Urartian King List
On one of the reliefs from Sargon's palace—known only from a drawing by Flandin, since the original was lost in the Tigris while being shipped to France—was a scene showing the plundering of the temple at Musasir. This showed shields hanging on the pillars of the facade and in the spaces between them; and "in the middle of them are the heads of dogs with bared teeth." The Assyrians are shown carrying them off as booty, while a record is kept by an official sitting on a folding chair. In front of him stand two scribes,  noting down the captured treasures—one of them in cuneiform on a clay tablet, the other in Aramaic script on a papyrus. The next scene shows the booty being weighed and taken away. It is difficult to reconstruct the complicated lock of the temple door as described in the Louvre text, but the excavators of a fortress at Hasanlu, to the south of Lake Urmia, found bronze pins from a lock, decorated with small figures of lions and attached to the door by a chain.
The custom of depositing weapons dedicated to the gods in their temples was widely practised in the ancient East. Since the principal Urartian gods were warrior gods, very large quantities of sacred and precious weapons were accumulated in their temples. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the temple at Musasir Sargon should have captured "25,212 brazen (or rather bronze) shields both heavy and light...; 1,514 brazen javelins both heavy and light; heavy brass spear-heads...; brass lances with brass supports; 305,412 swords..."
In addition to ordinary weapons the temple contained arms and equipment made of precious metal: "1 large sword, a weapon worn at his waist, to the making of which went 26 minas and 3 su (about 30 Ib) of gold; 96 silver javelins; ...silver bows and silver spears, inlaid with gold and mounted; 12 heavy silver shields, the bosses of which are made in the form of the heads of monsters, lions and wild bulls...; 33 silver chariots."
The store-rooms also contained much valuable furniture, furnishings and jewellery, and this is again detailed in the list of booty: "393 silver cups, both heavy and light, made in Assyria, Urartu and Habhu; 2 horns of the great aurochs in a setting of gold circles; 1 gold signet ring with a seal for certifying the decrees of Bagmashtu, wife of Haldi, inlaid with precious stones; 9 fabrics for the clothing of his godhead, embroidered with golden discs; ... 1 bed of ivory; 1 silver couch for the repose of his godhead, framed in gold and decorated with stones; 139 batons of ivory; ... 10 tables of  box-wood, and chairs of ebony and boxwood set with gold and silver; 2 altars; 14 various stones for the ornament of the divinity, precious stones belonging to Haldi and Bagmashtu his spouse..."
I have quoted only extracts from the inventory of the valuables captured by Sargon in Musasir, omitting many items which cannot yet be translated; but even this abbreviated list is enough to take our breath away. We should hardly have expected to find such an accumulation of treasures in the temple in Musasir, even allowing for the fact that Musasir was an ancient religious centre; and we find ourselves wondering whether the information given in the Louvre text is entirely trustworthy. It is fair to say, however, that we should have found it difficult to believe in the quantity of precious things in the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen if our only evidence had been an inventory recorded on a papyrus. It has also been suggested that Rusa might have sent the valuables stored in his treasury and his temples to Musasir in order to save them from the Assyrians. This, however, seems unlikely, since the journey to Musasir was long and hazardous and the area was always insecure in view of its nearness to Assyria. Moreover some details in the text indicate that the treasure belonged to Musasir. Thus there are two references to "Bagmashtu, wife of Haldi", and it is well established that the wife assigned to Haldi in central Urartu was Arubani. Evidently the goddess Bagmashtu, with her Iranian name, was an ancient divinity of Musasir, and when a new pantheon was established under Urartian influence she had perforce to become the wife of the supreme god.
The Louvre text also mentions a number of large bronze objects, some of which appear as decorations on the facade of the temple represented in the relief in Sargon's palace. These include "3 heavy brazen cauldrons, each with a capacity of 50 measures of water, and 1 large cauldron of a capacity of 80 measures, with a large brazen ladle, which the kings of Urartu filled with sacrificial wine when sacrifices were made to Haldi."
