Were the Assyrians at Ecbatana?

Were the Assyrians at Ecbatana?

I.N. Medvedskaya

The historical geography of Media of the 9th-7th century B.C. presents one of the most complicated problems in the history of the Ancient Near East. The toponyms of Media testified by Assyrian sources do not coincide with the later Median toponyms of the Achaemenid period known to Ancient Greek, Roman and Armenian geographers (1). This leaves us with very few place-names of the 9th-7th century to locate on the present-day map of the region.

Meanwhile, the existing relative topography of Media and the regions adjoining it, based on detailed descriptions of Assyrian campaigns there, need only to have some of the place-names connected with a modern map. Thus far the identification of only one name has been suggested: Mt. Bikni, or the Lapis Lazuli Mountain “in the land of the remote Medes”–the furthermost point in the east of Media ever reached by the Assyrians. Bikni is usually identified with one of two mountains in Iran: either the Damavand mountain to the north of Teheran, or the Alvand, one of the peaks of the Zagros bordering on the Hamadan plain, not far from the city of Hamadan. Those suggesting the first attribution obviously take it for granted that the limits of the region known as Media to the Assyrians were the same as those in the later period, and that the Assyrians were able to launch long-range military expeditions. In Russian historiography, this view has been held by I. M. Diakonoff (2). He did not suggest any specific arguments to identify Bikni with Damavand; in his opinion the Assyrians were mistaken in calling it the Lapis Lazuli Mountain. “All the lapis lazuli known to the Ancient East was of Badakhshan origin, i.e. it was brought through Media from Bactria” (3). The research done in the last few years reveals a tendency to accept the view that the Assyrian penetration to the east, namely to the Iranian plateau, was not so extensive (4). Many scholars now recognise the historical geography of Iran, including Media, as developed by L. Levine. In his opinion, since the Assyrian texts do not mention Ecbatana, the capital of Media (modern Hamadan), the Assyrians had never been there and never reached the plain of Hamadan. Consequently, all of the Median toponyms known to them must be located to the west of Hamadan. Bikni must then correspond to the Alvand mountains (5). This identification goes back to F.W Konig (6). Levine assumes that a certain part of Media laying east of the Zagros range remained unknown to the Assyrians. He draws the following conclusion: if Bikni = Alvand marks the easternmost point of the Assyrian expansion, then it explains why the Medians built their capital on the plain of Hamadan: it was a region safe from Assyrian raids (7).

The illusory nature of this conclusion is evident. Rejecting some very inconclusive arguments for Bikni = Damavand, which though never stated seem rather obvious, the Lapis Lazuli Mountain, being the most glorious mountain of Iran, must be a metaphor for the ice-clad peak of Damavand, which lies on the way towards the lapis lazuli of Badakhshan (8). Levine provides us with counter-arguments of the same impressionistic kind (9). They can be disproved easily (10). The most serious of his arguments against Bikni = Damavand, at first glance, appears to be the absence in the Assyrian sources of the name of Ecbatana, ([Ha.sup.n]gmatana-), which lay on the way to Damavand. This, however, proves nothing. Now, after additional arguments for Bikni = Damavand have been put forth by E.A. Grantovskij, there is no way to prove the opposite. These arguments are as follows: by the Lapis Lazuli Mountain the Assyrians were locating the land of Patus’arra. The name of the region of Patishvar in Mazandaran, near Damavand, appears in the Early Medieval period. It is the direct transcript of the Akkad, Patus’arra. In Patishvar, according to Kazvini, lapis lazuli was still mined in the Early Medieval times (11). Levine failed to notice that the land of Bit Tibti, the Salt Desert, modern Dasht-i Kavir, had been placed by the Assyrians near Patus’arra. It seems evident, after all, that the identification of Bikni with Alvand can not be accepted.

