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The Kassites
Kassites
(/ˈkæsaɪts/) were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia
Babylonia
after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire
Babylonian Empire
c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC (short chronology). The endonym of the Kassites
Kassites
was probably Galzu,[1] although they have also been referred to by the names Kaššu, Kassi, Kasi or Kashi. They gained control of Babylonia
Babylonia
after the Hittite sack of the city in 1595 BC (i.e. 1531 BC per the short chronology), and established a dynasty based first in Babylon
Babylon
and later in Dur-Kurigalzu.[2][3] The Kassites
Kassites
were members of a small military aristocracy but were efficient rulers and not locally unpopular,[4] and their 500-year reign laid an essential groundwork for the development of subsequent Babylonian culture.[3] The horse, which the Kassites
Kassites
worshipped, first came into use in Babylonia
Babylonia
at this time.[4] The Kassite language has not been classified.[3] What is known is that their language was not related to either the Indo-European language group, nor to Semitic or other Afro-Asiatic
Afro-Asiatic
languages, and is most likely to have been a language isolate (a stand-alone language unrelated to any other), although some linguists have proposed a link to the Hurro-Urartian languages of Asia Minor.[5] However, several Kassite leaders bore Indo-European names, and they might have had an Indo-European elite similar to the Mitanni, who ruled over the Hurro-Urartian-speaking Hurrians
Hurrians
of Asia Minor.[6][7]

