Several studies have concluded that the historical and indigenous Anatolian groups are the primary source of the present-day Turkish population. Turks, Kurds, Armenians, Iranians, Jews, Lebanese and other (Eastern and Western) Mediterranean groups seem to share a common ancestry: the older “Mediterranean” substratum.
No sign of the postulated Indo-European (Aryan) invasion (1200 BC.) is detected by our genetic analysis. It is concluded that this invasion, if occurred, had a relatively few invaders in comparison to the already settled populations, i.e. Anatolian Hittite and Hurrian groups (older than 2000 BC.). These may have given rise to present-day Kurdish, Armenian and Turkish populations.
The Armenian people traditionally lived not only on the territory of the modern nation of Armenia but also in eastern Turkey. Their language is part of the great Indo-European family of languages but is written in a script that’s unique to the Armenians.
A project titled “The Genetic Relations between Mediterranean Communities,” prepared by three Spanish scholars from the molecular biology division of Complutense University in Madrid, defines the Turks and Armenians as two branches with the same genetic origin. “Turks and Armenians were the two societies throughout the world that were genetically close to each other. Kurds are also in same genetic pool,” Savak Avagian, director of Armenia’s bone marrow bank, said in an interview with daily Hürriyet.
Genetic analysis has shown that the Kurdish people are closely related to the Azeri, Armenian, Georgian, and Jewish peoples, descending from some common ancestors in the northern Near East region. “In comparison with data available from other relevant populations in the region, Jews were found to be more closely related to groups in the north of the Fertile Crescent (Kurds, Turks, and Armenians) than to their Arab neighbors.”
In many references, Azerbaijanis are designated as a Turkic people, due to their Turkic language. However, modern-day Azerbaijanis are believed to be primarily the descendants of the Caucasian Albanian and Iranic peoples who lived in the areas of the Caucasus and northern Iran, respectively, prior to Turkification. Historian Vladimir Minorsky writes that largely Iranian and Caucasian populations became Turkish-speaking. Thus, centuries of Turkic migration and turkification of the region helped to formulate the contemporary Azerbaijani ethnic identity.
There is evidence that, despite repeated invasions and migrations, aboriginal Caucasians may have been culturally assimilated, first by Ancient Iranian peoples and later by the Oghuz. Considerable information has been learned about the Caucasian Albanians including their language, history, early conversion to Christianity, and close ties to the Armenians. The Udi language, still spoken in Azerbaijan, may be a remnant of the Albanians’ language.
This Caucasian influence extended further south into Iranian Azerbaijan. During the 1st millennium BC, another Caucasian people, the Mannaeans (Mannai) populated much of Iranian Azerbaijan. Weakened by conflicts with the Assyrians, the Mannaeans are believed to have been conquered and assimilated by the Medes by 590 BC.
Genetic studies demonstrate that northern Azeris are more closely related to other Caucasian people like Georgians and Armenians than they are to Iranians or Turks. Iranian Azeris are genetically more similar to northern Azeris and the neighboring Turkish population than they are to geographically distant Turkmen populations. Iranian-speaking populations from Azerbaijan (the Talysh and Tats) are genetically closer to Azerbaijanis of the Republic than to other Iranian-speaking populations (Persian people and Kurds from Iran, Ossetians, and Tajiks).
Such genetic evidence supports the view that the Azeris originate from a native population long resident in the area who adopted a Turkish language through a process of “elite dominance”, i.e. a limited number of Turkic immigrants had a substantial cultural impact but left only weak patrilineal genetic traces.
MtDNA analysis indicates that Iranians, Anatolians and Caucasians are part of a larger West Eurasian group that is secondary to that of the Caucasus. While genetic analysis of mtDNA indicates that Caucasian populations are genetically closer to Europeans than to Near Easterners, Y-chromosome results indicate closer affinity to Near Eastern groups.
Iranians have a relatively diverse range of Y-chromosome haplotypes. A population from central Iran (Isfahan) shows closer similarity in terms of haplogroup distributions to Caucasians and Azeris than to populations from southern or northern Iran. The range of haplogroups across the region may reflect historical genetic admixture, perhaps as a result of invasive male migrations.