According to Levine, the Assyrians were aware of only that part of Media, which corresponds to the mountains of Luristan along the Great Khorasan Road. Clearly such short-distance raids by the Assyrians into Iran seem rather strange, if we compare them with the extension of their military expeditions to Urartu, to the north of the Lake Van, or towards the Mediterranean, not speaking of Egypt. What could have been the reason for the Assyrian expansion to the East if, after crossing the mountain range with so much effort, their armies just turned back instead of entering the broad and fertile plain of Hamadan? The scheme suggested by Levine makes a blank space for the major part of the Iranian plateau, since he is locating practically all of the lands of Ancient Iran known to the Assyrians along the Zagros range. Some scholars, who accept his view, define the material culture of that part of Luristan where Levine locates Media as Median culture. This attribution, however, seems very doubtful (12). In fact, Levine’s entire reconstruction follows from his negative answer to the question we chose for the title of the present article. Is it possible to give a positive answer? If the Assyrians visited the region of Damavand, on the way there, they could not pass over the place where Ecbatana already had been founded or where it was to be built later.

The name of the capital of Media (Ecbatana) is known from the sources dating from a period after the fall of the Median Empire. For the first time it is mentioned in the Nabonidus’ Chronicle (mid-6th century B.C.), where it is called KUR A-gam-ta-nu (13). Then came the Behistun inscription of Darius I (520 B.C.), its text recorded in four languages. In the Babylonian version, the capital of Media is called A-ga-ma-ta-nu (14), in the Elamite version–Ag-ma-da-na (15), in the Aramaic–‘hmtn (16), in the Old Persian–h-g-m-t-a-[n], to be read as /[Ha.sup.n]gmatana-/ (17). Herodotus, in the Vth century B.C. called it ‘Agbataua. In the Assyrian sources the name of the Median capital is not known under a name in one of these forms. The Old Persian name of the city derives from ham- (han-) “together” and the past participle of the verb gam- “go, come.” As most scholars agree, its meaning should be “[the place of] gathering, of coming together” (18). It could mean not only the coming together of people, but also “cross-roads” (19). Modern Hamadan, like ancient Ecbatana, lies on the crossing of the principal routes of Iran and the Near East, on the Great Khorasan Road (20).

The first Assyrian campaign into Media took place in 835 B.C. In 815 B.C. “a royal city,” in Media–Sag-bi-ta, is mentioned in the Assyrian sources (21). The next Median campaign was launched in 737 B.C.–at the time that the Assyrians visited the region of Sagbat (22). The same toponym is mentioned many times under Sargon II (23). It is noteworthy that there were rather few references to Median cities in the Assyrian texts before Sargon II. Sagbat, however, is mentioned in all texts connected with the Median campaigns undertaken before 716 B.C. when the region was finally conquered and became an Assyrian province. This fact may indicate that the city of that name was located at some point where all of the routes leading to Media crossed.

The region and the city of Sagbat were neighbouring upon the lands of Harhar and Kishesim, which lay to the west of Media but did not belong to it (24). Harhar can be identified with more or less certainty. In 1965 a stele describing the route taken by the army of Sargon at the time of his expedition to Mannea and Media in 716 B.C. was discovered in the valley of Asadabad, 15 km NE of Kangavar in Luristan, not far from the Asadabad mountain pass leading towards Hamadan (25). It is known from the annals that two stelae were erected in the course of that campaign: one at Kishesim, the other in Harhar, on the way back from Media (26). The text of the stele also contains a reference to a stele erected in Kishesim. The second stele tells that it was set up in the land of Urattus, the last point of the recorded itinerary (27). The most probable explanation for this divergence is that the stele account gives a detailed record of the campaign, mentioning all of the lands and cities conquered, while the annals contain only summarised data.

The campaign of 716 B.C. resulted in the forming of two new Assyrian provinces. The territory of Harhar was enlarged, according to the text, by adding to it several neighbouring lands. Among these could be the land of Urattus. Why did it happen that Urattus, only one of the new lands added to the province of Harhar, was honoured with the erection of a stele? Probably it was because the possession of Urattus meant control over the mountain-pass opening the way to Media. It is apparent that Sargon II intended to use Harhar as a base for the conquest of Media (28). Harhar lay along the last mountain section of the Khorasan Road before it entered the Hamadan plain. Here it was that Levine located Media, taking for granted that the stele marks the furthermost point reached by the Assyrian troops, and that therefore none of the place-names mentioned in the inscription could be located beyond the Alvand (29).