Contents

1 History

1.1 Kassite dynasty
Kassite dynasty
of Babylon

2 Culture

2.1 Social life 2.2 Language 2.3 Kudurru

3 See also 4 Notes 5 References 6 External links

History[edit] The original homeland of the Kassites
Kassites
is not well known, but appears to have been located in the Zagros Mountains, in what is now the Lorestan Province
Lorestan Province
of Iran. However, the Kassites
Kassites
were—like the Elamites, Gutians
Gutians
and Manneans
Manneans
who preceded them—linguistically unrelated to the Iranian-speaking peoples who came to dominate the region a millennium later.[8][9] They first appeared in the annals of history in the 18th century BC when they attacked Babylonia
Babylonia
in the 9th year of the reign of Samsu-iluna
Samsu-iluna
(reigned c. 1749–1712 BC), the son of Hammurabi. Samsu-iluna
Samsu-iluna
repelled them, as did Abi-Eshuh, but they subsequently gained control of Babylonia
Babylonia
c. 1570 BC some 25 years after the fall of Babylon
Babylon
to the Hittites
Hittites
in c. 1595 BC, and went on to conquer the southern part of Mesopotamia, roughly corresponding to ancient Sumer
Sumer
and known as the Dynasty of the Sealand by c. 1460 BC. The Hittites
Hittites
had carried off the idol of the god Marduk, but the Kassite rulers regained possession, returned Marduk
Marduk
to Babylon, and made him the equal of the Kassite Shuqamuna. The circumstances of their rise to power are unknown, due to a lack of documentation from this so-called "Dark Age" period of widespread dislocation. No inscription or document in the Kassite language has been preserved, an absence that cannot be purely accidental, suggesting a severe regression of literacy in official circles. Babylon
Babylon
under Kassite rulers, who renamed the city Karanduniash, re-emerged as a political and military power in Mesopotamia. A newly built capital city Dur-Kurigalzu
Dur-Kurigalzu
was named in honour of Kurigalzu I
Kurigalzu I
(ca. early 14th century BC). Their success was built upon the relative political stability that the Kassite monarchs achieved. They ruled Babylonia
Babylonia
practically without interruption for almost four hundred years—the longest rule by any dynasty in Babylonian history. The transformation of southern Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
into a territorial state, rather than a network of allied or combative city states, made Babylonia
Babylonia
an international power, although it was often overshadowed by its northern neighbour, Assyria
Assyria
and by Elam
Elam
to the east. Kassite kings established trade and diplomacy with Assyria. Puzur-Ashur III of Assyria
Assyria
and Burna-Buriash I signed a treaty agreeing the border between the two states in the mid-16th century BC, Egypt, Elam, and the Hittites, and the Kassite royal house intermarried with their royal families. There were foreign merchants in Babylon
Babylon
and other cities, and Babylonian merchants were active from Egypt (a major source of Nubian gold) to Assyria
Assyria
and Anatolia. Kassite weights and seals, the packet-identifying and measuring tools of commerce, have been found in as far afield as Thebes in Greece, in southern Armenia, and even in the Uluburun shipwreck
Uluburun shipwreck
off the southern coast of today's Turkey. A further treaty between Kurigalzu I
Kurigalzu I
and Ashur-bel-nisheshu
Ashur-bel-nisheshu
of Assyria was agreed in the mid-15th century BC. However, Babylonia
Babylonia
found itself under attack and domination from Assyria
Assyria
for much of the next few centuries after the accession of Ashur-uballit I in 1365 BC who made Assyria
Assyria
(along with the Hittites
Hittites
and Egyptians) the major power in the Near East. Babylon
Babylon
was sacked by the Assyrian king Ashur-uballit I (1365–1330 BC)) in the 1360s after the Kassite king in Babylon
Babylon
who was married to the daughter of Ashur-uballit was murdered. Ashur-uballit promptly marched into Babylonia
Babylonia
and avenged his son-in-law, deposing the king and installing Kurigalzu II of the royal Kassite line as king there. His successor Enlil-nirari (1330–1319 BC) also attacked Babylonia
Babylonia
and his great grandson Adad-nirari I (1307–1275 BC) annexed Babylonian territory when he became king. Tukulti-Ninurta I
Tukulti-Ninurta I
(1244–1208 BC) not content with merely dominating Babylonia
Babylonia
went further, conquering Babylonia, deposing Kashtiliash IV and ruling there for eight years in person from 1235 BC to 1227 BC. The Kassite kings maintained control of their realm through a network of provinces administered by governors. Almost equal with the royal cities of Babylon
Babylon
and Dur-Kurigalzu, the revived city of Nippur
Nippur
was the most important provincial center. Nippur, the formerly great city, which had been virtually abandoned c. 1730 BC, was rebuilt in the Kassite period, with temples meticulously re-built on their old foundations. In fact, under the Kassite government, the governor of Nippur, who took the Sumerian-derived title of Guennakku, ruled as a sort of secondary and lesser king. The prestige of Nippur
Nippur
was enough for a series of 13th-century BC Kassite kings to reassume the title 'governor of Nippur' for themselves. Other important centers during the Kassite period were Larsa, Sippar and Susa. After the Kassite dynasty
Kassite dynasty
was overthrown in 1155 BC, the system of provincial administration continued and the country remained united under the succeeding rule, the Second Dynasty of Isin. Documentation of the Kassite period depends heavily on the scattered and disarticulated tablets from Nippur, where thousands of tablets and fragments have been excavated. They include administrative and legal texts, letters, seal inscriptions, kudurrus (land grants and administrative regulations), private votive inscriptions, and even a literary text (usually identified as a fragment of a historical epic). "Kassite rulers in Babylon
Babylon
were also scrupulous to follow existing forms of expression, and the public and private patterns of behavior "and even went beyond that—as zealous neophytes do, or outsiders, who take up a superior civilization—by favoring an extremely conservative attitude, at least in palace circles." (Oppenheim 1964, p. 62). The Elamites
Elamites
conquered Babylonia
Babylonia
in the 12th century BC, thus ending the Kassite state. The last Kassite king, Enlil-nadin-ahi, was taken to Susa
Susa
and imprisoned there, where he also died. The Kassites
Kassites
did briefly regain control over Babylonia
Babylonia
with Dynasty V (1025–1004 BC); however, they were deposed once more, this time by an Aramean dynasty. Kassites
Kassites
survived as a distinct ethnic group in the mountains of Lorestan
Lorestan
(Luristan) long after the Kassite state collapsed. Babylonian records describe how the Assyrian king Sennacherib
Sennacherib
on his eastern campaign of 702 BC subdued the Kassites
Kassites
in a battle near Hulwan, Iran. Herodotus
Herodotus
and other ancient Greek writers sometimes referred to the region around Susa
Susa
as "Cissia", a variant of the Kassite name. However, it is not clear if Kassites
Kassites
were actually living in that region so late. During the later Achaemenid period, the Kassites, referred to as "Kossaei", lived in the mountains to the east of Media and were one of several "predatory" mountain tribes that regularly extracted "gifts" from the Achaemenid Persians, according to a citation of Nearchus
Nearchus
by Strabo
Strabo
(13.3.6). But Kassites
Kassites
again fought on the Persian side in the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC, in which the Persian Empire fell to Alexander the Great, according to Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
(17.59) (who called them "Kossaei") and Curtius Rufus
Curtius Rufus
(4.12) (who called them "inhabitants of the Cossaean mountains"). According to Strabo's citation of Nearchus, Alexander later separately attacked the Kassites
Kassites
"in the winter", after which they stopped their tribute-seeking raids. Strabo
Strabo
also wrote that the "Kossaei" contributed 13,000 archers to the army of Elymais
Elymais
in a war against Susa
Susa
and Babylon. This statement is hard to understand, as Babylon
Babylon
had lost importance under Seleucid
Seleucid
rule by the time Elymais
Elymais
emerged around 160 BC. If "Babylon" is understood to mean the Seleucids, then this battle would have occurred sometime between the emergence of Elymais
Elymais
and Strabo's death around 25 AD. If "Elymais" is understood to mean Elam, then the battle probably occurred in the 6th century BC. Note that Susa
Susa
was the capital of Elam and later of Elymais, so Strabo's statement implies that the Kassites intervened to support a particular group within Elam
Elam
or Elymais against their own capital, which at that moment was apparently allied with or subject to Babylon
Babylon
or the Seleucids. The latest evidence of Kassite culture is a reference by the 2nd-century geographer Ptolemy, who described "Kossaei" as living in the Susa
Susa
region, adjacent to the "Elymeans". This could represent one of many cases where Ptolemy
Ptolemy
relied on out-of-date sources. It is believed[by whom?] that the name of the Kassites
Kassites
is preserved in the name of the Kashgan River, in Lorestan. Kassite dynasty
Kassite dynasty
of Babylon[edit]