The Azeris are more closely related to neighboring peoples than to Central Asians. They are closely related to Armenians and Kurds, and not very related to other Turkic-speaking peoples. This is because Azeris descend primarily from an indigenous people that adopted the Turkic language later on. They are mostly an Iranian people who adopted a Turkic language. Azeris are a mixture of Caucasians (Laks, Armenians, Georgians, Jews, etc.), Iranians, Near Easterners, Europeans, and Turkmens, in that order of importance.
Genetic studies conducted by Cavalli-Sforza have revealed that Iranians have weak correlation with Near Eastern groups, and are closer to surrounding Indo-Europeans speaking populations. This study is partially supported by another one, based on Y-Chromosome haplogroups.
The findings of this study reveal many common genetic markers found among the Iranian people from the Tigris river of Iraq to the Indus of Pakistan. This correlates with the Iranian languages spoken from the Caucasus to Kurdish areas in the Zagros region and eastwards to western Pakistan and Tajikistan and parts of Uzbekistan in Central Asia. The extensive gene flow is perhaps an indication of the spread of Iranian-speaking people, whose languages are now spoken mainly on the Iranian plateau and adjacent regions.
Another recent study of the genetic landscape of Iran was done by a team of Cambridge geneticists led by Dr. Maziar Ashrafian Bonab (an Iranian Azarbaijani). Bonab remarked that his group had done extensive DNA testing on different language groups, including Indo-European and non Indo-European speakers, in Iran. The study found that the Azerbaijanis of Iran do not have a similar FSt and other genetic markers found in Anatolian and European Turks. However, the genetic Fst and other genetic traits like MRca and mtDNA of Iranian Azeris were identical to Persians in Iran. Azaris of Iran also show very close genetic ties to Kurds.
Anthropologist Carleton S. Coon is quoted as saying The Iraqi population is without doubt much the same today as it was in Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian times. The Iraqi people are a Caucasian people. It has been found that Y-DNA Haplogroup J2 originated in the Armenian Highland.
Iraqi mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup distribution is similar to that of Iran, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Georgia, and Armenia, whereas it substantially differs from that observed in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. Iraqi Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) haplogroup distribution is similar to that of Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria. No significant differences in Y-DNA variation were observed among Iraqi Arabs, Assyrians, or Mandeans.
For both mtDNA and Y-DNA variation, the large majority of the haplogroups observed in the Iraqi population (H, J, T, and U for the mtDNA, J2 and J1 for the Y-DNA) are those considered to have originated in Western Asia and to have later spread mainly in Western Eurasia. The Eurasian haplogroups R1b and R1a represent the second most frequent component of the Iraqi Y-chromosome gene pool, the latter suggests that the population movements from Central Asia/Eastern Europe into modern Iran also influenced Iraq to some degree.
Many historians and anthropologists provide strong circumstantial evidence to posit that Iraq’s Maʻdān people share very strong links to the ancient Sumerians – the most ancient inhabitants of southern Iraq, and that Iraq’s Mandaeans and Assyrians share the strongest ethnic links to the Sumerians and Babylonians. In a 2011 study focusing on the genetics of Marsh Arabs of Iraq, researchers identified Y chromosome haplotypes shared by Marsh Arabs, Iraqis, and Assyrians, “supporting a common local background.”
The relatively close genetic link with the indigenous Pre Arab Mesopotamian Assyrians and Mandeans indicates that many Iraqis who today speak Arabic are also to a great extent originally of Mesopotamian roots,as opposed to being ethnic Arabs.
In a 2011 study focusing on the genetics of the Maʻdān people of Iraq, researchers identified Y chromosome haplotypes shared by Marsh Arabs, Arabic speaking Iraqis, Assyrians and Mandeans “supporting a common indigenous local background.”
Studies have reported that most Irish and Britons are descendants of farmers who left modern day Iraq and Syria 10,000 years ago. Genetic researchers say they have found compelling evidence that four out of five (80% of) white Europeans can trace their roots to the Ancient Near East. In another study, scientists analysed DNA from the 8,000 year-old remains of early farmers found at an ancient graveyard in Germany. They compared the genetic signatures to those of modern populations and found similarities with the DNA of people living in today’s South Eastern Turkey and Iraq.
Are Turks acculturated Armenians?
