18 Facts About Urartu


Urartu is a geographical region and Iron Age kingdom known as the Kingdom of Van, centered around Lake Van in the historic Armenian Highlands.

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Since its re-discovery in the 19th century, Urartu, which is commonly believed to have been at least partially Armenian-speaking, has played a significant role in Armenian nationalism.

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Urartu reemerged in Assyrian language inscriptions in the ninth century BC as a powerful northern rival to the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

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Zimansky went so far as to suggest that the kings of Urartu might have come from various ethnic backgrounds themselves.

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At its height, the Urartu kingdom stretched north beyond the Aras and Lake Sevan, encompassing present-day Armenia and even the southern part of present-day Georgia almost to the shores of the Black Sea; west to the sources of the Euphrates; east to present-day Tabriz, Lake Urmia, and beyond; and south to the sources of the Tigris.

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This, in turn, helped Urartu enter a long period of development and prosperity, which continued through the reign of Argishti's son Rusa II.

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However, some historians believe that Urartu survived until the middle of the 6th century BC and was eventually destroyed by Cyrus the Great.

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The toponym Urartu did not disappear, however, as the name of the province of Ayrarat in the center of the Kingdom of Armenia is believed to be its continuum.

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Urartu comprised an area of approximately 200, 000 square miles, extending from the Euphrates in the West to Lake Urmia in the East and from the Caucasus Mountains south towards the Zagros Mountains in northern Iraq.

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At its apogee, Urartu stretched from the borders of northern Mesopotamia to the southern Caucasus, including present-day Turkey, Nakhchivan, Armenia and southern Georgia.

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Urartu fortresses included Erebuni Fortress, Van Fortress, Argishtihinili, Anzaf, Haykaberd, and Baskale, as well as Teishebaini (Karmir Blur, Red Mound) and others.

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Urartu's notes were later recovered and published in Paris in 1840.

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Economic structure of Urartu was similar to other states of the ancient world, especially Assyria.

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In peacetime, Urartu probably led an active trade with Assyria, providing cattle, horses, iron and wine.

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From cuneiform sources, it is known that in Urartu grew wheat, barley, sesame, millet, and emmer, and cultivated gardens and vineyards.

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Many regions of the Urartu state required artificial irrigation, which has successfully been organized by the rulers of Urartu in the heyday of the state.

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Art of Urartu is especially notable for fine lost-wax bronze objects: weapons, figurines, vessels including grand cauldrons that were used for sacrifices, fittings for furniture, and helmets.

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Although, the bulk of the cuneiform inscriptions within Urartu were written in the Urartian language, a minority of them were written in Akkadian.

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