This may appear difficult at first. Northern Syria and the Armenian plateau are a case in point. In the Amarna period, this area saw repeated invasions of Hittite forces, a new element in the area. During the late-Assyrian period, the same region was subject to repeated invasions of Urartians, also a new element there. It doesn't seem reasonable that the Hittites would have gone unmentioned in late-Assyrian records; nor is it any more likely that Urartu would have passed unnoticed in the annals of the nations of the Amarna period. If the Amarna period was really coeval with the late-Assyrian period, Hittites and Urartians should have been falling over each other, yet there is no record of them meeting. Clapham's Hittite hypothesis reduces this problem by identifying the Urartian kings as the Hittites, but this is only a partial help, because while the Assyrians do mention battling Urartu, the Hittites fought against Mitanni, and not, as Clapham suggested, a small vassal of Mitanni.
The Assyrians themselves are the worst problem for this period. We have records of a series of late-Assyrian monarchs. Shalmaneser III is the representative of this line of kings at the time which we are equating with the Amarna period. But we have separate records of other Assyrian kings in the Amarna period and afterwards, who match in name and sequence the middle-Assyrians who reigned some five centuries earlier, according to the Assyrian King List (AKL). One of them, Ashuruballit, was himself an Amarna correspondant. Much time and energy has been put into trying to show this Ashuruballit to be someone other than the middle-Assyrian Ashuruballit I, but given that the names of his successors given in Hittite records match those of the AKL, this is rather unlikely. It appears that we are stuck with two Assyrian lines existing at one time.
In his articles, Phillip Clapham first tried to identify members of the one line with members of the other, but then gave this up as unworkable, a judgement with which I would agree. Barry Page, on the other hand, has developed an as yet unpublished revision of the AKL which does indeed encompass a dual line of Assyrians, retaining an overall harmony of the genealogical material preserved in Assyrian records. In this, he places the middle-Assyrian Tukulti-Nimrud I (also read Tukulti-Ninurta I) shortly before the late-Assyrian Tiglath-Pileser III. This provides us with an interesting synchronism, as well as a probable explanation for another, somewhat related, problem in Assyrian history.
In the Jerusalem Chronology of the Israelite Monarchies (JCIM), it was shown that Assyrian history and the biblical narrative are best reconciled by the realization that a period of 30 years passed between the death of Ashur-Nirari V and Tiglath-Pileser III (the latter considered in conventional history to be the immediate successor of the former). This period, it was argued, was filled by a king referred to in the biblical records as Pul and in Greek sources as Sardanapalus, and who was also the anonymous king of Nineveh in the book of Jonah. After having forced the people of the city to repent on the word of a wandering Israelite prophet prophesying destruction (not an idle threat, given the catastrophic disturbances dated to this period), this king was so disgraced when said destruction failed to materialize that he was deposed and killed by Tiglath-Pileser III, who had his predecessor's name removed from his annals (the fragmentary annals attributed to Tiglath-Pileser III belong, at least in part, to this king) and the eponyms from his reign stricken from the eponym list. As I have discussed in another article, the name by which Tiglath-Pileser III was recorded in the Babylonian King List A, and which may well have been his personal name, was not Pulu, as is widely held, but rather Ariba or Ariba'u, corresponding to the biblical Yareb and the classical Arbaces or Arbactus, who killed Sardanapalus.
Once we bring Tukulti-Nimrud I down to this period, pieces begin quickly to fall into place. The first Assyrian monarch to do so, Tukulti-Nimrud I conquered Babylon, making himself king there. Seven years later, he was killed in a rebellion led by his son and successor. This king, who reigned for three years (a varient of four years exists in one copy of the AKL), was named Ashur-Nadin-Apli. One of his first acts as king was to restore the native succession in Babylon (the coup which brought him to power is attributed to a religious outrage at his father's sack of the holy city of Babylon). Thus, three years before the death of Ashur-Nadin-Apli, a new era began in Babylon.
We may further note that in 748 BCE, three years before Tiglath-Pileser III deposed Sardanapalus, a new era began in Babylon. This was the era of Nabonassar, dating from the accession of Nabonassar in Babylon (it is not generally understood what was so important about Nabonassar that his accession merited beginning a new era). Given the similarity in dates and names (Ashur-Nadin-Apli is much closer to Sardanapalus than most Greek versions of ancient names tend to be), and in light of Page's AKL revision, it seems reasonable to date the death of Tukulti-Nimrud to 748 BCE. This provides us with the following dates for the two Assyrian lines (from the Amarna period to the death of Ashurnadinpal):
|late-Assyrians (BCE)||middle-Assyrians (BCE)|
|Shalmaneser III||889||854||Ashuruballit I||905||869|
|Shalmaneser I||813||803||Adad-Nirari I||847||815|
|Ashur-Dan III||803||785||Shalmaneser I||815||785|
|Ashur-Nirari V||785||775||Tukulti-Nimrud I||785||748|
Looking now at these two royal lines, there appears to be less conflict between them than we would have thought initially. From Shalmaneser III to Ashur-Nirari V, the late-Assyrian kingdom declined steadily, while the middle-Assyrian record from Ashuruballit I to Tukulti-Nimrud I is one of rapid growth. Yet this is begging the point to a certain extent. If such a dual line of kings existed, we would expect to see that fact reflected in the records of the two kingdoms and their neighbors. And in fact, in contemporary records, we do find the middle-Assyrians facing another kingdom which, while at a height of power in the Amarna period, declined steadily over the following centuries. This, of course, is the kingdom of Hanigalbat, or Mitanni.