Turks, Armenians share similar genes, say scientists
Genetics of Armenian People
Armenian DNA Project
Genetics of Anatolian Turks
Genetic history of the Turkish people
Demographics of Turkey
History of the Turkish people
Kurdish Genetics: Abstracts and Summaries
Genetics of Jewish (Israelite) People
The Genetic Bonds Between Kurds and Jews
Genetics of Azeri (Azerbaijani) People
Genetics of Georgian People
Archaeogenetics of the Near East
The Mesopotamian Cultures
Archaeological finds continue to document that some of mankind’s earliest steps towards development of agriculture. domestication of many common farm animals (sheep, goats, hogs and dogs), record keeping (the token system), development of domestic technologies (weaving, fired pottery making and glazing), metallurgy and urbanization took place in the Armenian Highland, dating back between 12,000 and 8.000 years ago.
The Halaf culture flourished from about 6100 to 5400 BCE, a period of time that is referred to as the Halaf period. Dryland farming was practiced by the population. This type of farming was based on exploiting natural rainfall without the help of irrigation, in a similar practice to that still practiced today by the Hopi people of Arizona. Emmer wheat, two-rowed barley and flax were grown. They kept cattle, sheep and goats.
Although no Halaf settlement has been extensively excavated some buildings have been excavated: the tholoi of Tell Arpachiyah, circular domed structures approached through long rectangular anterooms. Only a few of these structures were ever excavated. They were constructed of mud-brick sometimes on stone foundations and may have been for ritual use (one contained a large number of female figurines). Other circular buildings were probably just houses.
The best known, most characteristic pottery of Tell Halaf, called Halaf ware, produced by specialist potters, can be painted, sometimes using more than two colors (called polychrome) with geometric and animal motifs. Other types of Halaf pottery are known, including unpainted, cooking ware and ware with burnished surfaces.
Halaf pottery has been found in other parts of northern Mesopotamia, such as at Nineveh and Tepe Gawra, Chagar Bazar and at many sites in Anatolia (Turkey) suggesting that it was widely used in the region.
In addition, the Halaf communities made female figurines of partially baked clay and stone and stamp seals of stone, (see also Impression seal). The seals are thought to mark the development of concepts of personal property, as similar seals were used for this purpose in later times. The Halaf people used tools made of stone and clay. Copper was also known, but was not used for tools.
The Halaf culture was succeeded in northern Mesopotamia by the Ubaid culture (ca. 6500 to 3800 BC). The tell (mound) of al-Ubaid west of nearby Ur in southern Iraq’s Dhi Qar Governorate has given its name to the prehistoric Pottery Neolithic to Chalcolithic culture, which represents the earliest settlement on the alluvial plain of southern Mesopotamia.
The Ubaid culture had a long duration beginning before 5300 BC and lasting until the beginning of the Uruk period, c. 4000 BC. The adoption of the wheel and the beginning of the Chalcolithic period fall into the Ubaid period.
Evidence of wheeled vehicles appears from the mid-4th millennium BC, near-simultaneously in Mesopotamia, Indus Valley (Moenjodaro), the Northern Caucasus (Maykop culture) and Central Europe, so that the question of which culture originally invented the wheeled vehicle remains unresolved and under debate.
Researchers agreed that 3500 BC is the year when the wheel was invented, which is more of a ballpark than an exact year. The place is Mesopotamia, the area now occupied by war-ravaged Iraq. The first wheel for transportation purposes is approximated to 3200 BC, its purpose being to move the Mesopotamian chariots.
Shulaveri-Shomu culture is a Late Neolithic/Eneolithic culture that existed on the territory of present-day Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Armenian Highlands. The culture is dated to mid-6th or early-5th millennia BC and is thought to be one of the earliest known Neolithic cultures. The Shulaveri-Shomu culture begins after the 8.2 kiloyear event which was a sudden decrease in global temperatures starting ca. 6200 BC and which lasted for about two to four centuries.
Shulaveri culture predates the Kura-Araxes culture, or the early trans-Caucasian culture (3400 BC until about 2000 BC), and surrounding areas, which is assigned to the period of ca. 4000 – 2200 BC, and had close relation with the middle Bronze Age culture called Trialeti culture (ca. 3000 – 1500 BC). Sioni culture of Eastern Georgia possibly represents a transition from the Shulaveri to the Kura-Arax cultural complex.
