Kassites: Wikis

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The Babylonian Empire under the Kassites.
Ancient
Mesopotamia
Euphrates · Tigris
Sumer
Eridu · Kish · Uruk · Ur
Lagash · Nippur · Ngirsu
Elam
Susa · Anshan
Akkadian Empire
Akkad · Mari
Amorites
Isin · Larsa
Babylonia
Babylon · Chaldea
Assyria
Assur · Nimrud
Dur-Sharrukin · Nineveh
Hittites · Kassites
Ararat / Mitanni
Mesopotamia
Sumer (king list)
Kings of Elam
Kings of Assyria
Kings of Babylon
Enûma Elish · Gilgamesh
Assyro-Babylonian religion
Sumerian · Elamite
Akkadian · Aramaic
Hurrian · Hittite

The Kassites were an ancient Near Eastern tribe who gained control of Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire after ca. 1531 BC to ca. 1155 BC (short chronology). Their language is classified as an isolate.

Contents

History

The original homeland of the Kassites is obscure, but appears to have been located in the Zagros Mountains in Lorestan in Iran.[1][2] Their first historical appearance occurred in the 18th century BC when they attacked Babylonia in the 9th year of the reign of Samsu-Iluna (reigned ca. 1686 – 1648 BC (short)), the son of Hammurabi. Samsu-Iluna repelled them, but they subsequently gained control of northern Babylonia sometime after the fall of Babylon to the Hittites in ca. 1531 BC (short), and conquered the southern part of the kingdom by ca. 1475 BC. The Hittites had carried off the idol of the god Marduk, but the Kassite rulers regained possession, returned Marduk to Babylon, and made him the equal of the Kassite Shuqamuna. The circumstances of their rise to power are unknown, due to a lack of documentation from this so-called "Dark Age" period of widespread dislocation. No inscription or document in the Kassite language has been preserved, an absence that cannot be purely accidental, suggesting a severe regression of literacy in official circles. Babylon under Kassite rulers, who renamed the city Karanduniash, re-emerged as a political and military power in the ancient Near East. A newly built capital city Dur-Kurigalzu was named in honour of Kurigalzu I (ca. early 14th century BC). His successors Kadashman-Enlil I (ca. 1374 – 1360 BC (short)) and Burnaburiash II (ca. 1359 – 1333 BC [short chronology]{short}) were in correspondence with the Egyptian rulers Amenhotep III and Akhenaton (Amenhotep IV) (see Amarna letters). Their success was built upon the relative political stability that the Kassite monarchs achieved. They ruled Babylonia practically without interruption for almost four hundred years— the longest rule by any dynasty in Babylonian history. Even after a minor revolt ca. 1333 BC and a seven-year hiatus of Assyrian rule (ca. 1224 - 1217 BC (short)), the ruling Kassite family regained the throne.

The transformation of southern Mesopotamia into a territorial state, rather than a network of allied or combatative temple-cities, made Babylonia an international power. Kassite kings established trade and diplomacy with Assyria, Egypt, Elam, and the Hittites, and the Kassite royal house intermarried with their royal families. There were foreign merchants in Babylon and other cities, and Babylonian merchants were active from Egypt (a major source of Nubian gold) to Assyria and Anatolia. Kassite weights and seals, the packet-identifying and measuring tools of commerce, have been found in as far afield as Thebes in Greece, in southern Armenia, and even in a shipwreck off the southern coast of today's Turkey.

The Kassite kings maintained control of their realm through a network of provinces administered by governors. Almost equal with the royal cities of Babylon and Dur-Kurigalzu, the revived city of Nippur was the most important provincial center. Nippur, the formerly great city, which had been virtually abandoned ca. 1730 BC, was rebuilt in the Kassite period, with temples meticulously re-built on their old foundations. In fact, under the Kassite government, the governor of Nippur, who took the Sumerian-derived title of Guennakku, ruled as a sort of secondary and lesser king. The prestige of Nippur was enough for a series of 13th century BC Kassite kings to reassume the title 'governor of Nippur' for themselves.

Other important centers during the Kassite period were Larsa, Sippar and Susa. After the Kassite dynasty was overthrown in 1155 BC, the system of provincial administration continued and the country remained united under the succeeding rule, the Second Dynasty of Isin.

Documentation of the Kassite period depends heavily on the scattered and disarticulated tablets from Nippur, where thousands of tablets and fragments have been excavated. They include administrative and legal texts, letters, seal inscriptions, kudurrus (land grants and administrative regulations), private votive inscriptions, and even a literary text (usually identified as a fragment of a historical epic).

"Kassite rulers in Babylon were also scrupulous to follow existing forms of expression, and the public and private patterns of behavior "and even went beyond that — as zealous neophytes do, or outsiders, who take up a superior civilization — by favoring an extremely conservative attitude, at least in palace circles." (Oppenheim 1964, p. 62). Over the centuries, however, the Kassites were absorbed into the Babylonian population. Eight among the last kings of the Kassite dynasty have Akkadian names, Kudur-Enlil's name is part Elamite and part Sumerian and Kassite princesses married into the royal family of Assyria.

The Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible contains a reference to what appears to be a Kassite ruler, who is named as Cushan-Rishathaim and described as ruler of "Aram Naharaim". "Cushan" is interpreted by Biblical scholars to mean "Kassite" and "Aram Rishathaim" to mean northwest Mesopotamia. According to Judges, Cushan-Rishathaim conquered Israel shortly after the death of Joshua and held it for eight years.

The Elamites conquered Babylonia in the 12th century BC, thus ending the Kassite state. The last Kassite king, Enlil-nadin-ahi, was taken to Susa and imprisoned there, where he also died.

However, Kassites survived as a distinct ethnic group in the mountains of Lorestan long after the Kassite state collapsed.