Still there is not even a single formal reason to identify this area with Media. The erection of a stele signified the act of the foundation of a new province and the appointment of its governor. Only within an Assyrian province could the stele be safeguarded. But no such province as the province of Madai has ever been instituted, neither in 716 B.C. nor later (more below). In 716 B.C. it was just tribute that was received from the “mighty Medes.” Another province instituted the same year was Kishesim, also enlarged at the expense of neighbouring territories, Sagbat among them (30). In 815 B.C. Shamshi-Adad V, after he destroyed the royal city of Sagbita in Media, crossed the mountains on his way back and entered Araziash (through neighbouring Harhar) (31). In 716 B.C. Sargon II, moving from the north, first came to Kishesim, then subdued Bit-Sagabi (Bit-Sagbat), from whence he moved rapidly towards the rebellious Harhar (32). All of this evidence testifies to the proximity of Sagbat to Harhar and Kishesim, and allows us to locate Sagbat on the other side of the Alvand, on the border of the Hamadan plain, south of Kishesim.

Sagbat is mentioned in connection with the Assyro-Babylonian war of 710/9 B.C., which helps us to establish its location even more precisely. At that time, Sargon II directed his major blow against the Chaldaean tribes settled in Babylonia, to one of which the king of Babylon, Marduk-apla-iddin II, belonged. In his annals, Sargon claims the capture of several Babylonian towns near the borders of Elam, which he re-settled with some prisoners he took in the land of Hatti. Then he continues: “On the Elamite border I had Nabu-dumuk-ilini build a fortress, in the city of Sagbat, to hinder the feet of the Elamite.” After that the narrative returns to Babylonian affairs (33). Some scholars assume in this connection that there were two cities bearing the name of Sagbat, one in Media, the other somewhere on the western Elamite border. Actually, there is really no reason for such a complicated construction. It is known that from 717 B.C. Elam was rapidly expanding at its northern border. The Elamite king, Shutruk-Nahhunte II, went as far as the Khorasan Road, captured Karantash/Karind, and descended to the Mesopotamian lowland (34). Thus he managed to block the main pass through the Zagros and to cut the principal communication lines with the Assyrian provinces.

Sargon could not help but be worried by what was going on in Luristan, the more so because in the war with Babylon, which had begun by that time, Elam sided with the Babylonians, becoming their well-paid and reliable ally. What were the counter-measures undertaken by Sargon? In the west he conquered the frontier-land between Babylonia and Elam, re-settling it with alien tribes. He occupied the land of Gambulu on the east bank of the Tigris. In view of these large-scale operations carried on to separate Elam from Babylon, what reason would he have to pay so much attention to the strengthening of just the one fortress at Sagbat and to mention it in the Royal Annals? Could it possibly be “to hinder the feet of the Elamite” by fortifying a single place? This passage refers obviously to the actions taken by Sargon in the East. The reference to Sagbat on the Elamite border confirms the suggestion made by W. Hinz that, by that time, Elam had considerably expanded its northern borders and occupied the whole mountain section of the Great Khorasan Road. Sargon often talks about the resistance of the “evil Harharites”; the province was constantly in rebellion. The Harharites had not been paying tribute to Assyria for four years, which, as Sargon explains, was the reason for his conquest of the province in 716 B.C. This means that the campaign of 719 B.C. was rather fruitless for the Assyrians (35).

The situation in Harhar made it easy for the Elamites to penetrate there and maybe, at some time, even to take hold of the province. In this way, Sagbat came to be near the Elamite border. Kishesim lay to the north of Harhar, and there were other roads leading towards it. This territory, along with Sagbat, remained in Sargon’s possession. How did he manage to stop the progress of the Elamites across the Zagros and to prevent their penetration into Media? Obviously, by blocking the main mountain-pass leading to the plain. To do this, it was really quite enough to strengthen one fortress, particularly when it was standing on a crossroad and dominating over the mountain pass opening to the plain. The site of Ecbatana therefore was an ideal place to localise Sagbat.

