Blur (Armenian: Կարմիր Բլուր, meaning “red hill”) was built by Rusa II in the first half of the 7th century BC to protect the eastern borders of Urartu from the barbaric Cimmerians and Scythians.

Odzaberd (Armenian: Oձաբերդ; meaning “Serpent’s Fortress”, formerly Teyseba referring to the Urartian fortification and named after the god Teisheba; also known as Ishkanaberd meaning “Lord’s Fortress”) is located upon a hill east of the town of Tsovinar and at the south-east corner of Lake Sevan in the Gegharkunik Province of Armenia.

It is located east of the town of Tsovinar and at the south-east corner of Lake Sevan in the Gegharkunik Province of Armenia. It is an important archaeological site because it was once a fortified city of the Urartian Kingdom founded by Rusa I between 735-713 BC, and is considered the best preserved Urartian fortification in the Sevan basin.

Achaemenes (born 705 BC ) was the eponymous apical ancestor of the Achaemenid dynasty of rulers from Persis. In the Behistun inscription (c. 490 BCE), Darius I portrays Achaemenes as the father of Teispes, ancestor of Cyrus II and Darius I.

Teïspes (Old Persian: Cišpiš) lived from 675-640 BCE. He was the son of Achaemenes and an ancestor of Cyrus the Great. There is evidence that Cyrus I and Ariaramnes were both his sons. Cyrus I is the grandfather of Cyrus the Great, whereas Ariaramnes is great grandfather of Darius the Great.

According to 7th-century BC docu­ments, he captured the Elamite city of Anshan after being freed from Median supremacy, and expanded his small kingdom. His kingdom was however a vassal state of the Neo Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC). He was succeeded by his second son, Cyrus I.

Schmitt suggests that the name is probably Iranian, but its etymology is unknown. Its connection with either the name of the Mitannian and Urartian storm god Tešup-Theispas, or with the (Elamite) byname Za-iš-pi-iš-ši-ya is likely.

Kummanni (Hittite: Kummiya) was the name of the main center the Anatolian kingdom of Kizzuwatna, the name of an ancient Anatolian kingdom in the 2nd millennium BC. Its location is uncertain, but is believed to be near the classical settlement of Comana in Cappadocia. Kummanni was the major cult center of the Hurrian chief deity, Tešup. Its Hurrian name Kummeni simply translates as “The Shrine.”

Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to Haldi. His wife was the goddess Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art, and the goddess Bagmashtu (also known as Bagparti, Bagvarti, Bagbartu). He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion.

Excavations that began in 1956 succeeded in uncovering the fortified city of Hasanlu, once thought to be a potential Mannaean site. More recently, the site of Qalaichi (possibly ancient Izirtu/Zirta) has been linked to the Mannaeans based on a stela with this toponym found at the site.

After suffering several defeats at the hands of both Scythians and Assyrians, the remnants of the Mannaean populace were absorbed by an Iranian people known as the Matieni and the area became known as Matiene. It was then annexed by the Medes in about 609 BC.

The name Matiene is believed to be related to Mitanni. The name Matiene was applied also to the neighboring Lake Matianus (Lake Urmia) located immediately to the east of the Matieni people.

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 a Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and southeast Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC.

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.

Another mention by pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”, a reference to the Swastika.

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.

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.

The Mitanni warriors were called marya, the term for warrior in Sanskrit as well; note mišta-nnu (= miẓḍha,~ Sanskrit mīḍha) “payment (for catching a fugitive)”.

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.

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.

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 metal goods were widely distributed, recorded in the Volga, Dnieper and Don-Donets systems in the north, into Syria and Palestine in the south, and west into Anatolia.

The spread of their 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.

There is evidence of trade with Mesopotamia, as well as Asia Minor. It is, however, considered above all to be indigenous to the Caucasus, and its major variants characterized (according to Caucasus historian Amjad Jaimoukha) later major cultures in the region.

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 what was much later to become 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 the Middle Assyrian Empire 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-bir/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, and the Martu land. 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 Armenians.

The Mannaeans who probably spoke a Hurro-Urartian language, were subdued by the Scytho-Kimmerians during the seventh and eighth centuries BC. Matiene was ultimately conquered by the Medes in about 609 BCE.

