Tartan (Assyrian)

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A Tartan (Hebrew: תַּרְתָּן‎; Greek: Θαρθαν; Latin: Tharthan), Aramaic: ܬܵܪܬܵܢ‎‎ Tartan) was the commander-in-chief of the Assyrian army. In the Bible, the Assyrian king sends a Tartan with two other officials to deliver a threatening message to Jerusalem,[1] and Sargon II, the king of Assyria, sends a Tartan who takes Ashdod.[2]

In Assyria, the Tartan ranked next to the king. The office seems to have been duplicated, and there was a tartanu imni or 'tartan of the right', as well as a tartanu shumeli or 'tartan of the left'. In later times the title became territorial; we read of a tartan of 'Kummuh' (Commagene). The title is also applied to the commanders of foreign armies ; thus Sargon speaks of the Tartan Musurai, or 'Egyptian Tartan'. The Tartan of 720 BC was probably called Ashur-iska-danin; in 694 BC, Abdai, and in 686 BC Bel-emurani, held the title. It does not seem to have been in use among the closely related Babylonians.

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This article incorporates text from the 1903 Encyclopaedia Biblica article "TARTAN", a publication now in the public domain.