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Inarch Center Publication

Ancient Aratta & Sumerian Tablets

InArchCenter ID: - IACBN0029


Abstract: -


Over the past few years, the investigation for the precise location of Anshan and the land of Arat, which seem to have been adjacent to each other on the Iranian plateau, has been a challenge for archaeologists interested in Iran. According to the Sumerian inscriptions, in the late first half of the third millennium, Anshan was selected as one of the key centers of the Elamite dynasty, and Aratta was a wealthy land (Majidzadeh 1976). These two areas have been assessed in the field studies by scholars. The precise location of the city of Anshan was determined by the discovery of bricks with Elamite cuneiform inscriptions during archeological excavations at the Millian area in the present-day Fars province (Reiner 1973). But the precise area of the land of Aratta remains unclear to the archaeologists. So far, various suggestions have been made for locating the ancient Aratta. The following details on the position of the Aratta can be gathered from the Sumerian texts: 1-The land of Aratta is situated far away from the mountains of Anshan. 2- Aratta is surrounded by mountains and referred to mountains as the protective wall of the Aratta repeatedly. 3 – Phenomena such as drought and gusty winds have also been reported in this land. So far various suggestions for the location of the ancient land have been made. In reality, the purpose of this article is to explore the potential locations suggested by researchers for the area of ancient Aratta. Meanwhile, Yousef Majidzadeh believes that the Halilrood area corresponds to the ancient land of Aratta, so these three points should be added to Majidzadeh's explanations and inferences and the Jazmourian region can be called the land of ancient Aratta.


Keywords: Southeast Iran, Aratta Land, Sumerian Tablets, Jazmourian.


Introduction: -


The tale of Enmerkar and the lord of Aratta, which can be found in Sumerian texts, are made up of four different but related stories: Enmerkar and lord of Aratta (Kramer 1970: 11), Enmerkar and wise Ansokhksh, Logal Banda and Anzo, Lugal Banda and Horum Kora (pp. 179-180).


These stories show that Aratta is a land in eastern Mesopotamia, whose name mentioned in the long poem written in cuneiform and the Sumerian language that dating of it in the early second half of the third millennium BC (the third period and Isin-Larsa).


The root of the tale possibly dates back to the middle of the third millennium BC (probably the Old Dynasty 1 and 2) (Alizadeh 2006: 55). This text is the story of a Sumerian hero called Enmerkar, the king of Uruk, who intends to use the wealth and resources of the distant city of Aratta to construct and decorate the temple of the goddess Inana (Majedzadeh 2001: pp 280-284). But Arat's position in this text is unclear. What can be deduced from the text is that the land of Aratta was situated in the east of Mesopotamia and north of Uruk, far from the Anshan area, in the land of Iran. According to the text, after passing seven mountains range and get lost in the dusty winds, it was possible to enter Aratta (Majedzadeh 2001: pp 280-284).


Suggestions for the area of ancient Aratta: -


Georgina Herman believes that the seat of the lords of Aratta was located in the south and southeast of the Caspian Sea (Herrmann 1968). But Kramer considers the land of Aratta as present-day Lorestan in his popular book (Kramer 1971: 185). Another suggestion was made by Cohen and he chose the area between Hamedan, Nahavand, and Kermanshah to locate the land of Aratta (Cohen 1973). Hansman, on the other hand, declares the Shahr Sokhteh to be the epic city of Aratta (Hansman 1978). With the discovery of the Shahdad area and the studies carried out by Kabuli, the state of Aratta was believed to be the downtown of Shahdad (Kabli 1987 62). Recently, Majidzadeh referred to Jiroft as the land of Aratta (Majedzadeh 2014). In connection with the issue of Aratta and the Jiroft area, Steinkler also has pointed out useful topics (Stinkler 2014).


Jazmourian area: -


Jazmourian is located between the mountains in a broad and low area (figure 1).The water flowing from the heights of the mountains reaches the plains and eventually flows into a wetland with the same name. The catchment basin of this wetland is separated from the north by the Shah and Barez Mountains from the Lut plain catchment basin area, and from the south by the Bashagard Mountains from the catchment basin area of the Oman Sea and the Persian Gulf. Its largest fertile plains are Jiroft, Faryab, Kahnooj, Qaleh Ganj, and Rudbar in the south of the province of Kerman and the plains of Iranshahr Bampur, Sardegna, Delgan Sartakhti, and Spekeh in the provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan, are adjacent to this catchment basin. The heights of these mountains, which often exceed 3000 to 3886 meters above sea level, same as a huge wall surrounded the Jazmourian region on all four sides. Large rivers join these plains from the heights of the mountains and gradually flow into the swamps of Jazmourian. The largest ancient areas of the second half of the third millennium BC are formed on the banks of these rivers. Most of the places in this cultural district are located at the confluence of the catchment basins, in the crater and or middle valleys of mountains, or like the hill Kenar Sandal of Jiroft on the plains.