Writing about the difficulties involved in bringing Mitanni down to the late-Assyrian period, Lester Mitcham wrote, "Hittite troops moving against Mitanni...would have been forced to march across Assyria at the height of the reign of Shalmaneser III, while, in return, the King of Mitanni and his army...would, in turn, have been forced to march across Assyria." Noting that Tushratta of Mitanni was able to offer to lend the image of Ishtar of Nineveh to the Egyptian king, Clapham remarked that "This implies...if a revision is at all tenable...that Shalmaneser III was in fact the vassal of Tuiseratta [Tushratta], a facet of history that remains unmentioned in Assyrian annals...". He suggested that "Shalmaneser belonged to an entirely separate line of kings, established perhaps as vassals of Mitanni".
In his comparison of the Hittites and Urartians, Clapham found identical battles fought, and even matching personal names mentioned both in late-Assyrian annals and Hittite records. As what are recorded by Shalmaneser III as Assyrian/Urartian conflicts are recorded by the Hittites as having been between the Hittites and Mitanni, he identified the Mitannian province of Ashtata as the Assyria of Shalmaneser III, noting a similarity between Ash-tata and Ash-shur. All of this seems to be an awkward way of avoiding the clear implication, which is the identity of Mitanni and the late-Assyrian kings.
If such an identification is viable, we would see Shalmaneser III as Tushratta, rather than Burnaburiash II of Karduniash, as Velikovsky maintained. This king, along with his predecessors and successors, may then be seen, tentatively, as an Assyrian aristocracy ruling over a number of peoples with a Hurrian culture. If we recall the quote from Gurney above, this was the norm at the time. Just as "the Hittite state was the creation of an exclusive caste system superimposed on the indigenous population," so too may we see Mitanni. The Mitannian aristocracy is known to us as the mariannu.
Most of what we know about Mitanni comes from the records of other peoples, such as the Hittites and middle-Assyrians. This is due largely to the fact that the capitol of Mitanni, Washukanni, has not yet been discovered. On the other hand, we have had no check on the veracity of late-Assyrian annals; only the boasts of the late-Assyrians themselves. In order for our revision to be viable, we need to be able to match up what we know about the late-Assyrians and what we know about Mitanni. But we should not be surprised if after comparing the two, we wind up with a unified historical picture which is not in complete agreement with the conventional pictures of either of the histories. This is the value of new information; that it adds details and new ways of looking at the same events, as well as correcting previously erronious impressions.
One problem we are confronted with is bi-culturalism. The late-Assyrian annals are written in Akkadian, the semitic language of the Assyrians. On the other hand, the language of Mitanni, in which Tushratta's Amarna letters are written, is clearly non-semitic. The late-Assyrian annals seem not to mention anyone who can be identified with the middle-Assyrians. Can these facts be reconciled? One possibility that looks likely is that an Assyrian subject people known as the Mitanni, who called themselves the mariannu, and who had settled in the area known as Hanigalbat or Hanirabbat, revolted against Assyria and eventually reduced their former masters to vassalage. Taking control of the Assyrian empire with all of its bureaucracy, the Mitanni, for reasons that we can only guess at (possibly religious?), chose to present themselves as "the true Assyrians". Such a dynamic is not unknown in history. The Byzantine Empire considered itself "the true Rome", despite the fact that a reduced Roman Empire, based in Rome itself, still existed. Many forms of Christianity claim even today to be "the true Israel," in the face of the continued existence of actual descendants of the biblical Israelites. In such a case, we would not expect mention of the middle-Assyrian "pretenders". On the other hand, they would hardly be expected either to drop their own culture or to keep up the formal claim of being Assyrians even with relatives, such as the royal house of Egypt. Admittedly, this kind of scenario has the weakness of being virtually unprovable, but it is plausable, and provides a workable background for the information we possess. Deductively, it has no value, but as an instance of inductive reasoning, it works. It is unlikely that we will ever know for certain, but so long as fits the information available to us, there is no reason to reject it.
Tushratta = Shalmaneser III
"Descended from a long line of kings which had only recently begun a program of expansion and conquest, this king expanded his kingdom to an even greater extent, controlling most of Mesopotamia, and seems to have ended his life at the hands of his son, after which, the kingdom began a rapid decline." As a general statement, this description fits the conventional pictures of both Tushratta and Shalmaneser III. Yet with the copious records of Shalmaneser III, we have much more than general pictures to compare.
Not only do the territories controlled by Shalmaneser III have to correspond to those controlled by Tushratta, but the status of these territories must correspond as well. For example, the province of Ashtata was subject to Tushratta, and was in fact a part of the Mitannian Empire. Nonetheless, it was capable of acting as an independant entity at the behest of the Mitannian overlord. Thus, we find many of the Hittite battles against Mitanni in general being fought against Ashtata in particular. The area identified as Ashtata in the Amarna period is the same as that identified as the Bit Adini (Beth Eden) of the late-Assyrian period. Bit Adini was conquered by Shalmaneser III well before he began hostilities against Sarduri I of Urartu, whom Clapham has identified as the Hittite Suppiluliumas I.
