|c. 1595 BC — c. 1155 BC|
|Common languages||Kassite language|
• c. 1595 BC
|Agum II (first)|
• c. 1157—1155 BC
|Historical era||Bronze Age|
|c. 1595 BC|
|c. 1595 BC|
|c. 1158 BC|
|c. 1155 BC|
|Today part of||Iraq, Iran, Kuwait|
The Kassites (//) were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1595 BC and until c. 1155 BC (middle chronology).
They gained control of Babylonia after the Hittite sack of the city in 1595 BC (i.e. 1531 BC per the short chronology), and established a dynasty generally assumed to have been based first in Babylon. Later rule shifted to the new city of Dur-Kurigalzu. By the time of Babylon's fall the Kassites had already been part of the region for a century and a half, acting sometimes with the Babylon's interests and sometimes against.
The origin and classification of the Kassite language, like the Sumerian language and Hurrian language is uncertain, and like them generating a wide array of speculation over the years, even to the point of linking it to Sanskrit. The Kassite religion is also poorly known. The names of some Kassite deities are known. The chief gods, titular gods of the kings, were Shuqamuna and Shumaliya. As was typical in the region there was some cross pollination with other religions. After Babylon came within the Kassite sphere of control its city-god, Marduk was absorbed into the Kassite pantheon.
Documentation of the Kassite period depends heavily on the scattered and disarticulated tablets from Nippur, where thousands of tablets and fragments have been excavated. They include administrative and legal texts, letters, seal inscriptions, private votive inscriptions, and even a literary text (usually identified as a fragment of a historical epic). Unfortunately, many of those tablets have not yet been published, including hundreds held in the Ottoman Museum in Istanbul. About 100 Kassite tablets were found at Dur-Kurigalzu. A few inscribed building materials of Kurigalzu I were found at Kish. Several tablets dated to the reign of Agum III were found at the Dilmun site of Qal'at al-Bahrain. A number of seals have also been found. Kudurrus, stone stele used to record land grants and related documents provide another source for Kassite history. This practice continued for several centuries after the end of the Kassite Dynasty. Often being on the surface many were found early and made their way to museums around the world.
The Kassite kings maintained control of their realm through a network of provinces administered by governors. Almost equal with the royal cities of Babylon and Dur-Kurigalzu, the revived city of Nippur was the most important provincial center. Nippur, the formerly great city, which had been virtually abandoned c. 1730 BC, was rebuilt in the Kassite period, with temples meticulously re-built on their old foundations. In fact, under the Kassite government, the governor of Nippur, who took the Sumerian-derived title of Guennakku, ruled as a sort of secondary and lesser king. The prestige of Nippur was enough for a series of 13th-century BC Kassite kings to reassume the title 'governor of Nippur' for themselves.
Other important centers during the Kassite period were Larsa, Sippar and Susa. The Kassites were very active at Ur. After the Kassite dynasty was overthrown in 1155 BC, the system of provincial administration continued and the country remained united under the succeeding rule, the Second Dynasty of Isin.
The origin of the Kassites is uncertain, though a number of theories have been advanced. They were reported in Babylonia by the 18th century BC, especially around the area of Sippar. The 9th year name of king Samsu-iluna (1749–1712 BC) of Babylon, the son of Hammurabi mentions them ie. ("Year in which Samsu-iluna the king (defeated) the totality of the strength of the army / the troops of the Kassites"). As the Babylonian empire weakened in the following years the Kassites became a part of the landscape, even at times supplying troops for Babylon. The Hittites had carried off the idol of the god Marduk, but the Kassite rulers regained possession, returned Marduk to Babylon, and made him the equal of the Kassite Shuqamuna. Babylon under Kassite rulers, who renamed the city Karanduniash, re-emerged as a political and military power in Mesopotamia.
