The kingdom of Urartu is an ancient kingdom of Armenia

The kingdom of Urartu was an ancient kingdom of Armenia located between Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and the Caucasus, an area later known as Armenia, and centered around Lake Van. The reign lasted from 860 to 585 BC. The name corresponds to the biblical Ararat. It is the name that the Assyrians gave to the people and state that flourished in ancient Armenia.

Another name that the Assyrians used to designate the same nation is the “countries of Nairi”. There is no doubt that the name Urartu was also used by the Urartians themselves, although in their inscriptions they use only the word Biaina.

The oldest form of the name occurs in an inscription of the Assyrian king Shalmanassar I and sounds Uruatru. The Hebrews wrote Ararat, and with Herodotus, the name of the people is found in the form ᾿Αλαρόδιοι.

As their supreme and national god was Khaldi, it was believed that this was also called the nation; but this word does not occur in their inscriptions as the name of the country. The language is called by some Vannica because their kingdom stretched around the lake of Van; it is preferable, however, to call it urarteo, now that we know the indigenous name of the nation.

The capital of the kingdom, located on Lake Van was Tushpa (in Assyrian Turushpa and Greek Thospia, in Armenian Wantosp or simply Tosp). Before Tushpa the capital was Arzashkun.

The first Assyrian king to mention a king of Urartu and thus attest to the existence of a unitary kingdom is Shalmanassar III (858-824). After him, Urartu becomes one of the great powers of western Asia, extends its dominion, especially towards the west, and also intervenes in the struggles for dominance in northern Syria.

The invasions of the Cimmerîs and then of the Scythians, to which Assyria itself had to yield, also overthrew the kingdom of Urartu.

The Urartu civilization is an original civilization. It has indeed drawn a lot from that of Mesopotamia and in particular Assyria, but it has developed based on the ancient autochthonous civilization of eastern Asia Minor, Hurrian, and Asian civilization.

In some of its manifestations, it reveals western derivations and presents points of contact with Aegean Asia Minor and even with Greece. As for the race of the Urartians, we cannot yet say anything positive.

If we stick to the very few Urartee artistic representations of people we must note that the anthropological type must have been more or less what distinguished the Hittites depicted in the Hittite reliefs and seals or portrayed by the Egyptians.

The Urartians must have been predominantly of the so-called Armenoid race, as were the other ancient inhabitants of Asia Minor. Their kings left large amounts of Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions. However, before this writing, the Urartians used an indigenous hieroglyphic script.

For the inscriptions, they use very few ideograms and signs indicating only the simplest syllables. The area of ​​expansion of the Urartee inscriptions is very vast: they go from the Euphrates to the Arasse, and they are also found at noon of Lake Urmia.

They are written in the Urartean or Assyrian language or are bilingual. As they are written with Assyrian signs they are easily readable. But so far we have not been able to fully interpret them, because our knowledge of urarteo is still imperfect.

The Urartean language undoubtedly belongs to the linguistic lineage of the Hurrian or Mitannic language. The morphology and also vocabulary demonstrate this. The nominative has the ending -sh, the accusative instead -n. The plural is formed by the ending -we.

The religion of the Urartians was polytheistic, with a large pantheon at the head of which was a triad formed of the national god Khaldi, of Tesheba which corresponds to the Teshup of the Hurrians and was a god of storm and lightning, and of Ardini, a solar deity.

Other urartee deities were Turani, Wa, Arsimela, and Bagbartu (or Bagmashtu), who had a temple in MuŞaŞir together with the national god, a temple that was sacked by the Assyrian king Sargon II (721-705), during his eighth military campaign.

Urartu was famous for its metal works. The metallurgy reached great perfection there and the metallurgical products of the country spread in particular towards the west.

The Urartians loved to adorn tripods and other metal objects with animal heads or feet and with plant leaves. In the construction of the buildings, they made extensive use of stone. The Urartian temples resembled the facade of Western temples, especially Greek ones.

1)”Urartian art in Museum of Anatolian Civilizations” (11 photos)
2)”Urartian antiquities in the Hermitage” (9 photos)
3)”Urartian art in the British Museum” (9 photos)
4)”Urartian architecture” (12 photos)
5)”Doğubayazıt Castle” (10 photos)
6)”Erebuni Fortress” (10 photos)
7)”Urartian Royal Tomb” (5 photos)
“Susi Temple in Erebuni Fortress” (3 photos)
9) Files in the category “Urartu”

Mario Antonio Maloccu

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