What we know about Tushratta is limited. What we know about his relationship with the Egyptians is from his Amarna letters. Almost everything else we know comes from Hittite records. Primarily, this means the records of the Syrian War of Suppiluliumas. This war lasted six years, and can easily be identified in the annals of Shalmanesar III. Sarduris I appears in the 27th, 28th and 29th years of Shalmaneser III. As we will see in the next section, he installed the "rebel" Ashur-Danin-Apli as king in the 31st year of Shalmaneser III. This gives us five out of six years of the second Syrian war. The remaining year must either be the 26th or 32nd of Shalmaneser III, and since Sarduris I doesn't appear in Shalmaneser III's 26th year, the latter seems more likely.
The parallels between Shalmaneser III's records of his 27th-29th years and the Hittite records of the second Syrian war have been described by Clapham. It might be worthwhile to describe some of the events of these years as he presented them:
In the 27th year of Shalmaneser III, an Assyrian army was defeated by Sarduris I of Urartu. In year 1 of the Syrian War, Suppiluliumas crossed the Euphrates in the north, annexing the province of Asuwa and sacking the fortress of Suta in Alshe. Since Asua and Alze were taken by Shalmaneser III in his 3rd year, it seems likely that there were Assyrian troops stationed at Suta. It is their defeat that is recorded by Shamaneser III.
Following this victory, Suppiluliumas turned south into Hanigalbat towards the Mitannian capitol of Washukanni. According to the Hittites, Tushratta fled. There is, not surprisingly, no echo of this in the records of Shalmaneser III. Suppiluliumas then turned east, capturing Aleppo. Anticipating his imminent arrival, the people of Nukhashe (which Shalmaneser III refers to as Hattina) killed their king Sarrupsi. Suppiluliumas replaced him with Takip-Sarri.
Suppiluliumas then returned home, but the Hittite forces remained, under the command of his son Telepinus and the general Lupakkish. These forces laid seige against Carchemish, which was defended by troops from Ashtata (Bit Adini: an Assyrian province). When they withdrew to winter quarters, they were later beseiged themselves by Ashtata.
In Shalmaneser III's 28th year, he records that, upon learning that the people of Hattina had killed their king Lubarna (an Assyrian puppet: apparently the same as Sarrupsi) and replaced him with a commoner named Sarri, he sent an army commanded by the turtan Daian-Ashur to eliminate the usurper. It would seem that this army was levied from the province of Bit-Adini, and that this is the counterattack mentioned in Hittite records. Sarri, deposed and killed by the Assyrians, is the Takip-Sarri mentioned by the Hittites.
I would only add to this that while Clapham is perfectly correct in saying that Hittite records indicate that Suppiluliumas I reigned for a total of 26 years...the first twenty spent setting Asia Minor in order, and the remaining six in Syria...his conclusion that there was only one Syrian war does not necessarily follow. If the first Syrian war occurred in the middle of Suppiluliumas's first twenty years, we would hardly expect to be told that Suppiluliumas spent eleven years in Asia Minor, one in Syria, eight in Asia Minor and six in Syria. On the other hand, the idea that there were two Syrian Wars is not based on the Hittite records, but as Clapham correctly asserts, it is derived from theoretical dating of the Amarna letters. Given the comparison between Shalmaneser's annals and the Hittite records, this question will have to be reexamined.
Another historical point relating to Tushratta is that according to EA 85, "...the king of Mitana has marched as far as Sumura and desired to go as far as Gubla but there was no water for him to drink and so he has returned to his land." As I will discuss in another place, the cities of Sumur and Gubla, which were identified correctly by Velikovsky as Samaria and Jezreel, the two capitols of North Israel, are both to be found far to the north of their conventional locations. Gubla, as is well known, was Byblos, and there is no reason to question this identification. Israelite Samaria, as opposed to Samaritan Samaria, which was located at modern Sebastia, seems to have been located between the Litani and the Lebanon mountain range. Thus, the above quote, which is generally taken to mean that Sumur was north of Gubla, merely means that the Mitannian troops came down the valley between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges. In order to reach Byblos once they arrived at Sumur, they would have had to either continue south until they found an open pass through the mountains or climb over the mountains. But as the king of Sumur relates, they did not have sufficient water for this.
One minor point relating to an equation of Tushratta and Shalmaneser III that might be added is the length of reign. The AKL gives Shalmaneser III thirty-five years, while Kitchen gives Tushratta about thirty-six years. It might be noted that Kitchen's figure is based on an eight year coregency between Amenhotep III and Akhnaton. A twelve year coregency, which seems more likely to me for reasons to be discussed elsewhere, would give Tushratta an approximate reign of thirty-two years.
Thirty-five years, the span given by the AKL for Shalmaneser III, is by no means the conventionally accepted length of his reign. The latest dated record we have from Shalmaneser III is from his thirty-first year. From the early records of his son and successor, Shamshi-Adad V, we learn that another son, Ashur-Danin-Apli, rebelled against Shalmaneser III in the last years of his reign and was brought to heel only in the days of Shamshi-Adad V. From the Assyrian limmu lists, we find that the thirty-first through thirty-fifth years of Shalmaneser III and the first year of Shamshi-Adad V are labelled "revolt".
