Kassite dynasty of the Babylonian Empire
|circa 1600 BC — circa 1155 BC|
The Babylonian Empire under the Kassites, c. 13th century BC.
|Common languages||Kassite language|
• ca. 1500 BC
|Agum II (first)|
• 1157—1155 BC
|Historical era||Bronze Age|
|circa 1531 BC|
|circa 1531 BC|
|circa 1158 BC|
|circa 1155 BC|
|Today part of|
The Kassites ( // ) were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC (short chronology). The endonym of the Kassites was probably Galzu, although they have also been referred to by the names Kaššu, Kassi, Kasi or Kashi.
The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient Iran, Anatolia/Asia Minor and Armenian Highlands, the Levant, Cyprus and the Arabian Peninsula. The ancient Near East is studied in the fields of Near Eastern archaeology and ancient history.
Babylonia was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia. A small Amorite-ruled state emerged in 1894 BC, which contained the minor administrative town of Babylon. It was merely a small provincial town during the Akkadian Empire but greatly expanded during the reign of Hammurabi in the first half of the 18th century BC and became a major capital city. During the reign of Hammurabi and afterwards, Babylonia was called "the country of Akkad", a deliberate archaism in reference to the previous glory of the Akkadian Empire.
The short chronology is one of the chronologies of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, which fixes the reign of Hammurabi to 1728–1686 BC and the sack of Babylon to 1531 BC.
They gained control of 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 and later in Dur-Kurigalzu.The Kassites were members of a small military aristocracy but were efficient rulers and not locally unpopular, and their 500-year reign laid an essential groundwork for the development of subsequent Babylonian culture. The chariot and the horse, which the Kassites worshipped, first came into use in Babylonia at this time.
The Hittites were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing an empire centered on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around 1600 BC. This empire reached its height during the mid-14th century BC under Suppiluliuma I, when it encompassed an area that included most of Anatolia as well as parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia.
Dur-Kurigalzu was a city in southern Mesopotamia, near the confluence of the Tigris and Diyala rivers, about 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of the center of Baghdad. It was founded by a Kassite king of Babylon, Kurigalzu I, some time in the 14th century BC, and was abandoned after the fall of the Kassite dynasty. The prefix Dur- is an Akkadian term meaning "fortress of", while the Kassite royal name Kurigalzu, since it is repeated in the Kassite king list, may have a descriptive meaning as an epithet, such as "herder of the folk ". The city contained a ziggurat and temples dedicated to Sumerian gods, as well as a royal palace. The ziggurat was unusually well-preserved, standing to a height of about 52 metres (171 ft).
A chariot is a type of carriage driven by a charioteer, usually using horses to provide rapid motive power. Chariots were used by armies as transport or mobile archery platforms, for hunting or for racing, and as a conveniently fast way to travel for many ancient people.
The Kassite language has not been classified.What is known is that their language was not related to either the Indo-European language group, nor to Semitic or other Afro-Asiatic languages, and is most likely to have been a language isolate although some linguists have proposed a link to the Hurro-Urartian languages of Asia Minor. However, the arrival of the Kassites has been connected to the contemporary migrations of Indo-European peoples. Several Kassite leaders and deities bore Indo-European names, and it is possible that they were dominated by an Indo-European elite similar to the Mitanni, who ruled over the Hurro-Urartian-speaking Hurrians of Asia Minor.
Kassite was a language spoken by the Kassites in the Zagros Mountains of Iran and southern Mesopotamia from approximately the 18th to the 4th century BC. From the 16th to 12th centuries BC, kings of Kassite origin ruled in Babylon until they were overthrown by the Elamites.
An unclassified language is a language whose genetic affiliation has not been established. Languages can be unclassified for a variety of reasons, mostly due to a lack of reliable data but sometimes due to the confounding influence of language contact, if different layers of its vocabulary or morphology point in different directions and it is not clear which represents the ancestral form of the language. Some poorly known extinct languages, such as Gutian and Cacán, are simply unclassifiable, and it is unlikely the situation will ever change.
The Indo-European languages are a language family of several hundred related languages and dialects.
