I. M. Diakonoff
The Pre-history of the Armenian People*
Predystoriia armianskogo naroda
Erevan, 1968, English Translation by Lori Jennings
* This material is presented solely for non-commercial educational/research purposes.
(Delmar, New York, 1984)
3. The Hittite and the Hurrian Social Structure
The Historical Situation in Western Asia
at the Beginning of the Bronze Age
3.1. The Significance of the Data on the Hittite Social
Structure for the History of Armenia
The data on Hittite and Hurrian social structure in Asia Minor,
Syria, and Mesopotamia have a very important significance also for
the history of the Armenian Highlands, since our direct information
about the conditions prevailing in the latter area during the 2nd
millennium B.C. is very scant. These data are important because
the Armenian Highlands was at that time also mostly inhabited by
Hurrians, and its outlying parts were periodically included in the
Hittite and Mitannian Empires, thus sharing their historical fate. It
is true that society in these empires had by then advanced further
in its development than in the depths of the highlands or in Transcaucasia. But what was being preserved in the Hittite and Hurrian society of the 2nd millennium B.C. as survivals must have still been very much alive in the highlands. The phenomena characteristic of
the class societies of the Hittites and Hurrians in the 2nd millennium B.C. might thus point to the direction in which the lesser known society of the Armenian Highlands could have developed
later. The natural environment and the state of the development
of the productive forces at the period of the changeover to class
structure of the society were much the same in the Armenian
highlands as they had been in the corresponding period in Asia
3.1.1. Hittite Society. Occupations of the Hittites
Just as in the Armenian Highlands, the basic occupations of the
population of the Hittite Empire were agriculture and particularly
animal husbandry. Handicrafts, especially metalworking, had reached
a relatively high level. However development of commodity production for the market was weak, and only an insignificant portion 
of the products of professional artisans were for sale. The artisans
lived not so much by selling their products as by providing their
food from the plots of land assigned to them. Their produce was
delivered to the centralized economic sector, i.e., either to the
ruler of the Hittite Empire, or to one of the minor princes or powerful grandees subject to the empire, or to a temple. War was an
extremely important branch of the economy, providing the Hittite
society with a slave labor force and material goods. Both the king
and the warriors profited from plunder, while the king received
tribute which made its way not only into the state treasury, but
also was divided among his relatives and the most powerful
3.1.2. Royal Dependents and Slaves in the Hittite Empire
The Hittite army brought back a great number of captives from
their campaigns. Not all of them became slaves. The Hittite sources
often refer to people called NAM.RA (75). This was a designation for
people of both sexes and all ages from subjugated territories who
were led into captivity (not for prisoners of war in the proper
sense). Apparently the NAM.RA did not constitute a specific social
group, but after being taken from their homeland into the Hittite
Empire, they either fell into the ranks of slaves of different types
or were settled on the land, where they became subjects of the
Hittite Empire liable to obligatory services; they could even be
made to join the army.
As was true nearly everywhere in the Ancient Orient, people
serving the king and the royal economy were called "royal slaves," (76)
but this was a purely technical designation. "Royal slaves" were
bound to the king by service (sabhan), which could differ depending on their profession. The more important servants (the officials, priests, military commanders, etc.) received for their service sizeable allotments of state land with slaves and sometimes
the right to revenues and to levying obligatory labor service from
the entire population of their district. The less important royal
servants, artisans, etc., received smaller allotments of state land,
but also usually with state slaves, in spite of the fact that the borderline between these slaves and the lowest of the state servants
was rather indistinct.
The position of the temple personnel (77), as, for instance, "the
slaves of the Stone House" (a temple dedicated to the funerary
cult of a Hittite king), was approximately the same. Sometimes
they were also liable to do obligatory services in common with
the free Hittites (but apparently only when they acquired land outside of the state land reserve).
