The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
Media’s Great King in Egypt, Assyria & Iran
By: Professor Gunnar Heinsohn
of Bremen, May 2006)
Iran under the Median Dynasty
Abstract: The Medes (New Persian mādhā), were an Iranian people who lived in the north, west and northwestern portions of present-day Iran. The Medes are credited with the foundation of Iran as a nation and an empire. their domain was corresponding to the mainland-Iran, nowadays northern-Iraq and Eastern-Turkey.
The inhabitants, who were known as Medes, and their neighbors, the Persians, spoke Median languages (of the Western-Iranian group of languages), that was closely related to Old Persian (Aryan). Historians know very little about the Iranian culture under the Median dynasty, except that Zoroastrianism as well as a polytheistic religion was practiced, and a priestly caste called the Magi existed.
Cyaxares in the sources, and their “refutation”
CLAIMS OF CLASSICAL HISTORIOGRAPHY:
"He [Phraortes] began to subdue all Asia, going from people to people, until, in his campaigning, he came against the Assyrians, and especially those of the Assyrians who held Nineveh. These Assyrians had formerly ruled all of Asia but were now quite isolated, all their allies having dropped away from them. But in themselves they were as strong as ever, and when Phraortes fought them, he himself was killed.
the son of Phraortes, [...] drew together under his own rule all Asia beyond the
Halys. Then, collecting all his subject peoples, he attacked Nineveh. [...] He
had defeated the Assyrians in battle; but then, when he was beleaguering
Nineveh, there came upon him a great host of Scythians, whose leader was their
king, Madyes. /
Medes also took Nineveh [...] and they made the Assyrians their subject, except
for the province of Babylon“. (Herodotus, The
History, I: 102/103/106.)
“REFUTATION” OF CLASSICAL HISTORIANS:
Assyrian and Babylonian records and in the archaeological evidence no vestiges
of an imperial structure [of the Medes; G.H.] can be found. The very existence
of a Median empire, with the emphasis on empire,
is thus questionable. / I would suggest [...] that the Medikos Logikos, as we have it, is essentially a Greek product“.
1988, 212 / Sancisi-Weerdenburg 1994, 55.)
20 years ago, the existence of a Median ‘Empire’ that had immediately
succeeded the fall of Assyria, and ruled, for half a century, large parts of the
Near East until Cyrus —
as a supposed vassal of Astyages,
the last king of Media —
had defeated his overlord and inherited his empire, was regarded as a safe
historical fact. / The archaeological heritage does not offer the slightest hint
for the formation of a Median Empire. / Classical historiography […] can be
regarded […] as refuted”. (Rollinger 2005, 1/3.)
II Cyaxares and the stratigraphy of Old-Akkadians and Mitanni
quite a few Near Eastern sites, e’s.g. Billa, Gawra, Chagar Bazar, Nuzi etc.,
Old-Akkadian levels – or Chabur pottery from the same stratigraphic depth –
of the -23rd century are found immediately, i.e.
without intervening windblown layer, beneath Mitanni/Hurrian levels of the -16th/-15th
century. In Tell Brak, David and Joan Oates have, for purely chronological
reasons, labelled the Chabur levels 9-8, found under the Mitanni levels 6-2
(with 7 somewhat unclear), as “Old-Babylonian” (Oates et al. 1998) though no
Old-Babylonian material whatsoever was found in that stratum. They have learnt
that chronologically the Old Babylonian precede the Mitanni by five centuries.
Yet, nowhere was ever dug up a tell where one can find Mitanni texts and
material remains several strata above Old-Babylonian texts and material remains.
Stratigraphically, the Old-Babylonian strata follow the Mitanni ones.
the contingence of these two levels, excavation reports separate them by a time
span of some 700 years. This lacuna, this author claims, is a pseudo-hiatus that
results from the different dating methods that are used for Old-Akkadians and
Mitanni. The former are dated by counting backwards from Hammurabi, who is dated
via a Bible-fundamentalist date for Abraham the Patriarch. For many decades,
Abraham’s contemporary “King Amraphel” (Genesis
14:1), was identified as Hammurabi, the Martu/Amorite Babylonian king.
the +2nd century up to the 1950s, Abraham was explicitly mentioned in
chronological overviews. Since it is now understood that the Abraham sagas date
from the Achaemenid period, such references are omitted from modern history
books. Yet, Hammurabi’s absolute date, frequently changing but always in range
of Abraham’s year -2000, was not changed to the Achaemenid period, too.
