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Išuwa in eastern Anatolia at the time of the Hittites.

Išuwa (Ischuwa) was an ancient kingdom in Anatolia . The name has been around since the second millennium BC. Occupied.

The area

Išuwa was on the Upper Euphrates in the Elazığ area in what is now Turkey. The river valley is surrounded by the Antitaurus here . To the northeast, there is a plain that extends to the Pontus . The abundance of springs and abundant rainfall make the Altınova plain suitable for agriculture. In addition, the mountains around the plain contain rich copper deposits that were already mined in ancient times.

The residents

The name Išuwa could come from the Proto-Indo-European word for horse * ek'wos (Old Indo-Iranian: * ashwas ) and thus mean the land of horses . It is not clear which Anatolian people inhabited the area before the Armenians . The population could have been a mixture of Hattians , Hurrites , Urartians and relatives of the Hittites . Klengel considers Hurrians to be the main population, Kosyan believes in a mixture of Hurrian and Indo-Aryan elements. The names of the kings Ehli-šarruma and Ari-šarruma from the 13th century are interpreted as Hurrian.


Išuwa was one of the areas where agriculture developed quite early. The first state probably existed as early as the third millennium BC. Written documents about Išuwa do not appear until a thousand years later. The most important part of it are Hittite texts, the area is already described as Išua .

Hittite period

To the west of Išuwa was the Hittite Empire. King Ḫattušili I entered the Išuwas area with his army across the Euphrates and burned down some cities. Traces of fire can also be found in the archaeological layers of the cities. King Šuppiluliuma I reported how Išuwa became an enemy in the time of his father. Behind this was probably an alliance of Išuwas with the Hurrian empire of Mitanni against the Hittites. A poorly preserved cuneiform tablet shows how the king of Mitanni Sauštatar started the war against the Hittites under Arnuwanda I with the help of Išuwa . Under Tuthalias III, the father of Šuppiluliuma, troops fled from the countries that his father had subjugated to the other side of Išuwa ( Hajaša ) and settled there ( Šattiwaza-Šuppiluliuma Treaty , §1). It dealt with in detail :

  • URU Kurtalissa
  • URU Arawanna
  • KUR Zazisa
  • KUR Kalasma
  • KUR Timana
  • ḫur. says Haliwa
  • ḫur.says Timana
  • ḫur.says Karna
  • URU Turmitta
  • KUR Alha
  • KUR Hurma
  • ḫur. says Harana
  • half the country of KUR Tegarama
  • the troops of URU Tepurzija
  • the troops of URU Hazka
  • the troops of URU Armatana

Šuppiluliuma I. crossed the Euphrates, subjugated Išuwa and led the soldiers from the conquered lands, which were at the time of his father Tuthalias III. had fled to Išuwa, back to Ḫatti (Šattiwaza-Šuppiluliuma contract, §2). He made Išuwa part of his empire.

From then on the kings of Isuwa were vassals of the Hittites. Only some of the kings of Išuwa are known by name. One of them was Ehli-šarruma , another Ari-šarruma , whose name appears on a seal from the tell of Korucutepe .

The Late Hittite Period

After the end of the Great Hittite Empire at the beginning of the 12th century BC. A new empire was established in Išuwa. Arslantepe near Malatya became the capital of this late Hittite empire. After the Hittites, the Phrygians settled in the west of Išuwa, while the Empire of Urartu developed in the east of Išuwa . But Išuwa's most powerful neighbor was Assyria in the south. So the kingdom of Melid soon became tribute to King Tiglath-Pileser I. Malatya was later sacked by Sargon II . At the same time the Cimmerians and Scythians invaded Anatolia. This weakened Išuwa so that it could not counter the assault of Assyria. From the 7th century until the rule of the Romans , the cities and towns in Išuwa deteriorated as a result of the invasion by nomads and the Assyrians.


  • Ehli-Sarruma
  • Ari-Sarruma


Today, most of the Išuwa settlements have fallen victim to the dams of the Euphrates. In the course of Turkey's GAP project, the Keban , Ataturk and Birecik dams flooded the Euphrates valley.


At Kemal Kurdaş's instigation, a team of Turkish, US and Dutch researchers led by Maurits van Loon began documenting the settlements from the time of Išuwa.

The excavations show traces of settlement from the Paleolithic to the Middle Ages. Large Bronze Age settlements have been found in the places Ikiztepe , Korucutepe , Norşuntepe and Pulur around the Murat River . They date from the fourth to the second millennium BC. The center of Išuwa could have been in this area.

Another important site is Arslantepe near the city of Malatya . Arslantepe lies outside the floodplain and is being studied by an Italian team led by Marcella Frangipane. Arslantepe was from the fifth millennium BC. Inhabited until the Roman period.


Excavations show Išuwas contacts to the culture of Tell Brak in the south. Išuwa was on the outer edge of the Uruk culture . The people of Išuwas were also metalworkers, bronze processing was already here in the fourth millennium BC. Known. Copper was initially alloyed with arsenic , but then with tin . The early Bronze Age culture in turn had connections to the Khirbet Kerak culture . In the Hittite period one sees parallels to the Hurrites and Central Anatolia. The monumental architecture was influenced by the Hittites. Personal names show that Hurrian gods such as Sarruma were worshiped. In the late Hittite period, influences from Phrygia , Assyria and Urartu can be seen. After the Scythian invasion, Scythian graves can also be identified.


  • Marcella Frangipane, Alba Palmieri et al. (Eds.): Between the Rivers and over the Mountains. Archaeologica anatolica et mesopotamica Alba Palmieri dedicata , Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche Archeologiche e Antropologiche dell'Antichità, Università di Roma La Sapienza, Rome 1993.
  • Cevat Erder: Lessons in Archaeological and Monument Salvage. The Keban Experience , Princeton University, 1973.
  • Erkan Konyar: Old Hittite presence in the East of the Euphrates in the light of stratigraphical data from Imikuşağı (Elazığ) , in: Dirk Paul Mielke, Ulf-Dietrich Schoop, Jürgen Seeher (eds.): Structuring and dating in Hittite archeology. Structuring and Dating in Hittite Archeology , Istanbul 2006, pp. 333-348.
  • Daniel David Luckenbill : Hittite Treaties and Letters , in: The American Journal of Semitic Languages ​​and Literatures 37.3 (1921) 161-211. ( JSTOR 528149 ).
  • Maurits Nanning van Loon: Korucutepe. Final report on the excavations of the universities of Chicago, California (Los Angeles) and Amsterdam in the Keban reservoir , 3 vols., American Elsevier, New York 1975-1980.

Individual evidence

  1. Horst Klengel: The Hittites and Isuwa. In: Oriens Antiqus. 7, 1968, p. 71.
  2. Aram Kosyan: To Aryan in Išuwa. In: Iran and the Caucasus. 10.1, Brill, Leiden 2006.
  3. Aram Kosyan: To Aryan in Išuwa. In: Iran and the Caucasus. 10.1, Brill, Leiden 2006, p. 5.
  4. ^ J. Garstang, 0. R. Gurney: The Geography of the Hittite Empire. 1959, p. 40
  5. ^ H. Klengel: The Hittites and Isuwa. In: Oriens Antiquus. 7, 1968, pp. 63-73.
  6. Giulio Palumbi: The Red and the Black. Social and cultural interactions between the upper Euphrates and Southern Caucasus. Rome 2008.

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