- Kingdom in eastern Anatolia and western Iran, with a central area between Lake Van and Lake Sevan. Its history is known from rock inscriptions in Urartian, a late dialect of Hurrian, as well as Assyrianannals and letters. Urartu began with a confederation of Hurrian tribes in the ninth century B.C. and reached its greatest territorial expansion around 800 B.C. under king Menua (reigned c. 810–c. 785 B.C.).The Urartians were skilled at building massive fortifications and impressive hydraulic projects, such as aqueducts, dams, and canals, some of which are still in use to this day.The Urartian expansion conflicted with Neo-Assyrianimperial aspirations. Tiglath-pileser III waged several campaigns against Urartu and laid an ultimately unsuccessful siege to Tushpa in 735, which resulted in the mutual recognition of their borders and areas of influence. Such agreements did not last very long during this time when political allegiances were rapidly changing. The Assyrians were keen to secure their access to the northern traderoutes and their supply of metal, horses, and manpower.Urartu was also under pressure from Caucasian nomads, such as the Cimmerians, who ravaged their countryside. It was Sargon II in 714 who mounted the biggest military expedition against Urartu, which is vividly described in his annals of the eighth campaign. He marched across the ragged mountain at the head of his troops and managed to take the Urartian camp by surprise. He went on to sack one of their sacred sites, the temple of Musasir. The Urartians were not broken by these attacks, however, and under Rusa II the kingdom regained much of its power and influence. He also moved the capital from Tushpa to Toprakkale near Van.Rusa’s son Sarduri III submitted to Ashurbanipal in c. 636 and was defeated by the Cimmerians and Elamites. It was the combined and repeated onslaughts of the Cimmerians and the Medes who brought the Urartian kingdom to an end, following the disappearance of the Assyrian empire after 610 B.C.
Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. EdwART. 2012.
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