Mitanni were never dated via Abraham. Because the main texts relating to them
were found in Egypt’s Amarna of the “New Kingdom”, the Mitanni are dated
to the middle of the 2nd millennium BCE by the Sothic
retro-calculation of modern Egyptology. From a purely archaeological point of
view, Akkadian and Mitanni strata are continuous. The material culture of the
lower stratum is carried on in the upper one. Of course, new items –
especially glass and ceramics (Nuzi ware etc.) – are added to the traditional
ensemble. The 700 year gap, thus, turns out not to be a genuine dark age but a
III From Old-Akkadians and Hyksos as stratigraphic bedfellows to
author has identified the Old-Akkadians of Naram-Sin and Sharkalisharri as the
first ‘world power’ of Ninos (Nimrod in Hebrew) and Sardanapalus/Sharakos
which is called “Assyria” by Greek historians and Berossus (Heinsohn 1989): "When
the Assyrians had held sway over Upper Asia for five hundred and twenty years,
the first to begin the revolt against them [ca. -630; G.H.] were the Medes"
(Herodotus, The History I: 95).
first ‘world ruler’ has the following territories assigned to him: "The
first about whom history provides us with stories of his outstanding deeds is
Ninos, king of the Assyrians. / Easily he defeated the inhabitants of Babylonia
[and] / the Armenians. // Eventually he began to subdue the nations of Asia.
And, indeed, within 17 years he was master of them all — with the exception of
India and Bactria. / He subjugated Egypt and Phoenicia, Coele-Syria, Cilicia,
Pamphylia, and Lycia (Ctesias as preserved in Diodorus Siculus 2, 1: 4-8;//2,
Ninos is the alter ego of Naram Sin, Classical historiography of the Ancient Near
East can no longer be blamed as a “product” or an “invention” (Vlaardingerbroek
2005, 232): “Naram-Sin,
the mighty, king of the four quarters [first mentioning of such title], victor
in nine battles in one year. / Conqueror of Armanum, Ebla, and Elam./ [He
campaigned in] the land of Subartum on the shores of the Upper Sea, and Magan,
along with its provinces” (Frayne 1993, 112/167/163).
Old-Akkadian strata, in this author’s stratigraphy based view of Ancient Near
Eastern history, provide archaeological proof for the power defeated – in the
late -7th and not the -23rd century – by the fragile
alliance of Medes, Scythians (Guti/Qutheans in cuneiform) and Chaldea (Kalam in
its own language but, since 1868, misnamed Sumer by modern scholars): "Assyrii
principes omnium gentium rerum potiti sunt, deinde Medi, postea Persae, deinde
Macedones” (Aemilius Sura, 2nd century BCE).
the Old-Akkadians are an alter ego of the pre-Median Assyrian superpower, the Mitanni strata
– sitting right on top of Old-Akkadian strata – must belong to the so far
undiscovered period of Median rule over Assyria. In Egypt, the power immediately
preceding the Mitanni period is not Biblically dated but is tied to Sothic
retro-calculation. Therefore, its kings – or just Chabur pottery items – are
not dated to the -23rd century like the Old-Akkadians but to the -16th
century. These rulers are called the Great Hyksos. They are enigmatic Semites
who take control of Egypt. The
close material relationship between the Hyksos – with Sharek (Salitis) as
prominent ruler – and Old-Akkadians – with Sargon in the same role – was
seen long ago. Stratigraphically, both empires immediately precede the Mitanni.
They share glyptique, script, weapons (scimitars), glacis walls, pottery etc. (Heinsohn
1991). Therefore, the Hyksos are another alter ego of the pre-Median Assyrians from the Classical sources. This
reconstruction gives the following imperial sequence of the Mesopotamia
excavated since the 19th century as seen through Classical sources
(Greek, Armenian, Latin).
Formalized stratigraphy of Assyria/Syria
there are levels with Achaemenid material several strata above typical Late
Medes, that are so frequently mentioned in the Late Assyrian texts, are the
Medes that time and again challenge the rule of their Achaemenid overlords.
Mitanni’s Shaushatra of Nineveh**
cuneiform and Sothic date) or
Nineveh of Shamshi-Adad** = in the Median Satrapy Assyria
cuneiform and Biblical
language and date of Hammurabi date)
there are levels with Mitanni material
strata above Shamshi-Addad remains.
