Mesopotamia - Encyclopedia

GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese

'MESOPOTAMIA (ME601ro-rapLa, sc. wpa or /vpia, from 4cros,, middle, lroray63, river), one of the Greek renderings of the earlier Semitic names for the river-country that stretches eastward from northern maritime Syria. The earliest Name.. appearance of a Semitic name of this kind is in the last paragraph of the biography of Alhmose of el-Kab, the aged officer of Tethmosis (Thutmose) I. As early therefore as the late 16th century B.C. the name Naharin (N'h'ryn) was in use. That the:. name was connected with nahar (a river) was plain to some of the Egyptian scribes, who wrote the word with determinative for "water" in addition to that for "country." The scribes show no suspicion, however, of the name's being, anything but a singular.' Is it possible that a consciousness that the word was not a plural can have survived till the early Christian centuries, when the Targum of Ongelos (Onkelos) rendered Naharaim by "the river Euphrates" (Pethor of Aram which is on the' Euphrates: Deut. xxiii. 4 [s])? The Naharin or Naharen of the Egyptian texts appears some five generations later in the Canaanitic of the Amarna letters in the form Nabrim (a), which would seem. therefore to be the pronunciation then prevalent in Phoenicia. (Gebal) and Palestine (Jerusalem). About the same time Naharin (N-h-ry-n) is given as the northern boundary of Egypt's domain (year 30 of Amenbotep or Amenophis III.), over against Kush in the south (tomb of Khamhet: Breasted, Anc. Rec. ii. 350).

The origin of the name is suggested by the Euphrates being called "the water of Naharin," - on the Karnak stele more fully "the. water of the Great Bend (par wr) of Naharin (N-h-r-n)" (Breasted„ Anc. Rec. ii. 263), or on the Constantinople obelisk simply "the Great Bend of .Naharin" (loc. cit. note d). The precise meaning of pier wr is not certain. When Breasted renders "Great Bend" of the Euphrates he is probably thinking of the great. sweep round between Birejil-Zeugma and Ra a-Nicephorium. W. M. Muller, on the other hand, rendering Kreislauf, explains it of the Euphrates water system as a whole, thought of as encompassing Naharin. The Sea of the Great Bend would seem to be the sea fed by the north-to-south waters of Naharin, just as the Mediterranean, fed by the south-to-north waters of the Nile, is called the Great Circle (šn wr). For many centuries after Amenophis IV. the name cannot be found. The next occurrence is in Hebrew (Gen. xxiv. J), where the district from which a wife for Isaac is brought is called Aram-Naharaim. The diphthongal pronunciation of 'the termination aim is probably a much later development. We should probably read something like Aram-Naharim. The meaning is :. the Naharim portion of the Aramaic speaking domain.' Probably the author thought primarily of the district of Harran. 3 Some generations later Aram-Naharim is used of the district including Pethor, a town on the west bank of the Euphrates' (Deut. xxiii.

' The threefold n after Nahar in a stele of Persian or Greek. times (healing of Bentresh) is probably only the determinative for "water," a fourth n being accidentally omitted (Breasted, Ancient Records, iii. § 434).

2 Cf. Aram-Damascus, which means, the Damascus portion of the Aramaic domain; and har-Ephraim, which means, the Ephraim portion of the (Israelitish) highlands - EV "Mount Ephraim." Halevy's suggestion that we are to look towards the Hauran,. and think of the rivers of Damascus, has not met with favour.

4 Padan-Aram (Rev. Vers. better Paddan-Aram), Gen. xxv. 20, &c., rendered by the Septuagint "Mesopotamia of Syria," is obscure. Paddan has been connected phonetically with Patin, west of the Euphrates, and explained by others as a synonym for Harran. 4 = D). The Syriac version of the Old Testament (2nd cent. A.D. ?) uses Beth Nahrin. This may or may not imply the belief that Nahrin is a plural. Eventually that belief was general, as is proved by the substitution of the normal feminine plural (for the supposed masculine) in the alternative form Beth Nahrawatha (e.g. Wright, Chron. Joshua Styl. §§ 49, 50). Beth is probably the Syriac equivalent of the Assyrian Bit as in Bit-Adini (see below, § 3 viii.), as is shown by such names as Beth `Arbaye, "district of Arabians," Beth Armaye, "district of Aramaeans." The Parapotamia of Strabo xvi. 2, II, would be a suitable Greek equivalent. Mesopotamia seems to imply the view that beth is the preposition "amid," which has the same form,' but need not imply the meaning "between," that is, the idea that there were precisely two rivers. There is evidence of the use of this form as early as the Septuagint translation of the Pentateuch (3rd cent. B.C.). It is natural to suppose it was adopted by the Greeks who accompanied Alexander's expedition. Xenophon does not use it.

As early as the time of Ephraem (d. A.D. 373) the use of the Syriac Gezirtha, " island," had come in, and over a century earlier Philostratus reported (Life of Apollonius, i. 20) that the Arabs designated Mesopotamia as an island. 2 This term in the form al-Gazira became, and still is, the usual Arabic name.

The absence of any equivalent names in Babylonian or Assyrian documents is noteworthy, 3 especially as the Babylonians spoke of the "Sea-Country" (mat Tamtim). The name was not distinctive enough from the point of view of Babylonia, which belonged to the same water system. Tiglath-pileser I. (Octagon Prism, 6, 40, 42 seq.) sums up the results of the military operations of his first five years as reaching from the Lower Zab Riviera to the Euphrates Riviera (ebirtan Puratti, well rendered "Parapotamia" by Winckler 4) and Ijatte-land; but this is obviously not a proper name in the same sense as Naharin. 5 That probably originated in the maritime district of Syria.

Whilst the names we have mentioned are derived from physical geography, there are related names the meaning and origin of which are not so clear. Tethmosis III. is said, in a tomb which contains a picture of "the chief of Kheta," to have "overthrown the lands of My-tn" (Breasted, Anc. Rec. ii. § 773), which lands are mentioned also in his hymn of victory (Breasted, Anc. Rec. ii. § 659). Amenophis II. receives tribute from the "chiefs of My-tn" (Breasted, Anc. Rec. ii. § 804). In the bilingual Hittite inscription of Tarqudimme the land is called "the land of the city of Metan," just as in the Hittite documents the Hittite country in Asia Minor is called "the land of the city of Khatti." Metan is clearly the same as Mitanni, over against Khatti, mentioned e.g. by Tiglath-pileser I. (vi. 63), which is the same as Mitanni, several letters from which are in the Amarna collection. Since a Mitanni princess of these letters is called in Egyptian scarabs a princess of Naharin, it is clear that Mitanni and Naharin are more or less equivalent, whilst in the Amarna letters, even Tushratta, the king of Mitanni, seems to use in the same way the name Khanigalbat. A shorter form of this name is Khani, which it is difficult not to connect with Khana, the capital of which at one time was Tirqa, on the Euphrates, below the Khabur (see § 4). The slowly accumulating data have not yet made it possible to determine precisely the probably varying relations of these various names. The great astrological work uses a term of still wider signification, Subartu, eventually Suri (written Su. Edin; see especially Winckler's discussion in Or. Lit.-Zeit., 1907). This represented one of the four quarters of the world in the early Babylonian view, the other three being Akkad (i.e. Babylonia) in the "north," Elam in the "south," and Amurru in the "west." It appears to have denoted the territory above Babylonia stretching from Anshan in the southeast north-westwards, across the Tigris-Euphrates district, indefinitely towards Asia Minor. At an early time it seems to have formed along with Anshan a distinct kingdom.

Strabo (xvi. 746) makes the south limit of Mesopotamia the Median wall; Pliny (v. 24 § 21) seems to extend it to the Persian Gulf. The Latin term naturally varied in meaning with the changing extent of Roman authority. For example, under Trajan Mesopotamia reached the gulf and was bounded by Assyria and Armenia. In modern times it is often There may be further evidence of the prevalence of the interpretation "amid" if the difficult bainath athrawatha of Cureton, Anc. Syr. Doc. p. 112, 1.21, is correctly rendered in Payne Smith, Thesaurus Syr. 469, "Mesopotamia," and if we may assume a reading Nahrawatha for Athrawatha. Compare the use of the adjective, Ephr. Op. Gr. ii. 403 (cf. B. O. i. 145, 168, 169), and the noun, B. O. ii. 108, 109.

