||It has been suggested that Subartu (Amarna letters corpus) be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since May 2011.|
The land of Subartu (Akkadian Šubartum/Subartum/ina Šú-ba-ri, Assyrian mât Šubarri) or Subar (Sumerian Su-bir4/Subar/Šubur) is mentioned in Bronze Age literature. The name also appears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit.
Subartu was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris. Most scholars accept Subartu as an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east, north or west of there. Its precise location has not been identified. From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked "west", "east" and "south", respectively.
The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the "languages are confused" as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). Similarly, the earliest references to the "four quarters" by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer. Subartu in the earliest texts seem to have been farming mountain dwellers, frequently raided for slaves.
Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu; in a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani (Armenians), -which has been identified with Aleppo-, among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar.
Three of the 14th century BC Amarna letters, Akkadian cuneiform correspondence found in Egypt, mention Subari as a toponym. All are addressed to Akenaten; in two (EA 108 and 109), Rib-Hadda, king of Byblos, complains that Abdi-Ashirta, ruler of Amurru, had sold captives to Subari, while another (EA 100), from the city of Irqata, also alludes to having transferred captured goods to Subari.
There is also a mention of "Subartu" in the 8th century BC Poem of Erra (IV, 132), along with other lands that have harassed Babylonia. In Neo-Babylonian times (under Nabopolassar, Nebuchadrezzar II and Nabonidus), Subartu was used as a generic term for Assyria. The term was still current under Cambyses II, who mentions Subarian captives.
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Subartu may have been in the general sphere of influence of the Hurrians. There are various alternate theories associating the ancient Subartu with one or more modern cultures found in the region, including Armenian or Kurdish tribes. Some scholars, such as Harvard Professor Mehrdad Izady, claim to have identified Subartu with the current Kurdish tribe of Zibaris inhabiting the northern ring around Mosul up to Hakkari in Turkey.
- Arthur Ungnad, Die ältesten Völkerwanderungen Vorderasiens. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte und Kultur der Semiten, Arier, Hethiter und Subaräer. Kulturfragen 1, 1923, 4-8.
- Arthur Ungnad, Subartu, Beiträge zur Kulturgeschichte und Völkerkunde Vorderasiens (Berlin/Leipzig 1936).
- Moran, William L. The Amarna Letters. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987, 1992. (softcover, ISBN 0-8018-6715-0)
- Wuerthrich, Bernice (19 May 2000). "Peering Into the Past, With Words". Science 288 (5469): 1158. doi:10.1126/science.288.5469.1158.
- Wayne Horowitz, Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography, Eisenbrauns 1998, ISBN 0-931464-99-4
- BOTTERO Jean, KRAMER Samuel Noah, Lorsque les dieux faisaient l'homme, Gallimard, Paris, 1989, p.704.
- Finkelstein J.J. (1955), "Subartu and Subarians in Old Babylonian Sources" (Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol 9, No.1)
- Cambridge Ancient History p.276
- Armenians article, Great Soviet Encyclopedia
- Izady, Mehrdad R (1992). The Kurds: A concise handbook. ISBN 978-0-8448-1727-9.