In around ca. 6000–4200 B.C the Shulaveri-Shomu and other Neolithic/Chalcolithic cultures of the Southern Caucasus use local obsidian for tools, raise animals such as cattle and pigs, and grow crops, including grapes.
Many of the characteristic traits of the Shulaverian material culture (circular mudbrick architecture, pottery decorated by plastic design, anthropomorphic female figurines, obsidian industry with an emphasys on production of long prismatic blades) are believed to have their origin in the Near Eastern Neolithic (Hassuna, Halaf).
Leyla-Tepe culture in modern Azerbaijan include a settlement in the Leyla-Tepe, the lower layer of the settlement Poilu I, Poilu II, Boyuk-Kesik I, and Boyuk-Kesik II. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgia – Jar-Burial Culture.
Leyla-Tepe culture are genetically well linked with the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements of the district of Eastern Anatolia (Arslan-tepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.). The settlements is typical Western-Asian – extremely hoarding, dwellings are being built right next to each other (mud-brick village with mud smoke outlets).
Artifacts of Maykop culture and Leyla-Tepe culture are simililar with those found recently in the course of excavations of the ancient city of Tel Khazneh l in northern Syria, the construction of which dates from the 4th millennium BC. Radiocarbon dates for various monuments of the Maykop culture are from 3950 – 3650 – 3610 – 2980 calBC.
Leyla-Tepe culture were the founders of the Maykop culture, which migrated to the northern slopes of the Central Caucasus. Correspondingly, it is supposed that the monuments of the Leyla-Tepe culture is evidence on the migration to the South and then the North Caucasus tribes by Ubaidians of the Middle East.
The earliest evidence for the Kura-Araxes culture is found on the Ararat plain; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, and finally down to the borders of present day Syria.
There is evidence of trade with Mesopotamia, as well as Asia Minor. It is, however, considered above all to be indigenous to the Caucasus, and its major variants characterized (according to Caucasus historian Amjad Jaimoukha) later major cultures in the region.
In its earliest phase, metal was scant, but it would later display “a precocious metallurgical development which strongly influenced surrounding regions”. They worked copper, arsenic, silver, gold, tin, and bronze. Their metal goods were widely distributed, recorded in the Volga, Dnieper and Don-Donets systems in the north, into Syria and Palestine in the south, and west into Anatolia. They are also remarkable for the production of wheeled vehicles (wagons and carts), which were sometimes included in burial kurgans.
Their pottery was distinctive; in fact, the spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs for ornamentation. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya.
The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.
Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory. The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.
Graeco-Aryan (or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan) is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid 3rd millennium BC. The Phrygian language would also be included. Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).
Graeco-Armeno-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European Homeland to be located in the Armenian Highland. Early and strong evidence was given by Euler’s 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.
Used in tandem with the Graeco-Armeno-Aryan hypothesis, the Armenian language would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, splitting into proto-Greek/Phrygian and “Armeno-Aryan” (ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian).
In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, Greco-Aryan is also known as “Late PIE” or “Late Indo-European” (LIE), suggesting that Greco-Aryan forms a dialect group which corresponds to the latest stage of linguistic unity in the Indo-European homeland in the early part of the 3rd millennium BC. By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively.
The large percentage of loans from Iranian languages initially led linguists to erroneously classify Armenian as an Iranian language. The distinctness of Armenian was only recognized when Hübschmann (1875) used the comparative method to distinguish two layers of Iranian loans from the older Armenian vocabulary.
W. M. Austin in 1942 concluded that there was an early contact between Armenian and Anatolian languages, based on what he considered common archaisms, such as the lack of a feminine and the absence of inherited long vowels. But, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies) the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not necessarily considered evidence of a period of common isolated development. (For example, the fact that birds and turtles have scales is not evidence of any special closeness, some mammals retain scales too, and scales date back to our common ancestors, the fish.)
In his paper, “Hurro-Urartian Borrowings in Old Armenian”, Soviet linguist Igor Mikhailovich Diakonov notes the presence in Old Armenian of what he calls a Caucasian substratum, identified by earlier scholars, consisting of loans from the Kartvelian and Northeast Caucasian languages such as Udi.
