Sunday, November 10, 2013

Aṣṣur, Asur and their Meluhha speech in ancient Near East


Aṣṣur, Asur and their Meluhha speech in ancient Near East


Aṣṣur is an ancient city on the western bank of river Tigris, occupied from ca. 2600 BCE through 14th century CE.Aṣṣur is also the name of chief deity of the city.

Asur are the name of a people who live in Jharkhand and West Bengal, India who are traditionally engaged in metalworks of iron. Asura are deities in India from the days of Vedic traditions; in Rigveda, asura means 'powerful, mighty'. Sarasvatī is described  with attribute āsurī  and Varuṇa is an asura. The gloss is also linked to Ahura Mazda and Deva Asura"Asura [who] rules over the Divinities." (AV 1.10.1, cf. RV II.27.10) 

The language the ancestors of Ashur traders spoke was Meluhha, enshrined in hieroglyphs of Meluhha recorded on unique designs of sculptural artifacts and on cylinder seals related to Tukulti-Ninurta (an Ashur) and earlier rulers.[i]Tukulti-Ninurta prays before an altar with a staff -- clump of wood, and decorated with safflower hieroglyphs. These hieroglyphs are read rebus in Meluhha of Indian sprachbund

The Tukulti-Ninurta altar is is a temple model for fire-god. This is evidenced by a gloss from Remo (Austro-asiatic) language, spoken by Bonda people in Malkangiri district of southern Odisha, India. Fire-god is called karandi

This is rebus for the safflower adorning volutes on either side of the altar hieroglyph. Safflower as a hieroglyph: करडी [ karaḍī ] Safflower: Rebus: karandi 'fire-god'.

Bonda market, India.[ii]

Ashur Tin Road for bronze-armed armies
The traders from Mesopotamia had established merchant settlements in Anatolia. See: (Barjamovic, Gojko, 2011, A journey through Anatolia in 1865 BCE. Barjamovic_2011_A_Journey_Through_Anatolia.pdf )

Evidence on early Assyria comes surprisingly from karum kanesh linking Ashur and Kanesh/Nesha in Kultepe, near Kayseri on the ancient Tin road. The merchants who mediated the tin trade were Assur or Ashur.
Cuneiform tablet case, 1920–1840 B.C.; Old Assyrian Trading Colony period.Central Anatolia, Kültepe (Karum Kanesh).Clay; L. 6 5/8 in. (16.8 cm).Gift of Mr. and Mrs. J.J. Klejman, 1966 (66.245.5b) [quote] When the merchants from Ashur in Assyria came to Anatolia early in the second millennium B.C., they brought with them the writing techniques invented in Mesopotamia: the script known as cuneiform ("wedge-shaped") and the medium of clay tablets encased in clay envelopes. The merchants also brought their art in the form of cylinder seals, which marked the traded goods, storerooms, and written records. The Assyrian merchants wrote in the Assyrian language, but tablets and cuneiform were later adopted in Anatolia by the Hittites, who wrote their own language with the imported techniques.

The records of the Assyrian trading colonies, of which Kültepe (ancient Karum Kanesh) was one, provide detailed information about one part of a lively international tradein the early second millennium B.C. that extended from Egypt to the Caucasus to Central Asia and the Indus Valley. The Assyrian tablets describe the exchange of tin and textiles from Ashur for silver from Anatolia as well as detail the specifics of contracts and lawsuits, and about bandits and other misfortunes.

The tablet contained in this case (66.245.5a) is the record of court testimony describing an ownership dispute of a business firm. The case is sealed with two different cylinder seals rolled across the front and back of the envelope in five parallel rows separated by plain clay. Both seals illustrate presentation scenes in which worshippers approach a larger seated figure holding a cup. The obverse, shown here, is also inscribed in cuneiform.  [unquote]  (

See: Kraus, Nick, 2011, From Ashur to Anatolia: the merchant middlemen of Mesopotamia

20,000 tablets were discovered at Karum-Kanesh, an Assyrian trading center in Anatolia. (van de Mieroop 2004, A history of the acient Near East ca. 3000-323 BCE, Oxford, Blackwell: 95). Estimates of volumes of trade: 100,000 textiles, 100 tons of tin across just 40 years. (van de Mieroop 2004: 97).