Poebel expressed the belief that Ashur-Danin-Apli reigned as king of Assyria. Lambert commented that:
The facts ascertainable for the ancient records [he notes that "The only narrative account of the revolt is contained in the Monolith Inscription of Shamshi-Adad V"] are that the cause of the "rebellion" (the evidence is from the opposing side) was Assur-da"in-apla, a son of Shalmaneser, with whom sided the cities of Assur and Nineveh, but not Nimrud. This "rebellion" was eventually quelled by Samsi-Adad V, another son of Shalmaneser, and since he entered a treaty with Babylon on apparently unequal terms, it has been concluded that he in effect submitted to Babylon in order to obtain its support against the attempted revolution.There is good reason to accept the view that Ashur-Danin-Apli actually succeeded Shalmaneser III. It was the practice of the late- and neo-Assyrian kings to occupy the office of limmu early in their reigns. Ashur-nasirpal II, Shalmaneser III, Shamshi-Adad V and Adad-Nirari III were limmus in their second years, while Shalmaneser IV, Ashur-Dan III and Ashur-Nirari V held this position in their third years. Strangely enough, Shalmaneser III was limmu not only in his second year, but in his thirty-second, the second year of his son's "revolt" (I have failed to find any scholarship regarding the strange and possibly unique phenomenon of a single king being limmu twice in his own reign).
It is a truism that history is written by the winners; the losers are seldom in a position to protest. Shamshi-Adad V defeated Ashur-Danin-Apli at the beginning of his reign. The fact that Ashur-Danin-Apli was a rebel is known to us only from the inscriptions of Shamshi-Adad V. But what if Shamshi-Adad V was the real rebel? Suppose that Shalmaneser III died in his thirty-first year and was succeeded by his son Ashur-Danin-Apli. Although we would expect to find Ashur-Danin-Apli as the limmu in his second year, there is enough variation that his having been the limmu in his first year wouldn't be that unusual. If Shamshi-Adad V rebelled, taking control of the capitol in his brother's fourth year, and finishing off the last of the resistance in his fifth or sixth, we would probably be faced with exactly the evidence we have now. Shamshi-Adad V would be in a position to justify himself by painting his late brother as the rebel. Rather than claim to have succeeded his father in his thirty-first year, which would leave him with a less than glorious record of his first four years, he would have been able to extend his father's reign for an five years. He would certainly not have left "Ashur-Danin-Apli, king of Assyria" as an entry in the limmu list, and having established that the king of Assyria that year was Shalmaneser III, a second limmu year for his father would have solved that problem.
This is almost exactly the way things happened at the end of Tushratta's reign. Tushratta's son and successor is known to us as Shattiwaza, and the Hittite records give us an opportunity to hear his side of the story.
According to the historical preamble to the treaty concluded between Suppiluliumas and Shattiwaza, Tushratta was killed by one of his sons some time after the loss of Carchemish, an event which we have dated to his twenty-eighth year. Some time after this, Shattiwaza was forced to flee, and there seems to have been some suspicion that he was guilty of his father's murder. His flight took him to the king of Babylon, Burnaburiash II, who seems to be the king referred to in late-Assyrian records as Marduk-Zakir-Shumi. When Burnaburiash II made an attempt on his life, Shattiwaza fled again, this time arriving at the court of Suppiluliumas. The question of why Burnaburiash II tried to kill him is answered by the late-Assyrian context. At this time, Babylon was a vassal of what we now know to be Mitanni. If Shattiwaza was indeed suspected of killing his father, the king of Babylon would have been duty bound to avenge that death.
Shattiwaza wasted no time enlisting the aid of the Hittite, and backed by the forces of Piyassilis, son of Suppiluliumas and new governor of Carchemish, succeeded in regaining his throne. Hittite chronology at this time is the subject of debate among scholars, but it seems clear that Shattiwaza was back on his throne only a short time after his arrival at the Hittite court, almost certainly in the same year. He may have been absent from Mitanni for only a matter of months. If he fled immediately after his father's death, he may have been back in his own accession year, or the following year at the latest.
The rival who seems to have been responsible for Shattiwaza having to flee in the first place was Shuttarna III, son of Artatama II. As Clapham has shown, following Marvin Luckerman, Artatama II, a brother and rival of Tushratta, is the Arama of Urartu mentioned in Shalmaneser III's early annals. Although Artatama II was originally allied with Suppiluliumas I, the Hittite switched his backing to Shattiwaza, and Shuttarna III was supported by "the Assyrian".
The question of which Assyrian king supported Shuttarna III against Shattiwaza is unclear. It is assumed that this was Ashuruballit I. Even Amir Harrak, in his study of Assyria and Hanigalbat, skips from Ashuruballit I to Adad-Nirari III, passing over the intermediate reigns of Enlil-Nirari and Arik-Den-Ili with bare mentions. Harrak supports the identification of this Assyrian king as Ashuruballit via astronomical calculations, which are invalid, if our model holds. The fact is that the Hittites simply do not name this king. The above chart would seem to identify the Assyrian ally of Shuttarna III as Arik-Den-Ili.