 The "royal slaves" working on the land lived under conditions
of slavery proper (or helotry). They lived in families, on allotments
of state land, and when the king granted an allotment from state
land to a grandee, they could become his possession, but they apparently remained bound to that land (although not to their own
particular parcel, if any). That is, they could neither leave the land
of their own accord, nor be sold away from it. Still lower stood
the shepherd-slaves and some others. The slaves involved in farming, the manager-slaves and the like, were permitted to have some
movables, such as cattle. They sometimes received, as allotment
for their work, a parcel of land for their own use. The family of
the worker spent half of their time working on their own parcel.
In certain cases slaves could take wives from among free women;
the woman would only be temporarily enslaved, while her children--or at least some of her children--apparently remained
free. Women who married slaves of a higher category did not become slaves at all (78). Half of the income of a mixed marriage belonged to the free wife. The more well-to-do slaves who possessed
a small peculium could pay from it the bride-money for a wife
and could acquire property on the side (79). (A peculium is certain
property legally belonging to the owner of the slave but given to
the slave to treat as his own.)
The hippares constituted a special group. They apparently had
originally been prisoners of war. They lived on the land in artificially created communities (military settlements), with a severe
mutual responsibility, and they were deprived of general civil
The entire working personnel in the royal economies, the economies of the royal family, of the temples, and of the dignitaries,
were in a position which amounted to slavery or a condition close
to slavery (helotry). This personnel was the property of the state
and was employed in herding cattle, farming, and a few forms of
handicraft. But alongside of them there existed private slaves who
were the property of their masters. Apparently they were primarily
employed in the household, and thus freed other labor force for
agricultural work and war (81). A slave could, of course, be sold or
even killed at any time; a master could also use his slaves to pay
the wergeld for his own crime.
Certain service liabilities (luzzi) were borne not only by the
royal men but, at least technically, also by the free villagers. The
most important (but certainly not the only) luzzi service was the
military (82). In the village communities the luzzi service was usually entrusted to the local artisans (83). For their service they received what was termed the "king's share" in the community land. (This
 is not to be confused with royal land proper; the apportioning of
a certain part of the community land for keeping up of a royal
serviceman was a sort of tax imposed upon the village. The same
practice seems also to have been known, e.g., in Assur and in Arrapkhe). The holder of the king's share was called "man of arms"
and could apparently be appointed either by the village or by the
king himself. In the latter case the king could appoint even a prisoner of war with the stipulation of his fulfilling the obligatory service in question. At a later period the king would impose upon
such servicemen not only the luzzi service but also the obligation
of royal service in accordance with the man's specific peacetime
trade ( sabban), just as was the case with the royal men on the
royal land proper. Thus the "men of arms" in the villages were
also one of the population groups dependent on the state.
3.1.3. The Free Members of the Communities in the Hittite
Free fanners and cattle-breeders undoubtedly constituted the main
mass of the population of the Hittite Empire. In all of the Ancient
Oriental societies of the 2nd millennium B.C. the free men participating in the community property in land were designated in the
documents by first name and patronymic, and sometimes by the
name of the community as well. By this they were distinctly differentiated from the dependents of the king, who were designated
by first name and profession, usually without the patronymic (unless to differentiate namesakes). In the Hittite Empire the free
members of the community were liable to the luzzi service, but,
as we have seen, the community relegated the implementation of
this service to a special "man of arms" approved or appointed by
the king, while the members of the community probably were
summoned only in especially important cases. In addition to this
the members of the community paid tribute either to the king or
to those to whom the king conceded this tribute--local princes
or important dignitaries.
Free farmers lived in patriarchal communes (i.e., extended family groups living together) (84) with a common ownership in land,
and, in addition, were organized in village communities. The land
lot of a family commune was in Hittite called iwaru. The luzzi
obligation lay upon the iwaru as an aggregate. In the case of selling part of the land, the obligation remained with the person who
had the undivided iwaru, i.e., evidently with the head of the family
commune (85). Usury and debtor-slavery, which had arisen as far back
as the period of the trading colonies, undoubtedly continued to
exist in the Hittite Empire, but far more is known in this respect
 about the Hurrian society, in connection with which the problem
will be discussed.
