During the first years of his reign, Sarduri carried on the large-scale city construction undertaken by his predecessors. As for military successes, the first campaign of Sarduri was directed against the Melitene kingdom, which’s king would be forced to obey to Sarduri and pay tribute.
At the time, Assyria wasn’t capable of playing a more or less significant role in the region due to its internal unrest and external pressure. Immediately after acceding to the throne, King of Assyria Ashur-nirari V attempted to change the situation by so to say planting seeds of strife into the Kingdom of Van. Being engaged in a campaign towards the Lake Sevan, Sarduri undertook actions against the Assyrian king.
One of Sarduri’s armies assaulted the small state of Arme, near the capital of which he defeated Assyrian troops. Then, he suppressed a rebellion in the states of Urme and Mannea and continued to move southwards, thus reenacting the unique campaign of his father King Argishti I through eastern Assyria to Babylon.
The army of Sarduri stepped into Babylon and captured about 40,000 soldiers, seized and ruined three fortresses and around twenty cities, and obtained wealthy loot. After this success, the southern border of the Kingdom of Van expanded towards the Persian Gulf.
In ca. 740 BC, Sarduri undertook two campaigns towards the north against the Igani and Colchis states. The latter was situated on the lower banks of Chorokh River on the shore of the Black Sea.
In the next year, Sarduri made a new achievement: he became the first king of the Kingdom of Van to reach the eastern reservoirs of the Mediterranean Sea. This fact brought the plan of Argishti I to eliminate Assyria closer to fruition. Assyria would get completely cut off from the outside world if it got surrounded from the sides of the Zagros Mountains to the south of Babylon, as well as the areas along the Euphrates River and near Babylon itself.
Sarduri made a significant change in the administration of his country: he eliminated the kingdoms dependent on the Kingdom of Van and instead converted them into provinces, abandoning the federation structure towards a more centralized government.
In the years of Sarduri’s reign, the northeastern borders of his country passed along the Kura River. In the times of Argishti I, this border also included the Aghstev valley. One of the accounts of Sarduri himself tells that the territory of the present-day Republic of Artsakh has been included into the kingdom as well.
The Kingdom of Van also reached the Black Sea from the north, the Caspian Sea from the east, central Asia Minor from the west, and the Persian Gulf from the south.
During the reigns of Sarduri II and Argishti I, the Kingdom of Van became the most powerful state in Western Asia, which continued for over half a century.
by Alexandr Bakulin