Another question which is debated among scholars is whether or not to equate Shuttarna III with Shattuara I, the king of Hanigalbat defeated by Adad-Nirari I. Weidner supported this equation, but Harrak rejects it. His rejection rests on two points. First of all, he brings suggested etymologies of the two names in Indo-Aryan. This approach is extremely weak, as it rests on the compounded uncertainties of the exact cuneiform readings of the names (readings are constantly being changed as more texts are discovered) and theorized etymologies. Secondly, he notes that we have the line of succession Shattuara I - Wasashatta - Shattuara II in Hanigalbat. Accepting the name Wasashatta as an inversion of Shattiwaza, which does look likely, he suggests that Shattuara I as a son of Shattiwaza would give us a harmonious alternation of names; i.e., grandfathers and grandsons sharing a name. Well, this might be nice, in an aesthetic sense, and we know of cases were such an arrangement of names did exist, but it certainly cannot stand against any evidence to the contrary. If Shattuara I is the same as Shuttarna III, Shattiwaza and Wasashatta would still be related. The former would be a grandson of Shuttarna II and the latter a great-grandson.
The weak evidence brought by Harrak for rejecting the equation of Shuttarna III and Shattuara I might nevertheless stand, however unsteadily, in a situation where no other evidence existed to the contrary. But if we are correct in equating Shattiwaza and Ashur-Danin-Apli, we have no alternative but to equate both Shuttarna III and Shattuara I with Shamshi-Adad V. Shattuara II will then be called Shuttarna IV.
Incidentally, this raises the question of how Shamshi-Adad V was related to Shalmaneser III. He claims in his annals to have been his son, but we already have reason to doubt the perfect veracity of these annals. Shattiwaza told Shuppiluliumas I that Shuttarna III was the son of Artatama II. If this was true, Shamshi-Adad V would actually be a nephew of Shalmaneser III. Alternatively, Shattiwaza may have been speaking figuratively. Just as the rightful king Tushratta had to contend against his rebellious brother Artatama II, so too was Shattiwaza faced with a brother who was trying to take the throne. We will probably never know for certain, but I am inclined to take the second position. In the treaty between Shattiwaza and Suppiluliumas I, we have two descriptions of the state of Mitanni at the time, one from Shattiwaza's point of view and one from the Hittite point of view. In the Mitannian version, Shattiwaza refers to Shuttarna III as a son of Artatama, and blames him for "ruining" Mitanni by sending bribes to Assyria. The Hittite version says that "Teshup decided the case of Artatama, and his dead son Artatama he brought back to life and the whole of Mitanni went to ruin and the Assyrians and the Alsheans divided it between themselves." Of course, the reference to Artatama as having been dead may have been figurative, but again, we will likely never know.
Shuttarna III = Shamshi-Adad V
After the feast of information from the reign of Shalmaneser III, we are faced with a virtual famine in the reigns of his successors. We know of four campaigns during the reign of Shamshi-Adad V. The first three, as might be expected, were against Nairi. Nairi is an alternate term for Urartu in late-Assyrian records, and Urartu had been the main support for the "revolt" of Ashur-Danin-Apli. The fourth was against Babylon, which brings us to the relation between Babylon, Assyria and Mitanni at this time.
During the reign of Tushratta, both Assyria and Babylon were vassals of Mitanni. Judging from the letter sent by Burnaburiash II to the king of Egypt, in which he demands that he do no business with the Assyrian, his servant, it seems that we have the same system of tiered authority as in Israel and Syria at this time. Edom, for example, was a vassal of Judah, yet both were subject to Egypt. Similarly, Assyria may have been subject to Babylon, its fellow vassal. Or perhaps the Babylonian was merely attempting to create that relationship.
As pointed out above in the quote from Lambert, it seems that Shamshi-Adad V turned to Babylon for support against Ashur-Danin-Apli (which may even have been the real excuse for Burnaburiash's attempt to kill Shattiwaza). According to Hittite sources, Shuttarna III was, at least initially, supported by Assyria. A record of Adad-Nirari I says of his father Arik-Den-Ili, whom we have identified as the Assyrian who supported Shuttarna III against Shattiwaza, that he "could not rectify the calamities inflicted by the army of the king of the Kassite lands." The calamity in question may have been the opportunity to assert Assyrian control over Mitanni, lost when Babylon threw its support to Shuttarna III for the price of the treaty mentioned by Lambert. We may see Shamshi-Adad V's campaign against Babylon as an attempt to assert his independance, or a defensive war after an attempt to renege on the treaty.
Wasushatta = Adad-Nirari III
With reign of Adad-Nirari III, the late-Assyrian information slows to a trickle and then to a virtual halt. Except for the very beginning of his reign, we have almost no inscriptions at all from this king. The entire history of his reign has been reconstructed by Assyriologists from the campaign lists contained in the eponym chronicles. It is assumed that this late source is a faithful record of historical events, but as we shall see, there were many works of propaganda composed during the reigns of Tiglath-Pileser III and Shalmaneser V.