Noting that the Hurro-Urartian peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium BC, Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and zoological and biological terms such as ałaxin (‘slavegirl’) and xnjor (‘apple(tree)’).
Some of the terms he gives admittedly have an Akkadian or Sumerian provenance, but he suggests they were borrowed through Hurrian or Urartu. Given that these borrowings do not undergo sound changes characteristic of the development of Armenian from Proto-Indo-European, he dates their borrowing to a time before the written record but after the Proto-Armenian language stage.
The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account, of preserved, early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BC). It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts between Enmerkar, king of Unug-Kulaba (Uruk), and the unnamed king of Aratta (probably somewhere in modern Iran or Armenia). It is also notable for its possible parallels to the Tower of Babel narrative of Genesis.
Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer. Subartu in the earliest texts seem to have been farming mountain dwellers, frequently raided for slaves.
Subartu was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris. Most scholars accept Subartu as an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east, north or west of there. Its precise location has not been identified. From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.
Subartu may have been in the general sphere of influence of the Hurrians. There are various alternate theories associating the ancient Subartu with one or more modern cultures found in the region, including Armenian or Kurdish tribes. Some scholars, such as Harvard Professor Mehrdad Izady, claim to have identified Subartu with the current Kurdish tribe of Zibaris inhabiting the northern ring around Mosul up to Hakkari in Turkey.
Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was a Proto-Armenian kingdom, known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia.
The name Subartu (Sumerian: Shubur) for the region is attested much earlier, from the time of the earliest Mesopotamian records (mid 3rd millennium BC).
Weidner interpreted textual evidence to indicate that after the Proto-Armenian (Hurrian) king Shattuara of Mitanni was defeated by Adad-nirari I of Assyria in the early 13th century BC, he then became ruler of a reduced vassal state known as Shubria or Subartu.
Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other Indo-European populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Kingdom of Ararat rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants (according to the Great Soviet Encyclopedia) later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the early Armenians.
Sumer (from Akkadian Šumeru; Sumerian ki-en-ĝir, approximately “land of the civilized kings” or “native land”) was an ancient civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age.
Although the earliest historical records in the region do not go back much further than ca. 2900 BC, modern historians have asserted that Sumer was first settled between ca. 4500 and 4000 BC by a non-Semitic people who may or may not have spoken the Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic occupations, etc. as evidence).
These conjectured, prehistoric people are now called “proto-Euphrateans” or “Ubaidians”, and are theorized to have evolved from the Samarra culture of northern Mesopotamia. The Ubaidians were the first civilizing force in Sumer, draining the marshes for agriculture, developing trade, and establishing industries, including weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry, and pottery.
The Sumerians were a non-Semitic people, and spoke a language isolate; a number of linguists believed they could detect a substrate language beneath Sumerian, names of some of Sumer’s major cities are not Sumerian, revealing influences of earlier inhabitants. However, the archaeological record shows clear uninterrupted cultural continuity from the time of the Early Ubaid period (5300 – 4700 BC C-14) settlements in southern Mesopotamia. The Sumerian people who settled here farmed the lands in this region that were made fertile by silt deposited by the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.
Sumerian civilization took form in the Uruk period (4th millennium BC), continuing into the Jemdat Nasr and Early Dynastic periods. During the third millennium BC, a close cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians (who spoke a Language Isolate) and the Semitic Akkadian speakers, which included widespread bilingualism.
The influence of Sumerian on Akkadian (and vice versa) is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the third millennium as a sprachbund.
Sumer was conquered by the Semitic-speaking kings of the Akkadian Empire around 2270 BC, but Sumerian continued as a sacred language. Native Sumerian rule re-emerged for about a century in the Third Dynasty of Ur (Sumerian Renaissance) of the 21st to 20th centuries BC, but Akkadian also remained in use.
It is speculated by some archaeologists that Sumerian speakers were farmers who moved down from the north, after perfecting irrigation agriculture there [note there is no consensus among scholars on the origins of the Sumerians]. The Ubaid pottery of southern Mesopotamia has been connected via Choga Mami Transitional ware to the pottery of the Samarra period culture (c. 5700 – 4900 BC C-14) in the north, who were the first to practice a primitive form of irrigation agriculture along the middle Tigris River and its tributaries.
