Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Mushki is attested twice in Urartian texts

Mushki is attested twice in Urartian texts. Both are from Rusa son of Argishti period. They are attested in an atypical text where a list of eight countries is mentioned. The text does not describe a specific campaign but rather makes a summary of numerous campaigns, while the eight countries are the most distant places where Rusa's army reached moving in all directions.

Here is the raw text.

mru-sa-a-še mar-giš-te-ḫi-ni-še a-li pa-ru-ú-bi LÚ<tú-ni> KUR.aš-šur-ri-ni

KUR.tar-gu-ni KUR.e-ti-ú-ni-niú KUR.ḫa-a-te-eš-ki-ni KUR.ṣi-lu-qu-ni-ni

The translation

 Rusa, son of Argišti, says: I deported men (and) women from the enemy countries, from the land Assur (Assyria), from the land Targuni, from the land Etiuni, from the land Tabla (Tabal)), from the land Qainaru, from the land Hatti (i.e. the Neo-Hittite states), from the land Muški, from the land Ḫatti, from the land Ṣiliquni.

Now let's locate these countries. And their direction relative to Biainili.

  • Assyria - south
  • Targuni - unknown but if is equal to Derjan then northwest
  • Etiuni - northeast
  • Tabla - west
  • Qainaru - south?
  • Hatti - west, west-south
  • Mushki - ?
  • Siliquni (Syunik) - east

As You can see the translator arbitrary added the second Hatti after the Mushki based on the assumption that Mushki was in Hatti. In the raw text there are no two Hatti. Mushki is just another country as others so it can have any direction. Then what was its direction?

Well given the logic of the text where eight countries are mentioned and for each four side of the world, we have one pair of two countries we can deduce that Mushki was in northwest side of Urartu. Placing them in the West would mean that the scribe mentioned three countries in the West leaving the north/northwestern side with just one country (Targuni). Let's look a similar text but with little bit different set of countries.


mar-giš-te-ḫi-⸢ni⸣-še a-li pa-ru-bi LÚú-ni [KUR.x-x]-⸢i?⸣-ni

.... [KUR].qa-i-na-ru-úš-ki-ni KUR.ḫa-te-e ⸢KUR.ḫa-li-ṭu⸣


This time the text is broken. Only six names are readable. It looks two are missing (Assyria and Etiuni?). The rest is similar except there is a new country Khalitu instead of Targuni. Khalitu is almost certainly the Armenian Khalti-k' which is unambiguously placed in northwestern direction relative to Biaina. So, our initial assumption that Targuni was in northwest was correct. Once more we have two countries in the West, and it would make sense that Mushki was near Khalitu and NOT near the Anatolian group (Tabla, Hatti).

This location in the North would be fully consistent with Greek sources placing Mosch-oi (Mushki) in Pontic region or near Meskhetian mountains.

If new inscriptions with the term Mushki reinforce this location, then we will have another hard evidence that early Iron Age Mushkis mentioned by Assyria were initially from northeastern regions of modern Turkey.

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