The identification of Sagbat with [Ha.sup.n]gmatana is not arbitrary even from the point of view of linguistics. It is easy to recognise Hagmata in the place-name Sagbita/Sagbat. As we know, Indo-Iranian s turned into h in the Iranian languages (36), s indicates an archaic form, while h an innovation. Sagbat could even still be an Aryan place-name–*Sam-gmata, preceding the Old Persian [Ha.sup.n]gmata. Why then did the Assyrians reproduce m as b? There are no other known cases of how the Iranian gm was reproduced in Akkadian. It is known, however, that in Greek, [Ha.sup.n]gmatana was transcribed as Agbatana. We may presume that the Assyrians also could have reproduced the Aryan gm as gb. Anyway, alternation of m and b in certain positions, especially after velars, like g, are possible and are common in many languages.

The facts enumerated here make it possible to state that the future capital of Media was there already in the 9th-8th centuries B.C., being the principal city of one of the Median provinces, known as Sagbita/Sagbat. The Assyrians not only visited the Hamadan plain, they remained for some time in possession of this city and the province. The suggested identification of Sagbat gives one more link with the modern map, besides Bikni = Damavand. Therefore the historical geography of Media, as reconstructed by Levine, cannot be accepted. Some of the events that took place in the 7th century confirm and verify the location of Sagbat suggested here. These events, at the same time, become more comprehensible due to the present identification, especially concerning the anti-Assyrian rebellion of the 670s B.C. in Media.

It follows from the queries of Esarhaddon to the sun-god that Kastaritu, the city-lord of Kir-kassi, Dusanni, the ruler of Saparda and Mamitiarsu, the city-lord of the Medes, took part in the rebellion (37). As for the territorial attribution of the chiefs enumerated, only that of Dusanni of Saparda is certain: from 716 B.C. Saparda belonged to the Assyrian province of Harhar. It is possible to guess who Kastaritu of Kir-kassi was with more or less certainty. Initially Kir-kassi most probably formed part of Kishesim. This suggestion is based on the following: Kastaritu was doubtless the principal of the three leaders of the rebellion. In the twenty-three queries dealing with the rebellion his name is mentioned seventeen times in various contexts; the remaining six queries contain no names at all (Nos. 46, 47, 54, 55, 58, 63). Along with Kastaritu, Mamitiarsu is mentioned once (No. 41) and Dusanni three times (Nos. 45, 50, 51). It was Kastaritu with whom Esarhaddon was going to negotiate about a peace-treaty (Nos. 56, 57). It was on Kastaritu that Esarhaddon laid the responsibility for making war on Assyria (No. 42). Kastaritu’s part in military activities was most prominent (Nos. 43-51); against him the Assyrian army was sent (Nos. 60-62). Now it is hardly possible to believe, as I.M. Diakonoff suggested, that the Assyrians had been negotiating with each of the three leaders separately, thus trying to set them against each other (38).

Since Kastaritu is described by Esarhaddon as the main figure of the tripartite coalition, it is possible to presume that when relating in his annals how he “trod under foot … the inhabitants of the land of Til-Ashuri (39), Esarhaddon meant the land ruled by Kastaritu, where his city of Kir-kassi was located. The fortresses of Til-Ashuri and Silhazi are mentioned together in connection with the events of 737 B.C. as one in the region of Sagbat (40). I.M. Diakonoff suggested that in the first millennium B.C., the ethnonyms “Kassites” and “Babylonians” became confused. Therefore the “fortress of the Babylonians,” or Silhazi in the 7th century sources, could as well be called Kir-kassi “the Kassite colony” (41).

It appears that the part of the province of Kishesim, which rebelled against the Assyrians, was the land added to it in 716 B.C. Initially it had been part of the Median territory. As early as the 9th century B.C., Sagbat belonged to the land of Madai. Bit-Kiri, from where the Assyrian raids were launched into the unconquered central parts of Media not long before the rebellion (Nos. 64-71), could be a new name given to the district of Sagbat–it is known that sometimes the Assyrians did rename their newly acquired cities and provinces. From Saparda, which had become part of Harhar since 716 B.C., similar raids into Median territory were also undertaken on the eve of the rebellion.