The connection is most clearly seen at Tell Awayli (Oueilli, Oueili) near Larsa, excavated by the French in the 1980s, where 8 levels yielded pre-Ubaid pottery resembling Samarran ware. Farming peoples spread down into southern Mesopotamia because they had developed a temple-centered social organization for mobilizing labor and technology for water control, enabling them to survive and prosper in a difficult environment.
Speakers of the Akkadian language seem to have already been present in Mesopotamia at the dawn of the historical period, and soon achieved preeminence with the first Dynasty of Kish and numerous localities to the north of Sumer, where rulers with Akkadian names had already established themselves by the 3rd millennium BC.
Akkadian (also Accadian, Assyro-Babylonian) is an extinct Semitic language (part of the greater Afroasiatic language family) that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. By the second millennium BC, two variant forms of the language were in use in Assyria and Babylonia, known as Assyrian and Babylonian respectively.
The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system, which was originally used to write ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate. The name of the language is derived from the city of Akkad, a major center of Semitic Mesopotamian civilization, during the Akkadian Empire (ca. 2334–2154 BC), although the language predates the founding of Akkad.
Akkadian proper names were first attested in Sumerian texts from ca. the late 29th century BC. From the second half of the third millennium BC (ca. 2500 BC), texts fully written in Akkadian begin to appear.
Aleppo appears in historical records as an important city much earlier than Damascus. The first record of Aleppo comes from the third millennium BC, when Aleppo was the capital of an independent kingdom closely related to Ebla, known as Armi to Ebla and Armani to the Akkadians. Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego. Naram-Sin of Akkad destroyed both Ebla and Armani in the 23rd century BC.
Eblaite (also known as Eblan ISO 639-3) is an extinct Semitic language which was used in the 23rd century BC in the ancient city of Ebla, at Tell Mardikh), between Aleppo and Hama, in western modern Syria.
Eblaite has been described as an Eastern Semitic language which may be very close to pre-Sargonic Akkadian. According to Cyrus H. Gordon, although scribes might have spoken it sometimes, Eblaite was probably not spoken much, being rather a written lingua franca with East and West Semitic features.
In ca. the late 26th century BC, Eannatum of Lagash, then the dominant Sumer ruler in Mesopotamia, mentions “smiting Subartu” (Subartu being the Sumerian name for Assyria). Similarly, in ca. the early 25th century BC, Lugal-Anne-Mundu the king of the Sumerian state of Adab lists Subartu as paying tribute to him.
Of the early history of the kingdom of Assyria, little is positively known. In the Assyrian King List, the earliest king recorded was Tudiya. He was a contemporary of Ibrium of Ebla who appears to have lived in the late 25th century BC. Tudiya concluded a treaty with Ibrium for the use of a trading post in The Levant officially controlled by Ebla.
Apart from this reference to trading activity, nothing further has yet been discovered about Tudiya. He was succeeded by Adamu and then a further thirteen rulers (Yangi, Suhlamu, Harharu, Mandaru, Imshu, Harshu, Didanu, Hanu, Zuabu, Nuabu, Abazu, Belu and Azarah) about all of whom nothing concrete is yet known, although there is some evidence of both trade and warfare with the Hurrian peoples of Anatolia.
The earliest kings such as Tudiya, who are recorded as kings who lived in tents were likely to have been independent Akkadian semi nomadic pasturalist rulers. These kings who dominated the region, at some point during this period became fully urbanised and founded the city state of Ashur.
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, existing as a nation state from the late 25th or early–24th century BC until 605 BC. Assyria was originally an Akkadian kingdom which evolved in the 25th to 24th Centuries BC.
Assyria was centered on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia (present day northern Iraq). The Assyrians came to rule powerful empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Aššur.
As part of the greater Mesopotamian civilization, Assyria was at its height a highly advanced nation for its time in terms of architecture, engineering, agriculture, economics, civil service, mathematics, medicine, literature, military technology, law, astronomy and libraries/record keeping. A number of Assyrian kings showed an early interest in botany and zoology also.
