By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
Urartu (earlier, Uruatri or Biblical Ararat) was a powerful kingdom centered on Lake Van in eastern Turkey, and was one of the most powerful Near Eastern states in the first three centuries of the 1st millennium. It began as a federation in the Armenian highlands, and during Shalmaneser I's time it was a loose federation of eight different mountain regions.
Amidst high mountains and narrow valleys was was its center at Lake Van, whose saline water is unsuitable for drinking and agriculture. Many rivers originate in the area, but go in all directions and are not navigable. People lived in villages in the valleys, where winter snows left them trapped. Urartu's southern territory came close to the Assyrian heartland, but its difficult territory protected Urartu from Assyrian advances.
|First Mentions||13th Cent||Assyrian kings campaigned north of Syria and discoverd what they called Nairi and Uruatri. These separate entities likely joined in response to Assyrian aggression.|
|9th Cent||From this time on, Assyrian kings mentioned fewer and more formidabel opponents in eastern Anatolia.|
|Sarduri I||Late 9th Cent||Assyrian king Shalmaneser III's accounts attest that Sarduri I unified Urartu into a state and initiated its royal dynasty. His immediate successors turned the state into an important power by campaigning in all directions from Lake Van and annexing territories as far north as Erebuni (modern Yerevan). They reached northern Syria in the west, and in the southeast the occupied the Zagros mountains adjoining the Assyrian heartland.|
|Sarduri II||Mid 8th Cent||Urartu was at the height of its power and controlled trade routes from northern Mesopotamia and Iran to the Mediterranean and to metal sources in Anatolia. The reorganization and subsequent expansion of Assyria led to direct conflict with Urartu.|
|Recension||Tiglath-Pileser III fought the Urartians in the west in Syria and Sargon II fought them in the south by moving troops through the Zagros mountains to the important Urartian religious site Musasir, cult-city of the most important god Haldi, which was plundered by Sargon II in 714 BC. Urartu thereafter was not a target of Assyrian campaigning.|
|Demise||Cimmerians from the north likely annihilated Urartu, as they later occupied the central Zagros mountains. Urartu met a violent end as most of its fortresses were burned down and by the late 6th century the Armenians had replaced the Urartians and the entire region was part of the Persian empire.|