Akkadian was one of the languages spoken and written in Mesopotamia as early as the 3rd millennium BCE. It is one of the oldest Semitic languages. Its name comes from the city of Akkad founded by Sargon I (2334-2279 BCE). The last texts written in Akkadian date from the 1st century CE.


Goddess, consort of the sky god Anu.

Anu (An)

Anu, or An in Sumerian, was the god of heaven, and the king of the gods in the Mesopotamian pantheon. He was displaced by Enlil in the third millennium and then by Marduk in the pantheon of the 1st millennium BCE. He was particularly revered in the city of Uruk.


Aramaic is a Semitic language. It emerged in the 1st millennium BCE in the Near East where its alphabetical writing system spread throughout this period.

860-844 (?) BCE

Founder of the first Urartian kingdom around Lake Van.

Argishti I (Argišti I)
787-766 BCE

King of Urartu. He took advantage of unrest in Assyria to extend his possessions southwards.

Argishti II (Argišti II)

King of Urartu. He acceded to the throne after the suicide of his father Rusa I. He spent part of his reign resisting Cimmerian incursions into the northwest of the Empire.

Arû (standard large cubit)

Unit of length measurement in the "old" metrology system of the Esagil tablet. Equivalent to 75 cm.

Aslu (standard cubit)

Unit of length measurement in the “new" metrology system of the Esagil tablet. Equivalent to 50 cm.


Assyria refers to both the area dominated by Assyrian rulers and a region of upper Mesopotamia between the cities of Nineveh, Erbil and Ashur - the Assyrian triangle.


The azâmu, in the Esagil tablet, is an architectural term that refers to the corner of a building extending into the Great Court and reducing its surface area. It is connected to another court called Ubshu-ukkinna.


Babylonia occupied Lower Mesopotamia between Baghdad and the Persian Gulf. The area was previously divided into two countries: Sumer and Akkad.


Goddess and consort to the god Bari (land of)

Province of the land of Sangibutu, bordering Urartu. The province specialised in the breeding of royal (sheep) flocks. The king mentions that the plains were covered in vast enclosures to pen animals. The land of Bari corresponds to the northern shores of Lake Urmia in Iran.


City of Babylonia to the southeast Babylon where Birs Nimrud is located today. The god Nabû was worshipped there in the temple of Ezida. Extensive archives dating from the Hellenistic period have been found there, suggesting a Babylonian cultural and religious tradition was still alive at that time.

Creation Epic (Enûma-eliš)

This Babylonian literary text was composed at the end of the 2nd millennium BCE. It tells of the origin of the world and the appearance of gods and men. Initially, there were only two entities: Tiamat, salt water, and Apsû, fresh water. The other gods are descended from them. The epic describes the conflicts that arose between the gods and Marduk’s victory in a cosmic battle against Tiamat. Marduk then used Tiamat's body to create the world, and incited his father Ea to create mankind (in older literary texts, Ea created man). This poem to the glory of Marduk explains his status as king of the gods, which he acquired at the end of the 2nd millennium BCE, and which mirrored the growing political influence of the city of Babylon in Mesopotamia.


The term cuneiform refers to “wedge-shaped" writing (from the Latin cuneus for wedge), used for many ancient Near Eastern languages. The earliest surviving records of writing are composed of ideograms in the form of drawings or symbols. The drawings were later simplified and transformed into an assembly of strokes, the wedges, as it was easier to press them into the clay using a sharpened reed pen. Cuneiform writing evolved over time. The Sumerians invented this writing system and the Akkadians borrowed it to record their own language. Various languages, Semitic and Indo-European, have been written in cuneiform including Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, Hurrian, Elamite and Persian.


Curses on kudurrus were inscribed at the end of the contract to bring misfortune to anyone who challenged the decision or damaged the stela. Curses invoked the power of the gods, who could unleash the forces of evil against anyone who did not respect the terms of the contract. There were also rituals to break curses placed on individuals.


Demons were evil creatures and existed in various forms. Initially seen as agents of the gods, who executed their orders, they became, in the 1st millennium BCE, autonomous entities, who emerged from the underworld to torment humans.


