The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also Urartian), the language of the Urarteans and of the kingdom of Urartu (Urartean name: Biainili); it is known through inscriptions dating from the ninth to the sixth century B.C. Urartean was spoken around Lake Van, eastward as far as Lake Urmia, and to some extent on the territory of what is now the Armenian SSR. Together with Hurrian, Urartean belongs to the Anatolian family of languages.

The writing system of Urartean is a simplified form of the Assyrian variant of Accadian cuneiform. The alphabet, which was limited to 16 or 17 consonants and four vowels, apparently did not reflect Urartean phonology completely. Analysis of the alphabet reveals that Urartean distinguished voiced, voiceless, and glottalized consonants. The noun had two numbers and eight cases, including a covert direct case and an ergative case. The verb was inflected for person and number of the subject, tense, mood, and voice. Word formation and inflection took place by means of agglutinative suffixes. The usual word order was subject-object-predicate (with a transitive verb). An ergative sentence construction has also been identified. There was a clear-cut morphological opposition between transitive and intransitive verbs.


Meshchaninov, I. I. Grammaticheskii stroi urartskogo iazyka, parts 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1959–62.
Melikishvili, G. A. Urartskie klinoobraznye nadpisi. Moscow, 1960.
Melikishvili, G. A. Urartskii iazyk. Moscow, 1964.
D’iakonov, I. M. Iazyki Drevnei Perednei Azii. Moscow, 1967.
Gvakhariia, V. A. Slovar’-simfoniia urartskogo iazyka. Moscow, 1963.
Friedrich, J. Einführung ins Urartäische. Leipzig, 1933.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(87.) Carlo Zaccagnini, "An Urartean Royal Inscription in the Report of Sargon's Eighth Campaign," in Assyrian Royal Inscriptions, 259-95.
Leo Oppenheim, "The City of Assur in 714 B.C.," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 19.2(1960): 133-47; Grayson, "Histories and Historians of the Ancient Near East," 157-59; Zaccagnini, "An Urartean Royal Inscription."
Donbaz and Wilhelm publish a new stela of the Urartean king Minua, son of Ispuine, dedicated to the god gebitu, expanding the corpus of documents attributable to that king.