3 Mesopotamian personal names like Na-ha-ra-a-u occur (cf. Johns, Deeds and Documents, iii. 127); but these may be connected with a divine name Nachor.

Auszug vorderas. Gesch. 34; on the meaning see Alt.-orient. Forsch. iii. 349.

5 I seems worth considering, however, whether ebir nari (see Johns, Assyr. Doomsday Book, 69; Winckler, Alt.-or. Forsch. 212; Hommel, Anc. Heb. Trad., index) is not in origin practically a Begrif equivalent to Naharin.

used for the whole Euphrates-Tigris country. That would provide a useful name for an important geographical unit, but is too misleading. In view of historical and geographical facts there is much to be said for applying the name Mesopotamia to the country drained by the Khabur, the Belikh, and the part of the Euphrates connected therewith. It would thus include the country lying between Babylonia on the south and the Armenian Taurus highlands on the north, the maritime Syrian district on the west, and Assyria proper on the east. That is practically the sense in which it is treated in this article s We may begin, however, with the definition of Jezira by the Arabic geographers, who take it as representing the central part of the Euphrates-Tigris system, the part, namely, lying between the alluvial plains in the south and the mountainous country in the north. Measured on the Euphrates, this would be from the place where the river, having bored its way through the rocks, issues on to the high plain a little above Samsat (Samosata) only 1 500 ft. above the sea, to somewhere about Hit (Is = Id), where, probably less than 150 ft. above the sea, it begins to make its way through the alluvial deposits of the last few millenniums. In these 750 m. it has descended less than 1400 ft. Measured on the Tigris Mesopotamia would stretch from some where between Jeziret-ibn-`Omar and Mosul to somewhere below Tekrit.

In the tract defined, physical changes unconnected with civilization have been slight as compared with those in Babylonia; the two great rivers, having cut themselves deep channels, could not shift their courses far.

Table of contents

i. Natural Divisions

The stretch from Samsat and Jeziret-ibn- 'Omar to the alluvial plain seems to divide itself naturally into three parallel belts, highland watershed district, un- Geography. dulating plains and steppe. (I) The Taurus footh i ll barrier that shuts off the east to west course of the Euphrates and Tigris culminates centrally in the rugged volcanic Karaja-Dagh (6070 ft.) which blocks the gap between the two rivers, continued eastwards by the mountainous district of Tur-`Abdin (the modern capital Midyat is at a height of 3500 ft.) and westwards by the elevated tract that sends down southwards the promontory of J. Tektek (c. 1950 ft.). (2) At the line where this east to west wall ends begins the sea of undulating plains where there is enough rain for abundant wheat and barley. (3) From the alluvial flats upwards toward these undulating plains is an extensive stretch of steppe land almost destitute of rain. Not far above the transition from the barren steppe is a second mountain wall (125 m. between extremities) roughly parallel with the first, consisting of the Sinjar chain (about 3000 ft., limestone, 50 m. long, 7 m. broad), continued westwards after a marshy break by the volcanic Tell Kokab (basalt, about 1300 ft.), and then the `Abd al-`Aziz range (limestone), veering upwards towards its western end as if to meet the Tektek promontory from the north.

ii. Drainage

The water system is thus determined. West of Tektek drains into the Belikh, east of Tektek into the Khabur. All this drainage, collected into two rivers, the Belikh and the Khabur, is towards the left bank of the Euphrates, for the Mesopotamian watershed seems to be only some 15 m. or less from the Tigris until, south of the Sinjar range, it lies farther west, and the Tharthar river is possible. The Belikh (Balich, Bilechas, BaXivvos 7), a stream some 30 ft. wide, has its main source some 50 m. north in the `Ain Khalil ar-Rahman, but receives also the waters of the united Nahr al-Kut (in its upper course formerly the Daisan, /lcipros) from Edessa and Kopru Dagh, and the Jullab from Tektek Dagh about as much farther north. The Khabur (Chabur, Chaboras 8), 80-10o ft. wide, before its last 40 m. reach in a southwest direction, has a 70 m. reach due north and south from Tell Kokab (about 1300 ft.), near which are united the Jaghjagh (earlier, Hirmas, 20 ft. in width), which has come 50 m. from Nasibin in the north-east, bringing with it the waters of the many streams from the Tar `Abdin highlands; the north 'Awij, which at certain seasons brings much water due south from Mardin, and the main stream of the Khabur, which has come 60 m. from Ras al-`Ain in the northwest, after flowing 50 m. by way of Weranshahr from Karaja Dagh in the north. The Tharthar (Assyrian Tartar, in Tukulti-Ninib II.'s inscription) begins in the Sinjar range and runs southwards, to lose itself in the desert a little above the latitude of Hit. So it was two generations before Ahab (Annales de Tukulti Ninip, V. Scheil, 1909). The Arabian geographers represent the Tharthar as connected at its upper end (by a canal?) with the Khabur system.

6 In general the Tigris is considered to belong to Assyria or Babylonia, and all west of the Euphrates to Arabia or Syria.

' Cf. Ritter, Erdkunde, V. 250-253.

8 Ibid. xi. 253-265.

iii. Character of Surface. 1

(i) The tract between the Belikh and the Euphrates is in its middle section exceedingly fertile, as is implied in the name Anthemusia, and according to v. Oppenheim (Z. d. Gesellsch. f. Erdkunde, 36, 1901, p. 80) the same is true of the southern portion also. The plain extending from Urfa to a dozen miles below Harran has a rich red-brown humus derived from the Nimrud Dagh east of Edessa. (2) The rolling plains north of the `Abd al `Aziz Sinjar mountain wall are intersected by the many streams of the Khabur system (the Arab geographer Mustaufi speaks of 300 feeders), which under favourable political and administrative conditions would produce a marked fertility. At Nasibin (Nisibis) rice is cultivated with success. (3) The country south of the mountain range is steppe land, imperfectly known, and of little use except for nomadic tribes, apart from the banks of the rivers (on which see Euphrates, Tigris). It consists mainly of grey dreary flats covered with selenite; and a little below the surface, gypsum. Bitumen is found at Hit, whence perhaps its name (Babylonian Id in Tukulti Ninib II.'s inscription referred to above), and near the Tigris.2 Climate. 3 - Mesopotamia combines strong contrasts of climate, and is a connecting link between the mountain region of western Asia and the desert of Arabia. At Der ez-Zor, for example, the heat is intense. (I) In the steppe, during the sandstorms which frequently blow from the West Arabian desert the temperature may rise to 122° F. On the other hand, in winter the warm currents coming in from the Persian Gulf being met to a large extent by northerly currents from the snow-covered tracts of Armenia, are condensed down on to the plain and discharge moisture enough to cover the gravel steppes with spring herbage. (2) In the higher plains, in mid winter, since the high temperature air from the gulf is drawn up the valleys of the Euphrates and the Tigris there may be, e.g. at Mosul, a "damp mildness." In spring the grass on the rolling plains is soon parched. So when the hot sandstorms blow in the lower steppe the scorching heat is carried right up to the foot of the mountains. On the other hand, since the spurs of the Taurus bring the winter cold a long way south, and the cold increases from west to east as we leave the mild coast of the Mediterranean, far down into the Mesopotamian plain the influence of the snowcovered ridges can be felt, and in the higher parts of the plain snow and ice are not infrequent; and although there is no point of sufficient altitude to retain snow for long, the temperature may fall as low as 14° F., especially if the cold north winds are blowing.

The cycle of vegetation begins in November. The first winter rains clothe the plain with verdure, and by the beginning of the year various bulbous plants are in bloom. The full summer development is reached in June. By the end of August everything is burnt up; August and September are the low-water months in the rivers, March to May the time of flood.

