Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
Page: 143The Hittite connection is based chiefly on the following evidence. One of the gods of the Mitanni rulers was Teshup, who is identical with Tarku, the Thor of Asia Minor. The raiders who in 1800 B.C. entered Babylon, set fire to E-sagila, and carried off Merodach and his consort Zerpanitum, were called the Hatti. The images of these deities were afterwards obtained from Khani (Mitanni).
At a later period, when we come to know more about Mitanni from the letters of one of its kings to two Egyptian Pharaohs, and the Winckler tablets from Bog-haz-Köi, it is found that its military aristocracy spoke an Indo-European language, as is shown by the names of their kings--Saushatar, Artatama, Sutarna, Artashshumara, Tushratta, and Mattiuza. They worshipped the following deities:
Mi-it-ra, Uru-w-na, In-da-ra, and Na-sa-at-ti-ia--
Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatyau (the "Twin Aswins" = Castor and Pollux)--whose names have been deciphered by Winckler. These gods were also imported into India by the Vedic Aryans. The Mitanni tribe (the military aristocracy probably) was called "Kharri", and some philologists are of opinion that it is identical with "Arya", which was "the normal designation in Vedic literature from the Rigveda onwards of an Aryan of the three upper classes". Mitanni signifies "the river lands", and the descendants of its inhabitants, who lived in Cappadocia, were called by the Greeks "Mattienoi". "They are possibly", says Dr. Haddon, "the ancestors of the modern Kurds", a conspicuously long-headed people, proverbial, like the ancient Aryo-Indians and the Gauls, for their hospitality and their raiding propensities.
It would appear that the Mitannian invasion of northern Mesopotamia and the Aryan invasion of India represented two streams of diverging migrations from a common cultural centre, and that the separate groups of wanderers mingled with other stocks with whom they came into contact. Tribes of Aryan speech were associated with the Kassite invaders of Babylon, who took possession of northern Babylonia soon after the disastrous Hittite raid. It is believed that they came from the east through the highlands of Elam.
For a period, the dating of which is uncertain, the Mitannians were overlords of part of Assyria, including Nineveh and even Asshur, as well as the district called "Musri" by the Assyrians, and part of Cappadocia. They also occupied the cities of Harran and Kadesh. Probably they owed their great military successes to their cavalry. The horse became common in Babylon during the Kassite Dynasty, which followed the Hammurabi, and was there called "the ass of the east", a name which suggests whence the Kassites and Mitannians came.
The westward movement of the Mitannians in the second millennium B.C. may have been in progress prior to the Kassite conquest of Babylon and the Hyksos invasion of Egypt. Their relations in Mesopotamia and Syria with the Hittites and the Amorites are obscure. Perhaps they were for a time the overlords of the Hittites. At any rate it is of interest to note that when Thothmes III struck at the last Hyksos stronghold during his long Syrian campaign of about twenty years' duration, his operations were directly against Kadesh on the Orontes, which was then held by his fierce enemies the Mitannians of Naharina.