Divination was an important discipline for a variety of professions. At its most basic level, divination was the interpretation of the will of the gods, not only in the future and present, but also in the past, if someone wished to find the cause of a given situation. There were two main types of divination: spontaneous divination, when the gods sent messages to men, and induced divination, when men turned to the gods for answers.

Divinatory priest

The divinatory priest or soothsayer (barû) was a specialist in hepatoscopy - the observation of the entrails and liver of sacrificed animals, most often sheep. Kings would call on the help of divinatory priests to question the gods before taking a political decision. Moving anticlockwise, the priest made a thorough examination of the liver. Numerous clay models of livers with annotations have been found.


"Doctors" (asû) were a category of exorcists who appear to have had the exclusive right to administer remedies.

Ea (Enki)

Ea, or Enki in Sumerian, was the god of wisdom and technology in the Mesopotamian pantheon. He was Enlil's brother and Marduk's father.


Elam was an ancient region on the Iranian Plateau in the southwest of the country,  bordering southern Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf. Its main town was Susa.


God of royalty in the ancient Mesopotamian pantheon. 


One of the capitals of theArgišti I and gradually established itself as the effective capital ofUrarṭu, eclipsing the city of Tušpa, (Van Kalesi in Turkey)

Ereshkigal (Ereškigal)

Goddess of the underworld, wife of the god Nergal.


Esagil is the name of the sanctuary - a group of buildings, temples and chapels - dedicated to the god Marduk in Babylon. Its existence is historically attested as early as the 2nd millennium BCE. Its name means "the temple (é) whose head (sag) is elevated (íl)".


Etememanki is the name of the ziggurat of Babylon. It means “platform of the foundation of Heaven and Earth". 

Evil demons

The evil demons,utukku lemnûtu, were the seven malevolent demons who escorted the god of the underworld, Nergal. Their names were South Wind, Dragon, Panther, Viper, Lion, Whirlwind and Hurricane.


Exorcism was intended to ward off evil by calling on the help of the gods. They were used to treat illnesses, avert bad omens, protect against financial loss and nurture romantic relationships. The exorcist priest was the ashipû (ašipû). Exorcists claimed their knowledge was handed down to them by the gods Ea and Asalluhi.


"Conjuring" priests were specialists in exorcism. The training was long; an exorcist's manual found in Ashur (Aššur) lists the titles of more than one hundred works on exorcism.


Genii were beneficent creatures who protected mankind. They had the power to fight evil forces. Representations of genii, in the form of statues or amulets, were often placed near doors and windows to ward off evil. One example is the aladlamû, the winged bulls that protected the gates of Assyrian palaces.

Gilgamesh, epic of (Gilgameš)

This epic tells of the adventures of the king of Uruk, Gilgamesh (Gilgameš), and his search for immortality. It was a celebrated tale in the Mesopotamian world and has been copied many times. Its earliest version dates back to the 2nd millennium BCE.

Gutti, land of

Name used to refer to a people in sources from the 3rd and 2nd millennia, and a geographical area located in the mountainous regions of northern Zagros.

Habhu, land of (Ḫabḫu)

Mountainous land neighbouring the land of Musasir (Muṣaṣir)

Haldi, god (Ḫaldi)

God originating from the land and the city of Musasir (Muṣaṣir), Haldi (Ḫaldi) was initially a deity linked to the mountains and chthonian forces. The conquest and integration of the region of Musasir into the Urartian orbit by Ishpuini I (Išpuni I) (830/25-810/5 BCE) propelled Haldi to the head of the pantheon. He is constantly mentioned in royal and monumental inscriptions, where he was associated with the monarchy, together with Teisheba (Teišeba), god of thunderstorms, and Shivini-Artin, god of the sun, forming the Urartian triad. He also occupied a prominent place in the religious and political calendar: several feasts were celebrated in his name throughout the year, and he was the deity who received the greatest number of offerings, animals (sheep, goats and horses), precious objects and especially weapons. God of the dynasty, the spread of his cult depended on the effectiveness of royal policy. From his temple inMusasir, he gave his consent to the candidate for the throne ofBiainili(Urartu). As the dynasty grew in strength, Haldi became more warlike. He spearheaded an expansionist policy, led troops into battle, and many conquests were made in honour of his greatness. There are many analogies between Haldi and his opponent, the god Ashur (Aššur), the latter obviously partly inspired the role played by Haldi in Urartu. In many respects, the two gods shared a common destiny; originating in northern Mesopotamia, they went from being local gods, linked to the mountains, to become national gods and standard bearers of imperialist policy. 