Old-Akkadians*** of Naram Sin Assyria of Ninos/Nimrod and Sharkalisharri = and Sardanapalus/Sharakos
Akkadian, Biblical dates)
language and date of or
Hyksos*** with Sharek/Salitis Classical
language, Sothic dates)
there are levels with Hyksos material several
strata above Old-Akkadian remains
IV Cyaxares as Shaushatra in Egypt
the Amarna correspondence, the names of Mitanni/Maitani rulers are not
translated but merely written in cuneiform as heard by the scribes. Therefore,
it is possible for modern scholars to identify the Mitanni as Indo-Aryan kings
and famous horse breeders. In that aspect – as well as in the very size of
their empire – they strikingly resemble the Medes. The empire of the latter is
regarded by modern historians as a “phantom” (Rollinger 2005) without
archaeology and texts. Like Ninos – as the first world ruler thriving not
before the -8th/-7th century – is seen as “a Greek
invention” (Vlaardingerbroek 2005, 232), so are the imperial Medes.
rulers of multi-national empires are necessarily “Kings of Kings” (i.e.,
emperors) and, therefore, known under different names written in different
languages and even alphabets. The names of Austro-Hungarian emperors, for
example, were written in German, Latin, Italian, Hungarian and five Slavic
idioms. The literal meanings of their names – or just one of their many
territorial titles – could be translated into other languages. Yet, it was
also possible that their names were written as heard, albeit with some changes
to make them sound acceptable in the other languages. In such a process the
royal names lose the literal meaning they may have in their native language.
Thus, example given, future excavators could find in Vienna a larger number of
imperial names written in different languages and alphabets. Unless they knew
something about Austro-Hungarian history, future archaeologists might well be
led astray, i.e. they might put the
different royal names into a chronological sequence with different nations
ruling in the Danube metropolis, even though these rulers all come from the same
nation and stratum.
in different cities of that empire, future diggers could come to the conclusion
that only those imperial names written in German belonged to the emperor whereas
in reality the texts in question may have merely circulated among members of the
German speaking minority of, e’s.g. Budapest, Trieste or Prague. Thus, in a
provincial city of any multi-national empire one may find the emperor’s name
in his native tongue, as well as written differently in other idioms. Thus,
whenever one does research on the Median, Achaemenid, Seleucid and Parthian
empires, one has to look for their royal names not only in their native tongue
(or sound) but also in the many languages of their subject nations. When it
comes to the identifications of deities, the same problems pertain. Without
knowledge of Christianity, e.g., it is not easy to recognize the “Mother of
Jesus”, the “Queen of Heaven”, the “Mother of God”, “Mary”, the
“Holy Virgin”, the “Madonna” etc. as one and the same Jewess Miriam. One
Mary, therefore, could be expanded into a full blown pantheon.
the Mitanni are the thus far missing Medes – misdated by pseudo-astronomical
Sothic retro-calculations of modern Egyptology (Heinsohn 1993a) – it is easy
to identify Media’s imperial rulers Cyaxares and Astyages in the Amarna
correspondence. They are Shaushatra – who, like Cyaxares, is on record for
conquering and plundering the city of Assur – and Tushratta, who is in charge
of Nineveh (Heinsohn 1988, 109). The latter slowly sees his empire eroded by
Aziru the Martu very much in the same way as Cyrus the Mardian takes over the
realm of Astyages.
providing Ancient Egypt with the Median-Mitanni chronological benchmark, Pharaoh
Akhnaten, the famous correspondence partner of the Mitanni=Medes – with a
Sothic date in the -14th century – is identified with Necho II of
the Greek sources with a date of -610 to -594 (for details see Heinsohn/Illig
the Mitanni strata belong to the Medes, one may ask now how rulers of this power
– immediately succeeding the Old-Akkadians stratigraphically – are called in
the languages of their new Semitic subjects. Since the Old-Akkadians are dated
by counting back from Hammurabi, one has to ask what Assyrian Great King on the
throne of Nineveh has not only been dated by the same scheme but also explicitly
claims to be a direct successor of the Old-Akkadian kings. Is there a candidate
whose Assyrian archaeological heritage was found
right on top of Old-Akkadian remains?