Flora. 4

(i) Botanical lists have been published by von Oppenheim (Vom Mittelmeer zum Persischen Golf, ii. 373-388) of a collection made in 1893 containing 43 entries for Mesopotamia, and by E. Herzfeld (Herbaraufnahmen aus Kal`at-.erkat-Assur, in Beiheft II. zur Or. Lit.-Zeit, 2908, pp. 29-37) of a collection made in1903-1905in the neighbourhood of Assur, containing 181 entries. (2) The following are among the more important products of the central zone of Mesopotamia: wheat, barley, rice (e.g. at Saruj, the Khabur), millet, sesemum (for oil, instead of olive), dura (Holcus sorghum and H. bicolor); lentils, peas, beans, vetches; cotton, hemp, safflower, tobacco; Medicago sativa (for horses); cucumber, melons, water-melons, figs (those of Sinjar famed for sweetness), dates (below, 'Ana and Tekrit); a few timber trees; plane and white poplar (by streams), willow and sumach (by the Euphrates). The sides of Karaja-Dagh, J. `Abd el-`Aziz and Sinjar are wooded, but not now the neighbourhood of Nisibis. (3) In the steppe the vegetation is that which prevails in similar soil from Central Asia to Algeria; but many of the arborescent plants that grow in the rockier and more irregular plateaux of western Asia, and especially of Persia, have been reported as missing. Endless masses of tall weeds, belonging to a few species, cover the face of the country - large Cruciferae, Cynareae and Umbelliferae - also large quantities of liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra and echinata) and Lagonychium, and the white ears of the Imperata. In autumn the withered weeds are torn up by the wind and driven immense distances.

Fauna. 5 - The following abound: wild swine, hyaena, jackal, cheetah, fox; gazelle (in herds), antelope species (in the steppe); jerboa, mole, porcupine, and especially the common European rat (in the desert); bat, long-haired desert hare. The following are rare: wild ass; beaver, said to have been observed on the Euphrates; wolf, among others a variety of black wolf (Canis lycaon), said to be found in the plains; lion, said to roam as far as the Khabur. On the Euphrates are the following: vulture, owl, raven, &c., falcon (Tinnanculus alaudarius), also the trained to hunt. Among game birds are: wild duck and goose, partridge, francolin, some kinds of dove, and in the steppe the buzzard. The ostrich seems almost to have disappeared. Large tortoises abound, and, in the `Ain el-'Arus pool, fresh-water turtles and carp. Of domestic Ritter, Erdkunde, xi. 493-498.

2 See Geog. Journ. lx. 528-532 (with map).

3 Ritter, xi. 49 8 -499.4 Ibid., xi. 499-502.5 Ibid., xi. 502-510.

animals in the steppe the first place belongs to the camel; next come goat and sheep (not the ordinary fat-tailed variety); the common buffalo is often kept by the Arabs and the Turkomans on the Euphrates and the Tigris; on the Euphrates is found the Indian zebu.

vii. Towns.° - The towns that have survived are on the rivers. Such are Samsat (see Samosata), Rakka (Nicephorium) above the mouth of the Belikh, Der ez-Zor, a rising town on the right bank, where there is (since 1897) a stone bridge, 'Ana (on an island; see ANA), Hit (Is, Bab. Id), on the Euphrates; Jeziret ibn `Omar, Mosul (q.v.), Tekrit, on the Tigris; Edessa (q.v.), Harran (q.v.), on confluents of the Belikh; Veranshehr (Tela), Ras al-`Ain (Rhesaena), Mardin (half-way up the mountain wall), and Nasibin (Assyr. Nasibina, Nisibis), on confluents of the Khabur; Sinjar (Singara) on the Tharthar. Villages are more numerous than has often been supposed. Von Oppenheim counted in the district west of Edessa and Harran, in a stretch of two days' march, 300 flourishing villages. At one time, however, Mesopotamia was teeming with life. The lines of the rivers are marked at frequent intervals by the ruins of flourishing towns of Assyrian, Roman and Caliphate times. Such are Birejik, Jerablus, Tell Ahmar, IKa1 `at en-Najm, Balls, Karkisiya (Qargisiya, Circesium), on the Euphrates; Kuyunjik, Nimrud on the Tigris; Khorsabad on a small tributary; `Arban, Tell Khalaf, on the Khabur. The interesting oasis town el-Hacir (Hatra) is near the Tharthar. Excavation has hardly begun. The country is covered with countless mounds (tells), each of which marks the site of a town. The documents from the ancient Tirqa said to have been found at Ishara, a few miles belowKarkisiya, are referred to below (§ 4). At Anaz(=Dar of Tiglathpileser IV.) was found in 1901 a slab (Pognon, Inscript. sent. de la Syrie, Plate xxvi. No. 59) with a bas-relief and an inscription of the governor of Dar, MushezibShamash. 7 The stele referred to below (§ 7, end) as being probably8 Nabonidus's was found in 1906 some 15-20' W. of Eski-Harran, a little nearer to it than to Hmeira, which is west of Eski-Harran, an hour and a half north-east of the ruins of Harran. Parts of Mesopotamia have probably always harboured wandering tribes. Exactly how far the intervening lands beyond reach of the streams have done so it is difficult to make out. Fraser (Short Cut to India, p. 1 34) insists that in the undulating plains the direct rainfall is quite sufficient for agricultural purposes.

viii. Political Divisions

On the whole the natural lie of the country has been reflected in the political divisions, which have of course varied in detail. We only mention some of those most often occurring. In the pre-Persian period, besides those referred to elsewhere, we may cite Kashyari (Tar `Abdin), Guzanu (Gozan of 2 Kings xvii. 6; in the Khabur district), Bit Adini (Osroene), Kummukh (north-west corner and beyond); in the Roman period, Osroene, Mygdonia (in the east), and in Syriac usage Beth `Arbaye (between Nisibis and Mosul); in the Arab period, Diarbekr (T ar `Abdin), Diar Rebi'a (Mygdonia), Diar Muelar (Osroene).

Roads. 9

The routes of communication have probably changed little in the last 5000 years. It has not yet been proved that Edessa is an ancient city (see Edessa: § 2) but it probably was, and its neighbour Harran, the tower of which can be seen from it, bears a name which seems to indicate its position as a highway centre. (I) An obvious series of routes followed the course of the rivers: from Thapsacus (Dibse) down the Euphrates, from Jeziret ibn `Omar down the Tigris, from Circesium up the Khabur. The Euphrates was crossed at Birejil (Til Barsip ?), or Jerablus (Carchemish?), or Tell Ahmar (unidentified), or Thapsacus. 10 (2) Probably the modern route from Samosata eastwards behind the Karaja Dagh to Diarbekr was also well known. The same is doubtless true of the route from Osroene by Ras al-`Ain and Nasibin, and that by Veranshehr and Mardin to the Tigris. About other cross-roads, such as those from Harr - an to Tell Shaddada on the lower Khabur, or from 'Ana by al-Haelr to Mosul it is difficult to say.

Functionally, Mesopotamia is the domain that lies between Babylonia and the related trans-Tigris districts on the one hand, and the west Asian districts of Maritime Syria and Asia Minor on the other. Its position has given it long, complicated and exciting history. The great rivers, in later times theoretically regarded as its boundaries, have never really been barriers (cf. e.g. Winckler, Altorient. Forschungen, iii. 348), whence the vagueness of the geographical terminology in all times. Its position, along with its character, has prevented it often or long, if ever, playing a really independent part.

Who the earliest inhabitants of Mesopotamia in approximately historical times were is not yet clear. It is possible that its 6 Ritter, Erdkunde, xi. 279-492.

For the interpretation cf. Or. Lit.-Zeit. xi. 242-244.

On the interpretation see P. Dhorme, Rev. Bibl. (Jan., 1908).