 In a later passage the Louvre text enumerates some large pieces of brass (or rather bronze) sculpture which stood in the temple—examples of Urar-tian monumental art, about which otherwise we know nothing: "4 brazen statues of tall door-keepers, guardians of the temple door, and 4 supports which, together with the seat (pedestal), are of cast brass; 1 statue in an attitude of prayer, a representation of Sarduri, son of Ishpuini, king of Urartu, and his seat, of cast brass; 1 bull and 1 cow with its calf, cast by Sarduri, son of Ishpuini, who caused to be melted down (?) the brass of the temple of Haldi; 1 figure of Argishti, king of Urartu, crowned with the stellate tiara of divinity, with his right hand raised in blessing, together with its receptacle, of a weight of 60 talents (about 1 ton 16 cwt) of brass; 1 figure of Ursa (Rusa) with his two horses and his driver's horse, with their seat (pedestal), cast in brass, on which can be read the king's boast, 'With my two horses and my driver's horse my hand conquered the kingdom of Urartu.'"
Some of these pieces of sculpture can be seen in the relief from Sargon's palace. On each side of the entrance to the temple stand two of the four statues of "tall door-keepers", and to the right of the entrance is the cow with its calf "cast by Sarduri, son of Ishpuini"; there is no sign of the bull mentioned in the Louvre text. At the base of the platform, apparently on either side of the steps, are two huge cauldrons supported on tripods. Two similar cauldrons were found in the excavations of the fortress of Teishebaini (Karmir-Blur), the cauldrons themselves being wrought from brass sheet and the rims cast in bronze (Plate 70).
The inscription on the pedestal of the statue of Rusa referring to his conquest of the kingdom of Urartu has inevitably attracted the interest of historians. It has been suggested, for example, that Rusa was not the son of his predecessor Sarduri but a usurper, the founder of a new dynasty. But this is in contradiction with the reference to "Rusa, son of Sarduri" in the king's inscriptions; and in any case if Rusa had really not been the legitimate heir to the throne the Assyrian annals would certainly have mentioned this, as  they always did when referring to usurpers. A more likely explanation is that the inscription on Rusa's statue referred to the restoration of the earlier frontiers of the Urartian kingdom and the reconquest of the countries which had taken advantage of the weakening of central authority after Tiglath-Pileser's campaigns against Urartu to assert their independence.
The Louvre text also gives us some conception of Urartian monumental sculpture, of which hardly any actual examples have survived. Of smaller work we have only three bronze statuettes of divinities—the only specimens which chance has preserved. These are a figurine of a bearded god wearing a tiara decorated with horns, now in the British Museum; a figurine of a seated goddess, probably Arubani, in the National Historical Museum of Armenia; and a statuette of the god Teisheba (?) found in the excavations at Karmir-Blur (Plate 106). The only piece of large sculpture in stone which has survived is a badly damaged basalt statue (height of the surviving part 4 feet 2 inches), now in the Museum of Georgia in Tbilisi. Its upper part was known as early as 1898, and the remainder came to light later, following an explosion in the fortress on the crag of Van. Originally the statue was roughly life size. The headdress and the face are missing, but it is just possible to distinguish the wavy hair, falling down the back and shoulders, and the beard. The absence of the headdress makes it impossible to determine whether the figure represents a king or a god. He holds a club or whip and a bow and arrows, and a sword hangs at his side; but these weapons could be carried either by a king or by a god.
But let us return to the bronze statues in the temple at Musasir. We do not know what happened to them after the capture of the town. It is highly unlikely that they could be transported to Assyria through almost impassable mountain country. On the relief from Sargon's palace, next to the scene showing the looting of the temple, we see the booty being weighed and the various objects being carried away; and nearby are three Assyrian soldiers breaking up a statue with axes — one of the pieces of bronze sculpture described in Sargon's report to the god Ashur.
[Pages 117-124 are plates]
Thus thanks to the remarkable literary text recovered from the ruins of Assur, the Assyrian capital, and to the narrative reliefs from Sargon's palace at Dur-Sharrukin, we are well informed about this episode in the military history of Assyria and are able to glean much information about the culture of Urartu.
The campaign for which Sargon had made such meticulous preparations was thus crowned with success; and the Assyrian annals record laconically that "when Ursa (Rusa), king of Urartu, heard that Musasir had been destroyed and his god Haldi carried away, then with his own hand, with the iron dagger which hung at his side, he put an end to his life."