Hanpa, god (Ḫanpa)

The god Hanpa is the father of the demon Pazuzu.

Harmakki (Ḫarmakki)
8th century.

Scholar, scribe of the king and father of Nabu-shallim-shunu (Nabu-šallim-šunu), the scribe of the Eighth Campaign of Sargon II.


Unit of surface measurement in the "old" metrology system of the Esagil tablet. Equivalent to 8,100 m2.

?- 719 BCE

Lord of the land of Massi, one of the kingdoms in the land of Mannaeans, and vassal of Assyria. He is the father ofIzā and Ullusunnu. Sargon II led a campaign in 719 to lend him military support.


Farmland in Mesopotamia was irrigated by the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This water was essential as the region did not receive enough rainfall to practice dry farming. Water flowed into the fields through complex networks of man-made canals using gravity. The most common crops were barley, legumes and date palms. The god of rain and storms, Adad, was the protector of irrigation.

Ishpuni I (Išpuini I)

King of Urartu, he is considered the true founder of the empire. He conquered large swathes of territory in the north of Assyria, including the land of Musasir (Muṣaṣir) and the land of the Mannaeans. Under his reign, the god Haldi (Ḫaldi) became the major deity of the Urartian pantheon.

Ishtar (Ištar)

Goddess of love and war in the Mesopotamian pantheon. Daughter of the sun god Shamash (Šamaš).

8th century.

Name of the Assyrian governor of the city of Arrapha, who gave his name to the Assyrian year, corresponding to the date 714 BCE.


Lord of the land of Massi, one of the kingdoms in the land of Mannaeans, and brother of Ullusunnu. He succeeded his father Iranzû and became the vassal of Assyria. He was defeated in the first battle of Mount Wa'ush (Wa'uš) in 716 BCE and his body thrown into a ravine.


Main entrance door of the Esagil sanctuary, leading to the processional way and the Ishtar Gate. The king would enter through this door to worship the god Marduk during important ceremonies, and it was through this door that the god would leave the temple during processions. The Ka-Sikilla enclosure is probably a space in the temple square.


The Kassite people may have originated in the Zagros Mountains. The Kassites appeared in Babylon in the 18th century BCE. Kassite kings ruled Babylon between the mid-2nd millennium - after the Hittites took Babylon in 1595, ending the Hammurabi dynasty - and the 12th century BCE. They controlled all Lower Mesopotamia, then called Karduniaš.


Babylonian calendar month: November-December.


A stela in Kassite Mesopotamia bearing inscriptions describing grants of land. Divine symbols were placed around the text to protect landholdings from rival claimants. Kudurrus were kept in temples.

Lamashtu (Lamaštu)

The Lamashtu (Lamaštu) was a demon that primarily attacked pregnant women and infants, whom she sought to devour. She was a fallen goddess. The gods banished her from their ranks after she demanded to eat human flesh. Amulets to repel Lamashtu have been found in large numbers, particularly in Assyria.


The demon Lilû was originally a storm demon. He later represented the incubus, the demon of the night that lay upon women in their sleep. The female equivalents of the Lilû were the succubae, the demons Lilîtu and Ardat-Lilî.

Mannaeans, land of

 Conglomerate of kingdoms established along the eastern side of the Zagros Mountains and on the plateaus south of Lake Urmia. The land of the Mannaeans was composed of several kingdoms and provinces, including the land of Missi, the land of Andia, the land of Zikirtu, the land of Washdish, and the land of Zaranda, the northernmost of the Mannaean kingdoms. The land of the Mannaeans was the subject of a bitter struggle between Assyria and Urartu. It was the main theatre of military operations during the Eighth Campaign. 


