Minua, son of Išpuini

Minua is the son of Išpuini and the grandson of Sarduri I. Unlike his predecessors, he is not mentioned in Assyrian but only in Urartian sources. The inscriptions telling us about his deeds fall into three groups: the first comprises texts concerning deeds that Minua carried out together with his father Išpuini (A 3 and B 3, for these sources see the entry about Išpuini), the second comprises inscriptions informing us about deeds of Išpuini, Minua and Minua's son Inušpua (A 4 and B 4), while the third consists of inscriptions referring to the accomplishments of Minua alone (A 5 and B 5).

The stone inscriptions of the third group stem from many different places. Some of them are located in the vicinity of Lake Van, while others were set up in remote regions.

Map 05

Map showing the distribution of the stone inscriptions of Minua, in: Mirjo Salvini, CTU I: 182.

The locations of the inscriptions thus reflect the approximate extension of the Urartian territory, which underwent a large expansion during Minua's reign. It stretched out to the river Euphrates in the West and to the river Araxes in the North. In the South-East the Urartians pushed further into the territory controlled by the Mannians and, in the South, the first encounters with the Assyrians took place. As with the inscriptions of Išpuini and Minua (A 3-4 and A 3-11), many of Minua's inscriptions are protected by curse formulae.

Royal titles

I am Minua, son of [Iš]puini, strong king, [great king, king of the Bia lands, lord] of the city Ṭušpa (A 5-2 line 6).

Military campaigns

Most of Minua's inscriptions are not datable. Unfortunately, other dating criteria are also largely missing. The chronological order of his campaigns therefore remains unclear for the most part. The only exception is a historical text inscribed on the inner walls of a temple of Anzavurtepe (or, respectively, Aznavurtepe) near Patnos, which states that the campaigns it describes occurred in the first year after Minua's accession to the throne (A 5-11).

One campaign led Minua to the land Buštu in the south of Paršua in the region of modern Iran. His second military offensive led him to the land Alzi in the West, which is located at the river Murat Su (Arsanias in Ancient Greek and Latin texts) and is also known from Hittite and Assyrian sources. After the successful completion of both campaigns, Minua evidently decided to set up an inscription commemorating these deeds and acknowledging the god Haldi for achieving them. The inscription is located at the castle Anzavurtepe, which was situated at an important junction between the Euphrates and the Murat Su.

05_Minua_Aznavurtepe_Patnos-Aznavurtepe_citadel walls.jpg

Aznavurtepe, in: Kemalettin Köroğlu and Erkan Konyar (eds.), Urartu: Doğu'da Değişim / Transformation in the East, İstanbul 2011: 31.

In the following years, Minua undertook further campaigns to the West, into the Euphrates-Murat region. Thus, an inscription in a rock niche located in Palu (Urartian Šebeteria) at the Murat Su informs us that Minua conquered the land Ṣupa (the Urartian equivalent of the later province Sophene of the Roman empire) beyond the Euphrates and made the king of Malatya (Urartian Meliṭia) and thus, the ruler of an important Neo-Hittite state, tributary (A 05-5). This region was the point of departure for further expeditions in the West. Among them is a campaign which led Minua into the region of the Batman Su, a tributary of the Tigris, where the land Šubria, which is mentioned in Assyrian sources, may have been situated.


Rock inscription (Palu), in: Mirjo Salvini, CTU III: 119.

A further campaign into the Mannian territory in the East is mentioned in a rock inscription from Taštepe in the south of Lake Urmia (A 5-10). It is likely that this expedition was a follow-up to the campaign to the land Buštu in Minua's first year, mentioned in the Anzavurtepe inscription (A 5-11). The fact that Minua's successor, Argišti I, also undertook several campaigns into the Mannian territory shows that the expeditions did not result in the lasting control of the region, but were merely raids.

In a fragmentary annalistic account engraved on a stele from the Armenian church Surb Poģos and Surb Petros in the old town of Van (A 5-9), where it has been reused as an Armenian cross-stone (hačkar), Minua reports that during his campaigns to the upper course of the river Tigris he pushed forward to the land Aššur and conquered settlements that, up until then, had been under Assyrian control. This region is the most southern zone ever reached by the Urartians.