 Thus the young Urartian king was clearly not of a mind to lay down his arms, but was continually seeking to consolidate his authority, not least on his western frontier. It took Sargon until 708 B.C., six years after his campaign against Urartu, to deal with the king of Kummuh, who paid an annual tribute to Argishti II as the price of his support.
In the last years of Sargon's reign his attention was diverted from the north, and after his death a confused political situation developed in Assyria. There may even have been attempts at a coup d'etat, as we learn from letters in the Nineveh archives — documents of exceptional interest, since they furnish us with information from a non-official source to supplement the meagre evidence available in the Assyrian annals.
The Urartian kingdom was thus granted a breathing space and was able to rally after its defeat. From the cuneiform inscriptions we learn of intense building activity by Argishti in the central part of the kingdom, particularly in the areas through which Sargon's army had passed. On a site near the modern town of Ercis, on the northern shores of Lake Van, he built the town of Titumnia, laying out an artificial lake and digging a canal. In this area there are a number of ancient fortresses, and some outstanding works of art have been found here. It is possible also that a large relief carved on several blocks of stone representing the god Teisheba standing on a bull — apparently a figure from a procession — dates from this period and comes from some monumental structure which has not survived. At the same time as he was building these new towns and fortresses Argishti also began the construction of another new town at Tushpa, on the hill of Toprakkale — an enterprise which was to be completed by his son.
Argishti, son of Rusa, seems to have been king of Urartu throughout the reign of Sennacherib, Sargon's son (704-681), but the Assyrian annals of this period are silent about events in Urartu. Sennacherib was preoccupied with wars against Babylon, Syria and Palestine, and also with preparations  for a campaign against Egypt: he therefore avoided open war with his northern neighbour, although at this period the Urartian frontier was not far removed from the centre of Assyria. On the evidence of Sennacherib's inscriptions, Mount Tas (the present-day Mount Bavian), where the Assyrian king had a hunting park, lay "on the frontier of Urartu". Near the frontier, too, was a large aqueduct, carried on high walls and arches, which brought water from the mountains into Nineveh. As we have already noted, however, the mountains of Kurdistan, which separated the Lake Van basin from central Assyria, were almost impassable and constituted a secure natural barrier.
Argishti II was particularly concerned to strengthen his distant frontiers. A powerful frontier fortress was established on the banks of the upper Euphrates, near Erzincan. Here, on the mound of Altintepe, systematic excavations by Turkish archaeologists have revealed the remains of a large fortress defended by massive walls, the name of which is still unknown. Within the fortress a number of buildings have been excavated, including a small "susi" temple similar in plan to the one on Arin-Berd, but differing from it in being situated in the centre and not on one side of a colonnaded courtyard. The foundations of the temple are built of carefully dressed basalt blocks; the walls, constructed of adobe brick, have not survived, but remains of wall painting were found in the rubble. On a dais inside the temple was a sacrificial altar, and another altar was found standing in the open in front of four tall round-topped stelae. An Urartian seal impression which came to light many years ago shows a sacrifice being performed in front of three similar stelae and a sacred tree.
This fortress was the residence of the Urartian viceroy, who occupied a position of great dignity and importance, and under the walls of the fortress were the tombs of persons of high rank, similar in form to the royal tombs hewn in the crag of Van. Two of these, built in large blocks of stone, contained three chambers, and in their walls were niches of the same type as in  the Horhor Cave with the inscription by Argishti I. The entrances to the tombs were closed by large stone slabs. In one of the chambers were two sarcophagi with lids of semicircular section carved from single blocks of stone. Excavation of the tombs yielded much interesting material, including elements from furniture, made of bronze and wood and inlaid with discs of horn, which have made it possible to reconstruct couches with feet in the form of bulls' hooves, decorated with wreaths formed of petals.
Other items which have attracted much attention are a bronze cauldron decorated with bulls' heads, supported on a tripod, other bronze vessels including one with a Hittite inscription, and a shield.