It is more difficult to find out from whence comes Mamitiarsu, the third rebel chief. He is the only one titled the “city-lord of the Medes.” Diakonoff assumes that Madai was an Assyrian province (42). There is nothing, however, in the Assyrian sources concerning the appointment of any royal governor to Media, which should have meant the institution of this new province. Actually, it was E. Forrer who first presumed the existence of such a province. He thought that the letter HABL 208 mentioned the Assyrian governor in Media (43). Meanwhile neither the old translation of the letter by L. Waterman, nor the recent one by G. B. Lanfranchi (44), contain anything to suggest that the Mede mentioned there had anything to do with the land of Media. The obscure context can in no way be used to prove the existence of a province of Madai in the time of Sargon (45). It is obvious that if Sargon really managed to create this province, he would have mentioned it several times in his well-preserved annals, as was done in connection with the provinces of Harhar and Kishesim founded in his reign to serve as strategic bases for campaigns directed specifically against Media.

It is noteworthy that the title of Mamitiarsu is the least well defined and not connected with any particular city or region. Probably the Assyrians had rather vague ideas about him. Maybe that is why he is called “the lord of the Medes,” not subject to the Assyrians, unlike the other two men, two rebel chiefs revolting against their sovereign and involving some part of the population of the Assyrian provinces in the uprising. It is quite probable that Mamitiarsu originated from the part of Media neighbouring Bit-Kiri and Saparda, often raided by the Assyrian magnates who came there to take tribute (Nos. 64-73). It is not clear if Mamitiarsu actually became the ally of Kastaritu, as the queries put to Samas speak only of the possibility of such an alliance in the future (No. 41). In the description of military campaigns, Median troops figure along with those of the Mannaeans and the Cimmerians, but the names of their commanders are not mentioned.

The initial seat of the rebellion should most probably be sought in the western part of the Hamadan plain. The localisation of Saparda allows us to extend the limits of the area involved in the revolt. Being a part of Harhar, it may be located at its border on the south. If the place-name in query No. 51 is to be read Saparda instead of Sandu, as Diakonoff suggested (46), then these areas were connected through a mountain pass blocked on the side of Harhar by the town of Kilman. Saparda was bordering on the following lands: in 716 B.C. it is described in the annals as laying between the countries of Sikris and Uriakku (47), in the text of the stele as not far from Kurabli and Sikris (48); in 715 B.C. it is mentioned as laying between Sikris and Upparia (49); in 714 B.C.–between Zakruti and Kanzabakani (50). Of the lands enumerated, Zakruti had already become an Assyrian possession under Tiglathpileser III. It was apparently the westernmost of the lands enumerated, bordering directly upon Harhar (“from Harhar I departed … I entered Zakruti” (51)). Uriakku lay probably to the south-west or to the south of Saparda bordering on Ellipi. Sikris and Upparia were the easternmost.

In 716 B.C. Sargon departed from Sikris, went through several lands and entered Upparia before Bustus; Sargon names Sikris as a part of the land of the Medes (52). These lands were not included into the province of Harhar after the uprising of 715; Sikris and Upparia are missing in the list of tributaries of 714 B.C. (53). Under Esarhaddon, Sikris was also not a part of Harhar; Assyrian troops were sent there from Bit-Kiri and Saparda to collect tribute (No. 65). The mention of Bustus could provide a key helping to establish the location of the lands enumerated. From Upparia, through the mountain pass of the same name, between the lofty mountains Pattashshun and Darue, Sargon entered the plain, “against the cities of Bustus.” It is the only case when both the mountain pass and the plain are given particular mention in the itinerary of the 716 B.C. campaign (54). Taking into account the location of Harhar between the Asadabad pass and Sahneh, it is possible to believe that Sargon was describing the entrance to Malayer-Jowkar, a plain to the south of Hamadan (55). In this case, the countries between Saparda and Upparia should correspond to the territories in the valley of the Gamasiab River, between Nehavand and the road to Tuissarkan, and to the eastern foothills from which one enters the Malayer-Jowkar plain.

The suggested location of Saparda and Bit-Kiri is confirmed by the logic of the stratagems employed by the rebels. The queries of Esarhaddon contain the names of several fortresses besieged by them. Besides the siege of Kishesim (No. 43), the rest are connected with the rebels’ advance to Harhar: Kilman on the border between Saparda and Harhar (No. 51), Subara on the border of Saparda (No. 48), Sissirtu in Harhar, on the border with Ellipi (Nos. 77-78) (56). The rebels’ most urgent task was to cut the main Assyrian communication line in the Zagros in order to isolate the province of Harhar from which the road to Media could be controlled. To some extent the pattern of the Elamite conquest of the Great Khorasan Road was thus repeated.