Cyaxares as “Old-Assyrian” Shamshi-Adad in Assyria
and Tushratta=Astyages are extremely powerful kings. They are ranked as high as
Egypt’s pharaohs or even higher, as can be learnt from the tone of their
letters to Amarna. They are undoubtedly not only in control of Nineveh but also
of Assur (Dercksen 2004, 157). Yet, they have never ceased bewildering modern
researchers because there is a total “lack of Mitanni royal inscriptions” (Charpin
2004, 378), i.e. of inscriptions in the Hurrian language of the letters to
Amarna. This author identifies the Hurrian/Hurrite language as the language of
the Araratian/Armenian partners of the Medes (Heinsohn 1993c) who had been
subjugated by Ninos/Naram Sin (“Armanum”).
let us not forget that the Mitanni=Medes as rulers over Assyria are
Sothic-dated. If we want to find their inscriptions in the language and
stratigraphy of Assyria, we have to look for Abraham-Hammurabi-dated rulers in
Assyria whose strata immediately follow Old-Akkadian levels. A ruler fulfilling
these requirements is well known. His name is Shamshi-Adad (also Shamshi-Addu).
He is seen as the founder of a new dynasty in Assyria, labelde
“Old-Assyrian” my modern Assyriologists. There is no doubt that he is not an
Assyrian (Grayson 1985, 9 ff.; Yamada 1994, 11 ff.) but from “Amorite
descent” (Charpin 2004, 375). The Amorites (Martu), coming from a
“nomadic” background (Edzard 2004, 91), still defy identification. Though
they left some 40.000 tablets in Semitic cuneiform (Akkadian), their own
language is not known (Haldar 1971, 1 ff.).
nearly two decades, this author has identified the Martu as a Mesopotamian pars
pro toto name for Iranians that was derived from the tribe of the Mardoi (Mardians/Amardians;
Heinsohn 1988, 68 ff.). Located around Susa, they were famous for their metal
products, and feared as the best archers in Iran. The Amorites only become a
massive presence during the IIIrd Dynasty of Ur (Streck 2004, 313). These
Abraham-dated “Sumerians” (-2100) – known as people of Kalam in their own
language – are identified by this author as the Chaldeans of the late -7th
century who help the Medes and the volatile Scythians defeat Assyria seen by
Classical authors as mankind’s first world power. Since the Ur
III-“Sumerians” stratigraphically follow the Old Akkadians in Southern
Mesopotamia in the same manner that the Amorite Shamshi-Adad follows them in
Assyria, it has to be expected that a larger number of Amorites will not be
found before the date assigned to Ur III.
a descent from Iran provide a clue to Shamshi-Adad’s origins? His own capital
is called Ekallatum. This city was never excavated or even located in Assyria
though one may see it on maps produced by modern Assyriologists, who place it
somewhere between Assur and Nineveh. Yet, hundreds of excavators have searched
this area in vain. If Ekallatum is just another Semitic rendering for Ekbatana,
a political center of Cyaxares’ in Iran, it is located in Media and
cannot possibly be excavated in Assyria. It has already been sensed that the
city of Assur may have served as a “religious capital” of Shamshi-Adad
whereas enigmatic Ekallatum was in a similar position “politically” (Charpin
2004, 381). That would fit Ekbatana quite nicely.
not being an Assyrian, Shamshi-Adad calls himself “King of Akkad” (Charpin
1984, 44 f.). He also carries
the title “King of the Whole” (other translation “King of All”). This
title has been in use since Old-Akkad’s King Sargon supposedly preceding
Shamshi-Adad by half a millennium. Yet, Shamshi-Adad’s
regnal dates (recently put at -1809[or -1813] to -1781) are not calculated in
accordance with stratigraphy. He is dated in connection with Hammurabi, whose
Bible-fundamentalist Abraham date was derived from “King Amraphel” (Genesis
14:1). The assumed synchronism between Shamshi-Adad and Hammurabi is an indirect
one and, therefore, controversial. Yet, beyond doubt is the fact that
“Shamshi-Adad thought of himself as the successor of the empire of Akkad and
its universal-imperial rulership” (Westenholz 2005, 14).
is Shamshi-Adad positioned stratigraphically? To be Cyaxares in Assyrian garb,
he has to follow Sharkalisharri (-2217 to -2193), Akkad’s last king, as
immediately as Cyaxares follows Sharakos, pre-Median Assyria’s last king.
Shamshi-Adad’s building activity in Nineveh is directly connected to Old-Akkadian
buildings. He repairs the Old-Akkadian temple Émenuè in the district of Émashmash.
The lowest of the six levels (stratum VI) of Nineveh’s Ishtar temple (90 x 45
meters) was assigned by the excavators to Manishtusu of Akkad (-2269 to -2255)
and Shamshi-Adad albeit the two are supposedly separated by 450 years
(Thompson/Hamilton 1932, 58; Tenu 2005, 28).