"The Assyrian merchants traded tin (ultimately transshipped from Afghanistan) and Assyrian and Babylonian textiles for the gold and silver of Anatolia. The trade was undertaken by donkey caravans, taking three months for the journey from Nesha to Ashur. Over the fifty years described by the archive, 80 tons of tin was exported to Anatolia, enough to make 800 tons of bronze (KH 27); certainly not all of this was devoted to bronze weapon making, but the large quantity of tin imports permitted the development of true bronze-armed armies."(Hamblin, William J., 2006, Warfare in the ancient Near East to 1600 BCE: holy warriors at the dawn of history, Routledge, p.291).

"A building inscription of Ilu-Shumma from the Ishtar Temple at Ashur links the copper trade with the inhabitants of southern Mesopotamian cities, who mediated in the exchange of copper coming from the region of Oman. At this same time, textiles from Mesopotamia and tin from Iran or beyond were traded for silver in Anatolia, where Ashur's traders had established permanent trading colonies in a number of princedoms with the consent of the local rulers and carried on trade with Anatolian merchants. Thousands of cuneiform texts discovered in these settlements known as karums, especially in Kultepe (Kanesh), not far from Kayseri, provide a glimpse into the business practices of merchants from Ashur and their relations with Anatolian princes as well as with their home city. At the time when Assyrian merchants were trading in Anatolia, a certain Erishum 1, son of Ilu-shumma, ruled in Ashur. Several of his building inscriptions are preserved. One example also turned up in Kanesh, which may indicate that it was probably during his reign that trading colonies were established in Anatolia. The year-officials (eponyms) listed in Old Assyrian clay tablets in Anatolia seem to confirm this date. Other rulers of Ashur who governed the city-state during the period when trading centers were established in Anatolia were Ikunum, Sargon I, Puzur-Ashur II, Naram-Sin, and Erishum II. Since these were followed by the 'interrugnum' of Shamshi-Adad, they must date from the nineteenth century BCE. Ikunum and Sargon I are not only attested in the Assyrian king list but also in inscriptions they left behind in Ashur. The latter is also known from impressions of his seal found at Kanesh…Shalmanser I (1273-1244 BCE) incorporated the region of Hanigalbat into his realm, establishing an Assyrian administration there. Assyria and the Hittites now confronted one another on the Euphrates, and Tukulti-Ninurta I (1243-1207 BCE) even claimed to have fought successfully against Babylonia, which suffered a heavy defeat… The copper hoard from the Ashur temple…Some of the bronzes have a low tin content, such as the two beaker fragments while in others, notably the dagger blades, the percentage of tin is much higher. The alloy used for the bronze mace head is unlike any of the others, with over 3 percent arsenic,  9 percent lead, and 4 percent antimony. Although the exact compositions have not yet been determined, it appears that the alloy of the statuette in catalogue number 12 is an arsenic-rich lead bronze, while that of the statuette in catalogue number 13 is bronze with a high proportion of tin…Assyria emerges into recorded history in the twentieth century BCE at a time when the state had become a redistribution center for tin and had subsequently established markets in Anatolia. For two centuries the state prospered, as may readily be judged from the contents of thousands of texts preserved and under Shamshi-Adad I (1815-1782 BCE), a major geographical expansion of the state ensued. Soon after the latter king's reign, however, Assyria was conquered, first by Hammurabi of Babylon (ca. 1759 BCE), then a half-century later by the Mitanni, in both cases suffering vassalage…" (Harper, Prudence Oliver, ed., 1995, Assyrian origins: discoveries at Ashur on the Tigris: antiquities in the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, p.23, 24, 37, 125).