9 Ritter, Erdkunde, xi. 265-278.

i° On these and other crossing places, see Ritter, Erdkunde, x. 959-1004.

connexion with the north, and Asia Minor, goes back to a very early date. It may be that some of the early north Babylonian kingdoms, such as Kish, extended control thither. The earliest Babylonian monarch of whose presence in Mesopotamia there is positive evidence is Lugalzaggisi (before 2500 s.c.), who claims, with the help of En-lil, to have led his countless host victorious to the Mediterranean. His empire, if he founded one, was before long eclipsed, however, by the rising power of the Semites. Excavation in Mesopotamia may in time cast some light on the questions whether the Semites really reached Babylonia by way of Mesopotamia,' when, and whom they found there, and whether they partly settled there by the way. Whether SharruGI, Manishtusu and Remush (often called Uru-mush) really preceded, and to some extent anticipated, "Sargon" i.e. Shargani-sharri, as L. W. King now 2 plausibly argues, is not certain; nor whether the 32 kings who revolted and were conquered by Manishtusu, as we now learn, were by the Mediterranean, as Winckler argued, or by the Persian Gulf, as King holds. That Sargon was or became supreme in Mesopotamia cannot be doubted, since there is contemporary evidence that he conquered Amurru. The three versions of the proceedings of Sargon (Sharru-GI-NA) in Suri leave us in doubt what really happened. As he must have asserted himself in Mesopotamia before he advanced into the maritime district (and perhaps beyond: see Sargon), what is referred to in the Omens and the Chronicle 26,472 may be, as Winckler argued (Or. Lit.-Zeit. 1907, col. 296), an immigration of new elements into Suri - in that case perhaps one of the early representatives of the "Hittite" group. According to the Omens text Sargon seems to have settled colonies in Suri, and suggestions of an anticipation of the later Assyrian policy of transportation have been found by King (op. cit.) under the rulers of this time, and there are evidences of lively intercommunication. Mesopotamia certainly felt the Sumero-Babylonian civilization early. It was from the special type of cuneiform developed there, apparently, that the later Assyrian forms were derived (Winckler, Altorient. Forsch. i. 86 seq.). What the "revolt of all lands" ascribed to the later part of Sargon's reign means is not yet clear; but he or his son quickly suppressed it. Mesopotamia would naturally share in the wide trade relations of the time, probably reaching as far as Egypt. The importance of IIarran was doubtless due not only to its fame as a seat of the Moon-god Sin, honoured also west of the Euphrates, and to its political position, but also to its trade relations. Contemporary records of sales of slaves from Amurru are known.

When the Semitic settlers of the age of Sargon, whom it is now common with some justice to call Akkadians (see Sumer), had become thoroughly merged in the population, there appeared a new immigrant element, the Amurru, whose advance as far as Babylonia is to be traced in the troubled history of the postGudean period, out of the confusion of which there ultimately emerged the Khammurabi dynasty. That the Amurru passed through Mesopotamia, and that some remained, seems most probable. Their god Dagan had a temple at Tirqa (near `Ishara, a little below Circesium), the capital of Khana (several kings of which we now know by name), probably taking the place of an earlier deity. At Tirqa they had month names of a peculiar type. It is not improbable that the incorporation of this Mesopotamian kingdom with Babylon was the work of Khammurabi himself.

Not quite so successful eventually was the similar enterprise farther north at Asshur [or Assur (q.v.)] on the east margin of Mesopotamia, although we do not know the immediate outcome of the struggle between Asshur and the first Babylonian king, Sumu-abi. Possibly the rulers of Babylon had a freer hand in a city that they apparently raised to a dominant position than the Semitic rulers of Asshur, who seem to have succeeded to men of the stock which we have hitherto called Mitanni, if we may judge ' On the theory that it was climatic changes in Arabia that drove the Semites to seek new homes along the route mentioned above, see L. W. King, History of Sumer and Akkad (1910), which appeared after this article was written.

2 See the preceding note.

from the names of Ushpia who, according to Shalmaneser I. and Esarhaddon, built the temple, and Kikia who, according to Ashur-rem-nisheshu, built the city wa11.3 The considerable number of such names already found in First Dynasty recordsseems to show that people of this race were to be found at home as far south as Babylonia. Whether they were really called Shubaru, as Ungnad suggests, we may know later.

When Khammurabi's fifth successor saw the fall of the Amorite dynasty in consequence of an inroad of "Hittites," these may have been Mesopotamian Shubaru-Mitanni; but they may, as Ungnad suggests, represent rather an- Timee Times. cestors of the Hittites of later times. It is difficult in any case not to connect with this catastrophe the carrying away to Khani of the Marduk statue afterwards recovered by Agum, one of the earlier kings of the Kassite dynasty. Whether Hittites were still resident at Khana we do not know. The earlier Kassite kings of Babylon still maintained the Amorite claim to "the four quarters;" but it is improbable that there was much force behind the claim, although we have a document from Khana dated under Kashtiliash. It is just as uncertain how long Asshur remained under the Babylonian suzerainty of which there is evidence in the time of Khammurabi, and what the relation of Asshur to western Mesopotamia was under the early kings whose names have lately been recovered. All these matters will no doubt be cleared up when more of the many tells of Mesopotamia are excavated. Only two have been touched: `Arban on the Khabur, where remains of a palace of uncertain date, among other things an XVIII. dynasty scarab, were found by Layard in 1851, and Tell Khalaf, where the confluents join, and remains of the palace of a certain Kapar, son of Hanpan of "Hittite" affinities but uncertain date, were found by von Oppenheim in 1899. A long inscription of a certain Shamshi-Adad [Samsi-], extracts from which are quoted by Delitzsch (Mitt. d. Deutsch Or.-Gesellschaft No. 21 p. so), unfortunately cannot be dated exactly, or with certainty even approximately; but if Delitzsch and Ed. Meyer are right, it belongs to a time not many generations after Agum recovered the Marduk statue. Shamshi-Adad's claims extend over the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates, and he says that he erected memorials of himself on the shore of the Great Sea.

The mystery of the Hyksos has not yet been solved; but it is not impossible that they had relations with Mesopotamia. After they had been driven out of Egypt (q.v.), when Ahmose, the officer of Tethmosis (Thutmose) I., mentions Naharin (late 16th century), he does not say anything about the inhabitants. He seems to imply, however, that there was more than one state. The first mention of Mitanni, as we saw, is under Tethmosis III., who clearly crossed the Euphrates. It is at least possible that common enmity to Mitanni led to a treaty with Assyria (under Ashur-nadin-akhe). 4 Victorious expeditions into Naharin are claimed for Amenophis II., Tethmosis IV. and Amenophis III. The Egyptian references are too contemptuous to name the rulers; but Shaushatar may have begun his reign during the lifetime of Tethmosis III., and from cuneiform sources we know the names of six other Mitanni rulers. As they all bear Aryan names, and in some of their treaties appear Aryan deities (Indra, Varuna, Mithra, &c.), it is clear that Mesopotamia had now a further new element in its population, bearing apparently the name Kharri. 5 Many of the dynasts in North Syria and Palestine in the time of Tushratta bear names of the same type. The most natural explanation is that Aryans had made their way into the highlands east of Assyria, and thence bands had penetrated into Mesopotamia, peacefully or otherwise, and then, like the Turks in the days of the Caliphate, founded dynasties. The language of the Mitanni state, however, was neither Aryan nor Semitic, and may very well be that of the mysterious "Hittite" hieroglyphic inscriptions (see Hittites). Mitanni was one of the great powers, alongside of Egypt and Babylonia, able to send to Egypt the Ninevite 'Ishtar; and at this time as much as at any Ungnad, Beitr. z. Assyr. VI. v. 13.

See e.q. P. Schnabel, Stud. z. bab.-ass. Chron. p. 25 (1908).

5 Winckler has identified the Kharri with the Aryans, to whom he assigns a state in Armenia (Or. Lit.-Zeit., July 1910).

other, we must think of common political relations binding the districts east and west of the Euphrates. The king mentioned above (Shaushatar) conquered Asshur (Assur), and Assyria remained subordinate to Mitanni till near the middle of the 14th century, when, on the death of Tushratta, it overthrew Mitanni with the help of Alshe, a north Mesopotamian state, the allies dividing the territory between them. The Hittite king's interference restored the Mitannite state as a protectorate, but with a smaller territory, probably in the north-west, where it may have survived long.

Assyria was now free, and Ashur-uballit [Assur-yuballidh acc. to Sayce] knew how to make use of his opportunities, and, in the words of his great grandson, "broke up the forces of the widespread Shubari" (AKA, p. 7,1. 32 seq.). Knowing what we know of the colonizing power of the Assyrians, we may assume that among the "Mitanni" and other elements in the Mesopotamian population there would now be an increase of people of "Assyrian" origin. On the tangled politics of this period, especially Mesopotamia's relations with the north-west, the Boghaz-Keui documents may be expected to throw a great deal of light. We know already a little more of the chequered history of the Amorites in the Naharin district, beset by great powers on three sides. When Mitanni fell Babylon no doubt adhered to its older claims on Mesopotamia; but the Kassite kings could do little to contest the advance of Assyria, although several rectifications of the boundary between their spheres are reported.