The territorial community (village or town) had its own self-
government, and in certain cases the members bore mutual responsibility. The members of the community came under the jurisdiction of a royal officer and the elders of the community, in
contradistinction to the royal and temple personnel, who came
under the jurisdiction of the royal officers only (87).
3.1.4. The Hittite Aristocracy. Mercenaries from the Tribes
of the Armenian Highlands
Dignitaries who had received land from the king in the form of
a grant (with helots or with the right to collect tribute from the
local population) could be freed from obligatory service. Some
priests (but not always the members of their family) and some
groups of warriors and artisans were personally freed of the luzzi
service (88). It is interesting that the warriors of the tribes of Manda,
Sala, and Hemmuwa (89) were also freed from the obligatory military
service; their warriors served in the army not by way of obligation
but for pay. The tribe of Manda has not been identified (90). As far
as Sala (Salua) and Hemmuwa (Rimua, Hemme, etc.) are concerned, both these tribes (or both areas) should be sought in the
Armenian Highlands between the Euphrates and Lake Van, or perhaps even further east. The Hittite texts in question are concerned
with warriors from these tribes who served as mercenaries in the
Hittite army. Later their privilege of getting paid for their service
was extended to the warriors of the Hittite capital as well.
In all probability it was the privileged aristocracy with no labor
obligations that constituted the "lords of the city of Hattusas," out
of whom were recruited the above-mentioned dignitaries and administrators, as well as the charioteers, who were the nucleus of
the army. The highest of the dignitaries and military commanders
received the right to rule entire areas and collect tribute from
them. The members of the royal family constituted the elite of
3.1.5. The Hittite State
The Hittite Empire had a loose structure. Some towns and areas
were directly subject to the king (and in the period of the New
Kingdom, i.e., after 1400 B.C., some were subject to royal deputies
of different rank). In addition there existed small, semi-dependent
kingdoms (which were sometimes specially carved out for Hittite
 princes and sometimes had been subjugated by the Hittites), as
well as regions which were allotted to be ruled by the most important dignitaries. The relations between all the rulers of these
semi-independent areas and the Hittite government were stipulated by written treaties of allegiance to the Hittite king. The sacred temple-cities and their territory probably enjoyed autonomy
and freedom from general state taxes and obligatory services.
At the head of the state stood the king (91)--bassus or taparnas (laparnas)--and the queen--tawanannas. The functions of
the king were as follows: 1) to command the armed forces and go
on military campaigns every summer; 2) to head the cults of the
gods and conduct rituals, magically personifying the fertility and
well-being of the country; 3) to head the whole state administration; and 4) to hold a court of law in all the most important matters, especially those punishable by death.
The mother of the king, and upon her death the mother of the
heir-apparent, was a tawanannas. In this way not every head wife
of a king (92) (a "queen"--hassusar) was a tawanannas, since this was a lifetime office. It was considered no less important than the
office of the king. The tawanannas was the high priestess, with a
wide range of religious and political rights and duties. She also had
an income of her own, independent of the income of the king.
The king (bassus) was originally elected from a specific family
or group of families by a popular assembly (pankus). However
already within the period of the Old Kingdom (17th-15th centuries B. C.) the pankus actually consisted not of all men capable of
bearing arms, but only of the kinsmen and chief retainers of the
king and of his personal following. After the reforms of King Telepinus at the end of the 16th century, a firm order of succession
to the throne from father to son was established. The pankus had
by then only the right of formal confirmation of the hereditary
king, a right held jointly with the elders of the kingdom (nakkes).
Both the king and the tawanannas were, in certain instances, subject to the jurisdiction of the pankus and could be deposed (93).
In the New Kingdom the pankus retained only some religious
functions (94), and the power of the king became despotic. The king
began to accept lofty titles, and instead of calling himself "I", he
began to refer to himself as "My Sun."
3.1.6. The Hittite Temple
Religion played a tremendous role in the life of the Hittite Empire. The major deity was the god of thunder, Tarhus or Tarhunts
(the Hurrians called him Teshshub, or more precisely, Teshshob); the
 Hattic Goddess of the Sun, who was worshipped in the city of
Arinna, was considered to be the special protectress of the king.