The original homeland of the Kassites is not well-known, but appears to have been located in the Zagros Mountains, in what is now the Lorestan Province of Iran. However, the Kassites were—like the Elamites, Gutians and Manneans who preceded them—linguistically unrelated to the Iranian-speaking peoples who came to dominate the region a millennium later.They first appeared in the annals of history in the 18th century BC when they attacked Babylonia in the 9th year of the reign of Samsu-iluna (reigned c. 1749–1712 BC), the son of Hammurabi. Samsu-iluna repelled them, as did Abi-Eshuh, but they subsequently gained control of Babylonia c. 1570 BC some 25 years after the fall of Babylon to the Hittites in c. 1595 BC, and went on to conquer the southern part of Mesopotamia, roughly corresponding to ancient Sumer and known as the Dynasty of the Sealand by c. 1460 BC. The Hittites had carried off the idol of the god Marduk, but the Kassite rulers regained possession, returned 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 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 was named in honour of Kurigalzu I (ca. early 14th century BC).
The Zagros Mountains are a long mountain range in Iran, Kurdistan and southeastern Turkey. This mountain range has a total length of 1,600 km (990 mi). The Zagros mountain range begins in northwestern Iran and roughly follows Iran's western border, while covering much of southeastern Turkey and northeastern Iraq. From this border region, the range roughly follows Iran's coast on the Persian Gulf. It spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau, ending at the Strait of Hormuz. The highest point is Mount Dena, at 4,409 metres (14,465 ft).
Lorestan Province, is a province of western Iran in the Zagros Mountains. The population of Lorestan was estimated at 1,716,527 people in 2006. In 2014 it was placed in Region 4.
Iran, also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. The country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center.
Their success was built upon the relative political stability that the Kassite monarchs achieved. They ruled Babylonia practically without interruption for almost four hundred years—the longest rule by any dynasty in Babylonian history.
The transformation of southern Mesopotamia into a territorial state, rather than a network of allied or combative city states, made Babylonia an international power, although it was often overshadowed by its northern neighbour, Assyria and by Elam to the east. Kassite kings established trade and diplomacy with Assyria. Puzur-Ashur III of 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 and other cities, and Babylonian merchants were active from Egypt (a major source of Nubian gold) to 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 off the southern coast of today's Turkey.
Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, parts of Northern Saudi Arabia, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.
Assyria, also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamian kingdom and empire of the ancient Near East and the Levant. It existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25th century BC until its collapse between 612 BC and 609 BC - spanning the periods of the Early to Middle Bronze Age through to the late Iron Age. From the end of the seventh century BC to the mid-seventh century AD, it survived as a geopolitical entity, for the most part ruled by foreign powers such as the Parthian and early Sasanian Empires between the mid-second century BC and late third century AD, the final part of which period saw Mesopotamia become a major centre of Syriac Christianity and the birthplace of the Church of the East.
Elam was an ancient Pre-Iranian civilization centered in the far west and southwest of what is now modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of what is now Khuzestan and Ilam Province as well as a small part of southern Iraq. The modern name Elam stems from the Sumerian transliteration elam(a), along with the later Akkadian elamtu, and the Elamite haltamti. Elamite states were among the leading political forces of the Ancient Near East. In classical literature Elam was also known as Susiana, a name derived from its capital Susa.
A further treaty between Kurigalzu I and Ashur-bel-nisheshu of Assyria was agreed in the mid-15th century BC. However, Babylonia found itself under attack and domination from Assyria for much of the next few centuries after the accession of Ashur-uballit I in 1365 BC who made Assyria (along with the Hittites and Egyptians) the major power in the Near East. Babylon was sacked by the Assyrian king Ashur-uballit I (1365–1330 BC)) in the 1360s after the Kassite king in Babylon who was married to the daughter of Ashur-uballit was murdered. Ashur-uballit promptly marched into 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 and his great grandson Adad-nirari I (1307–1275 BC) annexed Babylonian territory when he became king. Tukulti-Ninurta I (1244–1208 BC) not content with merely dominating Babylonia went further, conquering Babylonia, deposing Kashtiliash IV and ruling there for eight years in person from 1235 BC to 1227 BC.
Aššūr-bēl-nīšēšu, inscribed mdaš-šur-EN-UN.MEŠ--šú, and meaning “(the god) Aššur (is) lord of his people,” was the ruler of Assyria from 1417–1409 BC or 1407–1398 BC, the variants due to uncertainties in the later chronology. He succeeded his father, Aššur-nērārī II, to the throne and is best known for his treaty with Kassite king Karaindaš.