Mitanni's fall, however, had opened the way for others also. Hence when Ashur-uballit's grandson, Arik-den-ili (written. PU.DI.ili), carried on the work of enforcing Assyria's claim to the heirship of Mitanni, he is described as conquering the warriors 1 (?) of the Akhlame and the Suti. The references to these people, who practically make their first appearance in the Amarna correspondence, 2 show that they were unsettled bands who took advantage of the loosening of authority to introduce themselves into various parts of the country, in this case Mesopotamia. Gradually settlements were made, the names of many of which are given by the various Assyrian kings who had at one time or another to assert or reassert supremacy over them - such as Chindanu, Laqe, Sulhi along the South Euphrates boundary of Mesopotamia, and various districts bearing names compounded with Bit = settlement (see above), such as Bit-Adini (nearly equal the later Osroene; see Edessa), or Bit-Zamani in the north near Diarbekr. The specific name Aramaean first appears in the annals of Tiglath-pileser I., unless we identify the Arimi of Shalmaneser I. in Tur `Abdin with the Aramu; 3 but the name may probably with fitness be applied to a very large number of the communities mentioned from time to time. Their position in Mesopotamia must have been very like that of the Shammar at the present time (see ad fin.). As they gradually adopted settled life in various parts of the country the use of Aramaic spread more and more (see below, § "Persians").

Meanwhile Mesopotamia continued to be crossed and recrossed by the endless marches of the Assyrian kings (such as Adad-nirari, Shalmaneser I. and his son), building and rebuilding the Assyrian empire (see Babylonia g Y P (AND Assyria), and eventually pushing their conquests towards Asia Minor at the expense of the Hittite domain. If, on the fall of the Kassites, Nebuchadrezzar I. established more direct relations between Mesopotamia and Babylon, his work was presently undone by the vigorous campaigns of Tiglath-pileser I., who seems to have even won Egypt's sanction of his succession to the Hittite claims. The newly recovered (1909) tablet of Tukulti-Ninib, the grandfather of Shalmaneser II., is interesting from its account of an expedition down the course of the Tharthar to Hit = Id (river and town now first mentioned in cuneiform sources) and up the Euphrates to the Khabur district.

1 See M. Streck, Zeit. Assyr., 18, 157.

2 On a wrongly supposed much earlier occurrence of the name Achlamu, see Klio, vi. 193 n. 3.

3 So for example A. Sanda, Die Aramaer, 5 (1902).

Now that Mesopotamia had passed out of the hands of Babylon, all that the later kings could do was to encourage local Mesopotamian rulers in their desire for independence (Nabuapluiddin). These were convinced that Assyria was master, but refused their tribute when they thought they dared. To thoroughly overpower the troublesome Bit-Adini (see above, § 3, viii.), which had naturally been aided by the states west of the Euphrates, Shalmaneser II. (860-825) settled Assyrians in their midst. Ilarran was one of the few places that remained on his side during the great insurrection that darkened his last days. Similarly the province of Guzanu (Heb. Gozan,I'au? avirLs), on the Kahbur, held with the capital Asshur in the insurrection that occurred in 763 (the year of the eclipse), when evidently some one (an Adad-nirari ?) wore the crown, at least for a time. Harran was clearly closely associated with Asshur in the rights and institutions that were the subject of so much party struggle in the new Assyrian empire that began with Tiglath-pileser IV. (see Babylonia And Assyria). When the policy of transporting people from one part of the empire to another was developed, new elements were introduced into Mesopotamia, amongst them Israelites, of whom perhaps traces have been found in the neighbourhood of IIarran at Kannu'. 4 These new elements may have been more organically attached to the Assyrian state as such than the older inhabitants, to whom the affairs of state at Nineveh would be of little interest. On the conditions at Ilarran some light is thrown by the census partly preserved in Ashurbanipal's library.' The governors of several Mesopotamian cities, such as Nasibin, Amid, took their turn as eponyms; but this would not have much significance for the people. Hence even the fall of Nineveh (607 B. e.), apart from what such cities in Mesopotamia as held by its last kings suffered through the invasion, first perhaps of Nabopolassar, who in 609 B.C. claims to be lord of Shubaru, and then of the Medes, would be a matter of comparative indifference; tribute paid to Babylon was just as hard to find as if it were going to Nineveh. Necho did not succeed, like his great XVIIIth dynasty predecessor, in crossing the Euphrates. He was defeated by Nebuchadrezzar at Carchemish (605 B.C.), and Mesopotamia was confirmed to Babylon. Its troubles began again shortly after Nebuchadrezzar's death; the Medes seized Mesopotamia and besieged IIarran. Before long, however, the overthrow of Astyages by Cyrus cleared Mesopotamia, and Nabonidus (Nabu-naid) was able, drawing on the resources of the whole of Syria for the purpose, to restore the famous temple of Sin at Harran, where a few years later he erected in memory of his mother, who seems to have been a priestess there, the stele published in 1907 by Pognon.

The fragmentary nature of the records does not enable us to follow the steps by which Cyrus became master of Mesopotamia, .in which he probably met with little or no resistance. 'How much of Mesopotamia was involved in the revolt of what the Persian inscription calls Assyria (Athur) is not clear. Nor does it appear with certainty to which of the twenty satrapies into which, according to Herodotus, the Persian empire was divided, Mesopotamia belonged; probably it was included in 'Abar nahara. The fact is, we have no information from native sources. 6 The probability is that conditions remained very much what they had been; except that the policy of transportation was not continued. The satraps and other high officials would naturally be of Persian extraction; but local affairs were probably managed in the old way, and there was no important shift of population. The large Aramaic infusion had by this time been merged in the general body of the people. These settlers doubtless influenced the "Assyrian" language; but gradually, especially in the west, their own language more 4 S. Schiffer, Keilinschriftliche Spuren der in der zweiten Halfte des 8. Jahrhunderts von den Assyrern nach Mesopotamien deportierten Samarier (to Stamme) (1907); C. H. W. Johns in Proc. Soc. Bib. Arch. (March, May, 1908).

5 C. H. W. Johns, An Assyrian Doomsday Book (1901).

e For the history from the time of Herodotus onwards, see Ritter, Erdkunde, 6-284.

7 M. Streck, Klio, seq.

and more prevailed. Although Aramaic inscriptions of the Assyrian period, like those of Zanjirli or that of King ZKR of Hamath, have not been found in Mesopotamia, already in the time of Shalmaneser II. mention is made of an Aramaean letter (Harper, Ass. Bab. Letters, No. 872, obv. 1.10), and Aramaic notes on cuneiform documents begin to appear. Weights with Aramaic inscriptions (the oldest from the reign of Shalmaneser IV., 727-22) were found at Calah. By the Achaemenian period Aramaic had become the international language, and was adopted officially.

How Mesopotamia was affected by the passing of Persian armies on their way to suppress revolts in Syria or Egypt, or to conquer Greece, we do not know; on the whole it probably enjoyed unwonted peace. The expedition of Cyrus the Younger, with which Xenophon has made us so familar, only skirted the left bank of the Euphrates. The route followed by Alexander, though he also crossed at Thapsacus, took him unresisted across the northern parts; but the poor people of Mesopotamia suffered from the measures taken by their satrap Mazaeus to impede Alexander's progress. In spite of this, where Cyrus failed Alexander succeeded.

What would have happened had Alexander lived we can only guess. Under the Seleucids Babylon was moved across the Hellenism. plain to Seleucia; but before long the central authority was transferred to the other side of Mesopotamia, Antioch or elsewhere - a fateful move. It is improbable that cuneiform and the Babylonion language continued to be used in Mesopotamia during the Hellenistic period, as it did in Babylonia, where it was certainly written as late as the last century B.C.;1 and may have been a learned language till the second Christian century. 2 Unfortunately there are no native documents from the pre-Christian Hellenistic period. That the Hellenizing process went as far as it did in Syria is unlikely; and even there Aramaic remained the language of the people, even in the towns (cf. Edessa). Still, Greek influence was considerable. This would be mainly in the towns, the growth of which was quite a feature of the Macedonian rule in Mesopotamia (Pliny, vi. 30, § 117). 3 This is seen in the Greek names which now appear: such are Seleucia opposite Samosata, Apamea (= Birejik) opposite 'Zeugma, Hierapolis (= Membij), Europos, Nicatoris, Amphipolis (= Thapsacus, or near it), Nicephorium (er-Rakka,) Zenodotium (stormed by Crassus), all on or by the Euphrates; Edessa (q.v.) on the upper waters of the Belikh, Ichnae (perhaps Khnes, above the junction of the Qaramuch with the Belikh). These are all in the Osroene district; but Nasibin became an Antioch, and as its district was known as Mygdonia (from Macedon) there were doubtless many other Greek settlements. To a less extent the same influences would be at work in towns called even by Western writers by their real names, such as Batnae, Carrhae (Charran), Rhesaena.

