|History of Greater Iran|
The Guti (//) or Quti, also known by the derived exonyms Gutians or Guteans, were a nomadic people of the Zagros Mountains (on the border of modern Iran and Iraq) during ancient times. Their homeland was known as Gutium (Sumerian Gu-tu-umki or Gu-ti-umki  The Guti are often regarded as precursors of the modern Kurds.
Conflict between people from Gutium and the Akkadian Empire has been linked to the collapse of the empire, towards the end of the 3rd Millennium BCE. The Guti subsequently overran southern Mesopotamia and formed a royal dynasty in Sumer. The Sumerian king list suggests that the Guti ruled over Sumer for several generations, following the fall of the Akkadian Empire, and portrays Gutian rule as chaotic.
Little is known of the origins, language or material culture of the Guti, as contemporary sources provide few details and no artifacts have been positively identified. Sumerian sources portray the Guti as an "unhappy", barbarous and rapacious people from the mountains, apparently the central Zagros east of Babylon and north of Elam. Gutian names, recorded in a list of Sumerian kings, suggest that Gutian was not closely related to other languages of the region (including Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, Hittite and Elamite). According to the linguists Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav V. Ivanov, the Gutian language belonged to the Indo-European language family and was most closely related to the Tocharian languages found later in eastern Central Asia. However, as the Gutian language lacks a corpus, apart from the names of certain kings, its genetic status is impossible to verify with any certainty.
Biblical scholars believe that the Guti may be the "Koa" (qôa), named with the Shoa and Pekod as enemies of Jerusalem in Ezekiel 23:23. Qôa also means "male camel" in Hebrew, and in the context of Ezekiel 23, it may be a deliberate, insulting distortion of an endonym such as Quti.
By the 1st Millennium BCE, usage of the name Gutium, by the peoples of lowland Mesopotamia, had expanded to include all of western Media, between the Zagros and the Tigris. All tribes to the east and northeast were often referred to as Gutian  or Guti. For example, Assyrian royal annals use the term "Gutians" in relation to populations known to have been Medes or Mannaeans. As late as the reign of Cyrus the Great of Persia, the famous general Gubaru (Gobryas) was described as the "governor of Gutium".
The Guti appear in Old Babylonian copies of inscriptions ascribed to Lugal-Anne-Mundu of Adab as among the nations providing his empire tribute. These inscriptions locate them between Subartu in the north, and Marhashe and Elam in the south. They were a prominent nomadic tribe who lived in the Zagros mountains in the time of the Akkadian Empire. Sargon the Great also mentions them among his subject lands, listing them between Lullubi, Armanu and Akkad to the north, and Nikku and Der to the south. According to one stele, Naram-Sin of Akkad's army of 360,000 soldiers defeated the Gutian king Gula'an, despite having 90,000 slain by the Gutians.
The epic Cuthaean Legend of Naram-Sin of a later millennium mentions Gutium among the lands around Mesopotamia raided by Annubanini of Lulubum during Naram-Sin's reign. Contemporary year-names for Shar-kali-sharri of Akkad indicate that in one unknown year of his reign, he captured Sharlag king of Gutium, while in another year, "the yoke was imposed on Gutium".
The Gutian dynasty of Sumer
As Akkadian might went into a decline, the Gutians began to practice hit-and-run tactics on Mesopotamia; they would be long gone by the time forces could arrive to deal with the situation. Their raids crippled the economy of Sumer. Travel became unsafe, as did work in the fields, resulting in famine. The Gutians eventually overran Akkad, and as the King List tells us, their army also subdued Uruk for hegemony of Sumer — although it seems that autonomous rulers soon arose again in a number of city-states, notably Gudea of Lagash. The Gutians seem also to have briefly overrun Elam at around the same time, towards the close of Kutik-Inshushinak's reign. On a statue of the Gutian king Erridupizir at Nippur, an inscription imitates his Akkadian predecessors, styling him "King of Gutium, King of the Four Quarters".
According to the Sumerian king list, "In the army of Gutium, at first no king was famous; they were their own kings and ruled thus for 3 years."
The Weidner Chronicle, of some 1500 years later, portrays the Gutian kings as uncultured and uncouth:
Naram-Sin destroyed the people of Babylon, so twice Marduk summoned the forces of Gutium against him. Marduk gave his kingship to the Gutian force. The Gutians were unhappy people unaware how to revere the gods, ignorant of the right cultic practices.
Utu-hengal, the fisherman, caught a fish at the edge of the sea for an offering. That fish should not be offered to another god until it had been offered to Marduk, but the Gutians took the boiled fish from his hand before it was offered, so by his august command, Marduk removed the Gutian force from the rule of his land and gave it to Utu-hengal.