The fall of the First Sealand dynasty in 1460 BC created a power vacumn which the Kassites filled. After the destruction of the Mittani by the Hittites in the early 14th century BC Assyria rose in power creating a three way power structure in the region between the Kassites, Hittites, and Assyrians with Elam exerting influence from the east and Egypt from the south. An International System came into place between these parties connected by widespread trade, treaties, and intermarriage between the ruling classes (especially between the Kassites and Elamites). A typical treaties include the Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty (c.1259 BC) and the treaty between the Kassite ruler Karaindash and the Assyrian ruler Ashur-bel-nisheshu (c. 1410 BC).
At the peak of their power the Kassites, under Kurigalzu I in the mid 14h century BC, conquered Elam and sacked the capital of Susa. That ruler initiated significant building efforts in Ur and other soutern Mesopotamia cities. The Kassites also extended their power into the Persian Gulf, including at Qal'at al-Bahrain. Being in close proximity the Assyrians and Kassites often came into political and military conflict over the next few centuries.
The Elamites of the Shutrukid dynasty conquered Babylonia, carrying away the Statue of Marduk, in the 12th century BC, thus ending the Kassite state. According to the Assyrian Synchronistic Chronicle, which is not considered reliable, the last Kassite king, Enlil-nadin-ahi, was taken to Susa and imprisoned there in 1155 BC, where he also died.
The annals of the Assyrian king Sennacherib detail that on his second, eastern, campaign of 702 BC he campaigned against the land of the Kassites, that being along the along the Diyala River between the Jebel Hamrin and the Darband-i-Khan. The Kassites took refuge in the mountains but were brought down and resettled, in standard Assyrian practice, in Hardispi and Bit Kubatti, which were made part of the Arrapha district.
The Babylonian and Assyrian king lists mention eight or nine early Kassite rulers whose names are not fully known and who precede the following kings. Another Kassite king, Hašmar-galšu, is known from five inscriptions from the Nippur area.
|Agum-Kakrime||Returns Marduk statue to Babylon|
|Burnaburiash I||c. 1500 BC (short)||Treaty with Puzur-Ashur III of Assyria|
|Kashtiliash III||Son of Burnaburiash I, Grandson of Agum-Kakrime|
|Ulamburiash||c. 1480 BC (short)||Conquers the first Sealand Dynasty|
|Agum III||c. 1470 BC (short)||Possible campaigns against "The Sealand" and "in Dilmun"|
|Karaindash||c. 1410 BC (short)||Treaty with Ashur-bel-nisheshu of Assyria|
|Kadashman-harbe I||c. 1400 BC (short)||Campaign against the Suteans|
|Kurigalzu I||c. x-1375 BC (short)||Founder of Dur-Kurigalzu and contemporary of Thutmose IV|
|Kadashman-Enlil I||c. 1374—1360 BC (short)||Contemporary of Amenophis III of the Egyptian Amarna letters|
|Burnaburiash II||c. 1359—1333 BC (short)||Contemporary of Akhenaten and Ashur-uballit I|
|Kara-hardash||c. 1333 BC (short)||Grandson of Ashur-uballit I of Assyria|
|Nazi-Bugash||c. 1333 BC (short)||Usurper “son of a nobody”|
|Kurigalzu II||c. 1332—1308 BC (short)||Son of Burnaburiash II, Battle of Sugagi with Enlil-nirari of Assyria|
|Nazi-Maruttash||c. 1307—1282 BC (short)||Contemporary of Adad-nirari I of Assyria|
|Kadashman-Turgu||c. 1281—1264 BC (short)||Contemporary of Hattusili III of the Hittites|
|Kadashman-Enlil II||c. 1263—1255 BC (short)||Contemporary of Hattusili III of the Hittites|
|Kudur-Enlil||c. 1254—1246 BC (short)||Time of Nippur renaissance|
|Shagarakti-Shuriash||c. 1245—1233 BC (short)||“Non-son of Kudur-Enlil” according to Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria|
|Kashtiliashu IV||c. 1232—1225 BC (short)||Deposed by Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria|
|Enlil-nadin-shumi||c. 1224 BC (short)||Deposed by Elamite king Kidin-Hutran III|
|Kadashman-Harbe II||c. 1223 BC (short)|
|Adad-shuma-iddina||c. 1222—1217 BC (short)||Son of Kashtiliashu IV|
|Adad-shuma-usur||c. 1216—1187 BC (short)||Sender of rude letter to Aššur-nirari and Ilī-ḫaddâ, the kings of Assyria|
|Meli-Shipak II||c. 1186—1172 BC (short)||Correspondence with Ninurta-apal-Ekur confirming foundation of Near East chronology|
|Marduk-apla-iddina I||c. 1171—1159 BC (short)||Son of Meli-Shipak II|
|Zababa-shuma-iddin||c. 1158 BC (short)||Defeated by Shutruk-Nahhunte of Elam|
|Enlil-nadin-ahi||c. 1157—1155 BC (short)||Defeated by Kutir-Nahhunte II of Elam|
Note that the relative order of Kadashman-Turgu and Kadashman-Enlil II have been questioned.
