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Mari(mä`rē), ancient city of Mesopotamia (modern Syria). It is on the middle Euphrates, south of its junction with the Habor (Khabur). The site was discovered by chance in the early 1930s by Arabs digging graves and has subsequently been excavated by the French. The earliest evidence of habitation goes back to the Jemdet Nasr period in the 3d millennium B.C., and Mari remained prosperous throughout the early dynastic period. The temple of Ishtar and other works of art show that Mari was at this time an artistic center with a highly developed style of its own. As the commercial and political focus of W Asia c.1800 B.C., its power extended over 300 mi (480 km) from the frontier of Babylon proper, up the Euphrates, to the border of Syria. The inhabitants were referred to as Amorites in the Old Testament and spoke a language related to the Hebrew of the patriarchs. The archives of the great King Zimri-lim, a contemporary of Hammurabi in the 18th cent. B.C., were discovered in 1937. They contain over 20,000 clay documents, which have made it possible to fix the dates of events in Mesopotamia in the 2d millennium B.C. Also found at Mari is the great palace complex of Zimri-lim consisting of more than 200 rooms and covering 5 acres (2 hectares). Hammurabi conquered Mari c.1700 B.C., and Babylon then became the center of W Asia. Mari never regained its former status.
Mari,city, Turkmenistan: see MaryMary
, city (1991 pop. 94,900), capital of Mary region, SE Turkmenistan. Lying in a large oasis of the Kara Kum desert, on the Murgab River delta, Mary is the center of a rich cotton-growing area.
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(Russian, Mariitsy; formerly known as the Cheremis [Russian Cheremisy] ), a people living mainly in the Mari ASSR and also in the Bashkir ASSR, Udmurt ASSR, and Tatar ASSR and in the Kirov, Gorky, Perm’, and Sverdlovsk oblasts of the RSFSR.
The Mari are split into three territorial groups: the Mountain Mari, the Meadow Mari, and the Eastern Mari. The Mountain Mari live primarily on the right bank of the Volga, and the Meadow Mari on the left bank; the Eastern Mari live in Bashkiria and Sverdlovsk Oblast. The total population is 599,000 (1970 census). The Mari language is related to the eastern branch of Finno-Ugric languages. The Christianization of the Mari began after the Mari territory became part of the Russian State in the 16th century, although the Eastern Mari and small groups of the Meadow Mari did not accept Christianity and retained their pre-Christian beliefs, especially ancestor worship, until the 20th century.
The origin of the Mari is closely associated with the ancient population of the Volga River region. The Mari tribes first formed at the turn of the Common Era; the process occurred primarily on the right bank of the Volga but partly included the left bank. The first historical reference to the Cheremis comes from the Gothic historian Jordanes in the sixth century. They are also mentioned in the Tale of Bygone Years (Primary Chronicle). In their historical development the Mari interacted with neighboring peoples of the Volga region. Migration to Bashkiria began in the late 16th century and increased considerably in the 17th and 18th centuries. The cultural and historical convergence with the Russian people began in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. Relations were expanded and strengthened after Russia’s incorporation of the Middle Volga Region in the 16th century. After the October Revolution of 1917, the Mari received national autonomy and formed a socialist nation.
The Mari are engaged in both agriculture and industry, created mainly under Soviet rule. Many features of the distinctive national culture of the Mari—folklore, decorative art (especially embroidery), and musical and singing traditions—have continued to evolve during the Soviet period. Mari national literature, theater, and fine arts have appeared and developed. A national intelligentsia has emerged.
REFERENCESSmirnov, I. N. Cheremisy. Kazan, 1889.
Kriukova, T. A. Material’naiakuVtura mariitsev XIX v. Ioshkar-Ola, 1956.
Ocherki istorii Mariiskoi ASSR (S drevneishikh vremen do Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii ). Ioshkar-Ola, 1965.
Ocherki istorii Mariiskoi ASSR (1917-1960 gg. ). Ioshkar-Ola, 1960.
Kozlova, K. I. Etnografiia narodov Povolzh’ia. Moscow, 1964.
