The Assyrian Itineraries in the Zagros during the reign of Sargon II (6th and 8th campaigns) and the question about the correlation between Toponymy and Geography

Document Type : Research Article

Author

Université catholique de Louvain – Centre d’Etudes Orientales (CIOL)

Abstract

Among the many Assyrian written sources and inscriptions some texts report the military expeditions of the kings of Assyria. These accounts, the so-called Itineraries texts, describe in details the different stops of the armies through territories outside the Assyrian heartland.
With regard to the Zagros area, the reports mention different long and ruthless campaigns undertaken by some Assyrian Kings before the reign of Sargon II (720-705).
However the texts of the campaigns of Sargon II differ considerably from the other written sources like the Annals because the expeditions undertaken by him are related through a chronological succession of events. It means that the different place names (towns, villages, mountains, plains and watercourses) are mentioned according to their order of appearance during the marches of the Assyrian armies.  That’s the reason we call them Itineraries.
To reconstruct the different routes taken by the armies and to fix the different stops of these military expeditions on the geographical maps, we have used a methodology based mainly on the possibilities offered by the local geography.. The logic is that the establishment of diagrammatic charts must correspond to the most passable tracks and ways at least to explain the choices of all the army movements through mountainous areas of the Zagros
However despite some deficiencies, we have to recognize that the Itineraries of Sargon are exceptionally interesting. Indeed the reports of the 6th and 8th campaigns undertaken in 716 BC and 714 BC contain a great number of precious topographical and geographical information about the Iranian populations of the Zagros. In this study we tried to reconstruct the most complete and precise map showing the real political geography of the Zagros as the Assyrians knew it during the 8th century B.C.

Keywords


rame, Georges.1999 “The Inscription of Sargon II at Tang-e Var”,Orientalia NS 68: 31-57.
Kargar, B.2004 “Qalaichi: Zirtu. Center of Manna, PeriodIb“, in Azarnoush, Masud, (ed.), Proceedingsof the International Symposium on IranianArchaeology - North Western Region. Tehran,229-245.
Lanfranchi, Giovanni; Michael Roaf & Robert Rollinger(eds.).2003 Continuity of Empire. Assyria, Media, Persia.History of the Ancient Near East/Monographs–V. S.A.R.G.O.N Editrice e Libreria. Padova.
Lanfranchi, Giovanni.2003 “The Assyrian Expansion in the Zagrosand the local ruling Elites”, in Lanfranchi,Giovanni, Michael Roaf and Robert Rollinger(eds.), Continuity of Empire. Assyria, Media,Persia, 79-118.
Levine , Louis.1972 Two Neo-Assyrian Stelae from Iran. RoyalOntario Museum. Occasional Paper 23.
1973 “Geographical Studies in the Neo AssyrianZagros – part I”, IRAN XI: 1-27.
1974 “Geographical Studies in the Neo AssyrianZagros – part II”, IRAN XII :99-125.
1977 “Sargon’s Eighth Campaign”, in Levine,Louis and Cuyler Young, T. (eds.), Mountains and Lowlands, 131-151.
Mayer, Walter.1980 “Sargons Feldzug gegen Urartu - 714 v. Chr.Eine militärhistorische Würdigung”, MDOG112: 13-33.
Reade, Julian1995 « Iran in the Neo-Assyrian Period »,in Liverani, Mario (ed.). Neo AssyrianGeography , Università di Roma La Sapienza.Roma, 31-43.
Tadmor, Haïm.1994 The Inscriptions of Tiglath- Pilezer III.
Thureau-Dangin, François.1912 Une Relation de la Huitième Campagne de Sargon. Geuthner. Paris.Tourovets, Alexandre.
2011 « Quand les Assyriens découvrent les montagnes du Zagros. La description d’un monde inconnu », Acta Orientalia Belgica XXIV : .57-75.
Zimansky, Paul.1990 « Urartian Geography and Sargon’s Eighth Campaign », JNES 49/1 :1-21.