The Kassite language has not been classified. The few sources consist of personal names, a few documents, and some technical terms related to horses and chariotry. What is known is that their language was not related to either the Indo-European language group, nor to Semitic or other Afro-Asiatic languages, and is most likely to have been a language isolate, although some linguists have proposed a link to the Hurro-Urartian languages of Asia Minor.
It has been suggested that several Kassite leaders bore Indo-European names, and they might have had an Indo-European elite similar to the Mitanni. Over the centuries, however, the Kassites were absorbed into the Babylonian population. Eight among the last kings of the Kassite dynasty have Akkadian names. It has also been suggested that the first element in Kudur-Enlil's name is derived from Elamite but that is disputed.
The Kassites produced a substantial amount of pottery. It is found in many Moesoptamia cities including Eridu and Tell Khaiber. Archaeologists divide it into three periods, Early Kassite (pre c. 1415 BC), Middle Kassite (c 1415 BC - 1225 BC), and Late Kassite (c. 1225 BC - 1155 BC). Many small pottery kilns, generally no bigger than 2 meters in diameter with domed tops, were found in the Babylonian city of Dilbat. Goblets and wavy sided bowls are commonly found in Kassite pottery deposits. Other ceramic goods, such as traps for small animals and vessels commonly thought to be fruit stands were found also. Kassite pottery deposits have been found as far away as Al Khor Island in the Persian Gulf area.
Remnants of two Kassite glass beakers were found in the ruins of Hasanlu, in northwest Iran. The site was burned to the ground in the later part of the ninth century BCE, preserving many objects often lost in other sites, after the end of the Kassite rule. The glassworks found inside one of the structures had been preserved from the Kassite era as precious keepsakes, based on the richness of the other artifacts found alongside the glass fragments. The building the pieces were found in has been determined to be a temple, and it is theorized that the glass beakers were utilized in ritual and devotional practices.
The imagery on these beakers includes commonly used motifs in Kassite art. On Beaker A male figures in rich robes are depicted parading around the middle section. They have large, blue beards and tall hats on the figures that could be markers of the divine or royal. Beneath this line of figures, separated by a line of geometric patterns, is the depiction of two horned quadrupeds facing a central plant. This motif is often seen in other works that were used as dedicatory or ritual practice in the Kassite religion (see also: Kassite Deities). The panes of glass used to create these images were very brightly colored, and closer analysis has revealed that they were bright blue, white, and red-orange.
The process of making pieces such as these would have required high levels of specialization in glass crafting. These pieces were made to look like mosaics using molds and carefully controlled kilns.
See also: Cylinder Seal
Seals were used widely across the Near Eastern kingdoms during the Kassite rule. They were used to mark official items and ownership. The images created by these seals were unique to each seal, but many shared the same subject matter. Bearded men, religious symbols, horned quadrupeds, and fauna are often shown in these images. The seals were generally made of stone, glass, or clay. The images were made by stamping or rolling the seals into wet clay. The Kassites made these seals using tools and techniques such as bow-driven lapidary wheels, abrasives, micro flaking, drilling, and filing.
|Periods and dynasties of Babylon|
All years are BC
See also: List of kings by Period and Dynasty
|History of Iraq|