The Kingdom of Van under the reign of Sarduri II

The Kingdom of Van, the state of the four seas, continued to maintain its power even under the rule of Sarduri II (764-735 BC). Sarduri – powerful, from “sar” (king, ruler) and “tur”- to give.

The chronology of his reign has survived to this day and is called the “Chronology of Sarduri” in modern science. It contains a description of about 12 years of the king’s activities. In the early years of his reign, Sarduri continued the extensive urban development that had begun in the country.

His first large-scale campaign was against the state of Melitene, the king of which was forced to submit to Sarduri and pay him tribute. At the first stage of Sarduri’s reign, due to external impacts and internal rebellions, Assyria was unable to play a significant role in the region.

This situation was attempted to be changed by King Ashur-Nirari V, who immediately after ascending the throne began to sow discord in the Kingdom of Van and the countries under its dominion.

Sarduri, who organized a campaign to the Lake Sevan basin against the country of Velikukha during this period, took countermeasures.

One of his armies launched an offensive on Arme, near the capital of which he defeated the Assyrians and then also suppressed a rebellion in the country of Urme.

Sarduri II also suppressed a rebellion in the country of Mana, and then continued his triumphant march to the south. Sarduri repeated the unique campaign of his father Argishti I through the east of Assyria to Babylon.

The Armenian army entered Babylon, conquering and destroying three fortresses and about twenty cities, capturing about 40,000 prisoners of war and rich loot. After a new conquest of Babylon, the southern border of the Armenian state reached the Persian Gulf.

Around 740 BC, Sarduri II undertook two campaigns to the north against the country of Igani (in the basin of the Northern Lake), and then against Kulha in the area of the lower course of the Chorokh River. This was the land of the Colchians, referred to in ancient Greek sources as Colchis, stretching to the shores of the Black Sea.

The following year, Sarduri achieved a new success – he was the first of the kings of Van to reach the eastern basin of the Mediterranean Sea. This fact made the plan for the complete destruction of Assyria, which had been developed during the reign of Argishti I, more realistic.

In case of surrounding Assyria from three sides, through the Zagros mountains to the south to Babylon, and through the territory of Assyria and the Euphrates basin to Babylon, a complete blockade of Assyria would be implemented.

During the reign of Sarduri II, a very important change was noticed in the system of governance – he began to destroy dependent kingdoms (possibly even “allies”), turning them into administrative units, thus transitioning from a confederative system of government to a centralized state.

During his reign, the northeastern border of the state ran along the Kura River. Already in the times of Argishti I, this border included the Agstev valley, and one of the records of Sarduri II, left in the village of Tsovak south of Lake Sevan, states that Artsakh – the country of Urtekh, also joined the state, reaching the Kura River and the Caspian Sea.

The Kingdom of Van under the rule of Sarduri II reached the Black Sea in the north, the Caspian Sea in the east, the central part of Asia Minor in the west, and through Babylon to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea in the south.

Under Argishti I and Sarduri II, the Kingdom of Van (also known as Urartu) was the most powerful state in the Near East, a sole leader that lasted for over half a century.

by Alexander Bakulin

Translate by Vigen Avetisyan

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