Ashur-uballit I(Aššur-uballiṭ I), who reigned between 1365 and 1330 BC, was the first king of the Middle Assyrian Empire. After his father Eriba-Adad I had broken Mitanni influence over Assyria, Ashur-uballit I's defeat of the Mitanni king Shuttarna II marks Assyria's ascendancy over the Hurri-Mitanni Empire, and the beginning of its emergence as a powerful empire. Later on, due to disorder in Babylonia following the death of the Kassite king Burnaburiash II, Ashur-uballit established Kurigalzu II on the Babylonian throne, in the first of what would become a series of Assyrian interventions in Babylonian affairs.
Egyptians are an ethnic group native to Egypt and the citizens of that country sharing a common culture and a common dialect known as Egyptian Arabic.
The Kassite kings maintained control of their realm through a network of provinces administered by governors. Almost equal with the royal cities of Babylon and Dur-Kurigalzu, the revived city of 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 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 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 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 conquered Babylonia in the 12th century BC, thus ending the Kassite state. The last Kassite king, Enlil-nadin-ahi, was taken to Susa and imprisoned there, where he also died.
The Kassites did briefly regain control over Babylonia with Dynasty V (1025–1004 BC); however, they were deposed once more, this time by an Aramean dynasty.
Kassites survived as a distinct ethnic group in the mountains of Lorestan (Luristan) long after the Kassite state collapsed. Babylonian records describe how the Assyrian king Sennacherib on his eastern campaign of 702 BC subdued the Kassites in a battle near Hulwan, Iran.
Herodotus and other ancient Greek writers sometimes referred to the region around Susa as "Cissia", a variant of the Kassite name. However, it is not clear if 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 by Strabo (13.3.6).
But 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 (17.59) (who called them "Kossaei") and 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 "in the winter", after which they stopped their tribute-seeking raids.
Strabo also wrote that the "Kossaei" contributed 13,000 archers to the army of Elymais in a war against Susa and Babylon. This statement is hard to understand, as Babylon had lost importance under Seleucid rule by the time 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 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 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 or Elymais against their own capital, which at that moment was apparently allied with or subject to 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 region, adjacent to the "Elymeans". This could represent one of many cases where Ptolemy relied on out-of-date sources.
It is believed[ by whom? ] that the name of the Kassites is preserved in the name of the Kashgan River, in Lorestan.
|Agum II or Agum-Kakrime||Returns Marduk statue to Babylon|
|Burnaburiash I||c. 1500 BC (short)||Treaty with Puzur-Ashur III of Assyria|
|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 of Assyria|
|Kadashman-harbe I||c. 1400 BC (short)||Campaign against the Sutû|
|Kurigalzu I||c. x-1375 BC (short)||Founder of Dur-Kurigalzu and contemporary of Thutmose IV|
|Kadashman-Enlil I||c. 1374—1360 BC (short)||Contemporary of Amenophis III of the Egyptian Amarna letters|
|Burnaburiash II||c. 1359—1333 BC (short)||Contemporary of Akhenaten and Ashur-uballit I|
|Kara-hardash||c. 1333 BC (short)||Grandson of Ashur-uballit I of Assyria|
|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 of Assyria|
|Kadashman-Turgu||c. 1281—1264 BC (short)||Contemporary of Hattusili III of the Hittites|
|Kadashman-Enlil II||c. 1263—1255 BC (short)||Contemporary of Hattusili III of the Hittites|
|Kudur-Enlil||c. 1254—1246 BC (short)||Time of Nippur renaissance|
|Shagarakti-Shuriash||c. 1245—1233 BC (short)||“Non-son of Kudur-Enlil” according to Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria|
|Kashtiliashu IV||c. 1232—1225 BC (short)||Deposed by 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 of Elam|
|Enlil-nadin-ahi||c. 1157—1155 BC (short)||Defeated by Kutir-Nahhunte II of Elam|
In spite of the fact that some of them took Babylonian names, the 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.
The Kassite language has not been classified.However, several Kassite leaders bore Indo-European names, and they might have had an Indo-European elite similar to the Mitanni. Over the centuries, however, the Kassites were absorbed into the Babylonian population. Eight among the last kings of the Kassite dynasty have Akkadian names, Kudur-Enlil's name is part Elamite and part Sumerian and Kassite princesses married into the royal family of Assyria.