Mesopotamia naturally had its share of suffering in the struggles that disturbed the time, when Eumenes or Seleucus traversed it or wintered there. It was invaded and temporarily annexed in 245 by Ptolemy III. Euergetes in his rapid expedition to beyond the Tigris. When Molon revolted on the accession of the youthful Antiochus III. (224 B.C.) he entered Mesopotamia from the south. Antiochus skirted the northern highlands by way of Nasibin. How far the natives of Mesopotamia shared the desire of the Greek settlers (Joseph. Antiq. xiii. 5, 11, § 184-186) to help Demetrius II. Nicator in checking the aggressions of the rising power of Parthia under Mithradates I. we do not know. It was in Mesopotamia that a large part of the army of Antiochus VII. Sidetes was destroyed in 130 B.C., and the Syrian kings did not again seriously attempt to assert their rule beyond the Euphrates. When Phraates II. turned the Scythians against himself, however, even Mesopotamia suffered from the plunderers (Joh. Antioch, in Miller iv. 561). The immigration of Arabs 1 Probably the latest cuneiform document of certain date is a contract of 68 B.C. (cf. Klio, vi. 223 n. 3).

See G. J. F. Gutbrod, Zeitsch. f. Assyr. vi. 26-33; cf. M. Streck, Klio, vi. 22 3 n. 1.

See E. R. Bevan, House of Seleucus, i. 219-222, and references given there.

must have been going on for long. About this time they even founded a dynasty in Aramaean Osroene (see Edessa).

Under Mithradates II. Mesopotamia was a definite part of the Parthian empire, of which the Euphrates became the western boundary; but in 92 B.C. on that river his P: o h c r ambassador met Sulla, though the long duel did not begin immediately.

It was perhaps a Parthian governor of Mesopotamia that was called in to help Strato of Beroea against Demetrius III.; but before long Mesopotamia (especially the district of Nisibis) was attached to the growing dominions of Armenia under its ambitious king Tigranes, perhaps with the consent of Sinatruces (Sanatruces). The lost territory, however, was recovered by Phraates III., and Mesopotamia was guaranteed to Parthia by the treaties of Lucullus and Pompey (66 B.C.). It was traversed, however, several times by Roman troops crossing from Armenia to Syria, and Parthia's declaration of war against Armenia involved it with Rome. Gabinius crossed the' Euphrates (54); but the command was assumed by Crassus, who, though he seized Ichnae, &c., and Raqqa (Rakka), fell near Carrhae (53), and the Parthian dominion was confirmed. The tragedy of the Ides of March saved Mesopatamia and the East from a great campaign by Julius Caesar, and it was at the hands of Ventidius Bassus, and west of the Euphrates, at Gindarus (north east of Antioch), that the Parthians received the check that put an end to any real rivalry with Rome. Mesopotamia narrowly escaped being the scene of the struggle when Antonius in 36 finally decided to make his disastrous attempt against Phraates IV. by way of Armenia. In A.D. 36, Tiridates found support in his attempt to secure the throne of Artabanus III. in Mesopatamia, and it was there that he saw his army melt away. The affairs of Armenia continued to be the source of friction between Parthia and Rome, and Nisibis changed hands several times. The expedition against Rome of Vologaeses I. (q.v.) of A.D. 62 reached no further westwards than Nisibis, and in 66 a peaceable arrangement was come to. Of the half-century that preceded Trajan's great oriental undertaking not much is known. When in 115 Trajan entered Mesopotamia from the north no serious resistance was offered, and it became a province as far as Singara. The woods at Nisibis, the headquarters, provided material for the boats with which in 116 he crossed the Tigris. Hatra, an interesting fortress which seems to have been Aramaean, fell, and the army advanced to Hit, where it found the fleet that was subsequently transferred to the Tigris. For the revolt that occurred while Trajan was on the Persian Gulf, in which the Jews had an important hand, Nisibis and Edessa suffered capture and destruction. Hatra successfully withstood siege, however, and Hadrian abandoned Mesopotamia, setting the boundary at the Euphrates. Again for half a century there is not much to relate. Then, when Vologaeses, yielding to his growing discontent, took advantage of the death of Antoninus to invade Armenia the Romans were victorious (164), and after the storming of places such as Nicephorium, Edessa, Nisibis, western Mesopotamia was once more Roman as far as the Khabur, Carrhae becoming a free city and Osroene a dependency.

By this time Christianity had secured a foothold, perhaps first among the Jews (see Edessa), and we enter upon the earliest period from which documents in the Edessan dialect of Aramaic, known as Syriac, have been preserved. Unfortunately they contain practically nothing that is not of Christian origin.4 On the death of Aurelius Hatra aided Niger against Septimius Severus in 194; Osroene rose against Rome, and Nisibis was besieged and other Roman places taken; but Septimius Severus appeared in person (195), and from Nisibis as headquarters subdued the whole country, of which he made Nisibis metropolis, raising it to the rank of a colony, the Sinjar district, where Arabs from Yemen had settled, being incorporated. On his retiring everything was undone, only Nisibis holding out; but on his reappearance in 198 the Parthians withdrew. Again the Euphrates bore a Roman fleet. Hatra, however, was besieged twice in vain. Peace then prevailed till Carcalla's unprovoked attack on Parthia in 216, after he had reduced Osroene to a province. On his assassination near Carrhae (217), Macrinus was defeated at Nisibis and had to purchase peace, though he retained Roman Mesopotamia, reinstating the princely house in Osroene.

The power of Ardashir, the Sassanian, however, was already rising, and the Parthian Artabanus died in battle in 22 4 (or 227); and Ardashir proposed to prove himself the successor of the Achaemenidae. Hatra resisted the first Persian attack as it 4 The earliest inscription in Syriac yet known dates from A.D. 77, and was found at Serrin (opposite Karat en-Najm) by von Oppenheim.

had resisted Rome; but Mesopotamia was overrun, Nisibis and Carrhae being taken (233). It was immediately, indeed, recovered by Alexander Severus, and retained, whatever was the precise success of the war; but Nisibis and Period. p ?

Carrhae were retaken by the Persians in the reign of Maximin. Under Gordian III. in 242 Mesopotamia was entered by a great Roman army which recovered Carrhae and Nisibis, and defeated the Persians at Rhesaena; but when Gordian, after a difficult march down the Khabur, was murdered at Zaitha below Circesium, Philip the Arabian (244) made the best terms he could with Shapur I. Whatever they were, the Roman garrisons seem not to have been really withdrawn. A rest for Mesopotamia seems to have followed; but in 258 Shapur, tempted by the troubles in the Roman empire, overran the country taking Nisibis and Carrhae, and investing Edessa, and .vhen Valerian invaded Mesopotamia he was eventually made prisoner, by Edessa (260). After Shapur's cruel victories in Syria, however, he was defeated by Odaenathus, who relieved Edessa, and Mesopotamia became for ten years practically part of an Arabian Empire (see Palmmyra), as it was to be four centuries later. In consequence of the revolt of Zenobia Mesopotamia was lost to Rome, and the Euphrates became the frontier. Aurelian overthrew the Palmyran rule; but he was assassinated before he could carry out his intended expedition against Persia, Probus was assassinated before he was able to do anything (or much), and although Carus easily overran Mesopotamia, which became Roman again, and even took Ctesiphon, the Romans retreated on his death (283-4). The next incident is the defeat of Galerius, between Carrhae and Callinicus, where he had entered Mesopotamia (about 296), in the war provoked by Narses in consequence of his relations with Armenia. When it was retrieved by a signal victory, Diocletian advanced to Nisibis and thence dictated terms of peace by which Mesopotamia to the Tigris was definitely ceded to Rome (298).

One result of the connexion with Rome was, naturally, that Mesopotamia came within the range of the Decian, and later the Diocletian persecutions (see Edessa: § Sassanian Period). At the Nicene Council there were bishops from Nisibis (Jacob), Rhesaena, Macedonopolis (on the Euphrates, west of Edessa), and Persia (Harnack, Mission and Expansion of Christianity, ii. 146; see generally 142-152).