(short chronology)

Ruler Reigned Comments

Agum II
Agum II
or Agum-Kakrime

Returns Marduk
Marduk
statue to Babylon

Burnaburiash I c. 1500 BC (short) Treaty with Puzur-Ashur III of Assyria

Kashtiliash III

Ulamburiash c. 1480 BC (short) Conquers the first Sealand Dynasty

Agum III c. 1470 BC (short) possible campaigns Against "The Sealand" and "in Dilmun"

Karaindash c. 1410 BC (short) Treaty with Ashur-bel-nisheshu
Ashur-bel-nisheshu
of Assyria

Kadashman-harbe I c. 1400 BC (short) Campaign against the Sutû

Kurigalzu I c. x-1375 BC (short) Founder of Dur-Kurigalzu
Dur-Kurigalzu
and contemporary of Thutmose IV

Kadashman-Enlil I c. 1374—1360 BC (short) Contemporary of Amenophis III
Amenophis III
of the Egyptian Amarna letters

Burnaburiash II c. 1359—1333 BC (short) Contemporary of Akhenaten
Akhenaten
and Ashur-uballit I

Kara-hardash c. 1333 BC (short) Grandson of Ashur-uballit I of Assyria

Nazi-Bugash
Nazi-Bugash
or Shuzigash c. 1333 BC (short) Usurper “son of a nobody”

Kurigalzu II c. 1332—1308 BC (short) Son of Burnaburiash II, Lost ? Battle of Sugagi with Enlil-nirari of Assyria

Nazi-Maruttash c. 1307—1282 BC (short) Lost territory to Adad-nirari I
Adad-nirari I
of Assyria

Kadashman-Turgu c. 1281—1264 BC (short) Contemporary of Hattusili III
Hattusili III
of the Hittites

Kadashman-Enlil II c. 1263—1255 BC (short) Contemporary of Hattusili III
Hattusili III
of the Hittites

Kudur-Enlil c. 1254—1246 BC (short) Time of Nippur
Nippur
renaissance

Shagarakti-Shuriash c. 1245—1233 BC (short) “Non-son of Kudur-Enlil” according to Tukulti-Ninurta I
Tukulti-Ninurta I
of Assyria

Kashtiliashu IV c. 1232—1225 BC (short) Deposed by Tukulti-Ninurta I
Tukulti-Ninurta I
of Assyria

Enlil-nadin-shumi c. 1224 BC (short) Assyrian vassal king

Kadashman-Harbe II c. 1223 BC (short) Assyrian vassal king

Adad-shuma-iddina c. 1222—1217 BC (short) Assyrian vassal king

Adad-shuma-usur c. 1216—1187 BC (short) Sender of rude letter to Aššur-nirari and Ilī-ḫaddâ, the kings of Assyria

Meli-Shipak II c. 1186—1172 BC (short) Correspondence with Ninurta-apal-Ekur confirming foundation of Near East chronology

Marduk-apla-iddina I c. 1171—1159 BC (short)

Zababa-shuma-iddin c. 1158 BC (short) Defeated by Shutruk-Nahhunte
Shutruk-Nahhunte
of Elam