Marduk was the most powerful god in the pantheon of the city of Babylon. Originally a minor agricultural deity, Marduk owed his promotion to the political power gained by Babylon under the Hammurabi (18th century BCE). Written in the late 2nd millennium BCE, the creation epic recounts how Marduk became king of the gods after defeating the primordial goddess Tiamat.


Mesopotamia was a patriarchal society and when a bride married she joined her husband's family. Usually, the marriage was decided by two families, and gave rise to transfers of property, including the dowry and dower and various gifts. Numerous marriage contracts have been discovered. Although the husband usually managed the family property, it may have been entrusted to his wife in his absence. For example, the wives of Assyrian merchants managed the family business when their husbands travelled to Anatolia for trade.

Ménua (805-788),

King of Urartu, son of Argishti I (Argišti I). He is known mainly from bilingual inscriptions found in the mountains of southeast Turkey. An energetic sovereign, he continued his father's policy of expansion into eastern and central Anatolia and targeted the Syrian possessions of Assyria.

8th century.

Lord of Zikirtu and Andia, provinces of the land of the Mannaeans. He was used to implement Urartian policies in the region and took part in both battles of Mount Wa'ush (Wa'uš), in 716 and 714, alongside Rusa I. Vassal and supporter of the Urartian dynasty, he was involved in multiple actions against Assyria and its vassals. For Sargon II, one of the aims of the Eighth Campaign was to put an end to his actions in the land of the Mannaeans.

Middle Babylonian

This term refers to a form of cuneiform writing and of the Akkadian language specific to southern Mesopotamia during the second half of the 2nd millennium BCE. It also refers to the political period from the fall of the first Babylonian dynasty (1595 BCE) to the beginning of 1st millennium BCE.


The mulugu was not the wife's dowry. It was a gift given to her by her father in addition to her dowry. Unlike the dowry, which was managed by the husband, the mulugu remained at the wife’s disposal.

Musasir (Muṣaṣir)

Musasir (Muṣaṣir) refers to both a country and a city in northeast Assyria. Musasir very probably corresponds to the present-day village of Mudjesir in Iraqi Kurdistan, not far from the Iranian border. The city was home to the temple of the god Haldi and the seat of a principality acquired from the Urartian empire. It was taken and sacked in the first days of November 714 by the armies of Sargon II.

Musharu (mušaru)

Unit of surface measurement in the "old" metrology system of the Esagil tablet. Equivalent to 81 m2.


There were many myths in Mesopotamian culture. They took the form of hymns, tales and epics. Among the most famous are the Gilgamesh Epic, the Erra Epic, the Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld, Atra-hasîs, the Myth of Anzû, the Etana Epic, and the Creation Epic.


Mesopotamian god of writing.

Son of Marduk in the Babylonian pantheon.

Nabû-shallim-shunu (Nabû-šallim-šunu)

Assyrian scribe, son of Harmakki and scribe of the Eighth Campaign of Sargon II.

Nairi, land of

Name given to Urartu in the cuneiform sources of the 2nd millennium. The territories of the Nairi are located between the lakes of Van and the western shores of Lake Urmia. The Eighth Campaign crossed through Nairi territory.


This Akkadian term refers to a stela, which could be used as a medium for writing.

Nebuchadnezzar I
1126-1105 BCE

Nebuchadnezzar I occupied the throne of Babylon between 1126 and 1105 BCE. He is famous for his crushing victory against the Elamites, and recovering the statue of the god Marduk which had been stolen and taken to Susa. It was during his reign that the god Marduk was placed at the head of the Mesopotamian pantheon and Babylon became the religious capital of Mesopotamia. The Creation Epic, the mythological text that explains Marduk’s supremacy, was written during this period.

Nebuchadnezzar II
٦٠٤ - ٥٦٢ ق.م.

