Mitanni


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Mitanni

(mĭtăn`ē), ancient kingdom established in the 2d millennium B.C. in NW Mesopotamia. It was founded by Aryans but was later made up predominantly of Hurrians. Washshukanni was its capital. Mitanni controlled Assyria for a period and was engaged in military efforts to hold back Egyptian forces intent on conquering Syria. In c.1450 B.C. the army of Thutmose III of Egypt successfully advanced as far as the Euphrates; the king of Mitanni surrendered, sending tribute to Egypt, which halted its invasion. Friendly relations later developed between the two powers as evidenced by correspondence between King Tushratta of Mitanni and Amenhotep III of Egypt. In the 14th cent. B.C., Mitanni became involved in struggles with the Hittites and c.1335 fell to the Hittites as well as to resurgent Assyrian forces.

Mitanni

 

(Hanigalbat), an ancient state in northern Mesopotamia, on the territory of presentday northern Syria. Mitanni probably arose in the 16th century B.C. Its population consisted of Hurrians and Semites. The official languages were Akkadian and Hurrian, but the kings bore Indo-Iranian names, and it is possible that the dynasty came from the Iranian Plateau. Mitanni warriors were highly skilled in horse breeding and chariot warfare, enabling the Mitanni dynasty to unite the small Hurrian tribal groups of Mesopotamia and to subjugate the Semitic (Amorite-Akkadian) city-states.

At its height the Mitanni state headed a loose union of small kingdoms and city-states stretching from the Mediterranean and the Taurus Mountains of Asia Minor to the mountains bordering on Iran. In the 15th century B.C. the Mitanni relinquished to Egypt the lands west of the Euphrates and established friendly relations with Egypt that were reinforced by dynastic marriages, documented in the correspondence of the Mittani king Tushratta with the Egyptian pharaohs Amenhotep III and Akhenaton in the 14th century B.C. An internecine struggle after the death of Tushratta led to intervention by the Hittite king Suppiluliumas I, and the Mitanni state lost its political importance. It was finally overthrown in the 13th century B.C. by Assyria, formerly a Mitanni dependency. No written works of Mitanni have survived, with the exception of Tushratta’s letters, found in Egypt. However, governmental and private commercial archives of the small kingdoms that were subjects of Mitanni have survived, including Alalakh (excavations at Tel Atchana in northern Syria), Arrapkha (excavations at modern Kirkuk), and Nuzi (excavations at Yorghan-Tepe in Iraq). These documents have provided valuable information about the history of an ancient commune.

REFERENCES

D’iakonov, I. M. Predystoriia armianskogo naroda. Yerevan, 1968.
D’iakonov, I. M. “Ariitsy na Blizhnem Vostoke: konets mifa.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1970, no. 4.
Iankovskaia, N. B. “Zemlevladenie bol’shesemeinykh domovykh obshchin v klinopisnykh istochnikakh.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1959, no. 1.
Iankovskaia, N. B. “Communal Self-government and the King of Arrapha.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 1969, vol. 12, part 3.
Kammenhuber, A. Die Arier im Vorderen Orient. Heidelberg, 1968.

I. M. D’IAKONOV

References in periodicals archive ?
Freu, Histoire du Mitanni (Paris: KUBABA, 2003), 65.
Freu (Histoire du Mitanni, 83) states that it lasted between the reign of Assur-n[a.
Kuhne, Die Chronologie der internationalen Korrespondenz von El-Amarna, AOAT 17 (Kevelaer: Butzon & Bercker: 1973), 77-78; Wilhelm, "Mittan(n)i," 295b; Llop, Aportacio, 159-71; Jakob, Mittelassyrische Verwaltung, 6; Cancik-Kirschbaum, Die Assyrer, 41; Freu, Historic du Mitanni, 137; Postgate, "Die Stack Assur," 89-90.
These include synchronisms with three Old Babylonian monarchs, two Mitanni kings, and Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria.
These documents have close similarities to a contract from the Mitanni period.
Mallory 1989: 35-48 provides a reasonable overview of the origins and migrations of the Indo-Aryans (including comments on the curious appearance of Indic elements in the language and culture of the Hurrian Mitanni of northern Syria); the second half of his book provides what is probably the best survey of the Indo-European "homeland problem," with strong words against Renfrew and a good presentation of the evidence in favor of the identification of "Kurgan culture" with (Ptoto-)Indo-European speakers (see Mallory 1989: 143-85 and passim).
This study treats the entire ancient Near East--that is, Mesopotamia, Mitanni and Hatti, the Elamite and Persian regions, and the Western Alphabetic area.
For many years, Hurrian studies were stymied by the fact that there was only one substantial connected text in Hurrian, the Mitanni letter.
While Joan Oates reported on the early phases of the mound, David Oates' paper deals with "Tell Brak: The Mitanni Palace and Temple.