Apart from these there were a great number of deities of Hattic,
Hittite, Luwian, Hurrian, and Sumero-Akkadian origin.
Religion was tremendously important not only in ideological life
but also in production and consumption. This was because the
temples constituted important economies, analogous in structure
to the royal economy, which exerted influence on the entire society. They made use of the obligatory labor of community members, and they probably received large payments from them in the
form of cattle, agricultural goods, and handicrafts. But the temples
were also important because everywhere in the Ancient Orient,
participation in the abundant sacrifices of cattle and sheep was the
only opportunity for the agricultural population, especially the poor,
to get meat as part of their diet. This strengthened the population's
dependence on the state all the more, since the cults of the gods
were the ideological basis of royal power.
3.1.7. The Writing of the Hittites
Writing was well known to the Hittites. The Assyrian version of
the Akkadian cuneiform script had been brought to Asia Minor by
merchants of Assur, and the princes of the city-states of Asia Minor
used it (as well as the Assyrian dialect of Akkadian) for their own
needs (95). After the creation of the Hittite Old Kingdom the Hittite
scribes adopted another variant of Akkadian cuneiform which had
been current in Northern Syria and which also had been used by
the Hurrians (96). Along with cuneiform the scribes also employed a
local form of hieroglyphic writing. Although it was used throughout the entire Hittite domain, apparently the language of the hieroglyphic inscriptions was in every instance one of the Luwian dialects (traditionally, though mistakenly, termed "the Hittite
Hieroglyphic language" though now correctly called "Hieroglyphic Luwian").
We will not dwell on other aspects of Hittite society and its
culture, since the above is only meant to illustrate conditions which
may have existed in districts of the Armenian Highlands included
in the Hittite Empire. It gives us some idea of what the neighboring and relatively more backward society of the Highlands itself was
like in the 2nd millennium B.C.
3.2. Hurrian Society. The Sources
We know less about the society of the Hurrian state of Mitanni.
Our notion of the Hittite Empire derives from the official documents of the archives of its capital (annals, decrees, correspondence  of the kings, international treaties, deeds of donation of land,
instructions to officials, religious and ritual texts, etc). But of Hurrian society we know only what we can glean from private or minor administrative archives, chiefly legal documents, all of which
originated from the outlying areas of Mitannian influence. This evidence comes from Nuzi in the kingdom of Arrapkhe (modern Kirkuk in Iraqi Kurdistan) for the l5th-14th centuries B.C., and from
Alalakh in the kingdom of Mukishe (present-day Tell Atchana on
the Orontes River) for the 18th and 15th centuries B.C. In certain
instances we can trace in complete detail the economic and social
fates and even the personal relations of many dozens of Hurrian
families through several generations. We have, therefore, a more
vivid view of their economic life. We will here follow the reconstruction of Hurrian social conditions suggested by the Soviet scholar
N. B. Jankowska (97). She has shown that the basic features of the
social picture which she established for Arrapkhe were also characteristic of the whole of Western Asia outside of Babylonia and
Egypt in the second millennium B.C.
3.2.1. The Hurrian Domestic Commune (Extended Family)
The Hurrians of the plains were basically farmers with well developed handicrafts. The farming population lived in patriarchal
extended families (domestic communes) which in the documents
(compiled in Akkadian) are called "houses" (bitu), or (especially
in Arrapkhe) "towers" (dimtu). Each extended family had its own
aggregated land fund, which was called "domain" (*ewro), and was
at the disposal of the patriarch, or "chief' (ewri). At some time
in the past the entire land fund may have been worked jointly, but
according to the sources which have come down to us, it was
divided into parcels for each of the individual adult members of
the extended family. All the members of such a family (or even a
clan) were expected to render the obligatory service to which
their community was liable (Akkad. ilku; Hurrian, unoshshe), which in due time became services to the state. One of the parcels (kashka)
seems to have been dedicated to the cult of the family gods (98). It
was at the special disposal of the ewri. Upon the death of the patriarch the family commune might continue to be ruled jointly by
the "brothers." The term "brothers" included not only the sons of
the same parents but more or less all of the descendants of the
patriarch of approximately the same degree of kinship, i.e., those
who regarded each other as brothers, first cousins, second cousins,
etc., and sometimes even cousins once and twice removed. As the
extended family grew, it would split up. This usually occurred in
the third or fourth generation. However the conditions of the  productive forces did not permit the maintenance of individual small
families as independent economic units. Deprived of the extended
family's mutual aid, they would either perish, become subject to
other communal groups, or soon grow into a new extended family.