Shamshi-Addad follows the Old-Akkadians in Nineveh in the same way as elsewhere
the “Mitanni” strata sit right on top of the Old-Akkadian strata – with a
pseudo-hiatus of 700 years in between. From the Classical authors we learn that
the Medes follow the Assyrians of Nineveh as Shamshi-Adad follows the Old-Akkadians
in the same city: “At last Cyaxares and the Medes invited the greater number
of the Scythians to a banquet, at which they made them drunk and murdered them,
and in this way recovered their former power and dominion. They captured Nineveh
[...] and subdued the Assyrians. [...] Then Cyaxares died, after a reign [...]
of forty years. He was succeeded by his son Astyages (Herodotus, Histories
is cursed by modern Assyriologists for his “patent falseness” and “obvious
falsification” (Westenholz 2005, 12, 14). His immediate succession to the
Great Kings of Akkad does not fare any better: “The direct line of kingship
from Akkad to Shamshi-Addu is projected here with force and it provides a clever
double claim, for, along with descent from the Akkadian idea of kingship, if
nothing else, comes the claim to the throne of the city of Assur” (Michalowski
1993, 86). But is Shamshi-Addad’s claim really a “pious forgery” so
proudly revealed by modern Assyriologists (e.g., Westenholz 2005, 14)? This
author is not inclined to join the accusations against him. After all, it is not
only stratigraphy that bears him out. Shaushatra of “Mitanni” as well as his
Median alter ego Cyaxares are on record for conquering and plundering the
city of Assur. If Shamshi-Adad is Cyaxares in Assyrian garb, modern
Assyriologists may be much closer to the very crime for which they indict the
king. After all, it is not Shamshi-Adad who dates himself four centuries after
Sharkalisharri, the last Old-Akkadian king whom this author identifies with
Sharakos, the last pre-Median king of Classical historiography. This stretching
of time between Old-Akkadians and the “King of All” is the work of modern
Assyriologists who – albeit unknowingly – turn their own confusion into a
verdict against their subject of research.
Mysterious gaps in the stratigraphies of Nineveh and Assur
the only carefully established stratigraphy of Nineveh, the Kuyunjik Gully
Sounding of 1989 and 1990 (McMahon), no remains directly
Nineveh: Stratigraphy of the Kuyunjik Gully
1998, merely names the periods plus half millennia and millennia. She
intentionally avoids the fine tuned dates usually applied within the millennia.
The dates given here follow the conventional mainstream chronology.)
* Though the Achaemenids precede the Parthians, the excavator is not surprised about the absence of a stratum for Achaemenid Nineveh. At least, however, she is stunned by the absence of remains for the time of Sennacherib (“704-681”) who had built such a masterful palace in the city: “The apparent absence of Middle and especially Neo-Assyrian remains in the area of our excavation is odd, given that Area KG was well within the limits of the Neo-Assyrian mound and close to other excavated areas within known Neo-Assyrian remains. It is unlikely that this area was unused during that period; it would seem instead that subsequent Parthian occupation involved deep foundation trenches and surface levelling, which removed the Neo-Assyrian remains in our excavation area” (McMahon 1998, 19).
Augusta McMahon (1998, 16, fn 38) omits precise dates because of the
“difficulty associated with assigning historically derived labels to
archaeological data; the transition between the Akkadian and the Ur III periods
is as difficult to pin down, archaeologically, as is the Early Dynastic to
Akkadian Period transition. […] Another approach is exemplified by the basic
descriptive term of Wilkinson & Tucker  who lump the period from
Ninevite 5 to Khabur under ‘later 3rd millennium’.”
to Shamshi-Addad have been found. Levels VII and VIb are the most appropriate
candidates. Nineveh, once again, bewilders archaeologists for its mysterious
scarcity of levels for the two millennia from -2000 to +/- 0. With ten levels
(XIII to VIA) for a maximum of half a millennium before -2000, some forty levels
had to be expected for the following 2000 years. Yet, only three levels (IV to
II) have come to light. To this author, such a discovery does not come as a
surprise. Nineveh’s levels XIII to V are indirectly Abraham-dated. The
Middle-Assyrian elements of level IV are Sothic dated. The dates for the
Parthian material follow the chronology of Classical historiography. Thus,
levels VIa to IV (Middle-Assyrian elements) belong to the Achaemenid rule over
Assyria. Sennacherib (“704-681”) is Darius II (423-404) in the garb of his
most wealthy satrapy (Heinsohn 2000, 131-169): “In power the land of Assyria
counts as one third of all Asia. Rule over this country - which rule is called
by the Persians a satrapy - is of all the satrapies by far the greatest"
(Herodotus, The History I: 192). That is why the Hebrews, too, called
Achaemenid rulers “King of Assyria” (Ezra 6: 22).