The tombs also contained many bronze and iron weapons, a bronze shield, harness fittings and a bit decorated with horses' heads, and bronze belts with figures of horsemen and winged bulls. There were also some interesting pieces of jewellery, consisting of gold buttons and a plaque with granulated decoration. Many of the objects found — characteristic examples of Urar-tian art in the first half of the 8th century B.C. — belong to the reign of Argishti II, as is indicated by inscriptions bearing his name on some of the items. It is to be hoped that further excavation on Altmtepe (the "golden mound") will bring to light further cuneiform inscriptions to supplement our meagre information about the course of events in this period.
 The Assyrian written sources do not enable us to put a date on the end of Argishti's reign, though in texts belonging to the time of Esarhaddon — unfortunately undated — we find references to a new Urartian king called Rusa, son of Argishti.
At this period the Assyrians were threatened by a new danger which was now looming up. This was the advance of the nomadic tribes — the Cimmerians (Gimirraya) and the Scythians (Ashguzaya) — who were penetrating into western Asia through the Caucasus. Although the annals record victories over the nomads — in particular over "Teushpa the Cimmerian from a distant land" and the army of the Scythian Ishpaka, who was allied with the country of Mannai — the Assyrians nevertheless sought to enlist these formidable enemies on their side. Among the oracles of Esarhaddon — questions addressed to the god Shamash and recorded on clay tablets — is one in which he asks whether the king of the Scythians, Partatua, will remain loyal to his alliance if, as he asks, he is given an Assyrian princess in marriage. The answer to the questions have not been preserved, and we do not know whether proposed marriage ever took place. In a legal document of 679 B.C., however, there is a reference to a certain Ishdi-Harran, "commander of the Scythian regiment" — evidently a regiment of mercenaries.
The situation of Assyria took a turn for the worse when the northern nomads began to enter into alliances with other countries — including, for example, Urartu. Assyrian apprehensions at these developments were well founded. Esarhaddon asked Shamash whether the plans of Rusa, king of the Urartians, and of the Cimmerians would be realised: would they move into the land of Shupria? This was the turbulent country to which Sennacherib's murderers had fled and which had also provided asylum for "Urartian refugees".
The Cimmerians' advance brought them to the region round Lake Van, where they settled for a considerable period. A lettei in the Nineveh archives  tells of operations against the Cimmerians in the country of Maki, and of the preparation of ambushes in the mountain passes; another gives instructions about the surveillance of the frontiers of Urartu, Mannai, Media and Hubushkia and about the treatment of deserters, who are to be sent immediately to the crown prince's palace. Rusa II maintained friendly relations with the nomads, and the excavations of the fortress of Teishebaini, the Urartian military and administrative centre in Transcaucasia, have produced evidence of close links between the Urartians and the Scythians which would ensure the security of the northern frontiers. The excavators of Teishebaini discovered a number of Scythian objects (weapons, pieces of harness, ornaments) not only from the northern Caucasus but from the more distant Dnieper area.
On the evidence of the written sources and the surviving archaeological remains the reign of Rusa II seems to have been a period of intense building activity, a time when Urartu reasserted its position among the nations of western Asia. In the west Rusa directed his efforts towards the re-establishment of Urartian control over the routes to the Mediterranean, and one of his inscriptions refers to the capture of prisoners in the countries of Mush-kini, Hatti and Halittu, which lay on and beyond the Euphrates. Unfortunately an inscription by Rusa in the western territories, in the fortress of Mazgerd, is badly damaged and cannot be read.
In central Urartu, at Tushpa, Rusa completed the construction of the town on the hill of Toprakkale, giving it the name of Rusahinili. He built up his capital into a flourishing area extending from the crag of Van to the mountain ridge on which he had constructed his new royal residence, providing water channels, creating an artificial lake, planting gardens and vineyards, and laying out fields for cultivation. An inscription recording the development of the capital notes particularly that the water channels were intended to serve the needs both of the new city of Rusahinili and of Tushpa. Much archaeological work has been done on the citadel of Toprakkale, beginning  in 1879 and continuing to the piesent day, and most of the best known examples of Urartian art which have found their way into museums through commercial channels come from here.
The excavations on Toprakkale have revealed the remains of a palace decorated with a polychrome stone mosaic formed of large pieces of stone of diamond, rectangular or swallowtail shape. The basalt slabs of the floor and the wall surfaces were also decorated with large concentric pieces of white, red and black stone (Plate 16) inserted in cavities cut in the stone or the bronze sheets on the walls. In spite of the destruction caused by the trenching of the treasure-hunters, the excavations of recent years have brought to light various domestic offices, including wine-cellars containing large jars (pithoi) sunk into the earth floor.
