Arzashkun was the capital of the early kingdom of Urartu in the 9th century BC, before Sarduri I moved it to Tushpa in 832 BC. Arzashkun had double walls and towers, but was captured by Shalmaneser III in the 840s BC.
Arzashkun seems to be the Assyrian form of an Armenian name ending in -ka formed from a proper name Arzash, which recalls the name Arsene, Arsissa, applied by the ancients to part of Lake Van. Arzashkun might represent the Ardzik of the Armenian historians, west of Malasgert.
Arzashkun was hidden, and protected from attack, by a dense forest almost impassable to a regular army.
According to Hewsen, Arzashkun was at the northeastern shore of Lake Van, probably near the site of old Arjesh, now inundated by the waters of Lake Van.
Fall of Arzashkun
At the headwaters of the river Tigris, there appears in the ninth century, B.C., an organized state of Urartu. Shalmaneser regarded it as so menacing to Assyria's interest that he undertook an expedition in 857, claimed to have destroyed the capital Arzashkun, penetrated as far as Lake Van, and left his inscription on Mount Irritia.
Shalmaneser on his Black Obelisk records this campaign:
- (35-44) In the third year of my reign, Ahuni, son of Adini, was frightened before my mighty weapons and retreated from Til-barzip, his royal city. I crossed the Euphrates. I seized for myself the city of Ana-Assur-utir-asbat, which lies on the other side of the Euphrates, on the Sagur river, which the Hittite people called Pitru. When I returned, I entered the passes of the land of Alzi; the lands of Alzi, Suhni, Daiaeni, Tumme, Arzashkunu, the royal city of Arame, the Armenian (king), Gilzânu, and Hubushkia (I conquered).
- Journal of the American Oriental Society - Page 360
- Shalmaneser III and the Establishment of the Assyrian Power, by A. T. Olmstead p.360
- History of Egypt - Page 91 by G. Maspero
- The Cambridge Ancient History - Page 335 by John Boardman
- Hewsen, Robert H. (2000), ""Van in This World; Paradise in the Next" The Historical Geography of Van/Vaspurakan", in Hovannisian, Richard G., Armenian Van/Vaspurakan , Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces , Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers , p. 15, OCLC 44774992
- The Ancient Assyrians - Page 12 by Mark Healy
- Aram and Israel - Page 105 by Emil Gottlieb Heinrich Kraeling