Urartu

Kingdom of Urartu

Ուրարտու

Արարատյան Թագավորություն

Biainili[1]
860 BC–590 BC
 

Urartu, 9th–6th centuries BC.
Capital Arzashkun
Tushpa (after 832 BC)
Languages Urartian
Proto-Armenian[2]
Religion Polytheism
Government Monarchy
King
 -  858-844 Arame
 -  844-828 Sarduri I
 -  828-810 Ishpuini
 -  810-785 Menuas
 -  785-753 Argishti I
 -  753-735 Sarduri II
Historical era Iron Age, Prehistoric
 -  Established 860 BC
 -  Disestablished 590 BC

Urartu (Armenian: Ուրարտու - Urartu, Assyrian: māt Urarṭu;[3] Babylonian: Urashtu), corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat (Armenian: Արարատյան Թագավորություն) or Kingdom of Van (Armenian: Վանի Թագավորություն, Urartian: Biai, Biainili;[4]) 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[2][5][6][7][8] (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).[9] 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. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.[7][10][11][12]

Contents

  • Name 1
  • Geography 2
  • Discovery 3
  • History 4
    • Origins 4.1
    • Growth 4.2
    • Decline and recuperation 4.3
    • Fall 4.4
    • Legacy 4.5
  • Economy and politics 5
  • Art and architecture 6
  • Religion 7
  • Language 8
  • Armenian ethnogenesis 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
    • Footnotes 11.1
    • Literature 11.2
  • External links 12

Name

The name Urartu comes from Assyrian sources: the Assyrian King Shalmaneser I (1263–1234 BC) recorded a campaign in which he subdued the entire territory of "Uruatri."[13][14] The Shalmaneser text uses the name Urartu to refer to a geographical region, not a kingdom, and names eight "lands" contained within Urartu ( which at the time of the campaign were still disunited ) . "Urartu" is cognate with the Biblical "Ararat," Akkadian "Urashtu," and Armenian "Ayrarat." The name used by the local population as a toponym was Biainili (or Biaineli), which forms the root of the Armenian Վան ("Van"),[15] hence the names "Kingdom of Van (Bianili)" or "Vannic Kingdom."

Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi.[16] Boris Piotrovsky wrote that "the Urartians first appear in history in the 13th century B.C. 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"".[17] Scholars[18] 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.

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[19] 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.[20][21]

Geography

Urartu 715-713 BC

Urartu comprised an area of approximately 200,000 square miles (520,000 km2), extending from the river Kura in the north, to the northern foothills of the Taurus Mountains in the south; and from the Euphrates in the west to the Caspian sea in the east.[22]

At its Altintepe, Toprakkale, Patnos and Cavustepe. Urartu fortresses included Erebuni (present day Yerevan city), Van Fortress, Argishtihinili, Anzaf, Cavustepe and Başkale, as well as Teishebaini (Karmir Blur, Red Mound) and others.

Discovery

A Urartian cauldron, from the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara
Head of a Bull, Urartu, 8th century BC. This head was attached to the rim of an enormous cauldron similar to the one shown above. Walters Art Museum collections.

Inspired by the writings of the medieval Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi (who had described Urartian works in Van and attributed them to the legendary Ara the Beautiful and queen Semiramis), the French scholar Jean Saint-Martin suggested that his government send Friedrich Eduard Schulz, a German professor, to the Van area in 1827 on behalf of the French Oriental Society.[23] Schulz discovered and copied numerous cuneiform inscriptions, partly in Assyrian and partly in a hitherto unknown language. Schulz also re-discovered the Kelishin stele, bearing an Assyrian-Urartian bilingual inscription, located on the Kelishin pass on the current Iraqi-Iranian border. A summary account of his initial discoveries was published in 1828. Schulz and four of his servants were murdered by Kurds in 1829 near Başkale. His notes were later recovered and published in Paris in 1840. In 1828, the British Assyriologist Henry Creswicke Rawlinson had attempted to copy the inscription on the Kelishin stele, but failed because of the ice on the stele's front side. The German scholar R. Rosch made a similar attempt a few years later, but he and his party were attacked and killed.

In the late 1840s Sir British Museum. Almost nothing was properly documented.

The first systematic collection of Urartian inscriptions, and thus the beginning of Urartology as a specialized field dates to the 1870s, with the campaign of Sir Archibald Henry Sayce. The German engineer Karl Sester, discoverer of Mount Nemrut, collected more inscriptions in 1890/1. Waldemar Belck visited the area in 1891, discovering the Rusa stele. A further expedition planned for 1893 was prevented by Turkish-Armenian hostilities. Belck together with Lehmann-Haupt visited the area again in 1898/9, excavating Toprakkale. On this expedition, Belck reached the Kelishin stele, but he was attacked by Kurds and barely escaped with his life. Belck and Lehmann-Haupt reached the stele again in a second attempt, but were again prevented from copying the inscription by weather conditions. After another assault on Belck provoked the diplomatic intervention of Wilhelm II, Sultan Abdul Hamid II, agreed to pay Belck a sum of 80,000 gold marks in reparation. During World War I, the Lake Van region briefly fell under Russian control. In 1916, the Russian scholars Nikolay Yakovlevich Marr and Iosif Abgarovich Orbeli, excavating at the Van fortress, uncovered a four-faced stele carrying the annals of Sarduri II. In 1939 Boris Borisovich Piotrovsky excavated Karmir-Blur, discovering Teišebai, the city of the god of war, Teišeba. In 1938–40, excavations by the American scholars Kirsopp and Silva Lake were cut short by World War II, and most of their finds and field records were lost when a German submarine torpedoed their ship, the SS Athenia. Their surviving documents were published by Manfred Korfmann in 1977.