Figure1. Jazmourian catchment basin area (Lotfi Nasab 2019)


Discussion: Measurement of two new parameters between the Jasmourian region and the state of Aratta: -


It is seen in the Sumerian tablets that in order to enter the Aratta, the envoy first, must pass across the valleys and plains. Next, he passes through Anshan (Millian Hill in present-day Fars) (Reiner 1973) and then has to cross seven mountains and lost in dusty winds or dusty storms. That is when he reaches Aratta. The Enmerkar's envoy, going through all these addresses, enters Aratta and the lord's court, reads the message of his king and mentions the requests of Enmerkar, which along with threats. The lord of Aratta answers: "Tell your King that the God of all heavenly laws has sent me to Aratta, the land of heavenly laws, to reinforce the gates of the mountains (Majedzadeh 2019: pp 180-284). By examining the first sentence of the Sumerian text, the fate of cities and regions such as the south-east of the Caspian Sea, Kermanshah, and Lorestan, which have been introduced as places for the civilization of Aratta, were specified. Because the Enmerkar envoy who wanted to go to these areas did not need to pass through the southern parts of Iran or Anshan, also to reach these areas, he had been to pass through numerous mountains. The area of Shahdad did not provide any evidence of architectural records to describe the residential city of Aratta (Majidzadeh 1976). In comparison to the archeological discoveries of the Halilrood Cultural District, as well as in terms of mineral works and the superiority of handicrafts, the finding in this region are very poor and in terms of the scale of the city and the region, a massive area such as the powerful Aratta cannot be accommodated in it. Unless we accept that Shahdad was part of the territory of the kingdom of Aratta. The Shahr Sokhteh of Sistan has many characteristics of Aratta compared toShahdad and other locations, but the Hansman hypothesis can be completely rejected in this regard Since the Shahr Sokhteh is not surrounded by mountains and is located on a large plain (refer to Sajadi 2004: 7). Then the Enmerkar's envoy that had left Sumer went through the mountains of Anshan to enter the land of Aratta. If according to archaeologists, Anshan land is the present province of Fars, Today there are high mountain ranges are situated between Fars and the Jasmourian region. These mountain ranges are Sarvestan, Estahban, Neyriz, Sirjan, and Barez or Mordan mountains, which are 2000 and 2,500 meters higher than the surrounding plains (figure 2).


Figure2. View of the mountain ranges between Anshan and Jazmourian


To get from Fars Province to the south of Kerman Province (Jazmourian basin), there are two paths, one way is the passage of the heights of this mountain range that is possible, and the other way is the long way that from the side of the mountains and the Persian Gulf coast leads to the Jazmourian basin. On the path of these ancient ways, Mount Horum is described between Anshan and the Land of Aratta, which may be one of the most significant geographical signs. Today, Mount Horum is still used in the language of the inhabitants of the Jasmourian Basin for the geographical name of a peak or mountain full of thick rocks in its slits. There are usually good places to shelter and camouflage in these rocks. This geographical sign for the mount or mountain may be considered for Mount Horum, where the corpse of the hero Logalbanda was kept so that his companions could carry his body to Uruk after returning from Aratta. Then the envoy passes through Anshan and seven mountains that is, the mountains of Jabal Barez or Mordan and he enters the plains of Jiroft and Rudbarzamin, where dusty winds are continually blowing. This is a valuable clue to the area with a similar condition in East Anshan. On the other hand, in the Rudbar plain, Marco Polo is trapped in these dusty winds, too. Such red and black winds in summer in the plains of Jazmourian are the laws of nature in this region (Gabrial 2003).(Figure 3).


Figure3. Dense dust in the area of Qala-e-Ganj, Chah Dadkhoda section


These dusty winds are different from the 120-day storms in Sistan, and such dusty winds do not blow in any of the reported areas, except Sistan. Thus the envoy enters the Aratta through all these signs, which are mentioned in part of the tale of King Uruk from Sumer with the lord of the Aratta, that described as follows;


“The envoy ascended the high mountains and descended from the high mountains.
Like a young singer, he fell to the ground in front of Anshan.
He was frightened by the greatness of the mountains.
He crossed five, six, and seven mountains.
He wandered in the dust of the plain, and when he lifted his head, he saw the Aratta in front of him.
He was pleased, and he entered the city" (Kramer 1971)