After a forty years' peace the struggle was resumed by Shapur II. Nisibis thrice endured unsuccessful siege (33 8, 346, 35 o), although meanwhile Constantine had suffered defeat at Singara (348). Then Mesopotamia enjoyed two short rests (separated by a sharp struggle) while the rivals were engaged elsewhere, when in 363 Julian made his disastrous attempt, and Jovian bought peace at the price, among other things, of Singara and Nisibis - i.e. practically all eastern Mesopotamia.

The surrender of Nisibis, which had been in the possession of Rome for so many generations, caused consternation among the Christians, and Ephraem (q.v.) moved to Edessa, where his "school of the Persians" soon became famous (see Edessa). In the war of 421, in which the north-east of Mesopotamia was chiefly concerned, the Romans failed to take Nisibis, and it became a natural rallying point for the Nestorians after the decision of Ephesus (431). Matters were still more complicated when the Western Christians of Edessa found themselves unable to accept the ruling of Chalcedon against Monophysitism in 451 (see Monophysites), and there came to be three parties: Nestorians (q.v.), Jacobites (see Jacobite Church) and Melchites.

In the beginning of the 6th century there was another severe struggle in Mesopotamia, which found an anonymous Syriac historian (see Edessa), and in infringement of agreement the Romans strongly fortified Dara against Nisibis. The Persian invasion of Syria under Kavadh I. (q.v.) was driven back by Belisarius; but the latter was defeated in his pursuit at Rakka (531). The peace begun by Chosroes I. (532) was not long kept, and Roman Mesopotamia, except the pagan Harran, suffered severely (540), Edessa undergoing a trying siege (544)The fifty years' peace also (562) was short lived; the Romans again failed in an attempt to recover Nisibis (573), whilst Chosroes' siege of Dara was successful. Mesopotamia naturally suffered during the time of confusion that preceded and followed the accession of Chosroes II., and the Romans recovered their old frontier (591).

With the accession of Phocas (602) began the great war which shook the two kingdoms. The loss of Edessa, where Narses revolted, was temporary; but the Roman fortress of Dara fell after nine months' siege (c. 605); Harran, Ras al-`Ain and Edessa followed in 607, many of the Christian inhabitants being transported to the Far East, and Chosroes carried the victorious arms of Persia far into the Roman Empire. Finally Heraclius turned the tide, and Kavadh II. restored the conquests of his predecessor. The Syrian Christians, however, found that they had only exchanged the domination of a Zoroastrian monarch for an unsympathetic ecclesiastical despotism. In the confusion that followed, when men of letters had to live and work in exile, Nisibis set up for a time (631-632) a grandson of Chosroes II. Finally all agreed on Yazdegerd III.; but, while Chosroes II. and Heraclius had been at death grips with each other a great invasion had been preparing in Arabia.

The Arab tribes in Mesopotamia were Christian, and Heraclius at Edessa hoped for their support; but Karkisiya and Hit succumbed (636), and then Tekrit; and Heraclius retired to Samosata. When in 638 he made another ca attempt, it is said at the entreaty of the Mesopotamian Christians, Arab forces appeared before Rakka, Edessa, Nasibin and other places, and all Mesopotamia was soon in the hands of the Arabs. Henceforth it looked to Damascus and to Kufa and Basra, instead of to Constantinople or Ctesiphon. The new regime brought welcome relief to the Christian part of the population, for the Arabs took no note of their orthodoxies or heterodoxies. (Moawiya is said to have rebuilt the dome of the great church at Edessa after an earthquake in 678.) Fortunately for Mesopotamia the seats of the factions which immediately broke the peace of Islam were elsewhere; but it could not escape the fate of its geographical position.

The men of Rak k a were compelled to help `Ali, after his march across Mesopotamia from near Mosul, in getting a bridge made at Rakka to convey his men to Siffin. Not long afterwards there was a new excitement in Moawiya's incursion across to the Tigris. Tie discontent under Yazid III. was keen in Mesopotamia, where M erwan in fact got a footing, and when the troubles increased after he became caliph he abandoned Damascus in favour of his seat at Harran. His son was besieged by Dahhak and his Kharijites and Saffarids in Nasibin; but a fierce battle at Mardin ended in Merwan's favour (745). The cruelties that accompanied the overthrow of the Omayyad dynasty excited a revolt, which spread to Mesopotamia, and Harran had to undergo a siege by one of Merwan's generals. It was next besieged by al-Mansur's brother; but the battle between the brothers was fought at Nasibin. It was decisive, but there were further risings, involving Mesopotamia.' An inevitable effect of the reign of Islam had been that the kindred language of the Arabs gradually killed the vernacular Syriac of Mesopotamia (see Edessa) as the alien Greek and Persian had shown no tendency to do, and the classical period (4th to 8th centuries) of the only Mesopotamian literature we know, such as it is, useful but uninviting, came to an end (see Syriac Literature). This naturally encouraged grammatical study. Among the Aramaic-speaking people the revolution which displaced the Arabian court of Damascus in favour of a cosmopolitan world centred at the Babylonian seat of the civilizations dealt with in the preceding paragraphs naturally gave an impulse to the wider scholarship. Translations were made from Greek, as, e.g. by Thabit b. Qurra of Harran (d. 901), and from Pahlavi.

Mansur built a castle at Rafiqa opposite Rakka to control the country round, and his son Harun al-Rashid actually resided during most of his reign, not at Bagdad but at Rakka, where two generations later al-Battani of Harran was making the astronomical observations on which his tables were based (see Albategnius) Abu Qurra, bishop of Harran, and acquaintance of the caliph Ma'mun, who was one of the earlier Aramaean Christians to use Arabic, has been thought to have contributed to the influences For this and following section see further Caliphate and Persia: History. that developed the Mu`tazilite (Motazilite) sect. Nasibin was the scene of another revolt (793) under a Kharijite leader. Harun's son Motasim displeased the people by creating a bodyguard of Turks, and therefore transferred his seat to Samarra. This put the caliphs fatally at the mercy of their guards.

Mesopotamia fell partly under the power of Ahmad ibn Tulun of Egypt and his son; but before the end of the 9th century the Hamdanids, descendants of the Arab tribe of Taghlib,. were in possession of Mardin, and in 919 one of them was governor of Diar Rabi`a. Later the brothers Nasir ad-Daula and Saif ad-Daula ruled over Mesopotamia and North Syria respectively. Meanhwile the caliph Mottaqi appeared as a fugitive at Mosul, Nasibin, Rakka (944). The Hamdanids were followed by the `Ogaylids, who had their seats at various places, such as Mosul, Nasibin, Rakka, Harran, between 996 and 1096. By 1055 the Seljuks had taken the caliph under their charge. They arrived at Jerusalem in 1076, the first crusaders reached Asia in 1097, and Bit Adini became the countship of Edessa (q.v.). The power of the Seljuks quickly disintegrated. The son of a slave of the third Seljuk sultan, Zangi, governor of `Irak, made himself gradually (Mosul, Sinjar, Jezira, Harran) master of Mesopotamia (1128), capturing Edessa in 1144. Mesopotamia fell to one of his sons, Saif ad-Din, and branches sprang up at Sinjar and Jezira. To the same period belong other Atabeg dynasties; Begtiginids at Harran, Tekrit, &c.; Ortokids at Edessa, 'Ana, &c., with Mardin as their headquarters. By1185-1186Saladin had made Egypt supreme over all these principalities, thus achieving what the XVIIIth and XIXth Egyptian dynasties had attempted in vain. Mesopotamia remained in the hands of the Ayyubite family till the appearance of the Mongols. The petty principalities were unable to unite to resist the terrible attack, and Jezira, Edessa, Nasibin, Maridin, &c., fell in 1259-60. The leading men of Harran emigrated into Syria, the rest were carried into slavery, and the ancient town was laid in ruins. It was the Mamluk rulers of Egypt that checked the death-bringing flood. Near Bira was the scene of one of their victories (in 1273), and their authority extended to Karkisiya. The Ortokid dynasty survived the Mongol inundation, and it was in the 14th century that its laureate Safiy ad-Din al-Hilli flourished. From the Mongol invasions of the 13th century western Asia has never recovered. Then, before the next century was out, came the invasion of Timur (1393-94). The Ortokids were followed by the Karakuyunli. In 1502 Mesopotamia passed for a time into the hands of the Safawid shah, Ishmael; but in 1516 it came under the Osmanli Turks, to whom it has belonged ever since. The inroad of the Persians in the 17th century was confined to the south.