Finally, it is possible to verify the location of Sagbat = [Ha.sup.n]gmatana and of Bikni Damavand by comparing the routes of Sargon’s campaigns of 716 and 713 B.C. The campaign of 716 B.C. did not affect the innermost parts of Media. Six or seven countries are enumerated there after Bustus: Datumba, Karzinu, Birnakan/Barikanu, (?), Saka, Ramanda, Irnisa (57). From Irnisa, Sargon entered the land of Uratas/Urattus where he left the stele with the description of his expedition (58). It is clear that after Bustus, Sargon first marched to the east, then turned to the north and, making a detour, returned to Urattus/Harhar. (59)

The campaign of 713 B.C. was directed towards “distant provinces on the eastern Aribi border” as well as to the land of the “mighty Medes” (60). As in 716 B.C., Sargon went through several countries, reached Bustus and moved further to the lands of Agazi, Ambanda and Dananu, “the distant provinces.” Judging from the other versions of the annals’ text, these far off provinces bordered on the “distant Medes who lived on the border of Mt. Bikni” (61). The detailed itinerary of the 716 B.C. campaign, which became available not long ago, and the well-known reconstruction of Sargon’s actions and movements in the course of that war, as suggested by H. Tadmor (62), make us connect the reference to Mt. Bikni in the annals only with the campaign of 713 B.C. (63). The comparison of the two itineraries reveals that there was a considerable distance between Mt. Bikni and Sagbat = [Ha.sup.n]gmatana and confirms the suggested identification of the Lapis Lazuli Mountain as Mt. Damavand. The positive answer to the question of whether the Assyrians had been at Ecbatana gives us two reliable footholds in the historical geography of Media.


In his comment to the publication of this article in Russian, R. Zadok has noted that Sa-ag-bi-ta, Sa-ag-ba-at, Sad-bat “cannot be the forerunner of OIran. * Hangmata- since the explicable pertinent Old Iranian material from Western Iran in NA renderings shows that Indo-Aryan s- has already shifted to h- in Old Iranian by then” (R. Zadok. N.A.B.U. 1997 n[degrees] 1, p. 7). Discussing this comment, my colleagues expressed the following opinions on this subject. I.M. Diakonoff objected to this: “it is probable that the change of Iran. s- > h- was a process and not instantaneous change, and that both variants could be heard in the 9th-8th centuries (in the various dialects?).” According also to I.M. Steblin-Kamenskij, the change s- > h- in Indo-Iranian languages occurred not simultaneously. In some Indo-Aryan languages (e. g., Singalese) this process is still on. He said: “For me *Sag-bata is an unquestionable forerunner of *Ham-gmata-.” V.A. Livshits assumed that two successive forms of historical phonetics could coexist in various language groups within the same period.

Editors’s Note: The Russian version of the text was published in Vestnik Drevnej Istorii, No. 2, 1995.


AMI — Archaeologische Mitteilungen aus Iran

ARAB — D.D. Lickenbill. Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia

HABL — R. F. Harper. Assyrian and Babylonian Letters

JCS — Journal of Cuneiform Studies

RCAE — L. Waterman. Royal Correspondence of the Assyrian Empire

RLA — Reallexicon der Assyriologie

SAA — State Archives of Assyria

TPhS — Transactions of the Philological Society

VDI — Vestnik Drevnej Istorii


1. I.M. Diakonoff. Istoriya Midii. Moscow–Leningrad, 1956, p. 86.

2. Ibid, pp. 82-93.

3. Ibid, p. 85.

4. E.A. Grantovskij. Baktriya i Assiriya. In: Baktriya-Tokharestan na drevnem i srednevekovom Vostoke. Moscow, 1983, p. 28; P. Briant. L’Asie Centrale et les Royaumes Proche-Orientaux du premier millenaire (c. VIII-IV siecles avant notre ere). In: Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations. Paris, 1984. Memoire 42, p. 13.