What we know from middle-Assyrian records is that the middle-Assyrian Adad-Nirari I "[t]wice...subdued Hanigalbat; this land became first a state cassal of Assyria, and then a kind of Assyrian province." Incidentally, it is probably no coincidence that Wasushatta, who took the throne of Mitanni only six years after Adad-Nirari I became king of Assyria, used the name Adad-Nirari III and that his son Shuttarna IV, who became king of Mitanni only two years after the accession of Shalmaneser I in Assyria, took the name Shalmaneser IV. But the actual reasoning for this can be little more than guesswork. It may have been a kind of flattery, or it might have been for propaganda purposes. We will probably never know.
There is little to compare during this reign other than the fact that the empire of Tushratta/ Shalmaneser III had gone into its penultimate decline. Scholars know of no clear reason for the decline that began under Adad-Nirari III, but within our revision, we can see the empire building of Adad-Nirari I as the cause.
Shattuara II = Shalmaneser IV
The reigns of Shalmaneser IV and his son Ashur-Nirari V are a total dark age for late-Assyria. From middle-Assyrian records, we know that Shattuara II (Shuttarna IV) attempted the final rebellion of Hanigalbat against Assyria. We also know that he failed in this and ended his days in exile or dead. There does not seem to be any evidence that Ashur-Nirari V ever reigned over Hanigalbat. We do not even know what his Mitannian name might have been. While he may have been some kind of local governor, it seems unlikely that the Assyrians would have allowed a royal or even noble Mitannian to rule the province of Hanigalbat; not after the rebellions of Wasushatta and Shuttarna IV. Alternatively, the fact that his "reign" seems to have begun at the same time as that of Tukulti-Nimrud I (see above chart), might suggest that Tukulti-Nimrud wanted to begin his reign with a kind of general amnesty, or that he installed Ashur-Nirari V as a local governor. Ten years later, for reasons we can only guess at, He seems to have removed Ashur-Nirari V and imposed direct Assyrian rule over Hanigalbat.
With the death of Ashur-Nirari V, the period known as late-Assyrian comes to an end. The events of the next thirty years are mostly conjectural, due to the lack of inscriptional evidence regarding them. The following scenario is a synthesis of classical, biblical and archeological material, and is based on the hypothesis offered in the JCIM and the preceding discussion.
In 610 BCE, Tukulti-Nimrud I abolished native rule of the much reduced province of Hanigalbat, introducing a series of governors with the title sukkallu rabu, or grand vizier.
In the meantime, he continued the expansion of Assyrian hegemony. Forces led by his son, Prince Ashur-Nadin-Apli, penetrated far into the south, taking tribute from Menahem of North Israel.
The fact that the Bible calls this prince "Pul, king of Assyria" is not unusual. Tirhaka of Kush is referred to as "king of Kush"  while his brother was still king. Kitchen commented on this:
...it is totally needless to talk of 'anachronism' here. Taharqa was not king in 701 B.C., but he certainly was during 690-664 B.C., for a quarter of a century. In considering the Hebrew text, it should be carefully noted that the phrase 'Tirhaka king of Kush' is not reported speech of 701 B.C., but belongs to the words of the later narrators, either the writer of Kings or the prophet Isaiah. There is no difficulty in assuming that the existing narrations were drawn up at a date after 690 B.C., when it was one of the current facts of life that Taharqa was king of Egypt and Nubia. Therefore, he was called by the kingly title for immediate identification, even in referring back to his activities of earlier days....If in current speech one says that Queen Elizabeth was born in 1926, this is precisely like saying that king Taharqa was in Palestine in 701 B.C.; only a fool and a pedant would seek to 'correct' the first statement, and therefore there is no reason to 'correct' the second...This applies equally well to the fact that Sennecherib was only Crown Prince at the time of his first campaign (the successful one) against Judah, and to the fact that Prince Ashur-Nadin-Apli was referred to as "king of Assyria."
In 755 BCE, Tukulti-Nimrud I conquered Babylon, and in a historically unprecedented move, "took the hands of Bel," declaring himself king of both Assyria and Babylon. This was seen by many as a horrible desecration of the holy city, and seven years later he was deposed and killed in a coup led by Ashur-Nadin-Apli. While the sacrilige committed by Tukulti-Nimrud I could have been a sufficient motive for this coup, there may have been another element involved.
Sometime before 745 BCE, the Israelite prophet Jonah arrived in Nineveh and began to proclaim the imminent destruction of the city. That he would have been taken seriously by the king of this city to the extent described in the book of Jonah seems incredible, and is one of the chief reasons that this book is generally relegated to folklore. However, Velikovsky hypothesized a series of global catastrophes in or around this time, which ancient records appear to have attributed to the gods. If this theory is correct, it would go far towards explaining why Jonah's cries were heeded. In fact, when Jonah proclaimed that Nineveh would be "overturned", the word he used was the Hebrew word denoting a physical inversion or upset.
There are sensitive moments in history, and this was one of them. The combination of the portents in the heavens and the superstitious dread of the possible consequences of the sack of Babylon had the population on edge. The arrival of Jonah acted as a catalyst. The book of Jonah doesn't mention what acts followed the shows of repentance put on by the king of Nineveh and his subjects, but that is hardly surprising - the book of Jonah was clearly written for didactic purposes, and is unlikely to mention facts which do not aid in getting its message across. But it is quite likely that the fervor which toppled Tukulti-Nimrud I was sparked off by Jonah's visit, which might then be dated to 748 BCE.
