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Kaškäer in hieroglyphics

Land of the Kashka
people (mountain people in the north / northeast of Asia Minor)
Approximate location of Kaška

The Kaškäer (also Kaschkäer, Kaška, Gasga ; Egyptian Gaschgesch, Gašgeš, Keschkesch, Keškeš ) lived in Northern Anatolia at the time of the Hittite Empire . Their settlement area was central northern Anatolia and possibly also included parts of the ancient landscape of Paphlagonia . The exact extent of their area, especially to the east, is uncertain. The latter also depends on where you locate Azzi - Hajaša .

The first reliable Hittite mentions of the Kaška people come from the early 14th century BC. Therefore some research assumes that they only came to Northern Anatolia at that time. Other researchers believe that they are indigenous . The latter is more plausible, since the Kaškean names attested to are very likely Old Anatolian . The lack of texts dating back to 1400 BC. This can be explained by the fact that we have few sources from the Old Kingdom and that the region was largely under Hittite control at that time .

The Kaškäer lived partly semi-nomadic and were split up into at least nine different tribes. I.a. also for this reason they represented a constant threat on the Hittite northern border. Treaties that were concluded with one tribe were often ignored by the other tribes. The incursions into the Hittite Empire were evidently not so much a conquest as a raid. Only at the time of Šuppiluliuma I (approx. 1355-1320 BC) are the tribes supposed to have united under a king Piḫḫuniya . After that, they seem to have divided again. Under Ḫantili II they conquered Nerik around 1450 . Like Ḫattušili III. Mentioned in his apology, the Kaškäer crossed the upper Kızılırmak during his reign and even reached Kaneš . Mursili II won decisive victories against the Kaškäer. They are also known as allies of the Hittites who they z. B. supported in the battle of Kadesh , as well as Ḫattušili III. at his usurpation of the throne. Ramses II lists the "Keschkesch" in a topographical list of names next to Babylonia , Meshwesch and Cyprus and reports on " Mariannu warriors from Keschkesch". Similar connections are known from a campaign of Amenhotep II (1426–1400 BC), where in the bag list, among other things, “a captured Mariannu from Qatna ” is listed.

Although the Kaškäer are mentioned as often as few other peoples in Hittite texts from the time of the great empire, we know very little about them, since the Hittites limited themselves to the most essential in the description of campaigns and in the texts of treaties.

Between the Devrez Çayı and the Kızılırmak were a number of Hittite fortresses that were supposed to prevent the Kaškaers from accessing the Hittite core area. They were evenly spaced and mostly on a hill, but with access to water and good farmland. They were heavily fortified and sometimes up to an acre in size. Roger Matthews suggests that the Hittites also entered the country through roads that may be hidden under the Roman and Byzantine roads. The system also included smaller watchtowers and lookouts. An example of one was discovered near Eldivan .

It is not clear whether the Kaškäer contributed to the collapse of the Hittite Empire. What is certain is that after 1200 BC they Took advantage of the resulting vacuum and migrated far to the southeast. From the end of the 12th century we encounter them as Gasga several times in Assyrian sources. In the annals of Tukulti-apil-Ešarra I (approx. 1114-1076 BC) it is said that they did not permanently settle the areas they had conquered. From this one can deduce that they had given up their home on the Black Sea and not extended their territory from there to Eastern Anatolia. Until the 8th century BC Chr. Are they sporadically in Assyrian mentioned texts. Apparently they had established themselves in eastern Anatolia and founded an empire. The Kaškaers are mentioned for the last time in the annals of Sargon II . After that, their track is lost.

The Paphlagonia Survey discovered some settlements with so-called " gray Phrygian goods ". There is speculation that the pontiers , who were supposed to cause trouble for the Romans under their king Mithridates , were descendants of the Kaškaers.

Archeologically, the Kaškäer are difficult to grasp to this day. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that they apparently did not have any large permanent settlements. On the other hand, it is difficult to B. to assign litter finds with coarse pottery to a certain people. In addition, systematic excavations in northern Anatolia have only been undertaken to a very limited extent to date.

See also


  • Roger Matthews : Landscapes of Terror and Control: Imperial Impacts in Paphlagonia. In: Near Eastern Archeology. 2004, Vol. 67, No. 4, pp. 200-211.
  • Maciej Popko : Zippalanda and Ankuwa once more. In: Journal American Oriental Society. 2000, Vol. 120, No. 3, pp. 445-448.
  • Einar von Schuler : The Kaškäer. A contribution to the ethnography of ancient Asia Minor (= supplementary volume 3 to the journal for Assyriology and Near Eastern Archeology ). de Gruyter, Berlin 1965.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Roger Matthews: Landscapes of Terror and Control: Imperial Impacts in Paphlagonia. In: Near Eastern Archeology. 67/4, 2004, p. 205.