Native toBabylon
RegionNear East
Era18th–4th century BC
unclassified (Hurro-Urartian?)
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Kassite (also Cassite) was a language spoken by the Kassites in Mesopotamia from approximately the 18th to the 7th century BC. From the 16th to 12th centuries BC, kings of Kassite origin ruled in Babylon until they were overthrown by the Elamites. As only a few dozen words are known, none of which have been demonstrably linked to any living or dead language family, Kassite is considered an unclassified language at present, possibly an isolate or belonging to the Hurro-Urartian languages.


Based on the patchy distribution of extant cuneiform texts, the Semitic Akkadian language of the native Babylonians was mostly used for economic transactions during the Kassite period, with Sumerian used for monumental inscriptions. Traces of the Kassite language are few:

A lack of Kassite texts makes the reconstruction of Kassite grammar impossible at present.

Genetic relations of the Kassite language are unclear, although it is generally agreed that it was not Semitic; a relation with Elamite is doubtful.

Relationship with or membership in the Hurro-Urartian family has been suggested,[4] based on a number of words. It is not clear whether Kassite was a distinct language in the Hurro-Urartian phylum, or simply a Southern dialect of Hurrian. If it was the latter rather than the former, it could be surmised that the Kassites were merely a tribe of Hurrians that expanded from the north into the south and settled in Mesopotamia. On the other hand, if Kassite is the former rather than the latter, this suggests that Hurro-Urartian was an even larger language group and more significant to the region than historical experts have observed, and was perhaps spoken by far more people than previously thought.

Morphemes are not known; the words buri ('ruler') and burna ('protected') probably have the same root.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Theophilus G. Pinches (1917). "The Language of the Kassites". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society: 102–105. JSTOR 25189508. on Archiv Tablet BM 93005.
  2. ^ Tablet K. 4426 + Rm 617 (II R 65, No. 2; V R 44, treated in Balkan, Kassitenstudien, pp. 1–3)
  3. ^ Tablet CBS 12617.
  4. ^ Schneider, Thomas (2003). "Kassitisch und Hurro-Urartäisch. Ein Diskussionsbeitrag zu möglichen lexikalischen Isoglossen". Altorientalische Forschungen (in German) (30): 372–381. doi:10.1524/aofo.2003.30.2.372. S2CID 163178607.


Further reading