There existed between the extended family communes a complicated system of mutual relations. The family communes which were
formed when an extended family communal group of a greater
size disintegrated, remained loosely united by a common cult. They
would acknowledge a certain authority of the ewri of the "elder"
family community and were probably, although not quite so obligatory as before, joined to kindred family communes by the custom
of mutual aid. This allowed the richer families, by depending on
patriarchal ties, to exploit the related poorer communes. But the
members of the family communes (or groups of related communes) were not simply subject to the authority of the ewri. In
certain cases he himself had to bear material responsibility for their
actions. In any event, however, the position of the ewri was so
important that the members of rich families would seek to buy his
3.2.2. The Hurrian Territorial Commune
But apart from the ties of kinship, there were also ties between
neighbors. Thus several weaker family groups could give their allegiance to an ewri of a neighboring stronger family community
and would thus be tied to the latter by a patriarchal type of relation, despite their lack of actual kinship (99). Several related, and
often even unrelated, families or family groups would form a sort
of organizational union. Such a community of neighbors or neighboring extended families (or clans) constituted a self-governing
village (Akkad. alu). The family tower (dimtu) could dominate
over a village or a group of such villages; sometimes they could
grow into a town and then into a city-state with its own self-
In this way individual fortified family homesteads (dimtu, "towers")(100) would group together along with nonfortified dwellings
into a village or town. Note that the Ancient Near Eastern terminology makes no difference between these two, and both were
called by one and the same term, e.g., Akkad. alu. But the alu was not only a settlement which included clan communes or a community of neighbors; it could also include people dependent on
the "palace" (for instance, artisans) or even such dependent persons only. The villages would group together around one or several centers (fortified settlements), conventionally designated as
"towns" or "cities," where there was a temple, the dwelling of a
 leader or chief, and dwellings of the officials of the communities
united in the "city-state." It is here that the council of elders and
probably the popular assembly would gather (101). Thus, for example,
in the "city" of Nuzi, a "mayor" (bazannu) stood at the head of
the administration, and he sometimes took part in the meetings of
the council of the elders. The "city" of Nuzi was subject to the
king, who ruled in the center of the territory ("country") of Arrapkhe. Later it was apparently dependent on an Arrapkhean prince
who had settled near the fortress of Nuzi. It is probable that Arrapkhe was allied to Mitanni and for some period may have paid
tribute to it. The king of Alalakh was, all through its history, technically independent, but he also apparently paid tribute, first to
Yamhad and later to Mitanni (102).
Such is the picture that can be reconstructed for an early stage
of Hurrian society of the "Fertile Crescent," at least in its outlying
regions. The society in the Highlands must have been similar,IO
except that state power had not yet developed there. Instead tribal
confederacies existed. The leading role of animal husbandry must
also have modified the picture there.
By the period during which documents attest Hurrian society
in the lowland, the situation had already become more complex.
3.2.3. The Disintegration of the Extended Family
As Jankowska suggests, the intensification of farming and the
changeover to specialized types of economy (either gardening only,
or viticulture only, a departure from farming connected with animal husbandry to a pure field economy, etc.), served as the initial
push. On the one hand this afforded a significant rise in the profitability of the economies, but on the other hand it heightened the
requirement for internal exchange. At the same time it made for
stronger contrasts in the stratification of individual family communes, and even within them, inasmuch as specialized economies
were conducted inside the family commune by individual family
cells. With the primitive development of the commodity market
and money economy the one-sided development of separate
households, coupled with their constant lack of means for exchange, intensified the need for credit. This credit was extended
to the poorer families by the more successful figures, and by representatives of the communal aristocracy. (In Alalakh individual
creditors systematically ceded their rights with respect to debtors
to the king since he was economically stronger. The transaction
took the form of a loan without a time limit, and the debtors were
expected to work off the interest) (104).