5. L.D. Levine. Geographical Studies in the Neo-Assyrian Zagros. Iran, XII, 1974, p. 117-119.

6. F.W Konig. Bikni (Bigni). RLA, II, S. 28-29.

7. Levine. Op.cit, p. 119, note 167.

8. Ibid, p. 118-119.

9. Ibid, p. 119

10. I. Medvedskaya. The Question of the Identification of the 8th-7th century Median Sites and the Formation of the Iranian Architectural Tradition. AMI, Bd. 25, 1992, p. 75-78.

11. Grantovskij. Op.cit, p. 28-29.

12. Medvedskaya. Op.cit, p. 73-75.

13. R. Zadok. Geographical Names according to New- and Late-Babylonian texts. Wiesbaden, 1985, p. 3.

14. R.G.Kent. Old Persian. Grammar. Texts. Lexicon. New Haven, 1953, p. 212.

15. Ibid.

16. The reading is restored: J.C. Greenfield and B. Porten. The Bisitun Inscription of Darius the Great: Aramaic Version. Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum. Part I, Vol. V. Texts I. London, 1982, p. 58.

17. R. Schmitt. The Bisitun Inscriptions of Darius the Great: Old Persian Text. Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum. Part I, Vol.1 Texts I. London, 1991, Col. II:77-78, p. 34.

18. Diakonoff. Op.cit, p. 179; I. Gershevitch. The Alloglottography of Old Persian. TPhS 1979, p. 125, 147, note 35.

19. This has been verified by I.M. Steblin-Kameriskij. I would like to thank him for his expert opinion in connection with the toponym Sagbat.

20. Y. Majidzadeh. Lapis Lazuli and the Great Khorasan Road. Paleorient. V. 8/1. 1982, p. 59, f.

21. A. Kirk Grayson. Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Mllennium B. C. II (858-745 B. C.). The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia. Assyrian Periods, vol. 3. Toronto, Buffalo, London, 1996, A.O.102.14.iii:121; A.O.103. 1.iii:35.

22. ARAB II, [section] 774, 795. The reading suggested by D. Luckenbill: Bit-[Sangibuti] is corrected by Diakonoff to Bit-Sagbit–Djakonoff, Op.cit., p. 201, and by Parpola to Bit-Sa-ag-ba-at–S.Parpola. Neo-Assyrian Toponyms. In: Alter Orient und Altes Testament. Bd. 6, 1970, p. 298, sm. “Sagbat”; Tadmor H. The Inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III, King of Assyria. Jerusalem, 1994, p. 72, Ann. 15: 9, note 9.

23. Ibid.

24. E.A. Grantovskij. Rannyaya istoriya iranskih plemen Peredney Azii. Moscow, 1970, p. 111-112. I.M. Diakonoff now rejected his opposite view: cf. Diakonoff, Op.cit., p. 161-162; I.M. Diakonoff. The Cities of the Medes. In: Ah, Assyria … Studies in Assyrian History and Ancient Near Eastern Historiography Presented to Hayim Tacknor. Scripta Hierosolymitana. Vol. XXXIII, Jerusalem, 1991, p. 16-17.

25. The weight of the stele is about two tons. Although it was not found in situ, it is hard to believe that it could be carried from afar: L.D. Levine. Two Neo-Assyrian Stelae from Iran. In: Royal Ontario Museum, Ad and Archaeology, Occasional Paper 23. Toronto, 1972, p. 25.

26. ARAB II, [section] 10, 11.

27. Levine. Two Neo-Assyrian Stelae …, ll. 39,70.

28. ARAB II, [section] 15, 58

29. Levine. Two Neo-Assyrian Stelae …, p. 30.

30. ARAB II, [section] 10.

31. Grayson. Op. Cit. A.O.103.1.iii: 37-44a.

32. Levine. Two Neo-Assyrian Stelae …, ll. 39-46.

33. ARAB II, [section] 41, 69

34. W. Hinz. Das Reich Elam. Stuttgart, 1964, S. 116-118.

35. Levine. Two Neo-Assyrian Stelae …, ll. 41-42.

36. For example: Aryan *sapta- (O.Ind. sapta) // Av. hapta “seven”; Aryan *sindhu (O.Ind. sindhu-) // Av. and O.P. hindu- “The Indus”; Aryan *sauma (O.Ind. soma-) // Av. haoma- “haoma”. The terminus ante quem of the transition of Ind.Eur. *s into Ir. h- is the time of the composition of the Avesta, for which various dates have been suggested by Iranologists. The date proposed by I.M. Diakonoff is very probable: the 7th century B.C.–I.M. Diakonoff. Vostochnyj Iran do Kira. In: Istoriya Iranskogo gosudarstva i kul’tury. Moscow, 1971, p. 142.