Enlil-nadin-ahi c. 1157—1155 BC (short) Defeated by Kutir-Nahhunte II of Elam

Culture[edit] Social life[edit] In spite of the fact that some of them took Babylonian names, the Kassites
Kassites
retained their traditional clan and tribal structure, in contrast to the smaller family unit of the Babylonians. They were proud of their affiliation with their tribal houses, rather than their own fathers, preserved their customs of fratriarchal property ownership and inheritance.[10] Language[edit] Main article: Kassite language The Kassite language has not been classified.[3] However, several Kassite leaders bore Indo-European names, and they might have had an Indo-European elite similar to the Mitanni.[6][7] Over the centuries, however, the Kassites
Kassites
were absorbed into the Babylonian population. Eight among the last kings of the Kassite dynasty
Kassite dynasty
have Akkadian
Akkadian
names, Kudur-Enlil's name is part Elamite
Elamite
and part Sumerian and Kassite princesses married into the royal family of Assyria. Herodotus
Herodotus
was almost certainly referring to Kassites
Kassites
when he described "Ethiopians [from] above Egypt" in the Persian army that invaded Greece in 492 BC.[11] Herodotus
Herodotus
was presumably repeating an account that had used the name "Kush" (Cush), or something similar, to describe the Kassites; "Kush" was also, purely by coincidence, a name for Ethiopia. A similar confusion of Kassites
Kassites
with Ethiopians is evident in various ancient Greek accounts of the Trojan war hero Memnon, who was sometimes described as a "Kissian" and founder of Susa, and other times as Ethiopian. According to Herodotus, the "Asiatic Ethiopians" lived not in Kissia, but to the north, bordering on the "Paricanians" who in turn bordered on the Medes. The Kassites were not geographically linked to Kushites
Kushites
and Ethiopians, nor is there any documentation describing them as similar in appearance, and the Kassite language is regarded as a language isolate, utterly unrelated to any language of Ethiopia or Kush/Nubia,[12] although more recently a possible relationship to the Hurro-Urartian family of Asia Minor has been proposed.[13] However, the evidence for its genetic affiliation is meager due to the scarcity of extant texts. According to the Encyclopædia Iranica:

There is not a single connected text in the Kassite language. The number of Kassite appellatives is restricted (slightly more than 60 vocables, mostly referring to colors, parts of the chariot, irrigation terms, plants, and titles). About 200 additional lexical elements can be gained by the analysis of the more numerous anthroponyms, toponyms, theonyms, and horse names used by the Kassites
Kassites
(see Balkan, 1954, passim; Jaritz, 1957 is to be used with caution). As is clear from this material, the Kassites
Kassites
spoke a language without a genetic relationship to any other known tongue

Kudurru[edit] The most notable Kassite artifacts are their Kudurru
Kudurru
steles. Used for marking boundaries and making proclamations, they were also carved with a high degree of artistic skill; they took a long time to make. See also[edit]

Ancient Near East
Ancient Near East
portal

Cities of the ancient Near East Early Kassite rulers Kassite Art Hittites Hyksos Kaska Kassite deities Mitanni Philistines Sea Peoples Short chronology timeline

Notes[edit]

^ Trevor Bryce, 2009, The Routledge Handbook of the Peoples and Places of Ancient Western Asia: The Near East
Near East
from the Early Bronze Age
Bronze Age
to the Fall of the Persian Empire, Abingdon, Routledge, p. 375. ^ "The Old Hittite Kingdom". Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Retrieved 8 September 2012.  ^ a b c d "The Kassites
Kassites
in Babylonia". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 8 September 2012.  ^ a b "Kassite (people)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 8 September 2012.  ^ Schneider, Thomas (2003). "Kassitisch und Hurro-Urartäisch. Ein Diskussionsbeitrag zu möglichen lexikalischen Isoglossen". Altorientalische Forschungen (in German) (30): 372–381. ^ a b "India: Early Vedic period". Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Retrieved 8 July 2015.  ^ a b "Iranian art and architecture". Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Retrieved 8 September 2012.  ^ " Lorestan
Lorestan
- Facts from the Encyclopedia - Yahoo! Education". Education.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on 2013-02-12. Retrieved 2013-02-12.  ^ "History of Iran". Iranologie.com. 1997-01-01. Archived from the original on 2013-02-12. Retrieved 2013-02-12.  ^ J. Boardman et al. (eds) Cambridge Ancient History Vol III Pt 1 (2nd Ed) 1982 ^ Herodotus, Book 7, Chapter 70 ^ see Balkan, 1954, ^ Schneider, Thomas (2003). "Kassitisch und Hurro-Urartäisch. Ein Diskussionsbeitrag zu möglichen lexikalischen Isoglossen". Altorientalische Forschungen (in German) (30): 372–381. 

References[edit]

Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911. A. Leo Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a Dead Civilization, 1964. K. Balkan, Die Sprache der Kassiten, (The Language of the Kassites), American Oriental Series, vol. 37, New Haven, Conn., 1954.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kassites.

Daniel A. Nevez, 'Provincial administration at Kassite Nippur' abstract of a dissertation gives details of Kassite Nippur
Nippur
and Babylonia. Christopher Edens, "Structure, Power and Legitimation in Kassite Babylonia" Richard Hooker, "The Kassites: 1530-1170 The Kassite Interregnum" Kassites
Kassites
in Encyclopaedia Britannica David W. Koeller, "Kassite rule in Mesopotamia" Kassites
Kassites
in Encyclopedia Iranica by Ran Zadok Livius.org: Kassites/Cossaeans

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