of Nineveh and Assur, it is difficult to attribute significant strata to the
decades of Shamshi-Adad’s power over his widespread empire. Yet, if he is an alter
ego of Cyaxares of Media, one has to add the “Mitanni” strata of
Northern Mesopotamia and Syria to accommodate the first Amorite/Martu “King of
the Whole”. At Nineveh proper, the supposedly non-retrievable “Mitanni”
remains are the finds attributed to Shamshi-Adad.
occasionally “Old-Assyrian” pottery and Mitanni pottery, to the bewilderment
of the excavators, are found in one and the same stratum. This even is the case
in the city of Assur which serves as a stronghold of
Shamshi-Adads “Old-Assyrians” but is also on record – in the Amarna
correspondence – as a center of Shaushatra’s Mitanni. Mysteriously, however,
the powerful Mitanni are blamed for having left no strata in Assur. Still, the
German excavations of 2000 and 2001 provided some surprises.
Stratigraphy of Area 2/2000 (Bär/Hausleiter 2006):
explanation of the hiatus of four centuries between stratum II and stratum I is
not even attempted. After stratigraphies at Nineveh (see above) or Nippur (see
below) exhibit the same anomalies, these gaps are regarded as a mysterious fatum
excavators can do nothing but humbly accept. At least, the coincidence of Late-
and Middle-Assyrian remains in stratum Va looks strange to the excavators.
Already in “Area 1/2000”, the had found in a late Neo-Assyrian house of -620
clay tablets with the name of “Adad-nirari I (1307-1275 BC)”. The excavators
are not aware that the Middle-Assyrians are dated – counting forward from
Amarna – by Egyptology’s Sothic scheme whereas the Late-Assyrians are dated
Biblically by counting back from Nebuchadnezzar. Thus, the do not know that both
dating approaches are not only unscholarly but also incompatible.
Amorite Adad-Nirari I, founder of the “Middle-Assyrian” Empire and conqueror
of Babylon, has been identified as Cyrus the Great – founder of the Achaemenid
Empire and conqueror of Babylon – in the garb of his richest, i.e. Assyrian,
province. The texts describing Adad’s conquest of Taidu in Asia Minor provide
a cuneiform confirmation of Classical historiography which reports Cyrus’s
conquest of Hyde (Sardes) in Asia Minor (Heinsohn 2000, 130). The Neo- or
Late-Assyrian strata are found immediately beneath Parthian strata because they
are the Assyrians of the final stage of the Achaemenid satrapy Athura (Assyria)
which is taken over by Macedonians and Parthians.
Vb Mitanni and Old-Assyrian golden Ishtar statues from Ninive
if the simultaneousness of Old-Assyrian and Mitanni pottery was not
enough of a disturbance, it appears to repeat itself for the famous
Ishtar of Nineveh which figures so prominently in the Amarna correspondence. In
the Amarna letters the deity carries the name “Ishtar of Ninveh” (Amarna
letter 23). It is a “statue [...] of pure gold” (Amarna letter 24).
Supposedly, no information on such precious idols is available in –
Sothic-dated – -14th century Assyria. Yet, Shamshi-Adad is on
record for having commissioned such gold statutes. In a letter, he even gives
the weight of “20 minas of gold” for a statue of Bêlet-Agade destined for
the city of Assur (Charpin 2004, 380). Thus, the statue of the Ninevite Ishtar
send by Tushratta to Egypt to heal Amenophis III was sent by his alter
ego in “Old-Assyrian” garb, Shamshi-Adad’s son Ishme-Dagan. In a way
this identity has been sensed when Shamshi’s Ishtar of Nineveh is perceived as
“a prefiguration of the great Mitannian goddess Ishtar of Nineveh” (Westenholz
2005, 16). Thus, Shamshi-Adad’s Old-Assyrians and Shaushatra’s Mitanni do
not only share stratigraphic depth, „Streifenkeramik” and Nuzi pots but also
the healing powers of their masterly golden statues.
is the last ruler from Shamshi-Adad’s line. Still during his father’s
lifetime he is made king of Ekallatum. From there, Ishme-Dagan is slowly losing
his Assyrian domain to another branch of Martu/Amorites. In this he resembles
very much Astyages, Media’s last Great King residing in Ekbatana, who is
losing his satrapy Assyria to Cyrus from the Persian tribe of the Mardoi/Amardians.