Narody Evropeiskoi chasti SSSR, vol. 2. Moscow, 1964.
Proiskhozhdenie Mariiskogo naroda. Ioshkar-Ola, 1967.
K. I. KOZLOVA
(now the hill of Tell Hariri in Syria), an ancient city-state on the Middle Euphrates. Owing to its convenient geographical location, Mari played an important role in the history of ancient Southwest Asia. Trade routes from Mesopotamia to the countries of the Mediterranean and Asia Minor passed through the city.
Mari arose at the beginning of the third millennium B.C. Before the 25th century B.C. the rulers of Mari waged continuous war against the Sumerian cities. In the 24th and 23rd centuries, Mari was part of Akkad; in the 22nd and 21st centuries, part of the empire of the Third Dynasty of Ur; and in the first half of the 18th century, part of the Assyrian state of Shamshi-Adad I. In 1758 B.C. the city was destroyed by the Babylonian king Hammurabi.
The artistic remains of Mari represent one of the branches of the Babylonian-Assyrian culture. As a result of archaeological excavations (conducted by a French expedition under the direction of A. Parrot, beginning in 1933), the following remains dating from the third millennium and the beginning of the second millennium B.C. were discovered: a brick ziggurat, sanctuaries with stone statues and mother-of-pearl mosaics, temples of Ishtar and Dagan, and several urban quarters. A characteristic example of ancient Oriental palace architecture is the large and elaborate palace of King Zimrilim (18th century B.C.). Made of sun-dried brick, it had 260 rooms and several inner courtyards. Its ceremonial halls were decorated with murals executed in mud plaster. The murals, with precise, two-dimensional representations, depict religious scenes, sometimes using elements from everyday life. Also found were seals, stone statues, bronze figures of lions, and a state archives of cuneiform documents (more than 20,000 tablets) dating from the 19th and 18th centuries B.C.
REFERENCESGribov, R. A. “Zemel’nye otnosheniia v Man.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1970, no. 2.
Dossen, Zh. “Khoziastvennye arkhivy dvortsa Man.” Ibid. , 1940, no. 1.
Pekler, Kh. “Drevnee gosudarstvo Man.” Istoricheskii zhurnal, 1939, no. 9.
Archives royales de Mart, vols. 1-12, 15. Paris, 1950-67.
Parrot, A. Mission archeologique de Man, vols. 1-4. Paris, 1956-68.
R. A. GRIBOV and N. A. SIDOROVA
(Cheremis), the language of the Mari people, who live in the Mari ASSR, the Bashkir ASSR, the Udmurt ASSR, the Tatar ASSR, and several other regions. More than 546,000 people speak Mari (1970 census). It belongs to the Finno-Ugric family of languages and has four dialects: Lowland (or Meadow), Eastern, Mountain (or Hill), and Northwestern (southwestern Kirov Oblast).
Mari was influenced by Turkish in the eighth century and by Russian at a later date. Its consonant system includes voiced palatalized fricatives. The language has a rich vowel system (eight to 12 vowels, depending on the dialect). Grammatical relationships are expressed mainly by agglutinative suffixes. The writing system is based on the Russian alphabet, with the addition of ö, ü, ŋ, ä, and hI.
The first books printed in Mari were translations of the Catechism (1803) and the Gospels (1821). The literary language developed in the early 20th century. The Mariiskii kalendari (Mari Yearbooks; 1907-13), in which the works of the first Mari writers, S. G. Chavain, M. S. Gerasimov-Mikai, and N. S. Mukhin, were published, played an important role in the development of a literary language.
There are two systems of writing for Mari: the Lowland-Eastern and Mountain Mari. Books and periodicals have been published in both systems since the October Revolution of 1917.
REFERENCESSovremennyi mariiskiiiazyk, part 1Fonelika; part 2: Morfologiia. Ioshkar-Ola, 1960-61.
Mariiskp-russkii slovar’ Moscow, 1956.
Beke, Ö. Czeremisz nyelvtan. Budapest, 1911.
E. I. KOVEDIAEVA