Finally, the envoy arrives at the throne of Aratta and receives the response to his message as follows: "o envoy, tell to your King that the God of all the Heavenly laws and Holy Inanna has sent me to Aratta, the land of the Heavenly laws to reinforce the gates of the mountains. In a separate part, the Sumerian scribe describes the land of the Aratta as a land whose wall is from the heart of the mountains. So the land of the Arat must be found somewhere surrounded by the mountains. Today Jabalbarz and Sardo mountains from the north, high mountains of Sikh zendan and Shah Mountain from the west, Bazman and Makran Mountains from the east, and Bashagard mountains from the south surrounded the Jazmourian plains. There was a challenge to cross any of the mountains with difficult paths in ancient circumstances. the Arat's lord said that God sent them to defend, and they were guardians of those paths, which were called the gates of the mountains and forced the citizens to defend the gates. Finally, a great drought occurred in the land of the Aratta, according to the Sumerian tablets, and the inhabitants of that land suffered from famine Enmerkar from Sumer sent a caravan of wheat along with a message to the Aratta's lord, and the inhabitants of the Arat were very pleased when the grain arrived (Alizadeh 2007: 55). In the '60s, such droughts had also occurred in this area, and people still have memories of the dry and difficult years of 1963 and 1964 solar years. So many of the inhabitants of Rudbarzamin in the southern part of Jasmourian were forced to abandon their land forever and fled to the cities of Iran, like Abadan and some to the Persian Gulf countries. It is clear that the occurrence of such droughts that existed in the Jazmourian region between 1962 and 1964 AD undoubtedly influenced the people of that time as well.


Conclusion: -


As the discovery of Anshan as a real location confirms this theory, according to the oldest Mesopotamian legends only the south of Kerman Province may be a rich region with very important archeological remains in the eastern neighbor of Fars, that surrounded by a high mountain.


In reality, given the significant geographical features well-articulated by the Sumerian poet, the Jazmourian Basin is suggested as a reasonable choice for the location of the state of Aratta. And to Majidzadeh's inferences that the Halilrood basin is related to the ancient Aratta, can be added this points that the state of Jazmourian is surrounded by mountains and dusty winds, which the law of nature in this area and it can be called the land of ancient Aratta.


Notes: -

Acknowledgment: I want to thank Mr. Hamid Shahriari (local researcher) for giving excellent advice that has been used extensively in this research.


References: -


A) Persian

1- Steinkler, Piotr, 1392, Marahshi and beyond: The historical perspective of Jiroft civilization. Archeology of Halilrud Basin: Southeastern Iran Jiroft, Collection of articles the Second International Conference: Civilization of Halilrud Basin: Jiroft, Tehran, Kerman. With the efforts of Yousef Majidzadeh and Mohammad Reza Miri, translator of Pishin Pajooh Cultural-Artistic Institute, Tehran Academy of Arts, and pp: 9-34.

2- Seyed Sajadi, Seyed Mansour, 2003, Fishing in Ancient Sistan, Cultural Heritage Organization, Zabol Governorate.

3- Lotfi Nasab-e-Asl, Sakineh et al. (2015), Evaluation and application of statistics in identifying and analyzing the drought characteristics of Jazmourian basin, Journal of Watershed Management, ninth year, No. 18

4- Alizadeh, Abbas, 2006, Jiroft: Archeology / Journal of Archeology / new course, First Year, No. 1, spring and summer 2006

5- Kaboli, Mir Abedin, Shahdat Arat State Center Journal of Archeology and History, the first year of autumn and winter 1986

6- Kramer, Samuel, 1349, Sumerian tablets, translated by Davood Rasaei, place of publication: Tehran, Enghelab Publications

7- Gabriel, Al-Fanous, 2002, Marco Polo in Iran, translated by Parviz Rajabi, Tehran: Asatir Publications

8- Majidzadeh, Yousef, 1379, History and Civilization of Mesopotamia. Volume 2 of Cultural-Social History, University Publishing Center, Tehran

9- Majidzadeh, Yousef, 1392, Arta or Marashi. Modares Archaeological Research, 10th and 11th years Pp. 1-14


B) English

1. Cohen, s. 1973, “Enmerkar and Lord of Aratta“Ph.D. Dissertation University of Pennsylvania, pp.30-31.

2. Hansman john, f. 1978, “the Questionof Aratta “journal of near Eastarn studies 37:331-36

3. Herrmann. G. 1968, “Lapis Lazuli, the early phases of its trade“Iraq30, 1968, pp.21-57

4. Majidzadeh yousef, 1976, "the land of Aratt" Journal of near Eastern studies, (1)105-103.

5. Reiner, E, 1973, “the Location of Anshan “Revued' Assyriologie 67:72-52.


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