Babylonian records describe how Sennacherib on his Iranian campaign of 702 BC subdued some Kassites in a battle near Hulwan, Iran.

Herodotus and other ancient Greek writers sometimes referred to the region around Susa as "Cissia", a variant of the Kassite name. However, it is not clear if Kassites were actually living in that region so late.

Herodotus was almost certainly referring to Kassites when he described "Asiatic Ethiopians" in the Persian army that invaded Greece in 492 BC. Herodotus was presumably repeating an account that had originally used the name "Cush", or something similar, to describe the Kassites; "Cush" was also a name for Ethiopia. A similar confusion of Kassites with Ethiopians is evident in various ancient Greek accounts of the Trojan war hero Memnon, who was sometimes described as a "Cissian" and founder of Susa, and other times as Ethiopian. According to Herodotus, the "Asiatic Ethiopians" lived not in Cissia, but to the north, bordering on "Paricanians" who in turn bordered on the Medes.

During the later Achaemenid period, the Kassites, referred to as "Kossaei", lived in the mountains to the east of Media and were one of several "predatory" mountain tribes that regularly extracted "gifts" from the Achaemenid Persians, according to a citation of Nearchus by [Strabo]] (13.3.6).

But Kassites again fought on the Persian side in the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC, in which the Persian Empire fell to Alexander the Great, according to Diodorus Siculus (17.59) (who called them "Kossaei") and Curtius Rufus (4.12) (who called them "inhabitants of the Cossaean mountains"). According to Strabo's citation of Nearchus, Alexander later separately attacked the Kassites "in the winter", after which they stopped their tribute-seeking raids.

Strabo also wrote that the "Kossaei" contributed 13,000 archers to the army of Elymais in a war against Susa and Babylon. This statement is hard to understand, as Babylon had lost importance under Seleucid rule by the time Elymais emerged around 160 BC. If "Babylon" is understood to mean the Seleucids, then this battle would have occurred sometime between the emergence of Elymais and Strabo's death around 25 AD. If "Elymais" is understood to mean Elam, then the battle probably occurred in the 6th century BC. Note that Susa was the capital of Elam and later of Elymais, so Strabo's statement implies that the Kassites intervened to support a particular group within Elam or Elymais against their own capital, which at that moment was apparently allied with or subject to Babylon or the Seleucids.

The latest evidence of Kassite culture is a reference by the 2nd century geographer Ptolemy, who described "Kossaei" as living in the Susa region, adjacent to the "Elymeans". This could represent one of many cases where Ptolemy relied on out-of-date sources.

It is believed that the name of the Kassites is preserved in the name of the Kashgan River, in Lorestan.

Kassite Dynasty of Babylon

(short chronology)

Social life

In spite of the fact that some of them took Babylonian names, the Kassites retained their traditional clan and tribal structure, in contrast to the smaller family unit of the Babylonians. They were proud of their affiliation with their tribal houses, rather than their own fathers, and preserved their customs of fratriarchal property ownership and inheritance.[3]

Language

According to Encyclopedia Iranica[4]:

There is not a single connected text in the Kassite language. The number of Kassite appellatives is restricted (slightly more than 60 vocables, mostly referring to colors, parts of the chariot, irrigation terms, plants, and titles). About 200 additional lexical elements can be gained by the analysis of the more numerous anthroponyms, toponyms, theonyms, and horse names used by the Kassites (see Balkan, 1954, passim; Jaritz, 1957 is to be used with caution). As is clear from this material, the Kassites spoke a language without a genetic relationship to any other known tongue

Culture

The most notable Kassite artifacts are their Kudurru steles. Used for marking boundaries and making proclamations, they were also carved with a high degree of artistic skill.

References

  1. ^ Lorestan - Facts from the Encyclopedia - Yahoo! Education
  2. ^ History of Iran: Iranologie.com
  3. ^ J. Boardman et al. (eds) Cambridge Ancient History Vol III Pt 1 (2nd Ed) 1982
  4. ^ Kassites in Encyclopedia Iranica by Ran Zadok
  • Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911.
  • A. Leo Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia: portrait of a dead civilization, 1964.
  • K. Balkan, Die Sprache der Kassiten, (The Language of the Kassites, in German), American Oriental Series, vol. 37, New Haven, Conn., 1954.

See also

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

KASSITES, an Elamite tribe who played an important part in the history of Babylonia. They still inhabited the northwestern mountains of Elam, immediately south of Holwan, when Sennacherib attacked them in 702 B.C. They are the Kossaeans of Ptolemy, who divides Susiana between them and the Elymaeans; according to Strabo (xi. 13, 3, 6) they were the neighbours of the Medes. Th. NQldeke (Gott. G. G., 1874, pp. 173 seq.) has shown that they are the Kissians of the older Greek authors who are identified with the Susians by Aeschylus (Choeph. 424, Pers. 17, 120) and Herodotus (v. 49, 5 2). We already hear of them as attacking Babylonia in the 9th year of Samsu-iluna the son of Khammurabi, and about 1780 B.C. they overran Babylonia and founded a dynasty there which lasted for 576 years and nine months. In the course of centuries, however, they were absorbed into the Babylonian population; the kings adopted Semitic names and married into the royal family of Assyria. Like the other languages of the non-Semitic tribes of Elam that of the Kassites was agglutinative; a vocabulary of it has been handed down in a cuneiform tablet, as well as a list of Kassite names with their Semitic equivalents. It has no connexion with Indo-European, as has erroneously been supposed. Some of the Kassite deities were introduced into the Babylonian pantheon, and the Kassite tribe of Khabira seems to have settled in the Babylonian plain.

See Fr. Delitzsch, Die Sprache der Kossaer (1884), (A. H. S.),,


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