The Sumerian ruler Utu-hengal of Uruk is similarly credited on the King List with defeating the Gutian ruler Tirigan, and removing the Guti from the country (ca. 2050 BC (short)). Following this, Ur-Nammu of Ur had their homeland of Gutium devastated, though according to one lengthy Sumerian poem, he died in battle with the Gutians, after having been abandoned by his own army.
According to the historian Henry Hoyle Howorth (1901), Assyriologist Theophilus Pinches (1908), renowned archaeologist Leonard Woolley (1929) and Assyriologist Ignace Gelb (1944) the Gutians were pale in complexion and blonde. This was asserted on the basis of assumed links to peoples mentioned in the Old Testament. This identification of the Gutians as fair haired first came to light when Julius Oppert (1877) published a set of tablets he had discovered which described Gutian (and Subarian) slaves as namrum or namrûtum, one of its many meanings being "light colored". This racial character of the Gutians as blondes or being light skinned was also claimed up by Georges Vacher de Lapouge in 1899 and later by historian Sidney Smith in his Early history of Assyria (1928).
Ephraim Avigdor Speiser however criticised the translation of namrum as "light colored". An article was published by Speiser in the Journal of the American Oriental Society criticizing Gelb's translation and consequent interpretation. Gelb in response accused Speiser of circular reasoning. In response Speiser claimed the scholarship regarding the translation of namrum or namrûtum is unresolved. Modern scholars now don't regard the Gutians as fair skinned for lack of any proof as the only proof was the translation of a word.
Modern connection theories
However, the term Guti had by late antiquity become a "catch all" term to describe all tribal peoples in the Zagros region, and according to J.P. Mallory, the original Gutians precede the arrival of Indo-Iranian peoples (of which the Kurds are one) by some 1500 years.
In the late 19th-century, Assyriologist Julius Oppert sought to connect the Gutians of remote antiquity with the later Gutones (Goths), whom Ptolemy in 150 AD had known as the "Guti", a tribe of Scandia. Oppert's theory on this connection is not shared by any scholars today.
- ETCSL. The Sumerian King List. Accessed 19 Dec 2010.
- ETCSL. The Cursing of Agade Accessed 18 Dec 2010.
- Kurds/History. p. 382.
- ETCSL - Sumerian king list
- Patton, Laurie L., et al. (2004) The Indo-Aryan Controversy
- Eller, Jack David. Kurdish History and Kurdish Identity. p. 153.
- Гамкрелидзе Т. В., Иванов Вяч. Вс. Первые индоевропейцы на арене истории: прототохары в Передней Азии // Вестник древней истории. 1989. № 1.
- See, for example, J. D. Douglas & Merrill C. Tenney, 2011, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary (3rd ed.), HarperCollins, p. 1897.
- Van De Mieroop, Marc. "GUTIANS". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- Reallexikon der Assyriologie und vorderasiatischen Archäologie By Erich Ebling, Bruno
- Year-names for Sharkalisharri
- Martin Sicker, 2000, The Pre-Islamic Middle East, p. 19,
- ETCSL - The victory of Utu-ḫeĝal
- "The Early History of Babylonia", Henry H. Howorth, The English Historical Review, Vol. 16, No. 61 (Jan. 1901), p.32.
- The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia, Theophilus Goldridge Pinches, Kessinger Publishing, 2005 (reprint), p. 158
- The Sumerians, Leonard Woolley, Clarendon Press, 1929, p. 5.
- Hurrians and Subarians, Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization, Gelb, 1944, p.88.
- Gelb, 1944, p. 43
- Gelb, 1944, p. 88 - further translates a tablet passage as "a light (-coloured) slave girl who is pleasing to your eye."
- Der Arier und seine bedeutung für die gemeinschaft, Georges Vacher de Lapouge, M. Diesterweg, 1939.
- Early history of Assyria, Vol. 1, 1928, p. 72: "...one notable physical trait the Subaraeans and Gutians shared. Documents of the period of the Babylonian Amorite or First Dynasty mention slaves from Gutium and Subir (that is, Subartu), and specify that they shall be of fair complexion".
- Were the ancient Gutians really blond and Indo-Europeans?, JAOS 50 (1930) p.338.
- Gelb 1944, p.43: "Speiser's...reaction against the normal interpretation of namrum as 'light (-colored)' was caused by... assumption that Hurrians or Subarians belonged to the Armenoid race, which according to them could hardly be called light-colored".
- Hurrians and Subarians, E. A. Speiser, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1948), p. 12.
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- Mallory, J.P. (1989), In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology, and Myth, London: Thames & Hudson.