Mitanni or Mittani (in Assyrian sources Hanilgalbat, Khanigalbat) was a Hurritic (Hurrian speaking) kingdom in southwestern Kurdistan between ca. 1500 – 1300 BC.
The Hurrians were already known since the Akkadian period in Mesopotamia, which is derived from Hurritic names that are neither Akkadian nor Sumerian. Simultaneously with the rise of the Amorites, they exerted a great influence on the north of Mesopotamia. One of the Hurrian kingdoms was Mitanni.
The name Mitanni was used as a geographical indication for the area between the Khabur and Euphrates River in neo-Assyrian times.
Hittite chronicles allude to several Hurritic countries than just Mitanni, and to treaties with them.
Mitanni in Northern Mesopotamia reached from Nuzi (present day, Kirkuk) and the Tigris River to the east, to Aleppo and Central Syria (Nuhashshe) in the west. In the center lays the Khabur River valley, with two capitals: Taite and Washukanni, called as Taidu and Ushshukana in Assyrian sources. The whole area has been eligible for agriculture without artificial irrigation.
To date, virtually no original sources of its own have been found for the history of the Mitanni. What we know comes from Assyrian, Hittite or Egyptian sources, as well as inscriptions from nearby places in Syria. Often it is not even possible to establish synchronicity between the rulers of different countries and cities, let alone to provide undisputed, absolute data. The historiography of the Mitanni is further complicated by the lack of differentiation between the linguistic, ethnic and political groups.
It used to be believed that there was a large Indo-Aryan influence on the Mitanni. However, the extent of this influence is controversial. Russian linguist Djakonov showed that this theory is based on only five Indo-Aryan numerals, two or three terms related to horse training, four Indo-Aryan god names and a few person names whose origin is unknown, and this while Hurrian texts walk in the tens of thousands of words.
It is believed that the warring Hurritic tribes and city-states were united under one dynasty after the collapse of Babylon as a result of the defeat of the Hittitian Mursili I and the invasion of the Kassites. After the submission of Aleppo by the Hittites, the weak Assyrian kings in the middle, and the internal struggle of the Hittites, a power vacuum had developed in Upper Mesopotamia. This led to the formation of the kingdom of Mitanni.
The destruction of the Babylonian kingdom and that of Yamhad contributed to the emergence of another Hurritic dynasty. The foundation of their kingdom took place near Harran. The first ruler was a legendary king named Kirta, who established the kingdom of Mitanni circa 1500 BC. During the 18th Dynasty of Egypt (from 1530-1300 BC), first Hurrian and later Hittite princesses were sent to Egypt as concubines for the Pharaoh.
The light chariots, an Indo-Iranian invention that after 1800 BC. became common, were controlled well by these Hurrians. Plus, they used a composite bow (from horn combined with wood in multiple layers), which made bronze protective plates needed for men and horses. The Hurrians that were known until then in Syria also appeared in Palestine, as shown by an Egyptian archive and Canaanite clay tablets.
Mitanni grew gradually from the valley of the Khabur (Euphrates) and became the most powerful kingdom of the Near East between ca. 1450 and 1350 BC. King Barattarna of Mitanni extended the kingdom to the west, to Halab (Aleppo), and made Idrimi of Alalakh his vassal. The State of Kizzuwatna in the West shifted its loyalty to Mitanni, and by the middle of the 15th century BC, Arrapha and Assyria in the east had become vassal states. The nation grew stronger during the reign of Shaushtatar, but the Hurrians were conceived to keep the Hittites in the Anatolian highlands. Kizzuwatna in the west and Isuwa (Ishuwa) in the north were important allies against the hostile Hittites.
After a few skirmishes with the Pharaohs over Syrian rule, Mitanni sought peace with Egypt and an alliance was formed. During the 18th Dynasty of Egypt (from 1530-1300 BC), Hurrian (and Hittian) princesses were sent to Egypt as concubines for the Pharaoh. During the reign of Shuttarna in the early 14th century, the relationship was very friendly and he sent his daughter Kile-Hepa to Egypt to be married off to Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Now, Mitanni was at the height of its power.
After the death of Shuttarna, Mitanni was devastated by battles between several throne pretenders. Eventually, Tushratta, a son of Shuttarna, ascended the throne. However, Mitanni was considerably weakened and the Hittites approached their borders. At the same time, the diplomatic relationship with Egypt was diminishing, and the Assyrians casted off the Mitannian yoke. The Hittite king Suppiluliuma I invaded the Mitannic vassal states in northern Syria and replaced them with loyal suppositories.
A new power struggle broke out in the capital, Washshukanni (Serekaniye,Rojava). The Hittites and Assyrians supported various pretendents. Eventually a Hittite army conquered the capital and installed Shattiwaza (other names: Kurtiwaza or Mattiwaza), the son of Tushratta, as their retainer king in Mitanni.
After the Battle of Kadesh and the decline of the Hittite Empire, Assyria took over power in Mitanni. In following centuries, Aramaic culture became dominant in the region.
The most important festival of Mitanni was the celebration of the solstice (vishuva), which was common in many ancient cultures. The Mitanni warriors were called maryannu; this term is similar to a Sanskrit term, but is more likely to be Hurritic.
The Mitanni are one of ancestors of Kurdish people.
Washukanni, the capital is located in Khabur river basin, near the Kurdish city of SereKaniye in Western Kurdistan (commonly known as Rojava).
Scholar stress that the name Washukanni (Wassukani)’s similarity to the Kurdish word başkanî (bashkani). Baş (Waş/Wash in Gorani and Zazaki dialects) means good and kanî is well or source.
Members of Kurdish Metîna tribe claims to be direct descendants of Mitanni people.
- Kirta, ca. 1499-1490 BC.
- Shuttarna I, son of Kirta, ca. 1490 BC-1470 BC.
- Barattarna, P / Barat (t) ama, ca. 1470 BC-1450 BC.
- Parshatatar, (may be identical to Barattarna), c. 1450 BC-1440 BC.
- Shaushtatar (son of Parsha (ta) tar), ca. 1440 BC-1410 BC.
- Artatama I, ca. 1410 BC-1400 BC.
- Shuttarna II, ca. 1400 BC-1385 BC.
- Artashumara, ca. 1385 BC-1380 BC.
- Tushratta, ca. 1380 BC-1350 BC.
- Shuttarna III, ca. 1350 BC, son of a usurpator Artatama II
- Shattiwaza or Mattivaza, son of Tushratta, ca. 1350 BC-1320 BC.
- Shattuara I, ca. 1320 BC-1300 BC.
- Wasashatta, son of Shattuara, ca. 1300 BC-1280 BC.
- Shattuara II, son or cousin of Wasashatta, ca. 1280 BC-1270 BC, or perhaps the same king as Shattuara I.
- The Pagan Eden: The Assyrian Origins of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life by Ian Freer, Appendix:2
- Heritage Institute
- Ancient History Encyclopedia, Article by Joshua J. Mark
- Metina Charity Association