It is worth noting that the king in the book of Jonah is referred to only as the king of Nineveh - never of Assyria. During the reign of Tukulti-Nimrud I, Nineveh was ruled by a shaknu, or governor. But we have seen from the book of Kings and the Amarna letters that this is a legitimate title for the ruler of a city-state or province. Apparently, this office was being held at the time by Prince Ashur-Nadin-Apli.
When the threatened disaster failed to materialize, the subjects of the new king reacted predictably. They probably felt faintly ridiculous for having panicked as they did, and rather than attribute their deliverance to the show of repentance described in the Bible, they most likely felt a sense of resentment towards the cowardly king who had been driven to parricide by the rantings of a despised Israelite prophet. The classical accounts of the effeminate Sardanapalus may be seen as a folk memory of Ashur-Nadin-Apli's perceived lack of manhood.
Whether for this reason or simply that Ashur-Nadin-Apli's murder of his father was viewed with almost as much horror as Tukulti-Nimrud I's conquest of Babylon, Ashur-Nadin-Apli was overthrown and killed by Tiglath-Pileser III after only three years of rule.
Who was Tiglath-Pileser III? Scholars have been unable to answer this question with any certainty. A late version of the AKL calls him a son of Ashur-Nirari V, but this is generally seen as a fiction intended to justify his usurpation of the throne. The classical sources name the killer of Sardanapalus as Arbaces or Arbactus, a governor of the Medes. And as I have discussed elsewhere, the name PU.LU in the Babylonian King List for the two years Tiglath-Pileser III ruled over Babylon should be read "Ariba" or "Ariba'u", and appears twice as King Yareb in the book of Hoshea. I also discussed the implications of the classical sources referring to this king as a former governor of the Medes. For the purposes of drawing a complete picture, I will repeat some of these here.
The dynasty founded by Tiglath-Pileser III ended with the deposing of his son Shalmaneser V by Sargon II, who founded the final Assyrian dynasty. It is interesting and more than a little coincidental that classical sources provide a direct link between Tiglath-Pileser III/Arbaces and Media, while the Medean tribes were first united under effective leadership in the reign of Sargon II. It seems that the supporters of the Arbacean dynasty, having been expelled by Sargon II, managed to take over the Medean tribes. An even century later, they gained their revenge, joining with the rising power of Babylonia to destroy Assyria permanently and taking possession of almost all of Assyria's former territory. This may, in fact, account for the virtual mania that Phraortes is said to have had about taking Assyria.
Tiglath-Pileser III can thus be traced backwards from the Medes. But might it also be possible to trace him forwards from the kingdom of Mitanni? On the face of it, such a connection seems eminently reasonable. While it is certainly possible that he merely rode the wave of resentment against Ashur-Nadin-Apli, it is just as possible that he played a major part in stirring it up. We know that the Mitannian aristocracy, the mariannu, did not disappear with the dissolution of the Mitannian monarchy. Mariannu served as mercenaries in the army of Ramses III, according to our revision a contemporary of Tiglath-Pileser III, and even according to the conventional chronology, postdating the end of Mitanni. We have references during the reign of Tukulti-Nimrud I to one Ari-Teshup, king of Subartu (Subartu appears in the Amarna letters as another name for Mitanni). A Mitannian prince would certainly have ample motive to overthrow the Assyrian conquerers of his people.
Perhaps the strongest evidence identifying Tiglath-Pileser III as a remnant of the Mitanni comes from Egypt. I have shown elsewhere that Velikovsky's identification of Shoshenk I as the "So, king of Egypt" who received tribute from Hoshea of North Israel is both valid and compelling. In his victory stele, Shoshenk I describes his political victory...winning the loyalty of the former Assyrian puppet-king Hoshea...in the language of a military coup. Consistant with this metaphor, exaggerated as it may be, we would expect to find the power which had formerly controlled Hoshea to be described as a defeated foe. And in fact, Shoshenk I does claim in his stele to have "subjugated...the Asiatics of the armies of Mitanni.". Since it is agreed by all that the kingdom of Mitanni had by this time ceased to exist, this is considered to be an anachronism. No realistic explanation has until now been suggested to account for such a late mention of Mitanni.
It is Tiglath-Pileser III himself who described his part in removing Pekah from the throne of North Israel and replacing him with Hoshea. It was Hoshea's contacts with Egypt which brought the armies of Assyria against Samaria in the reign of Shalmaneser V (son of Tiglath-Pileser III), resulting in the destruction and exile of North Israel. Shoshenk I therefore refers to Assyria - at this time - as Mitanni.
Since the extant copies of the AKL end no later than the reign of Shalmaneser V, it is presumed that this list was compiled during his reign and that of his father, Tiglath-Pileser III. This would explain why the Mitannian kings are found in this list immediately preceding Tiglath-Pileser III himself. The fact that the Assyrian kings who reigned at the same time have been preserved in the list at all is curious. Perhaps the scribe responsible for the actual composition of the list was an Assyrian patriot. An early copy, which ends with the reign of Ashur-Nirari V and was presumably composed during the reign of Tiglath-Pileser III, was written by a scribe named Kandalanu from the Arbela section of Ashur. We might expect that a native of Ashur would harbor loyalty to the deposed Assyrian regime. Yet it would most certainly have meant Kandalanu's life to have placed the true kings of Assyria in their proper places. The solution seems to have been to insert them earlier on in the list. Perhaps he hoped to fix the list once the Mitannian usurpers were removed, but died before that happened. We can only conjecture.