(After Fig. 17. Cult relief found in a well located in the Ashur temple at Ashur. Old Assyrian period, early 2nd millennium BCE, limestone, h. 52 ½ in. (1.36in) Vorderasiatisches Museum.)

lo  'pot to overflow' kāṇḍa 'water'.  Rebus: lokhaṇḍ (overflowing pot) 'metal tools, pots and pans, metalware' (Marathi).

<kanda>  {N} ``large earthen water ^pot kept and filled at the house''.  @1507.  #14261. (Munda) Rebus: khanda 'a trench used as a fireplace when cooking has to be done for a large number of people' (Santali) kand 'fire-altar' (Santali)

దళము [daḷamu] daḷamu. [Skt.] n. A leaf. ఆకు. A petal. A part, భాగము.  dala n. ʻ leaf, petal ʼ MBh. Pa. Pk. dala -- n. ʻ leaf, petal ʼ, G. M. daḷ n.(CDIAL 6214). <DaLO>(MP)  {N} ``^branch, ^twig''.  *Kh.<DaoRa>(D) `dry leaves when fallen', ~<daura>, ~<dauRa> `twig', Sa.<DAr>, Mu.<Dar>, ~<Dara> `big branch of a tree', ~<DauRa> `a twig or small branch with fresh leaves on it', So.<kOn-da:ra:-n> `branch', H.<DalA>, B.<DalO>, O.<DaLO>, Pk.<DAlA>.  %7811.  #7741.(Munda etyma) Rebus: ḍhālako = a large metal ingot (G.) ḍhālakī = a metal heated and poured into a mould; a solid piece of metal; an ingot (Gujarati)

Stone pedestal of the god Nuska; Ashur, Temple of Ishtar; Middle Assyrian, reign of Tukulti-Ninurta I, ca. 1243–1207 BCE Provenience: Aṣṣur. Alabaster; H. 23 5/8 in. (60 cm); W. 22 1/2 in. (57 cm); Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Vorderasiatische Museum

Hieroglyphs:1. करंडा [karaṇḍā] A clump, chump, or block of wood. 4 The stock or fixed portion of the staff of the large leaf-covered summerhead or umbrella. करांडा [ karāṇḍā ] m C A cylindrical piece as sawn or chopped off the trunk or a bough of a tree; a clump, chump, or block.

Allograph: 2. करडी [ karaḍī ] f (See करडई) Safflower: also its seed.

Rebus: karaḍa 'hard alloy' (Marathi)

Hieroglyph: kaṇḍ  'furnace, fire-altar' (Santali) Rebus: kāṇḍā 'metalware, tools, pots and pans' (Marathi).

A view of the fire-altar pedestal of Tukulti-Ninurta I, Ishtar temple, Assur. Shows the king standing flanked by two standard-bearers; the standard has a spoked-wheel hieroglyph on the top of the staffs and also on the volutes of the altar frieze.The mediation with deities by king is adopted by Assurnasirpal II.

The two standards (staffs)  are topped by a spoked wheel. āra 'spokes' Rebus: āra 'bronze'. eraka 'nave of wheel' Rebus: eraka 'copper'. This rebus reading is consistent with the prayer offered to the karaṇḍa 'hard alloy'.

Rebus: karaḍa 'hard alloy' of arka 'copper'. <karandi>E155  {N} ``^fire-^god''.  @B27990.  #16671. Re<karandi>E155  {N} ``^fire-^god''.(Munda)

November 10, 2013

[i] cf.1. Kalyanaraman, S., 2013, Meluhha – Tree of life, Herndon, Sarasvati Research Center and 2. Kalyanaraman, S., 2013, Meluhha – A visible language, Herndon, Sarasvati Research Center.

[ii] Orissa, Bonda people, local market (2009). 



1 comment:

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