Herodotus was almost certainly referring to Kassites when he described "Ethiopians [from] above Egypt" in the Persian army that invaded Greece in 492 BC.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 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 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, although more recently a possible relationship to the Hurro-Urartian family of Asia Minor has been proposed. 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 (see Balkan, 1954, passim; Jaritz, 1957 is to be used with caution). As is clear from this material, the Kassites spoke a language without a genetic relationship to any other known tongue.
The most notable Kassite artifacts are their 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.
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Kaštiliašu IV was the twenty-eighth Kassite king of Babylon and the kingdom contemporarily known as Kar-Duniaš, c. 1232–1225 BC. He succeeded Šagarakti-Šuriaš, who could have been his father, ruled for eight years, and went on to wage war against Assyria resulting in the catastrophic invasion of his homeland and his abject defeat.
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Kurigalzu I, usually inscribed ku-ri-gal-zu but also sometimes with the m or d determinative, the 17th king of the Kassite or 3rd dynasty that ruled over Babylon, was responsible for one of the most extensive and widespread building programs for which evidence has survived in Babylonia. The autobiography of Kurigalzu is one of the inscriptions which record that he was the son of Kadašman-Ḫarbe. Galzu, whose possible native pronunciation was gal-du or gal-šu, was the name by which the Kassites called themselves and Kurigalzu may mean Shepherd of the Kassites.
Kurigalzu II was the 22nd king of the Kassite or 3rd dynasty that ruled over Babylon. In more than twelve inscriptions, Kurigalzu names Burna-Buriaš II as his father. Kurigalzu II was placed on the Kassite throne by the Assyrian king Aššur-Uballiṭ I, reigned during a period of weakness and instability for twenty five years, eventually turning on his former allies and quite possibly defeating them at the battle of Sugagu. He was once thought to have been the conqueror of the Elamites but this now tends to be assigned to the earlier king of this name, together with the Chronicle P account.
Kudur-Enlil, Ku-durdEN.LÍL, “son of Enlil,” was the 26th king of the 3rd or Kassite dynasty of Babylon. He reigned into his ninth year, as attested in contemporary economic tablets. His relationship with his predecessor and successor is uncertain and does not appear in contemporary inscriptions.
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Among the names of Kassite kings are some which appear to contain Indo-European elements, as though they belonged to families which had once used Indo-European speech, but had lost it as their official language, through assimilation to the people of Kassite speech whose movements they were now directing. Some Kassite deities too seem to have Indo-European names.
That there was a migration of Indo-European speakers, possibly in waves, which can be dated to the 2nd millennium bc, is clear from archaeological and epigraphic evidence in western Asia. Mesopotamia witnessed the arrival, in about 1760 bc, of the Kassites, who introduced the horse and the chariot and bore such obviously Indo- European names as Surias, Indas, and Maruttas (Surya, Indra, and Marutah in Sanskrit).
During the 2nd millennium the long process began by which Indo-European peoples from the northern steppes beyond the Caucasus established themselves about Western Asia, Iran and northern India. Their earliest pressure perhaps drove some the native peoples of the mountains to migrate or infiltrate and sometimes come as invaders into Mesopotamia and northern Syria, even in the 3rd millennium. The Indo-Europeans then drove their way through these peoples, drawing many of them in their train as subjects or allies, and appeared themselves early in the 2nd millennium as invaders and conquerors in the Near East. For the first half of the millenium the highlanders under Indo-European leadership dominated the older peoples of the plains, most of whom were Semites. The most powerful of these Indo-Europeans were the Hittites who ruled Anatolia, and later extended their dominion over northern Syria, but their connection with our three cultures is not direct, unles more Hittite influence was felt in Urartu than has so far appeared. Two other peoples are directly relevant, namely the Kassites from the Zagros mountains in the region of Luristan, and the Hurrians, who spread from regions further north, particularly from Armenia. Both were themselves native peoples of the highland, and spoke languages which were not Indo-European, but belonged to a group sometimes loosely called Caucasian, once widespread but later surviving only in the Caucasus. They were led by Indo- European aristocracies small in numbers but great in energy and achievement. They were the first to use the horse in war to draw the light chariot with spoked wheels. Indo-European names of gods at least appear among the Kassites, and of gods and rulers much more obviously among the Hurrians, in whom this element was clearly stronger. In both cases the names reveal the Indic branch of the Indo-European family, of which the main body moved through Iran to conquer northern India.
The Kassite dynasty of Mesopotamia (with Indo-European names) was established early in the second millennium B.C.
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