The earliest Assyrian kings such as Tudiya were relatively minor rulers, and after the founding of the Akkadian Empire, which lasted from 2334 BC to 2154 BC, these kings became subject to Sargon of Akkad, who united all the Akkadian and Sumerian speaking peoples of Mesopotamia under one rule.
In the Old Assyrian period of the Early Bronze Age, Assyria had been a kingdom of northern Mesopotamia, initially competing with their fellow Sumero-Akkadian states in southern Mesopotamia for dominance of the region, and also with the Hattians and Hurrians to the north in Asia Minor, the Gutians to the east in the Zagros Mountains and the Eblaites and later Amorites in the Levant to the west.
The urbanised Akkadian nation of Assyria (and from 1894 BC, Babylonia) largely evolved from the dissolution of the Akkadian Empire. In the Old Assyrian period of the Early Bronze Age, Assyria had been a kingdom of northern Mesopotamia (modern-day northern Iraq), competing for dominance initially with the Hattians and Hurrians of Asia Minor, and the ancient Sumero-Akkadian “city states” such as Isin, Ur and Larsa, and later with Babylonia which was founded by Amorites in 1894 BC, and often under Kassite rule.
During the 20th Century BC, it established colonies in Asia Minor, and under the 20th Century BC King Ilushuma, Assyria conducted many successful raids against the states of the south. It had experienced fluctuating fortunes in the Middle Assyrian period.
Assyria had a period of empire under Shamshi-Adad I in the late 19th to mid 18th Centuries BC, following this it found itself under short periods of Babylonian and Mitanni-Hurrian domination in the 17th and 15th Centuries BC respectively, followed by another period of great power and empire from 1365 BC to 1074 BC, that included the reigns of great kings such as Ashur-uballit I, Tukulti-Ninurta I and Tiglath-Pileser I.
The Trialeti culture, named after Trialeti region of Georgia, is attributed to the first part of the 2nd millennium BC. In the late 3rd millennium BC. settlements of the Kura-Araxes culture began to be replaced by early Trialeti culture sites. The Trialeti culture was a second culture to appear in Georgia, after the Shulaveri-Shomu culture which existed from 6000 to 4000 BC.
The Trialeti culture shows close ties with the highly-developed cultures of the ancient world, particularly with the Aegean, but also with cultures to the south, such as probably the Sumerians and their Akkadian conquerors.
The Trialeti culture was known for its particular form of burial. The elite were interred in large, very rich burials under earth and stone mounds, which sometimes contained four-wheeled carts. Also there were many gold objects found in the graves. These gold objects were similar to those found in Iran and Iraq. They also worked tin and arsenic. This form of burial in a tumulus or “kurgan”, along with wheeled vehicles, is the same as that of the Kurgan culture which has been associated with the speakers of the Caucasian language. In fact, the black burnished pottery of especially early Trialeti kurgans is similar to Kura-Araxes pottery.
In a historical context, their impressive accumulation of wealth in burial kurgans, like that of other associated and nearby cultures with similar burial practices, is particularly noteworthy. This practice was probably a result of influence from the older civilizations to the south in the Fertile Crescent.
Mitanni (Mi-ta-an-ni, also Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni) or Hanigalbat (Assyrian Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) was an Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC. Founded by an Indo-Aryan ruling class governing a predominately Hurrian population, Mitanni came to be a regional power after the Hittite destruction of Amorite Babylon, and a series of ineffectual Assyrian kings created a power vacuum in Mesopotamia.
At the beginning of its history, Mitanni’s major rival was Egypt under the Thutmosids. However, with the ascent of the Hittite empire, Mitanni and Egypt made an alliance to protect their mutual interests from the threat of Hittite domination. At the height of its power, during the 14th century BC, it had outposts centered around its capital, Washukanni, whose location has been determined by archaeologists to be on the headwaters of the Khabur River. Eventually, Mitanni succumbed to Hittite and later Assyrian attacks, and was reduced to the status of a province of the Middle Assyrian Empire.
Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which dominated many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi. Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix.
Akkadian had been for centuries the lingua franca in Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East. However, it began to decline around the 8th century BC, being marginalized by Aramaic during the Neo Assyrian Empire.
Aramaic is a family of languages (traditionally referred to as “dialects”) belonging to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily, which also includes Canaanite languages such as Hebrew and Phoenician. Aramaic script was widely adopted for other languages and is ancestral to both the Arabic and modern Hebrew alphabets.
