Assyria under Mittanian hegemony

With the death of Samsī-Addu I and the disintegration of his kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia, a diverse ensemble of polities emerged in the extensive area bounded by the Syrian coast of the Mediterranean Sea on the west and the foothills of the Zagros mountains to the east. These polities were predominantly Hurrian but included Indo-European elements (demonstrated by throne names, cult elements, and specific loanwords in the vocabulary). This vast political patchwork slowly became a confederation or union (Radner 2017:72-78), which the sources identify with the term "Mittani." By the fifteenth century, at the zenith of its power, the Mittanian Union encompassed the entire Hurrian-speaking area, from sea to mountains, and imposed a strong pressure on Aššur. A treaty between Šattiwaza, king of Mittani, and Šuppiluliuma, king of Ḫatti records that the former king of Mittani, Šuttarna, had plundered the city of Aššur - although no mention was made of the cause of this military act - and brought a door made of gold and silver to his capital Wašukkanni (modern Tell Fekheriya).

We do not know how Aššur fit into the Mittanian hegemony. The few sources we have at our disposal hint at a certain degree of autonomy. Clay cones of Aššur-bēl-nišēšu [] (1417-1409 BC) document the reconstruction of a new wall in Aššur. The Synchronisitic History (a source whose historical value is ofen debatable at best) records a treaty that Aššur-bēl-nišēšu made with Karaindaš of Babylonia, just as Puzur-Aššur III had previously (i.e. a generation before the Mittanian dominance) with Burnaburiaš. It seems that when Aššur-uballiṭ [] (1353-1318 BC) inaugurated the Middle Assyrian period with his royal inscriptions and his diplomatic correspondence with the other members of the "Club of the Great Powers," he was enjoying the benefits of an older, quieter tradition.

Rulers (in chronological order)

Nūr-ili [] (?-? BC)
Aššur-šaddûni [] (?-? BC)
Aššur-rabi I [] (?-? BC)
Aššur-nādin-aḫḫē I [] (?-? BC)
Enlil-nāṣir II [] (1430–1425 BC)
Aššur-nārārī II [] (1424-1418 BC)
Aššur-bēl-nišēšu [] (1417-1409 BC)
Aššur-rêm-nišēšu [] (1408-1401 BC)
Aššur-nādin-aḫḫē II [] (1400-1391 BC)
Erība-Adad I [] (1390-1364 BC)

Selected Bibliography

Cancik-Kirschbaum, E., Die Assyrer: Geschichte, Gesellschaft, Kultur, München, 2008, pp.72-78.
Radner, K., Mesopotamien: die frühen Hochkulturen an Euphrat und Tigris, München, 2017, pp.72-78.
Wilhelm, G., The Kingdom of Mitanni in Second-Millennium Upper Mesopotamia, in: Jack M. Sasson (ed.), Civilization of the Ancient Near East, Vol. 2, Peabody, MA, 2000, pp. 1243-1254.
Yamada, S., 'The Transation Period (17th to 15th Century BC),' in E. Frahm (ed.) A Companion to Assyria , Malden, MA, 2017, pp. 108-116.

Nathan Morello

Nathan Morello, 'Assyria under Mittanian hegemony', The Royal Inscriptions of Assyria online (RIAo) Project, The RIAo Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2022 []

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