Aside from the campaigns to the East, South and West, Minua also undertook successful expeditions to the Transcaucasian region in the North. Thus, a rock inscription of Tsolakert/Taşburun (A 5-1) and an inscription engraved on a number of stone blocks found at the fortress of Körzüt and the surrounding settlements in the valley of the Bendimahi Çay (A 5-2) report the conquest of the territory of the Erikua. Minua reports that he conquered its capital Luḫiu, which had never been besieged before, and put the land of the Etiuḫi which had already been conquered during a joint campaign by Išpuini and Minua (A 3-4), under tribute.


Stone block with inscription (A 5-2A) from Körzüt, in: Mirjo Salvini, CTU III: 108.

The text A 5-2 mentions a huge number of captives who were deported to the far-off cities Ṭušpa, Aelia and 'Alṭuquia. Thus, Minua evidently used the same strategy as the Assyrians in relocating the people of the captured territories in far-off regions, with the aim of cutting off existing ties. Besides the Erikua and Etiuhi, Minua also conquered the land of the Diauehi which is likely equivalent to the land Daiaeni mentioned in inscriptions of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III. The fact that Minua's successor, Argišti I, also fought against this people makes it likely that Minua's campaign is to be dated in the last years of his reign. An account of this endeavour is given in a rock inscription at Yazılıtaş near Horasan, in the district of modern Erzurum (A 5-3).


Rock inscription (Yazılıtaş), in: Mirjo Salvini, CTU III: 117.

Building activities

Minua's inscriptions inform us about several building projects. The most important one is certainly the construction of a huge canal leading from a source situated approximately 55 km in the South-East of Van to the Urartian capital Ṭušpa which is still in use today (A 5-12; A 5-13; A 5-14; A 5-15; A 5-16). According to A 5-20, this canal also serviced the "Valley of Minua" and a city whose name is only partly preserved (Uliš[x]ini). According to A 5-20 the canal further served the city Menizaia (see also the canal of the city of Alia (A 5-17) and the canal mentioned in A 5-22; in both cases probably the "Canal of Minua" is meant).


The canal of Minua, photo: Stephan Kroll.

A 5-23 mentions the construction of canals for the city of Aiduni and Uišini. The phrase "around the city of Uišini in every place I dug a canal" points to the construction of an irrigation system related to the agricultural area of the city of Uišini. A canal also serviced the new foundation of Minuaḫinili (A 5-24; A 5-25; area of Mount Arat) and probably also the city of Minuahinadi (A 5-24). In the city of Luḫiuni, Minua constructed a "Gate of the god Ḫaldi" and a fortress (A 5-27).

Agricultural infrastructure

In many of his inscriptions, Minua reports the establishment of agricultural infrastructure. Regularly mentioned are fields of grain, fruit orchards, vineyards and a building called burganani, which was probably a stable or pen where sacrificial animals were kept. Work on agricultural infrastructure is attested in the areas of the cities Arṣuniuini (A 5-28; A 5-30; A 5-31) and Qutume (A 5-11). A 5-33 refers to an orchard and a "vineyard of Minua" in the vicinity of modern Güsak, while A 5-59 reports the construction of a fountain. The inscription A 5-66, which is inscribed on a rock niche at the north-west slope of Van Kalesi at a distance of 20 m from Sardur's castle, refers to a silo (ʾari-building) which Minua claims to have filled. The commodity with which it was filled is not mentioned explicitly, but the measurement unit kapi indicates that Minua is referring to grain. Filling such ʾari-buildings is also mentioned in inscriptions of the Urartian kings Argišti I, Sarduri II and Rusa, son of Erimena. According to inscriptions of Argišti I and Sarduri II, an ʾari-building could be part of a barzidibduni-building, which probably had a cultic function (A 9-19), or could be related to an ašiuši-building, which was presumably a banquet hall (A 8-30 and A 9-20). Although its wording shows that Minua's rock inscription and its later counterparts refers to a nearby store room, a correspondent building structure has not yet been detected.

The vineyard of Minua's wife Tariria

Most notable among the Urartian written sources is the inscription A 5A-1, whose provenance remains unclear. It refers to a vineyard which belongs or has been dedicated to Minua's wife, Tariria, named "Creation of Tariria", or, respectively, "the Taririan one".


The inscription of Tariria, the wife of Minua, in: Mirjo Salvini, Das Corpus der urartäischen Inschriften, in: Stephan Kroll et al. (2012), Biainili-Urartu, The Proceedings of the Symposium Held in Munich 12.-14. October 2007 (Acta Iranica 51), Leuven 2012: 123.


