Other Archaeological Sites / The Neolithic of the Levant (500 Page Book Online)
Winner of the 1993 Best Scholarly Book in Archaeology
Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:
Although they were to exert a major influence in the Near East and must long have formed the autochthonous element in central Mesopotamia, the Hurrians remain an enigma among the peoples of the ancient world. Their literature made a profound impact on the Hittites yet their language (non-semitic and non-Indo-European) remains little known. Their beautiful painted pottery is common in Mesopotamia and eastern Syria -- even the Egyptians of the New Kingdom prized Hurrian ware -- yet their material culture has not yet been intensively investigated. Like the Kassites the Hurrians had come from the northern Zagros Mountains and perhaps Armenia and already in the late third millennium Hurrian names occur sporadically in northern Mesopotamia and the area of Kirkuk. By the time of Hammurabi of Babylon a trickle of Hurrians is attested entering the region of Chagar Bazar and in the half century following his death they are found also in north Syria where - at Alalakh for example - they constitute 30 percent of the population.
What transformed the Hurrian nation from a group of perioikoi peripheral to the great focuses of civilization and into a sophisticated political force of its own was the arrival of an Indo-European element from the north; its amalgamation with the Hurrians resulted in a symbiosis of rulers and subjects. The Indo-Aryans in question were clearly an offshoot geographically and culturally of the great Aryan migrations southward from the Russian steppes during the sixteenth and fifteenth centuries BC which brought a sizable body of Indo-European speaking peoples to northern India; and - as in the Punjab so in Mesopotamia - the Aryans provided the dominant aristocracy in the society that resulted.
Although these Aryan invaders soon lost their language and adopted the Hurrian vernacular their onomasticon [thesaurus of terms] retained Aryan names replete with the infixes of the principal Vedic Gods. Aryan customs lingered on as well including the use of the horse and chariot - cremation in place of internment - and of the designation of the feudal aristocracy by the term maryannu or young man.
The new Aryo-Hurrian society displayed an elan vital that propelled its numbers far and wide to south and west. By the third quarter of the sixteenth century a number of strong enclaves of Hurrians were in the process of coalescing into states in northern Mesopotamia - the most powerful of which was called by the loose geographical term Khanigalbat. Its center lay on the upper Tigris River to the north of Assyria.
By 1530 BC the relentless pressure westward of the Hurrians and their Indo-Aryan leaders during the third quarter of the sixteenth century gave birth to a new nation-state called Mitanni between the Euphrates and Balikh Rivers. Mitanni rapidly became the chief Hurrian state and leading exponent of Hurrian culture; and very soon it had subverted the states of central Mesopotamia and the Upper Tigris including Assyria ...