A new phase of excavations began after the war. Excavations were at first restricted to Soviet Armenia. The fortress of Karmir Blur, dating from the reign of Rusa II, was excavated by a team headed by Boris Piotrovsky, and for the first time the excavators of a Urartian site published their findings systematically. Beginning in 1956 Charles Burney identified and sketch-surveyed many Urartian sites in the Lake Van area and, from 1959, a Turkish expedition under Tahsin Özgüç excavated Altintepe and Arif Erzen.

In the late-1960s, Urartian sites in northwest Iran were excavated. In 1976, an Italian team led by Mirjo Salvini finally reached the Kelishin stele, accompanied by a heavy military escort. The Gulf War then closed these sites to archaeological research. Oktay Belli resumed excavation of Urartian sites on Turkish territory: in 1989 Ayanis, a 7th-century BC fortress built by Rusas II of Urartu, was discovered 35 km north of Van. In spite of excavations, only a third to a half of the 300 known Urartian sites in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Armenia have been examined by archaeologists (Wartke 1993). Without protection, many sites have been plundered by local residents searching for treasure and other saleable antiquities.

History

Origins

Urartu under Aramu 860-40 BC

Assyrian inscriptions of Shalmaneser I (c. 1274 BC) first mention Uruartri as one of the states of Nairi – a loose confederation of small kingdoms and tribal states in Armenian Highland in the 13th to 11th centuries BC which he conquered. Uruartri itself was in the region around Lake Van. The Nairi states were repeatedly subjected to further attacks and invasions by the Assyrians, especially under Tukulti-Ninurta I (c. 1240 BC), Tiglath-Pileser I (c. 1100 BC), Ashur-bel-kala (c. 1070 BC), Adad-nirari II (c. 900), Tukulti-Ninurta II (c. 890), and Ashurnasirpal II (883–859 BC).

Urartu re-emerged in Assyrian inscriptions in the 9th century BC as a powerful northern rival of Assyria. The Nairi states and tribes became a unified kingdom under king Aramu (c. 860 – 843 BC), whose capital at Arzashkun was captured by the Assyrians under Shalmaneser III. Roughly contemporaries of the Uruartri, living just to the west along the southern shore of the Black Sea, were the Kaskas known from Hittite sources.

Growth

Fragment of a bronze helmet from Argishti I's era. The "tree of life", popular among the ancient societies, is depicted. The helmet was discovered during the excavations of the fortress Of Teyshebaini on Karmir-Blur (Red Hill).

The temporary eclipse of Assyria in the first half of the 8th century BC, had helped Urartu's growth, as it became the largest and most powerful state in the Near East, all this was done in little time.[24]

Sarduri I (c. 832 – 820 BC), son of king Aramu, successfully resisted the Assyrian attacks from the south, led by Shalmaneser III, consolidated the military power of the state and moved the capital to Tushpa (modern Van, on the shore of Lake Van). His son, Ispuini (c. 820 – 800 BC) annexed the neighbouring state of Musasir and made his son Sarduri II viceroy; Musasir later became an important religious center of the Urartian Kingdom. Ispuini was in turn attacked by Shamshi-Adad V. His successor Menua (c. 800 – 785 BC) also enlarged the kingdom greatly and left inscriptions over a wide area. Urartu reached highest point of its military might under Menua's son Argishti I (c. 785 – 760 BC), becoming one of the most powerful kingdoms of ancient Near East. Argishti I added more territories along the Araxes river and Lake Sevan, and frustrated Shalmaneser IV's campaigns against him. Argishti also founded several new cities, most notably Erebuni in 782 BC. 6600 captured slaves worked on the construction of the new city.

At its height, the Urartu kingdom may have stretched North beyond the Qulha) almost to the shores of the Black Sea; west to the sources of the Euphrates; east to present-day Tabriz, Lake Urmia, and beyond; and south to the sources of the Tigris.

Tiglath Pileser III of Assyria conquered Urartu in the first year of his reign (745 BC). There the Assyrians found horsemen and horses, tamed as colts for riding, that were unequalled in the south, where they were harnessed to Assyrian war-chariots.[25]

Decline and recuperation

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.[26]

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." [27][28]

Fall

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. In 612 BC, the Median king