Nebuchadnezzar II was one of the greatest kings of the Neo-Babylonian period. His reign (604-562 BCE) marked the high point of the Neo-Babylonian empire. He was the successor of Nabopolassar. His name means "god Nabu, watch over my heirs". His reign was marked by major military conquests. He defeated the kingdom of Judah and deported part of its population after the siege of Jerusalem (597 BCE). He ordered the rebuilding of Babylon and the construction of great monuments revealed during archaeological excavations.


An early form of the cuneiform writing system and the Akkadian language. Neo-Babylonian also refers to the political period of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, from 626 to 539 BCE, and more generally to the whole of the 1st millennium BCE.


God of the infernal regions, lord of the underworld. He was venerated in Kutha, a city near Babylon, in the sanctuary of Emeslam.


Unit of length measurement used in the Esagil tablet. According to the "old" measurement system, 1 nindanu = 9 metres; according to the "new" measurement system, 1 nindanu = 6 metres.


God and minister of Enlil.


Grain capacity measurement according to surface area following the “new" measuring system on the Esagil tablet: 1 pânu = 6 sûtu = 2700 m2


Watercourse, one of the three rivers marking the southern limits of the land of Ayadi

Grain capacity measurement according to surface area following the “old" measuring system on the Esagil tablet: 1 qû = 3 1/3 musharu = 270 m2

According to the “new" measurement system of the Esagil tablet: 1 qû = 1/6 sūtu = 75 m2

Capacity-surface unit of measurement in the "old" metrology system of the Esagil tablet. Equivalent to 270 m2.


Rituals are sets of gestures and words spoken in religious ceremonies and which follow strict rules. Only specialists could perform these rituals.


Name of a city in the Soran district of Iraqi Kurdistan, a river tributary of the Lower Zab, and a pass through the northern chain of the Zagros Mountains, between the Iranian Plateau and the plains of northern Mesopotamia. The city is sometimes identified as the ancient Musasir (Muṣaṣir). 

Rusa I (Ursa)
730-713 BCE

King of Urartu. Rusa I(Ursâ) was the son of Sarduri I and the father of Argishti II, his successor. On the death of his father, his accession was challenged, and he had to secure the throne by force, as seems to be indicated by the inscription on the chariot he consecrated to the god Haldi, in the temple of Musasir. He was most probably from the city of Arbu, northwest of Lake Urmia. He made a major contribution to the region by ordering hydraulic works to enable the royal city of Ulhu to benefit from an efficient irrigation system. He also built a palace and a royal garden and owned an impressive building in which he kept large quantities of wine. Despite a series of dramatic events in the last year of his reign, his rule marked the high point of Urartian military power. Rusa I was the main adversary of Sargon II and the only ruler in the Near East able to put up serious resistance to him. In 720, he began to extend his sovereignty over the land of the Mannaeans by breaking the system of alliances set up by the Assyrians. He won his first victory in 716, at Mount Wa’ush, and took several strongholds in northern Assyria. In the late summer of 714, the second battle of Mount Wa'ush turned to disaster for Rusa I, who fled to the north of his empire. Shortly before the end of 714, or even at the beginning of 713, he was again defeated by a Cimmerian army. The capture of Musasir and the violation of the temple of Haldi, together with his two defeats in 714, led Rusa Ito kill himself using his own sword in the first months of the year 713.

Sahand, Mount

Volcanic mountain which rises to an altitude of 3,707 metres in the north of Iran and south of the city of Tabriz. It is probably the ancient Mount Wa'ush (Wa'uš).

Salmanazar I
1274-1245 BCE

King of Assyria. During a military campaign in northern Assyria, he mentions the land ofUruatri, bordering Lake Van. This is the first occurrence of the term Urartu in Assyrian inscriptions.

Salmanazar III
858-824 BCE

King of Assyria. He led two victorious military campaigns against Urartu, an area still named the Land of Nairi. 

Salmanazar V
728-722 BCE

(= Salmanasar V).

King of Assyria (726-722). He is probably the brother of Sargon II and Sîn-ahu-usur (Sîn-aḫu-uṣur). He was overthrown in 722 by a revolt of urban elites.