37. I. Starr. Queries to the Sungod. SAA, vol. IV. Helsinki, 1990. Nos. 41-63. From here and below figures in brackets correspond to the numbers of queries in this edition.

38. This query concerns the sending of a messenger to Hubuskia, not to Media: (No. 24): I.M. Diakonoff. Assiro-vavilonskii istochniki po istorii Urartu. VDI, No. 3, 1951 (AVIIU), 3, p. 228. 68/18; Diakonoff. Istoriya Midii …, p. 272, note 3.

39. ARAB II, [section] 517,532.

40. Tadmor. Op.cit., p.72, Ann. 15:9-12, notes 9-12; p.133, summ. 3:9′-10′.

41. Diakonoff. Istoriya Midii …, p. 267, 276-277.

42. Ibid, p. 266.

43. E. Forrer. Die Provinzeinteilung des Assyrisches Reiches. Leipzig, 1920, S. 95.

44. RCAE, No. 208; G.B. Lanfranchi, S. Parpola. The Correspondence of Sargon II. Part II. SAA, vol. V. Helsinki, 1990, p. 15 1, note 2 10.

45. I would like to thank I.M. Diakonoff and V.A. Jakobson, who at my request have checked the cuneiform text and confirmed this view.

46. AVIIU, p. 229, No. 16.

47. ARAB II, [section] 11.

48. Levine. Two Neo-Assyrian Stelae …, ll. 47-51.

49. ARAB II, [section] 14.

50. ARAB II, [section] 147.

51. Levine. Two Neo-Assyrian Stelae …, ll. 46.

52. ARAB II, [section] 214. Uppuria, Upurya, Upparia–variants of one and the same place-name: Levine. Two Neo-Assyrian Stelae …, ll. 51-57.

53. ARAB II, [section] 147, ARAB II, [section] 14–the list of the rebels in 715 B.C.

54. Levine. Two Neo-Assyrian Stelae …, ll. 56-57.

55. Located there is the site of Nush-i Jan tepe, a Median fortress and sanctuary of the 8th–first half of the 7th century B.C.

56. Diakonoff. Istoriya Midii …, p. 270.

57. Levine. Two Neo-Assyrian Stelae …, ll. 60-64.

58. While staying in Urattus, Sargon collected tribute from the neighbouring territories. The name of one of these lands is noteworthy–… hagabta (Levine. Two Neo-Assyrian Stelae …, 1. 69, P1. XI). The first two characters are missing–the tentative conclusion made by Diakonoff is that here we have, not the initial letters of the toponym, but the adverb sa and the determinative KUR. If so, then it could be a variant of the place-name Sagbat/Sagabi, already with the initial h.

59. It is noteworthy that one of the two mountains before Bustus is called Darue and that Sargon crossed the river Darue before he entered Ramanda. If it was flowing from the mountains of the same name between Hamadan and Jowkar, could then Darue be the old name of Mt. Alvand?

60. ARAB II, [section] 23; Diakonoff. Istoriya Midii …, p. 219-221.

61. ARAB II, [section] 79, 82.

62. H. Tadmor. The Campaigns of Sargon II of Assur: a Chronological-Historical Study. JCS, Vol. XIII, 3. 1958, p. 94-97.

63. It is evident now that the list of lands on prism A should be dated not to 713 B.C. (Diakonoff. Istoriya Midii …, p. 221-222) but to 716 B.C. The lands of Agazi and Ambanda of the innermost Media are missing in the list. These two lands were obviously of major importance, since there is a supplementary reference to them in the Display inscription (ARAB II, [section] 58). Their absence in the prism A list makes doubtful a date of 713 B.C. Most of the list of place-names between Sikris and Qarkasia fits well. In 716 B.C., while in Urattus Sargon received tribute from Qarkasia (Levine. Two Neo-Assyrian Stelae …, 1. 69)–on prism A it is the last but one place-name preserved (ARAB II, [section] 192).

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