 It should be noted that under the conditions of that time each
economy was to a high degree dependent upon the chances of
weather and war. The weaker a household was, the more insecure
was its well-being, and the more easily it could fall into dependence on a more wealthy economy.
In view of the primitive development of commodity-money relations, credit was expensive: 30 percent per annum was considered a rather low interest. A creditor would require security for a loan. At first the poorer families would mortgage their own members, handing them over as debtor-slaves to work among the personnel of the creditor's household, or they themselves would become debtor-slaves, and often remain so, since they could not pay
their debts on time. Such a debtor-slave was regarded as a slave
in the proper sense, although he would sometimes still have a plot
in his family community. Participation in property of land would
allow him to retain certain civil rights or at least the hope of liberation in the future (lO5). Indeed, though the courts always decided
in favor of the creditors in a litigation, an ewri would try to rescue member of his community, for if the head of an impoverished
family should die, it was precisely the ewri who was to answer for
his debts. Any community member ransomed by him would be-
come the debtor of the ewri himself.
Since movables were personal property and not the property of
the family commune, wealth would gradually amass in the hands
of individuals and not of the family communes: the kinsmen of the
rich men became dependent on them, and the obligation of mutual aid then turned into a right of exploitation of the poor by the
rich. However the rich creditors in the communities were not satisfied with this. They began to round off their own real properties,
especially since land bought by personal means remained the personal property of the buyer.
3.2.5. Usurpation of Land
As a matter of principle community land was regularly
repartitioned (l06), and it was inalienable. In Arrapkhe this rule was
evaded by a device whereby the family commune of the vendors
"adopted" or "accepted as brother" the actual purchaser. The
"adopted" buyer, by special proviso, did not take on any of the
responsibilities of the family commune which he technically entered. However such a transaction did allow him to use the help
of the members of the adopting commune, i.e., in essence to  exploit them. According to customary law, these transactions, acknowledged by the judges, could be implemented only with the knowledge and consent of the commune members and especially of the ewri (who at that time was, in fact, losing his former significance, especially in the weak, disintegrating communes; but he was still responsible for seeing that the commune members fulfilled the conditions of their contracts). For the acquired land a
purchaser would not pay a "price" (since this was not considered.
a purchase), but a "gift," which therefore became the personal
property of the vendor or vendors (not of the whole family commune). Actually the "adoptee" as often as not received the land
almost for free, since the vendors were his debtors, and his "gift"
was only as much as they owed him (107).
Roughly the same situation can be observed in Assur, in Alalakh,
and probably in the Hittite Empire, with the exception that, for
example, in Assur the purchase of the fields was in no way
3.2.6. Fugitives from Obligatory Labor
Ordinary community members continued to bear the burden of
obligatory labor and military services. Although a rich man would
technically remain a community member, with all the ensuing obligations (109), it is improbable that he ever fulfilled them. Instead he
relied on the mutual aid of the family commune or sent his own
slaves to work. Even if he acquired land, he did not take on the
obligation of military service associated with it. Instead the obligation remained with the vendors, according to the conditions of
the contract. In this manner the rudiments of societal separation
into taxable and nontaxable estates were formed, although for a
long time this was not formalized in law.
Communal obligations and rights were tied to the land; they
were maintained for each member of the family commune as long
as the commune owned at least the last land parcel, the one dedicated to the cult. But under the conditions described, it is completely understandable that many community members would decide to sacrifice their civil rights in order to free themselves from the obligations. It is about this time that groups of people who had abandoned their communities and lost their status could be found wandering from country to country, now plundering, now
hiring themselves out to military detachments or as workers (110).
Many poor people fled into the mountains, also, no doubt, to the
Armenian Highlands, saving themselves from exploitation among the
tribes which were still free The influx of people with the  experience of advanced agriculture and of conditions characteristic
of class civilization must have quickened the development of social relations in the territories that still continued as pre-state organizations. Their population, however, was fated to take the same
path which had been trodden by the Hittite and Hurrian societies.
