The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







The Mitanni (also, more correctly, Mittani) was the name of the Hurrian population in West Asia in the second millennium BC, around the Khabur River in upper Mesopotamia, and, most notably, to a ruling dynasty of Indo-Aryan origin who dominated that population during the 15th and 14th centuries BC. Theirs was a feudal state led by a warrior nobility. The kingdom Hanilgalbat ruled northern Mesopotamia (including Syria), with the capitals Washshukanni (or Wassukkani, or Vasukhani, meaning "a mine of wealth") and Taite. Their warriors were called marya, which is the term for warriour in Sanskrit as well.

By approximately 1350 BC, the Mitanni kingdom had weakened, and had become practically dependent on the Hittites, then under the rule of Shuppiluliuma I. Assyria, previously under Mitanni control, was able to assert its independence during the reign of Ashuruballit I in approximately 1330 BC.

They seem to have venerated Vedic deities and their nobility used Indo-Aryan names, and worshipped Indo-Aryan gods. In a treaty between the Hittites and the Mitanni, Indic deities Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatya (Ashvins) are invoked. A text by a Mitannian named Kikkuli uses words such as aika (eka, one), tera (tri, three), panza (pancha, five), satta (sapta, seven), na (nava, nine), vartana (vartana, round). Another text has babru (babhru, brown), parita (palita, grey), and pinkara (pingala, red). Their chief festival was the celebration of vishuva (solstice) which was common in most cultures in the ancient world. Some people believer that it is not only the kings who had Sanskrit names; a large number of other Sanskrit names have been unearthed in the records from the area; other point out that over interpretation of ancient names is an issue that must be taken into account.

Chronology of Mitanni rulership

The name Sutarna I means ("good sun"). He was followed by Paratarna I ("great sun"), Parashukshatra ("ruler with axe"), Saukshatra ("son of Sukshatra, the good ruler"), Paratarna II , Artatama or Ritadhama ("abiding in cosmic law"), Sutarna II , Dasharatha , and finally Mativaja (Matiwazza, "whose wealth is prayer") during whose lifetime the Mitanni state appears to have become a vassal to Assyria.

The daughter of the King Tushratta (Tushyaratha or Dasharatha), Princess Tadukhipa, became the second queen of Akhenaten; the daughter of King Artatama was married to Thutmose IV, Akhenaten's grandfather; and the daughter of Sutarna II (Gilukhipa) was married to his father, Amenhotep III, the great builder of temples who ruled during 1390-1352 BC ("khipa" of these names is the Sanskrit "kshipa," night). In his old age, Amenhotep wrote to Dasharatha many times wishing to marry his daughter, Tadukhipa. It appears that by the time she arrived Amenhotep III was dead. Tadukhipa married the new king Akhenaten and she may have became famous as the Queen Kiya (short for Khipa ). Some theories however identify her with Nefertiti, also a Queen of Akhenaten.

External links

  • The Hurrian Culture
  • The Mitanni and their influence on Egypt

Last updated: 02-03-2005 16:24:56
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55