Archaeologists have also long been interested in the "susi" temple, of a type frequently found in Urartu, consisting of a single chamber with a paved area in front of the entrance. Recently, while investigating the corners of the temple, the archaeologists found under them four square cavities, in two of which were bronze plaques, unfortunately without inscriptions. On each plaque was a small diamond-shaped piece of gold leaf and a rectangle of silver leaf, the symbolism of which is unexplained. It may be that other Urartian buildings will be found to contain tablets with foundation inscriptions similar to those discovered in buildings in Assyria and Achaemenid Iran. Near the temple were found a number of large ornamental bronze shields with figures of bulls and lions. Most of the shields had inscriptions in the name of one of the last Urartian kings, Rusa, son of Erimena, but one of them bore the name of Rusa, son of Argishti — suggesting that Rusa II was the builder of the temple but that Rusa III restored it and deposited in it pieces of sacred armour dedicated to Haldi.
Rusahinili remained the residence of the Urartian kings for something like a hundred years. It was destroyed at the beginning of the 6th century B.C. by the Medes, who dealt the final blow to the Kingdom of Van.
The peripheral fortress at Altintepe also continued to exist in Rusa IPs reign. Objects found here had inscriptions in his name, and many pieces of applied art showed affinities with material found at Toprakkale. Of particular interest are some ivory plaques showing winged genii with eagles' heads which recall the bone carvings found in great quantity and variety at Kalhu.
On the north-eastern frontier, near the modern town of Manu in Iran, was built a fortress named "King Rusa's small city", as we know from the chance finding of an inscription on a stone from its walls.
 Of Rusa's large-scale building operations in the territory north of the Araxes eloquent evidence is provided by the citadel of the city of Teishebaini, the remains of which have been found on the mound of Karmir-Blur (Erevan). The story of the excavation of this fortress is told in the next chapter: here it is necessary to note only a few general points. The citadel of Teishebaini occupied a total area of some 10 acres and contained some 150 separate apartments together with a spacious courtyard. The whole structure is remarkable for its massive strength, with walls ranging between 7 and 12 feet in thickness, and its considerable height of up to 24 feet. Most of the buildings were roofed with a barrel vault of adobe brick; some had roofs formed of large beams of pine, poplar, beech and other types of timber. The building of the citadel required some 2 million large adobe bricks (20 inches long by 14 inches thick); the total quantity of timber required — most of it brought from other areas — cannot be estimated. Thus the construction of the citadel involved a vast expenditure of labour on the making and laying of the bricks, the transport of the timber, the quarrying and dressing of the stone used in the foundations and the basalt blocks employed in the architectural decoration of the upper storey. It is clear that a colossal building effort of this kind demanded a very large labour force, most probably provided by prisoners taken in war.
The citadel of Teishebaini contained eight wine-stores with a total capacity of some 9,000 gallons, small store-rooms for grain arranged along both sides of a corridor, with a total capacity of some 750 tons — and at least as much again was stored in granaries elsewhere in the citadel. Figures of this kind give some idea of the power of the Urartian kingdom in the 7th century B.C. Only a high productive capacity and a securely established political position could have enabled the Urartians to build such a mighty fortress as this in Transcaucasia. And we know that in fact the political position of Urartu in this period was secure. The Assyrians were careful to avoid any  clash with the Urartians, and the Urartians sought likewise to give no occasion for conflict.
In the year 654 B.C., after Ashurbanipal's victory over King Teuman o Elam and capture of Susa, Rusa II sent emissaries to the Assyrian king. "At this time," record the Assyrian annals, "Rusa, king of Urartu, heard of the mightiness of my gods and was overcome by terror at my majesty. Then he sent his princes to Arbela to bring me greetings." And in the reliefs from the palace in Nineveh we can see the Urartian envoys among those present at the savage torturing and execution of the Elamites.
There was a second Urartian mission to Ashurbanipal in the year 639 B.C., after his war against the Arabs, but this time it was sent by a different king — Sarduri, son of Rusa.
to Chapter V, Epilogue
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