3.2.7. The Problem of Slavery
In the emerging large private economies of the rich Hurrians,
the problem of labor force was of paramount importance. Debtor-
slavery and mutual aid between family commune members could
only partially resolve it. Moreover in the exploitation of one's
compatriots enslaved for debt one had to overcome their attempts
to free themselves, as well as the attempts of their kinsmen to
ransom them, which led to litigations in court, etc. (112). Foreign slaves
were more highly valued, in particular the mountaineers (lullu)
who, once having fallen into slavery, were completely defenseless (113).
Therefore beginning with the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C.
we find in the Hittite and Assyrian sources the first evidence of
military campaigns arranged specially for the seizure of captives (114).
We have already discussed the fate of captives in the Hittite Empire. However when the army brought home too many captives,
it was not possible to use all of them effectively in production.
Furthermore en masse they presented a danger to their masters.
Thus as late as the 14th century the Hittites slaughtered a part of
the captives (ll5), while in the 13th century the Assyrians blinded
many of them and then could probably use them only in simple
household jobs, and most probably only in large households such
as the palace households (obviously in order to free more reliable
working hands for more necessary jobs) (116). As we have seen, the
Hittites did not turn all captives into slaves, but used some of them
in other ways.
3.2.8. The Palace and Temple Economy in the Hurrian
Apart from the conditions prevailing in the community economy which we have already described, we should mention the existence of other types of economies in Hurrian society: the palace and temple estates. Neither had the same significance they did have in the river civilizations of Babylonia and Egypt, but they undoubtedly were an important element in the country's general economy. Workers of different categories (the taluhli, the "people of the house," etc.), deprived in different degrees of their civil
 rights, worked in the palace household (117). They were typologically
similar to the "royal slaves" among the Hittites.
220.127.116.11. The Aristocracy and the Charioteers
Since we have the source material only from the periphery, we
apparently do not get a complete enough presentation of Hurrian
society as a whole. We know nearly nothing of Mitannian society.
There is no doubt that an aristocracy of birth surrounded the Mitannian king. It seems, though, that it is a mistake to assign the
marianna (charioteers) to the aristocracy (118). And there is no evidence to suggest that the marianna were Indo-lranians, as some
scholars suggest. Apparently the Indo-lranian ethnic group had already been subsumed by the Hurrians in toto by the middle of
the 2nd millennium B.C.
18.104.22.168. Hurrian State Structure
It is now necessary to say a few words about the state structure
in Hurrian society. We know very little about it, but judging by
the fact that the Hittite governmental terminology is frequently
derived from the Hurrian (119), we can presume that the state system
of Mitanni and the other Hurrian states (Kizzuwadna, Alzi, Arrapkhe, etc.) differed from the Hittite only in details. We have already spoken about the administrative organization on the lower
level, that of "town mayors" and councils of elders. We have good
ground for thinking that at least in the rural and probably in the
urban communities there also existed popular assemblies. We also
know that in the Mitannian Empire, just as in the Hittite Empire,
important areas were ruled by royal kinsmen, and that a whole
series of autonomous kingdoms were, more or less formally, subject to the Mitanni Empire. Ashur, for instance, a purely Akkadian
enclave completely retaining its internal structure, was ruled by a
council of elders and a prince who had little independent power (120).
But there a Mitannian "envoy" (sukkallu) took part in the city
administration alongside of the prince and his elders (121). Only later,
when the Mitannian Empire had weakened, and the rulers of Ashur
had started large campaigns of conquests, did they begin to use
the title of "king of Assyria," while the council of elders fell into
the background. This process began with Assuruballit I (in the
middle of the 14th century B.C.), who made good use of his city's
strategic position, lying, as it did, on or very near to all the important trading and military routes (l22).