Since Mesopotamia finally came into the power of the Ottoman sultans considerable changes in the population have occurred.

About that time parts of a confederation of tribes which had taken the name of Shammar from a moun tain in their neighbourhood, moved northwards from Central Arabia in search of better pasture, &c. Successfully displacing their forerunners, they made themselves at home in the Syrian steppe - until their possession was in turn disputed by a later emigrant from Arabia, for whom they finally made room by moving on into Mesopotamia, over which they spread, driving before them their predecessors the Tai (whose name the Mesopotamian Aramaeans had adopted as a designation for Arab in general), partly north of the Sinjar, partly over the Tigris. Others they forced to abandon the nomadic life, and settle by the Khabur (e.g. the Jebur) or the Euphrates. These adjustments, it is supposed, had been effected by 170o.

In 1831 `Ali, a newly appointed Turkish governor of Bagdad, induced Sufug the chief of the Jerba, the more important division of the Shammar, to help him to dislodge his predecessor, Mild, who would not vacate his position, but then refused them the promised payment. To defend himself from the enraged Shammar `Ali summoned the `Anaza from across the Euphrates. Having also succeeded in detaching part of the Shammar under Shlosh, he told the `Anaza he no longer needed their help. In the futile attempt of the three parties to dislodge the `Anaza Shlosh lost his life; but with the help of the Zubeid the other two succeeded, and Sufug was now supreme "King of the Steppe," levying blackmail as he pleased. Other methods of disposing of him having failed, the Porte made his nephew a rival sheikh; but he basely assassinated him. Siff-fig then suffered the same fate himself at the hands of the pasha, but has since become a hero. Two of his sons became involved in a quarrel with the government, in consequence of which for years all Mesopotamia was in danger, till the second was put to death in 1868, and Ferhan, the eldest son, a peaceable man who had been made pasha, became supreme. One of Sufug's widows had fled to her Tai kindred in Central Arabia with her youngest son Faris; but when he grew up she brought him back in the seventies, and he immediately attracted a great following. He kept to the far north of Mesopotamia to avoid his brother Ferhan; but finally half-sedentary tribes on the Khabur and the Belikh became tributary to him, and a more or less active warfare sprang up between the brothers, which ended in a partition of Mesopotamia.

Ferhan and the South Shammar claimed the steppe south-east of a line from Mosul to Mayadin (just below Karl isiya), and Faris and the North Shammar the north-west. Since Ferhan's death the Porte has favoured one after another of his many sons, hoping to keep the South Shammar disunited, especially as they are more than the others. The Shammar have been in undisputed mastery from Urfa to the neighbourhood of Bagdad, practically all tribes paying khuwwa to them, and even the towns, till the government garrisoned them. Some 60 of these more or less nomadic communities, of one or two thousand tents (or houses) each, representing a population of several hundred thousands are described by Oppenheim. Each has its recognized camping ground, usually one for summer and another for winter. Most of them are Arab and Mahommedan. Some are Christian and some are not Arab: viz. Kurds, Turkomans or Circassians. For some years the Porte has been applying steady pressure on the nomads to induce them to settle, by increasing the number of military posts, by introducing Circassian colonies, as at Ras al-`Ain, sometimes by forcible settlement. More land is thus being brought under cultivation, the disturbing elements are being slowly brought under control, and life and property are becoming more secure.

Security is what the country chiefly needs. Hence its primary interest in the railway scheme, with a view to agricultural development and perhaps the growth of cotton; Sir W. Willcocks' irrigation schemes had not up to 1910 affected "Mesopotamia" directly. Apparently the real problem is one of population adequate to effect the improvements demanded. The new regime introduced in 1908 seems to justify a hopeful attitude. Apart from the disturbing effects of recent events in Persia, an exposition of present conditions would show progress. Exact statistics are not available because the vilayet of Mo ul (35,130 sq. m., 351, 200 pop.) takes in on the east territory with which we are not concerned, and omits the Osroene district, which goes with Aleppo. Urfa is a town of J5,000; Mosul, 61,000, Bagdad, 145,000. The exports of Mosul for 1908 were (in thousands of pounds sterling): United Kingdom 195, India 42, other countries 52, parts of Turkey 218; the imports: United Kingdom 56, India 16, other countries 35, parts of Turkey 24. The language is in most parts Arabic; but Turkish is spoken in Birejik and Urfa, Kurdish and Armenian south of Diarbekr, and some Syriac in Tar `Abdin. There are Christian missionary institutions of European origin in various places, such as Urfa, Mardin, Mosul. An interesting survival of early faiths is to be found in the Yezidis of the Sinjar district.

Authorities - Land and People: full references to Greek, Latin,. Arabic and other writers are given in Ritter, Erdkunde x. 6-284, 921-1149; xi. 247-510, 660-762; for the conditions since the Arab conquest, Guy le Strange, Lands of the Eastern Caliphate (1905), chiefly pp. 86-114, is especially useful. Of recent works the following are valuable: E. Sachau, Reise in Syrien u. Mesopotamien (1883); M. v. Oppenheim, Vom Mittelmeer zum Persischen Golf, vol. ii (1889). We may mention further D. G. Hogarth, The Nearer East (1902), passim; K. Regling, "Zur historischen Geographie des mesopotamischen Parallelograms" (Sarug district), in Klio, I. 443-476; M. Sykes, "Journeys in North Mesopotamia" in Geog. Journal, xxx. 2 372 54, 384-395; "The Western Bend of the Euphrates," op. cit. xxxiv. 61-65 (plans of two castles); D. Fraser, Short Cut to India (1909); W. Kurz, "Beurteilung der Aussichten auf eine Wiederbelebung der Kultur der Euphratand Tigrisniederung," in Deutsche geographische Blotter, xxxi. 147-179 (1908); E. Pears,. "The Bagdad Railway," in Contemp. Rev., 1908, 570-591; K. Baedeker, Palestine and Syria (1906), pp. 389-412. The annual Consular Reports most nearly bearing on Mesopotamia are those for Aleppo, Mosul, Bagdad and Basra.


The following deserve special mention: v. Oppenheim,. op. cit., a most valuable large scale folding map in pockets of volumes; Sachau. op. cit.; M. Sykes, Geog. Journ. xxx. opp. p. 356, and xxxiv. opp. p. 120; Hogarth, op. cit., orographic, &c.

Excavations at `Arban: A. H. Layard, Nineveh and Babylon (1849-1851), pp. 230-242; at Tell Khalaf: M. v. Oppenheim, Der Tell Halaf (1908), in the Der alte Orient series (see an account by J. L. Myres in Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology, ii. 139-144; at Asshur: Sendschriften der deutsch. or. Gesellsch., and W. Andrae, Der Anu Adad Tempel (1909). See also D. G. Hogarth, "Carchemesh and its Neighbourhood" (Annals, &c. ii. 165-184), and W. Andrae's Die Ruinen von Hatra (1908).


Early period: besides the histories of Babylonia and Assyria see Winckler, various essays in his Altor. Forschungen, " Vorl,ufige Nachrichten fiber die Ausgrabungen in Boghaz-koi im Sommer, 1907," in Mitteilungen der Deutsch. Orient. Gesellschaft, No. 35, and "Suri" in Oriental. Lit.-Zeit, x. 281-2 99, 345-357, 401-412, 643; 0. Weber, the notes to Knudtzon's Die El-Amarna Tafeln; A. Ungnad, Untersuchungen zu den. .. Urkunden aus Dilbat (1909), pp. 8-21; P. Schnabel, Studien zur bab.-assyrischen Chronologie (1908); A. Sanda, Die Aramder (1902) in the Der Alte. Orient series; M. Streck, "Ober die alteste Geschichte der Aramaer" in Klio, vi. 185-225. For the later periods see PERSIA: History; HELLENISM; ROME: History; PARTHIA; SYRIAC LITERATURE; CALIPHATE and authorities there given. (H. W. H.)

Encyclopedia Alphabetically

A * B * C * D * E * F * G * H * I * J * K * L * M * N * O * P * Q * R * S * T * U * V * W * X * Y * Z

Advertise Here


- Please bookmark this page (add it to your favorites)
- If you wish to link to this page, you can do so by referring to the URL address below.

This page was last modified 29-SEP-18
Copyright © 2021 ITA all rights reserved.