Nairi (Armenian: Նայիրի in TAO or Նաիրի in RAO) was the Assyrian name (KUR.KUR Na-i-ri, also Na-'i-ru) for an Armenian tribe in the Armenian Highlands, roughly corresponding to the modern Van and Hakkâri provinces of modern Turkey. Nairi has sometimes been equated with Nihriya, known from Mesopotamian, Hittite, and Urartean sources. However, its co-occurrence with Nihriya within a single text may argue against this.
During the Bronze Age collapse (13th to 12th centuries BC), the Nairi tribes were considered a force strong enough to contend with both Assyria and Hatti. The Battle of Nihriya, the culminating point of the hostilities between Hittites and Assyrians for control over the remnants of the former empire of Mitanni, took place there, circa 1230. Nairi was incorporated into Urartu during the 10th century BC.
The names of twenty-three Nairi lands were recorded by Tiglath-Pileser I (1114–1076 BC). Their southernmost point was Tumme, known to have been south-west of Lake Urmia, and their northern one Daiaeni. These lands are known from the list of defeated kings: "the king of Tumme, the king of Tunube, the king of Tuali, the king of Kindari, the king of Uzula, the king of Unzamuni the king of Andiabe, the king of Pilakinni, the king of Aturgini, the king of Kulibarzini, the king of Shinibirni, the king of Himua, the king of Paiteri, the king of Uiram, the king of Shururia, the king of Albaia, the king of Ugina, the king of Nazabia, the king of Abarsiuni, and the king of Daiaeni." It is believed that Nairi extended from the Tur-Abdin mountains in the south to the mountainous area southwest of Lake Van in the north.
By some opinions, the Nairi tribes may have been a Hurrian tribe, related to contemporary Mitanni (Götze 1936). Others take this hypothesis skeptically; e.g., Benedict (Benedict 1960) points out that there is no evidence of the presence of Hurrites in the vicinity of Lake Van. Other Authors have pointed out different views involving the indigenous peoples of the Caucasus. Professor Shestokov, a Soviet Russian historian, wrote in 1939, - The oldest states of the Soviet Union were founded 3,000 years ago to the south of Transcaucasia. The oldest among them, that in the Ararat area, by the Lake of Van, was called Urartu. Its kings ruled over Georgian tribes." 
An early, documented reference to Nairi is a tablet dated to the time of Adad-nirari I (13th century BC), which mentions the purchase of 128 horses from the Nairi region.
The Nairi fought against the southern incursions of the Assyrians and would later unite into Urartu.
Further reading 
- Albrecht Götze, Hethiter, Churriter und Assyrer, Instituttet for Sammenlignende Kulturforskning, Serie A: Forelesninger XVII (Oslo, 1936).
- Warren C. Benedict, Urartians and Hurrians. Journal of the American Oriental Society 80/2, 1960, 100-104.
- Ralf-Bernhard Wartke, Urartu Das Reich am Ararat, Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz/Rhein 1993
- A. G. Sagona, Matasha McConchie, Liza Hopkins (2004) "Archaeology at the North-east Anatolian Frontier", ISBN 90-429-1390-8
See also