Of course, one has to look for yet other royal names of Cyaxares and Astyages.
After all, they ruled over many peoples. Yet, in Assyria Shamshi and Ishme
look like prime candidates. Yet, who is Cyaxares’ alter ego on his
Iranian home turf?
VI Cyaxares as Kutik-Inshushinak in Iran
Iran exhibits some of the most meticulous
stratigraphies of the Ancient Orient. Yet, chronologists are time and again
stunned that — after numerous levels
reaching from far back up to around 2000 BCE —
little is left for the next two millennia for which they expect all the action
described by Classical historians.
In the decisive publication covering the time spans of
Ancient Near Eastern history – Chronologies
in Old World Archaeology: Third Edition (Ehrich 1992) – the reader will be
surprised with chapter headings like “The Chronology of Mesopotamia, ca.
7000-1600 B.C.” (Porada et al. 1992, 77), or “The Chronology of Iran, ca.
8000-2000 B.C.” (Voigt et al. 1992, 122). Since, e.g. in Susa/Ville Royale,
the two millennia from -2000 to the Parthian period have only two strata against
the sixteen strata attributed to the millennium lasting from -3100 to -2000, he
may understand that such a short stratigraphy does not justify a separate
chapter for the more recent two millennia.
And yet, any reader would like to know why there are so
few strata for the 2000 years much closer to him. After all, he has already
learnt that the master stratigraphies of other areas, e.g. Nippur for Babylonia
and Nineveh for Assyria, also suffer from a similar scarcity of material for the
very same 2000 years. Nobody tells him that the period up to -1700 is Biblically
dated after Abraham the Patriarch whereas Achaemenids and Parthians still carry
the dates assigned to them by Classical historiography. The excavators
themselves are not aware of the basis of the chronology they confidently employ.
In Egypt, the search for Cyaxares arrives at Shaushatra.
Stratigraphically he follows, in Northern Mesopotamia/Syria, the Hyksos as
immediately as Shamshi-Adad follows their Old-Akkadian alter
ego in Nineveh and Assur. Who follows, in the same stratigraphic sequence,
the Old-Akkadian period in Susa, Iran’s most important metropolis? It is
Kutik-Inshushinak. In his Akkadian inscriptions he calls himself
Stratigraphies of Tepe Yahya (left; lowest level is VIID; cf. Voigt et al.
1992; with slightly different dates Potts 2004), and Susa (Ville Royale; middle; lowest level is 18; cf. Voigt
et al. 1992). For comparison, Babylonia’s stratigraphy of Nippur’s Inanna
Temple on the right (lowest level is XX; Hansen/Dales 1962,
Biblical dates are employed from -3rd millennium up to levels IVA, 3,
and III (Sothic date in II) respectively]
and Ciuk (1991) have shown that pottery of Nippur’s Old-Babylonian level III
and pottery of the Parthian period are clearly continuous and even partly
identical though supposedly up to 2000 years apart. Stratigraphically,
Nippur’s levels III to I – now stretched over 1800 years – belong to the
period of Achaemenids whose Nippur activities are beyond doubt (banking etc.).
Nippur’s stratum I is safely dated to Esarhaddon identified by this author as
the Achaemenid Great King Arsakes/Artaxerxes II in Assyrian garb. Esarhaddon’s
mother Sakutu (cuneiform sources) is the alter
ego of Artaxerxes’ mother Par-Syatis (Greek sources). Esarhaddon’s
vassal in Cyprus, Eresusar (cuneiform sources), is the alter
ego of Artaxerxes’ vassal in Cyprus, Euagoras (Greek sources).
Esarhaddon’s Egyptian opponent, Tachos (cuneiform sources), is the alter
ego of Artaxerxes’ Egyptian opponent, Tacharka (Greek sources; in detail
Heinsohn 2000, 83-91)
is not a native from Susa. Yet, he manages to conquer
that strategic city. Kutik’s political ambitions are permanently
challenged by an enigmatic power called Guti in the cuneiform sources (formerly
also read as Qutheans). His realm is under
intermittent attack from the declining Old-Akkadians and the rising Guti,
alternating with periods of peace and diplomatic approaches. However,
after taking Anshan – located in the area of the Mardians/Amardians identified
by this author as the Martu/Amorites of the cuneiform sources –
Kutik is able to subdue the Guti, throw off the yoke of the Akkadians,
and unite all of Iran under his rule. This achievement brings more than seventy
towns and cities “under his feet” (Hinz 1983, 388).