Another piece of propaganda which may be dated to this time is the so-called "Eponym Chronicle". Tiglath-Pileser III would hardly have been satisfied with the fact that the Assyrians from Ashuruballit I through Ashur-Danin-Apli had vast numbers of glorious conquests to their credit, while his own predecessors had hardly any records to speak of once the Assyrians began expanding. The "Eponym Chronicle" is a list of limmus which lists the locations of campaigns conducted in each year. As we have seen, the kings of Mitanni were in no position to have campaigned against all of the places mentioned in this chronicle. The interesting question of whether the campaigns ascribed to the later Mitannian kings were invented out of whole cloth or whether they were in fact campaigns conducted by the native Assyrian kings is worthy of further study.
Who were the mariannu? One of the main obstacles in the way of this revision is the necessity of explaining how the Indo-European Mitanni can be equated with the Semitic Assyrians. I would suggest the following scenario, with the caveat that it is completely conjectural. And while it does provide an adequate explanation for the information we have, it is subject to considerable revision.
Sometime before the Amarna period, probably in the first half of the second millenium BCE, a nation arrived in central Mesopotamia and settled down as subjects of the ruling Assyrians. This Indic speaking people called itself by some form of the Sanskrit arya, meaning "noble".
This name would most likely have been understood as a varient of the Akkadian wari'u, with the initial "w" dropped, as it frequently does in Akkadian. This word has the meaning "to lead", and in another form even means "to rule". The similarities of meaning and pronunciation make it very likely that they would commonly have been linked. The simple plural of this would be wariu, and the class of such people would be wariannu. Another characteristic of "w" in Akkadian, aside from its tendancy to drop off the beginning of words, is the well known phonetic shift from "w" to "m" and vice versa (as in Amel-Marduk, the biblical Ewil-Merodach). This may be the origin of the name mariannu.
This phenomenon, which amounts to the dropping of an initial "m", is not unknown. The Babylonian month Arhashamnu is the Akkadian warha shamnu, or "eighth month", with the initial "w" dropped. The "m"/"w" shift operated twice here, producing Marheshwan (pronounced nowadays as Marheshvan), which is the name of the eight month of the Jewish calender to this day.
Eventually, the mariannu began to challenge Assyrian power in the region from their province of Hanirabbat, or Hanigalbat (the former version of the name may mean Greater Hana, but this is uncertain). When the Assyrian Ashuruballit I claimed that his ancestors were kings of Hanigalbat, he simply meant to say that his Mitannian overlords were once Assyrian subjects: kings over Hanigalbat.
When the time was ripe, the mariannu revolted against the Assyrians and proclaimed themselves kings of Assyria. They took Assyrian throne names, and recorded their annals as if they were the legitimate successors of the Assyrian monarchy. In the records of the true Assyrians, the mariannu are mentioned, as we would expect. Also as we would expect, the mariannu, now known by neighboring kingdoms as the Kingdom of Mitanni, made no mention at all of the poor remnant of their former Assyrian overlords. How could they without destroying their myth of legitimacy? Even when the Assyrians began to regain their might and to rival Mitanni, they stubbornly clung to their non-recognition of Assyrians other than themselves. During the course of what we call the late-Assyrian period, they were reduced by a resurgent Assyria, first to vassalage, and then to destruction as a settled nation.
The now defeated mariannu reacted to their defeat in different ways. Some migrated to Egypt, where they became mercenaries under Ramses III. Others remained and sought to unite their former subjects against the Assyrian yoke. Still others remained a part of Assyrian society and bided their time. One of these, known to us most commonly as Tiglath-Pileser III, eventually found an opportunity to seize the Assyrian throne. Twenty-four years later, this mariannu dynasty was ended by Sargon II, probably a native Assyrian.
Sargon II decided to put an end to the troublesome mariannu, and expelled those who were left from Assyrian territory. This turned out to be a fatal error. These were the descendants of the same mariannu who had adapted so well to Assyrian culture and who had so successfully established themselves as an aristocracy among the Hurrian natives. Exiled past the edges of Assyrian power, they seized the opportunity to repeat this process with the nomadic Median tribes which had troubled Assyria as far back as the Mitannian Tushratta/Shalmaneser III. The expert knowledge of the workings of the Assyrian Empire possessed by the mariannu virtually guaranteed the success of Medean forays against Assyria, which in turn virtually guaranteed the acceptance of mariannu as advisors and eventually rulers of the Medes.
Once back among Indic peoples, this aristocracy was no longer known as the mariannu, but by their original name: the Aryans.
Eventually, the Medes, with the help of the Chaldeans of Babylon, destroyed Assyria and moved into its territory. The wars between the Medes and the Lydians are virtually a repetition of the Mitannian/Hittite conflicts centuries earlier. With the Persian conquests, this long war finally came to an end.
Return to Part II - Mitanni: The Other Assyrians
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