Matiene became a satrapy of the Median Empire until the Persian conquest, when alongside of the Saspires and Alaradians it became a part of the XVIII satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire.

Ashkenaz is a term found in a number of contexts. It is found in the Hebrew Bible to refer to one of the descendants of Noah as well as to a reference to a kingdom of Ashkenaz. Other traditions have used the term to refer to various geographic areas as well as to names or genealogies of people.

The association of the term by medieval Jewry with the geographical area centred on the Rhineland led to the Jewish culture that developed in that area to be called Ashkenazi, the only form that the term is still used today.

Ashkenaz is often identified with the Scythians and Sarmatians, due in part to the use of the name “Ashkuz” (Saka) for the Scythians in Assyrian Akkadian inscriptions. It may also refer to the Phrygians, who according to Homer’s Iliad settled around Lake Ascania. The Assyrian Gimirri and Hebrew Gomer have likewise been associated with the Cimmerians.

The Saka were a Scythian tribe or group of tribes of Iranian origin. They were nomadic warriors roaming the steppes of modern-day Kazakhstan.

The Sarmatians (Latin: Sarmatæ or Sauromatæ) were an Iranian people during classical antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD. They spoke Scythian, an Indo-European language from the Eastern Iranian family.

Their territory, which was known as Sarmatia to Greco-Roman ethnographers, corresponded to the western part of greater Scythia (mostly modern Ukraine and Southern Russia, also to a smaller extent north eastern Balkans around Moldova).

At their greatest reported extent, around 1st century AD, these tribes ranged from the Vistula River to the mouth of the Danube and eastward to the Volga, bordering the shores of the Black and Caspian seas as well as the Caucasus to the south.

The Sarmatians declined in the 4th century with the incursions connected to the Migration period (Huns, Goths). The descendants of the Sarmatians became known as the Alans during the Early Middle Ages, and ultimately gave rise to the modern Ossetic ethnic group.

Scythia was a multinational region of Central Eurasia in the classical era, encompassing parts of Pontic steppe, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. Ancient Greeks gave the name Scythia (or Great Scythia) to all the lands north-east of Europe and the northern coast of the Black Sea. The Scythians, the Greeks’ name for this nomadic people, inhabited Scythia from at least the 11th century BC to the 2nd century AD.

The Sagartians (Asagartiya, Old Persian Aš-ša-kar-ti-ia, Babylonian Sa-ga-ar-ta-a-a) were an ancient Iranian tribe, dwelling in the Iranian plateau. Their exact location is unknown; they were probably neighbors of the Parthians in northeastern Iran.

According to Herodotus (1.125, 7.85) they were related to the Persians (Southwestern Iranian), but they may also have entered a political union with the Medians (Northwestern Iranian) at some point (J. van Wesendonk in ZII 9, 1933, pp. 23f.).

Ptolemy (6.2.6) locates them in Media, while Stephanus of Byzantium claims that there was a peninsula in the Caspian Sea called Sagartía. They were nomadic pastoralists, their main weapon being the lasso (Herodotus 7.85).

It is unclear whether they are identical to the Zikirti (also: Zikirta, Zikurti, Zekertu), an ancient kingdom (750-521 BC) in northern Zagros, which comprised the easternmost part of Greater Mannae mentioned by Sargon II as inhabitants of northern Zagros in the late 8th century BC. They may have been granted the district of Arbela by Median king Cyaxares as a reward for their aid in the capture of Niniveh.

According to Herodotus (3.93), the Sagartians belonged to the 14th Satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire. A Sagartian delegation appears among the tribute bearers on the Apadana relief.

Sagittarius (♐) (Greek: “Toxotes”, Latin: “Sagittarius”) is the ninth astrological sign, which is associated with the constellation Sagittarius. The symbol of the archer is based on the centaur Chiron, who mentored Achilles in archery.

Sagittarius, half human and half-horse, is the centaur of mythology, the learned healer who forms a bridge between human beings and beasts. Also known as the Archer, Sagittarius is represented by the symbol of an arrow.

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