The individual local rulers and, when they were absent, the
councils of elders (123) were in Mitannian (and generally in Hurrian)
 society probably autonomous to a very large degree. As mentioned
above, the documents from the kingdom of Mukishe-Alalakh in the
18th century B.C. attest a curious phenomenon: the kings of Alalakh bought from their own subjects the right to receive taxes and
the obligatory labor of villages and whole groups of villages (124).
22.214.171.124. Military Organization
The organization of military service and of the army seems to
have been, in Hurrian society, essentially similar to that which we
have seen in the Hittite Empire. Apparently the warriors were recruited from the communities and partially equipped by them, but
during inspections and campaigns they were fed by the palace.
The palace also supplied the common warriors with arrows and
other ammunition (125). It is a Hurrian warrior to whom the most
ancient coat of mail known to archeology belonged, at a time when
the Hittites still seem not to have been using it. However the state
and military organizations of Mitanni were obviously less effective
than those of the Hittites, inasmuch as Mitanni suffered quick defeat in its struggle with them.
3.2.9. Religion and Literature of the Hurrians
The greater part of what we know about the spiritual culture of
the lowland Hurrians is gleaned from certain texts in the Hittite
royal archives written in Hurrian or translated from the Hurrian (126).
Religion played just as important a role for the Hurrians as for the
other Ancient Oriental societies. A very strong influence of Babylonia is felt in religion as in the other areas of ideology. The
most important deity was the god of thunder, Teshub (Teshob),
whose centers of worship were the city of Kummanni (Comana)
in the Cilician Taurus Mountains, and evidently also a city of the
same name (Kum[m]anni, Qumenu, Qumme) (127) on the upper
reaches of the Upper Zab River. Next came the wife of Teshub,
the goddess Heba, or Hebat; the goddess of fertility, war, and carnal love, Shawushka (to whom apparently orgiastic cults were dedicated); the god of the Sun, Shimige, and countless other common
and local gods. It is important to note that the pantheon differed
from one city-state to another; it was not the same in Kizzuwadna
(this is the pantheon which had been adopted, along with other
gods, in the Hittite capital) as in Ugarit, in Mitanni, or in Arrapkhe,
etc. Babylonian and (only in Mitanni proper) Indo-Iranian gods
were also worshipped along with the Hurrian gods. A curious feature of Hurrian society is the existence in every settlement (territorial community) of special priestesses (apparently of the  fertility cults), designated by the heterogram MI2.LUGAL, which stands
for "woman-king." These priestesses belonged to the aristocracy
and apparently exercised not only cult functions but some administrative functions as well (128).
126.96.36.199. Hurrian Writing
The Hurrians were acquainted with writing (in the form of Akkadian cuneiform) already in the 3rd millennium B.C., as is attested
by the inscription of Tishari, the priest(ess) of Urkesh, to which we
have already referred. In the 2nd millennium B.C. they used the
Akkadian cuneiform in its Northern Syrian-Mesopotamian variant.
In addition the various parts of the Hurrian territory used different
spelling systems (129). Hurrian literature was evidently rather rich,
but only its insignificant remains have come down to us. It had
been influenced by Babylonian literature (for example, fragments
of a Hurrian version of the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic are known).
The annals and other historical texts of the Mitannian kings, which,
to judge from circumstantial evidence, must once have existed,
have not been preserved (130).
3.3. The Significance of the History of Hurrian Society for
the History of the Armenian Highlands
A certain portion of the Hurrians lived for a long time in Mesopotamia and the immediately contiguous regions like Arrapkhe
and Alalakh, where the population had ancient traditions of settled
agriculture and where the features of class society had long ago
been apparent (131). By the time we find written documents, that portion of the Hurrians had altogether lost its original tribal structure (*18). The sources show us only family communes and their
groups, as well as territorial organizations of the village and town.
But in the mountains the tribe apparently remained as the highest
form of organization. Nevertheless the historical situation as it had
taken shape among the southern Hurrians gives a pretty true indication of the direction in which Hurrian society must have developed in the less advanced areas both of the valleys of the Upper
Euphrates and the Armenian Highlands in general. Class civilization
would be born amid trials and tribulations which the people of
the Highlands had still to experience.
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