these deeds, Kutik looks very similar to Cyaxares, whose unification of Iran is
time and again disrupted by a declining Assyria and the treacherous Scythians:
“Tradition holds that at the end of Phraortes’ [father of Cyaxares] reign
there was a major invasion of Western Iran by nomadic Scythians who then held
political power in the region from 653 to 624 BC. Herodotus reported that
Cyaxares (625-585 BC) drove the Scythians out and re-established Median royal
power” (Cuyler Young Jr. 1980, 147). Nearly two decades ago, this author has
identified the Qutheans/Guti of the cuneiform sources as the Scythians of
Classical historiography (Heinsohn 1988, 110).
some two decades, Kutik has a presence in Susa (Biblically dated between -2240
and -2220, but also around -2100). Then, he is on record for a gigantic move
that is not yet comprehensible for modern Assyriology. He depicts himself as
conqueror of Mesopotamia. In an Akkadian inscription (Hinz 1983, 388), he lets
the world know that the power over the “Four Quarters” now rests with him.
Old-Akkadian royal title “King of the Four Quarters (Universe)” indicates
Kutik’s rule over a vast empire. But from where does he rule it? Here, the
sources fall silent. It is definitively not Susa. Yet, if Kutik moves into a
capital suiting his new empire, we may look for him at Nineveh. There, the post-Akkadian
“King of All” is an Amorite invader known under the Assyrian throne name of
leaving Susa for good, Kutik creates a linear script (Vallat 1978, 194). It is
called “Elamite” because the very same territory has texts of Proto-Elamite
and cuneiform Elamite. Only the latter can be read. Linear “Elamite”
consists of 80 symbols. It is written in vertical columns running from top to
bottom and left to right. After some twenty years, i.e. after the departure of
Kutik to his empire of the “Four Quarters”, this new script is not further
developed and goes out of use.
historians are convinced that from the “assumed imperial space [of the Medes]
not a single written document has been preserved”. If anybody still wants to
claim the veracity of the Median Empire he would have to admit, that the Medes
“would have created the only empire without writing skills in the 3000 years
of Ancient Near Eastern history” (Rollinger 2005, 3).
if Kutik is the Iranian original for Cyaxares of the Greek sources such
accusations of primitivism would turn out to be blatantly false. After all,
Cyaxares=Kutik does not only publish inscriptions in Akkadian but also
modernizes Iranian writing by introducing a very advanced linear script.
Moreover, as Shamshi-Adad as well as Shaushatra, Cyaxares employs his subjects
of Assyrian and Hurrian descent to use their cuneiform scripts for his
correspondence and royal inscriptions. How much more could be demanded from a
ruler who, admittedly, takes over the Near East as a martial invader?
the peculiar linear “Elamite” language written for twenty years under Kutik
the language of the Medes? The Median language is almost entirely unknown
(Schmitt 2003). If Linear Elamite was close to Avestan (McAlpin 1975) or
Scythian is, therefore, difficult to decide. On the other hand, Linear Elamite
developed by Kutik cannot yet be sufficiently read. Therefore, it may be
premature to rule out that this “Elamite” – other than Proto-Elamite and
cuneiform Elamite (used by the Achaemenids side by side with Persian and
Akkadian) – was the Median language in written form. One must not forget that
at the beginning of decipherment, cuneiform Elamite was called Median by
Grotefend, Rawlinson, Westergaard etc. Only in 1874, Archibald Henry Sayce
(1845-1933) suggested “Elamite”. Yet, nobody has proven thus far that Linear
Elamite belongs to the same language as cuneiform Elamite.
VII Cyaxares, a truly imperial monarch
Medes and their imperial reaches are saved from modern attempts to annihilate
them from the book of history. The moment, non-scholarly dating schemes are
excluded from the work of historiography, the stratigraphic location where one
has to look for the Median Empire becomes clear. It is the stratum immediately
below the Achaemenids who succeed them.
1500 or so years that separate Kutik-Inshushinak from the Achaemenids in Tepe
Yahya and Susa are due to a pseudo-hiatus. The stratigraphy is clearly
continuous. The stratigraphy based overview below, therefore, provides no less
clear information that Media’s greatest king, Cyaxares, is respected in the
vast territory from Egypt to Iran.
Cyaxares in historiography and stratigraphy:
* Achaemenid Satrapy Mudraya=Egypt; ** Achaemenid Satrapy Athura=Assyria. The Medes, that are so frequently mentioned in the Late Assyrian texts, are the Medes that time and again challenge the rule of their Achaemenid overlords.
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