Sangibutu, land of

Province of Urartu whose territories extended to the Armenian plateaus. The province had many fortress towns which rose above the mountain peaks of the Arzabia Mountains. The Sangibutu was used as a proxy territory for the expansionist policies of the Urartians in the land of the Mannaeans.

Sarduri I
832-825 BCE

King of Urartu, he was a contemporary of Salmanazar III. He managed to consolidate the kingdom founded by Aramu.

Sarduri II
753-733 BCE

King of Urartu. He fought several times against Tiglath-Phalasar III who besieged him all the way to his own capital, Tushpa. Despite a handful of military setbacks against Assyria, his reign coincided with a period of economic expansion for the Urartian Empire. He was the father of King Rusa I, his successor.

Sargon I of Assyria
circa 2100 BCE.

King of Ashur (Aššur) from the dynasty of Puzur-Assur.

Sargon II
٧٢١ - ٧٠٥

Sargon II was a king of Assyria in the neo-Assyrian period [9th-7th centuries BCE], who ruled over much of the Near East between 721 and 705 BCE. He was the son of King Tiglath-Phalazar III and brother of King Salmanazar V, who preceded him on the throne. He was the second Assyrian ruler, after Sargon I of Assyria, to bear the name of "legitimate king". Sargon II was the model Assyrian ruler, and his reign, which is well documented, coincides with a period of political and economic expansion in Assyria. He was the ultimate warrior king and led more than a dozen victorious military campaigns across the Near East and along its periphery, and extended the borders of Assyria to the edge of Central Anatolia. He subdued vast kingdoms and made vassals of important rulers. In 714 BCE, he defeated the king of Urartu, Rusa I, on the slopes of Mount Wa'ush. Sargon II was also a builder king and one of the outstanding achievements of his reign was the founding of a new capital, Dûr-Sharrukîn, the fortress of Sargon, near the present-day village of Khorsabad in Iraq. After the Eighth Campaign, Sargon II reigned for another decade. He pursued an expansionist policy and conducted several military campaigns in Babylonia and the Levant. In 705, the elderly king launched another military campaign in southeast Anatolia. Cimmerian incursions had destabilised the local political situation and Sargon II intervened in support of a client kingdom. The king was defeated and killed in battle. His body was never found, depriving him of burial. His tragic end profoundly marked his contemporaries, especially his son and successor, King Sennacherib. The new king consulted divinatory priests and the oracles to understand why the gods had turned against his father. Although we do not know what answers Sennacherib received, one reason seems to have been Sargon II's odd habit of breaking oaths with other rulers.

Sargon of Akkad
circa 2300

King of Sumer and Akkad. His reign had a considerable influence on the policies adopted by many Mesopotamian rulers.

Second Dynasty of Isin

The Second Dynasty of Isin takes its name from the city of Isin, where it originated. This dynasty ruled over Babylonia at the end of 2nd millennium BCE, and its most famous king was Nebuchadnezzar I.

Seleucos I

Greek king, general and then successor to Alexander in the East. He founded the Seleucid kingdom.


The shahûru is the floor where the temple is located at the top of the Ziggurat, in the Esagil tablet.

simdu (ṣimdu)

Capacity-surface unit of measurement in the “old" metrology system of the Esagil tablet. Equivalent to 81,000 m2.

Simmiriya, Mount

The first mountain crossed by the troops of Sargon II, marking a natural and fantastical frontier between Assyria and the territories targeted by the Eighth Campaign. According to information provided by Sargon II, the army crossed the plains south of Erbil and then headed towards the Birah-Magrun massif.