Minua mentions that he constructed several fortresses. They were located in the cities Aludiri (A 5-37), Arṣuniuini (A 5-28; A 5-30; A 5-31), Mešta (A 5-10) and Quṭume (A 5-11; both in the western / southwestern area of Lake Urmia) as well as in Minuahinili (A 5-25; A 5-26), Luhiuni (A 5-27); a city whose Urartian name is not mentioned (A 5-29, modern Karahan) A 5-33 and 36 (modern Güsak); A 5-34 (Kevenli); A 5-35 (Körzüt); A 5-38 and 39 (Aznavurtepe/Patnos), A 5-40A (Pirabat), A 5-41 (Delibaba), A 5-43 (Yukarı Anzaf), A 5-47 (Sarmaç), A 5-51 (Malazgirt), A 5-52 (Başkale) and A 5-67 (Bostankaya).

A 5-29 presents us with a short enumeration of what might constitute a sound fortress, i.e. a burganani-building, an orchard and a vineyard, while A 5-34 mentions a ulurini-building as part of a fortress. A 5-33 gives the fortress's name as "Fortress of the god Haldi".

An ašihuši-building is attested in A 5-65A (provenience unknown), barzudibiduni-buildings of Minua are attested in A 5-60 (Sarmaç), A 5-61 (Siyah Cheshmesh), A 5-62 (Yukarı Anzaf), A 5-63 (Yedikilise), A 5-64 (Değirmenköy) and an iriduduni-building of Minua is mentioned in A 5-78 (Düzceli).

For the ʾari- and burganani-buildings see section "Agricultural infrastructure".

Religious buildings

Minua also claims the construction of several temples and other religious buildings such as tower temples (susi), chapels (iarani), cult stelae(?) (iribišuzi), and gates for certain deities. He further mentions the erection of several stelae for the god Haldi and other Urartian deities.

Religious activities

According to A 5-33, Minua established state cult ritual connected with the harvest. For the great number of religious buildings Minua constructed see section "Religious Buildings".

Inscriptions on metal objects (B 5-1 to 10)

Bronze objects were found in Karmir Blur (B 5-1 to 5), Yakarı Anzaf (B 5-6 to 7), Burmageçit/Tunceli (B 5-8) and Aznarvurtepe (B 5-9). The origins of B 5-10 are unknown. The Urartian inscriptions mainly refer to the ownership of Minua while B 5-9 (on a candelabra) refers to a votive offering to the god Haldi. The objects are to be classified as an arrow head (B 5-6), a bracer (B 5-1), cups (B 5-5), a helmet (B 5-8), a pad (B 5-4), a pectoral (B 5-2), and a tag (B 5-7 and 10).


Bronze cup from Karmir-blur, in: Mirjo Salvini, CTU IV: 30.

Minua's horse Arṣibini and its jumping record

A 5-91 gives an account of an athletic performance: Minua claims that his horse Aribini covered a distance of 22 cubits in a single jump. Among the written sources of the ancient Near East the text is remarkable in two respects: on the one hand, it is extraordinary that sporting achievements are recorded in inscriptions. The only other example among the Urartian written sources is an inscription of Argišti, son of Rusa, which reports that Argišti shot an arrow a distance of 950 cubits. On the other hand, it is unusual that the text gives the name of an animal which is not associated with a deity. The great significance of horses in Urartu is further reflected in visual representations on various objects such as reliefs and pectorals.


Horse's Head of Bronze from Karmir-blur, History Museum of Armenia, in: Ralf-Bernhard Wartke (1993), Urartu. Das Reich am Ararat, Mainz: 39.

Further reading

Kroll, Stephan et al. (2012): Introduction, in: Stephan Kroll, Claudia Gruber, Ursula Hellwag, Michael Roaf, and Paul Zimansky (eds.), Biainili-Urartu. The Proceedings of the Symposium Held in Munich 12-14. Oktober 2007 (Acta Iranica 51), Leuven, 1-38.
Salvini, Mirjo (1995): Geschichte und Kultur der Urartäer, Darmstadt.
Wartke, Ralf-Bernhard (1993): Urartu. Das Reich am Ararat, Mainz.

Birgit Christiansen

Birgit Christiansen, 'Minua, son of Išpuini', Electronic Corpus of Urartian Texts (eCUT) Project, The eCUT Project, 2019 [http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/ecut/urartianrulersandchronology/minuasonofipuinia5andb5/]

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