The origin of the Arameans is still uncertain, arising from the limited amount of evidence regarding the mention of Arameans in Mesopotamian inscriptions.
The toponym A-ra-mu appears in an inscription at Ebla listing geographical names, and the term Armi, which is the Eblaite term for nearby Aleppo, occurs frequently in the Ebla tablets (ca. 2300 BC). One of the annals of Naram-Sin of Akkad (c. 2250 BC) mentions that he captured “Dubul, the ensi of A-ra-me” (Arame is seemingly a genitive form), in the course of a campaign against Simurrum in the northern mountains. Other early references to a place or people of “Aram” have appeared at the archives of Mari (c. 1900 BC) and at Ugarit (c. 1300 BC).
There is little agreement concerning what, if any, relationship there was between these places, or if the Aramu were actually Arameans; the earliest undisputed mention of Arameans as a people is in the inscriptions of Tiglath Pileser I (c. 1100 BC).
The Ahlamû (= wanderers) are first mentioned in the el-Amarna letters alluding to the king of Babylon; the presence of the Ahlamû are also attested in Assyria, Nippur and even at Dilmun (Bahrain); Shalmaneser I (1274-1245 BC) defeated the Shattuara, King of Mitanni and his Hittite and Ahlamû mercenaries are mentioned in the Jazirah.
The term appears equivalent to the Egyptian term Shasu (Shsw = wanderer), who replaced the outlaw ‘Apiru (cuneiform SA.GAZ) as the major source of instability in the Egyptian Levantine empire from the reign of Tutankhamun onwards.
For the first time, an inscription of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115-1077 BC) refers to the “Ahlamû-Aramaeans” (Ahlame Armaia) and shortly after, the Ahlamû rapidly disappear from Assyrian annals, to be replaced by the Aramaeans (Aramu, Arimi). “Ahlamû-Aramaeans” would consider the Arameans as an important and in time dominant faction of the Ahlamû tribes, however it is possible that the two peoples had nothing in common, but operated in the same area.
The Arameans were, in the 11th century BC, established in Syria. The Bible tells us that Saul, David and Solomon (late 11th to 10th centuries) fought against the Aramean kingdoms across the northern frontier of Israel: Aram-Sôvah in the Beq’a, Aram-Bêt-Rehob and Aram-Ma’akah around Mount Hermon, Geshur in the Hauran, and Aram-Damascus.
The Arameans conquered, during the 11th and the 10th centuries, Sam’al (Zenjirli), also known as Yaudi, the region from Arpad to Aleppo which they renamed Bît-Agushi, and Til Barsip, which became the chief town of Bît-Adini, also known as Beth Eden. At the same time, Arameans moved to the east of the Euphrates, where they settled in such numbers that the whole region became known as Aram-Naharaim or “Aram of the two rivers”. One of their earliest kingdoms in Mesopotamia was Bît-bahiâni (Tell Halaf).
North of Sam’al was the Arameans state of Bit-Gabari, sandwiched between the Neo-Hittite states of Carchemish, Gurgum, Tabal, Khattina and Unqi. Whilst these later states maintained a Neo-Hittite hieroglyphic for official communication, it would seem that the population of these small states was progressively Aramaeanised.
Aramean kingdoms, like much of the near east, were subjugated by the Neo Assyrian Empire, beginning with the reign of Adad-nirari II in 911 BC. This process was continued by Ashurnasirpal II, and his son Shalmaneser III, who destroyed many of the small tribes, and gave control of Aramea (modern Syria) and local trade and natural resources to the Assyrians.
The portion of the Arameans population that had migrated to or were deported to Assyria and Babylonia intermixed ethnically with the indigenous Akkadians of Assyria and Babylonia. This process, and the adaptation of Assyro-Babylonian culture, religion, customs and identity, led to the political absorption in Mesopotamia and its immediate surrounding regions. Conversely, the eastern Aramaic language was adopted as the lingua franca of the Neo Assyrian Empire, and the Neo Babylonian and Achaemenid empires that succeeded it, leading to the Assyro-Babylonian population eventually speaking an Akkadian influenced dialect of Aramaic.