Sîn-ahu-usur (Sîn-aḫu-uṣur)
8th century

Assyrian prince. He was the son of King Tiglath-Phalazar III and brother of the kings Salmanazar V and Sargon II. During the Eighth Campaign,Sin-aḫu-uṣur carried the highly prestigious and rare title in Assyrian documents ofsukkalmaḫḫu (grand-vizier or generalissimo,) and was among the participants in the campaign, where he is mentioned in line 132. Sargon II seemed very attached to this brother, describing him asaḫu talimu, his favourite brother, and built a palatial residence for him at Dûr-Sharrukîn


The main town in the land of Massi, one of the kingdoms in the land of the Mannaeans, Sirdakka was a stronghold controlled by Ullusunnu. Sargon II gathered his vassals there for a banquet during which he pledged to remove the Urartian threat.

Subī, land of

Name given to the land of Zaranda in Assyrian sources.


The suhatu, in the Esagil tablet, is an architectural element interpreted as a space associated with the Arkabinnu Gate, which is part of the Small Court of Ishtar and Zababa and increases its surface area.


The first known language in Mesopotamia, it was spoken by the Sumerian people who occupied southern Iraq in the 3rd millennium BCE. The cuneiform writing system was used to write the Sumerian language and then Akkadian. Sumerian is not related to any other known language. It was "agglutinating" because it works by adding prefixes and suffixes on an invariable root. Although Sumerian ceased to be a living language in Mesopotamia from the 2nd millennium BCE, it was still employed in some literary and scholarly texts after this date, and some Sumerian ideograms were also still in use.

suppân (ṣuppân)

Unit of length measurement in the “new" metrology system of the Esagil tablet. Equivalent to 30 m.


Capacity measurement unit according to surface area in the “new" metrology system of the Esagil tablet. Equivalent to 450 m2.

Tab-shar-Assur (Ṭab-Šar-Aššur)
8th century.

Chief Treasurer-masennuof Sargon II. He was entrusted with the 714 campaign tablet after its inscription. He played an important economic role in the founding of Dûr-Sharrukîn.

Tashmetum (Tašmetum)

Mesopotamian goddess, wife of Nabû in the Babylonian pantheon.

Tiglath-Phalazar III
747-728 BCE

(= Tiglath-phalasar III). King of Assyria (745-727). He brought an end to more than a century of Urartu expansion. He launched a particularly ambitious military campaign that led him to the capital Tushpa, on the shores of Lake Van, to which he laid siege. He radically reorganised the Assyrian empire by transforming former vassal kingdoms into provinces. In 729-728 BCE, he ascended the throne of Babylon, referred to as the reign of Pulu.

Tushpa (Tušpa)

One of the capitals of the Urartu Empire, now Van Kalesi, citadel of Van (Turkey). The city was chosen as the centre of the kingdom of Urartu by Sarduri I. Located on the shores of Lake Van, it became the imperial capital at the end of the 9th century, and remained so until the foundation around 782(?) BCE by Argishti I of the city of Erebuni. The city of Tushpa was besieged by Tiglath-Phalasar III in the middle of the 8th century.

Ulhu (Ulḫu)

The royal city of Urartu most probably located north of Lake Urmia, in the plains of Khoy. Rusa I made extensive changes to the city and its surrounding area and built a sumptuous palace with a garden planted with fragrant trees.

8th century.

Lord of the land of Massi, then raised to the rank of king of the land of the Mannaeans by Sargon II. Ullusunnu was the son of Iranzu and the brother of Izâ, whom he succeeded after his tragic death in 716 at the battle of Mount Wa'ush (Wa'uš). As a vassal, Ullusunnu was vulnerable to constant pressure from Urartu and its allies. One of the aims of the 714 campaign was to provide him with military support. He was symbolically reinstated at the head of the land of the Mannaeans at the Sirdakka banquet and his son was sent to Assyria to be raised there.

Urartian, language

The Urartian language was written using the cuneiform system borrowed from the Assyrian syllabary. It is a language mainly attested to in bilingual royal inscriptions, where it appeared in the 8th century BCE, alongside the Assyrian language. Its geographical origin has not been determined with any certainty and it may have arisen in the Caucasus. However, Urartologists believe it may be related to the Hurrian language, which was in use in southeast Turkey, Syria and northern Iraq during the 2nd millennium BCE, and to Kassite language.

