Kassite language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Native to Babylon
Region Near East
Era 18th–4th century BC
unclassified (Hurro-Urartian?)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Glottolog kass1244[1]

Kassite (also Cassite) was a language spoken by Kassites in the Zagros Mountains of Iran and southern Mesopotamia from approximately the 18th to the 4th century BC. From the 16th to 12th centuries BC, kings of Kassite origin ruled in Babylon until they were overthrown by Elamites.

Kassites in the Babylonian state used mostly the Semitic Akkadian language of the native Assyrians and Babylonians. Traces of the Kassite language are few:

  • a Kassite-Babylonian vocabulary with 48 entries, listing bilingual equivalents of god names, common nouns, verbs, and adjective(s);[2]
  • the translations of 19 Kassite personal names on the fourth column of a neo-Assyrian era name list, which occasionally contradicts information given in the Kassite-Babylonian vocabulary);[3]
  • scattered references in Akkadian Lexical lists to Kassite equivalents of divine names, plants, etc, for example those included in the 8-tablet synonym list Malku = šarru;
  • many proper names in a variety of Akkadian language documents, principally from Babylonia (especially in the period 1360-850 BC), from Nuzi and from Iran; giving names of deities, people, places and equids;
  • technical terms relating to animal husbandry, including marks and color designations of horses and asses, found in Akkadian documents;
  • scattered Kassite words, such as the title bugaš, in an Akkadian context.

A lack of Kassite texts makes the reconstruction of Kassite grammar impossible at present.

Genetic relations of the Kassite language are unclear, although it is generally agreed that it was not Semitic; relation with Elamite is doubtful. Relationship with or membership in the Hurro-Urartian family has been suggested,[4] being possibly related to it,[4] based on a number of words.

Morphemes are not known; the words buri (ruler) and burna (protected) probably have the same root.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Kassite". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ Tablet BM 93005.
  3. ^ Tablet K. 4426 + Rm 617 (II R 65, No. 2; V R 44, treated in Balkan, Kassitenstudien, pp. 1-3)
  4. ^ a b Schneider, Thomas (2003). "Kassitisch und Hurro-Urartäisch. Ein Diskussionsbeitrag zu möglichen lexikalischen Isoglossen". Altorientalische Forschungen (in German) (30): 372–381. 


  • Ancilotti, A. La lingua dei Cassiti. Milan, 1980.
  • Balkan, K. Kassitenstudien. I. Die Sprache der Kassiten. New Haven, 1954.
  • Jaritz, K. Die kassitischen Sprachreste // Anthropos, vol. 52, 1957.

External links[edit]