Urartu (Urarṭu)

Name used by the Assyrians and now by historians to refer tothe Biainili Empire, a major political power that dominated the land between eastern Turkey and the western plateaus of Azerbaijan, between the 9th century and the end of the 6th century BCE.

Urmia, Lake

Salt lake in northwest Iran. Its basin has an area of 5,200 km2. It is 145 km long and 56.5 km wide. It was the main theatre of operations during the Eighth Campaign.

8th century.

Lord of the land of Musasir (Muṣaṣir). Urzana was portrayed by Sargon II as a mountain savage who did not respect the oaths taken to the gods. He embodied the deceitful enemy who had turned away from Assyria and placed his trust in Rusa the Urartian. He did not obey the orders of Ashur (Aššur), constantly betrayed his oaths taken to the gods and did not recognise the legitimate authority of Sargon II. However, Urzana remained an important authority locally and was sometimes referred to as the king of Musasir in documents. He reigned over a territory disputed between Assyria and Urartu (Urarṭu), but in addition to his political responsibilities, he was also in charge of organising the cult of the god Haldi (Ḫaldi). Letters tell us that he hosted many leading Urartian and Assyrian figures. The cult of Haldi did not exclusively concern the Urartians; the temple welcomed both the king of Urartu and his counterpart and rival, the king of Assyria. Urzana travelled extensively across the region and reported regularly on his activities. He informed the Assyrians of the defeat of Rusa I at the hands of the Cimmerians, for example. He was not entirely subject to Urartian power, but was often caught in the crossfire, and only managed to maintain a semblance of independence through skilful diplomacy.

Van (Lake)

Salt lake of volcanic origin in eastern Turkey. It currently covers an area of 3,700 km2. It is the geographic heart of the confederation of the Biainili, Van territory, in Urartian. 

Wa'ush, mount (Wa'uš)

Mountain located in the land of Washdish (Wašdiš). In 714, during the second battle of Mount Wa'ush (Wa'uš), Assyrian troops led by Sargon II clashed with the Urartian army commanded by Rusa I. Mount Wa'ush is probably the present-day Mount Sahand.

Waya’is, fortress of

A stronghold marking the southern border of the Urartu Empire and the frontier between the province of Ayadi and the northern territories of the land of Nairi. The fortress is located in a highly strategic position and housed the relief garrisons and supplies of the Urartian armies. Sargon II admired this outstanding building which he took by surprise.

Wishdish (Wišdiš), land of

Land and province of the land of the Mannaeans, between the land of Zikirtu in the south and the land of Zaranda in the north. It was a province that had recently been incorporated into Urartu. Mount Wa'ush (Wa'uš) is in the land of Washdish

8th century.

Lord of Nairi (southwest region of Lake Urmia). He willingly travelled more than 120 kilometres from his capital city to pledge allegiance to Sargon II on the march back to Assyria.


Warrior god. Husband of Ishtar (Ištar) in the pantheon of the city of Kish (Kiš).

Zagros, mountains

The Zagros Mountains stretch over more than 1,500 km from northwest Iran to the Strait of Hormuz, rising to over 4,000 metres. The chain marks a natural border between the plains of Mesopotamia and the Iranian Plateau. During the Eighth Campaign, Sargon II and his troops crossed the northern part of the Zagros Mountains.

Zaranda, land of

Province of the land of the Mannaeans incorporated into Urartu and bordering the province of Sangibutu. The land of Zaranda forms a narrow pass and marks the northern limit of the land of the Mannaeans.


A ziggurat is a multi-storied tower with a square or rectangular base. Some ziggurat ruins can still be seen in the Near East, especially in Ur. They were built from piled mud bricks. Ascent was by stairs or ramps. Archaeologists are still unsure exactly what the ziggurats were used for. We do know, however, that ceremonies took place in temples at the top of these structures. These buildings had a strong symbolic dimension and embodied the link between heaven and earth.


Province of the land of the Mannaeans bordering the province of Andia. This particularly active kingdom was an important proxy for Urartian policies in the land of the Mannaeans. The first military operations of the Eighth Campaign targeted Zikirtu.