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The State of Manna

Difficult socio-economic and social-political processes, happening at the end of 2nd millennium and at the beginning of 1st millenniums BC in the southern regions of Azerbaijan caused to major results that were preserved in the history of this territory.

Even in the 9th century BC, there were existed the regions of Alateye, Andia, Allabria, Barua, Sanqibuti, Zamua, Zikirtu, Karalla, Gizilbunda, Gilzan, Mazamua, Meishta, Misi, Surikash, Uishdish, Khubushkia and etc. in the basin of the Urmia Lake of the territory of South Azerbaijan. These lands were invaded by neighbourhood states, especially by Assyria. There were established political unions that were differed for their powers.

The union of Zamua that was mentioned in Assyrian sources in 9th century BC was the largest among unions and along with Gilzan played an essential role in the formation of the state of Manna. The area of Zamua, which centre was the city of Zamri was not the sole entity at first and was governed by separate leaders. At the sources mentioned that the name of Nuradad as the men, who centralized large part of Zamua. He was a tribal leader of Daraga territories.

At the end of the 10th century and at the beginning of 9th centuries BC Adadnirary II, Assurnasirpal II – rulers of magnificent state of Front Asia – Assyria made plundering campaigns to Zamua. The population of Zamua did not obey Assyria and relatively made revolts against foreign invaders. Assurnasirpal II (883-859 BC) began campaign to the lands of Zamua in 881-880 BC, for neutralizing such revolt and captured the areas of Urmia region. During the campaign, he captured seven castles, belonged to the governor of Zamua, Ameki and plundered Zamua too. But, South Azerbaijan population fought against this intervene. For instance, defenders of the Mesu castle killed 500 soldiers from Assyrian army and protected the castle.

There was existed much more powerful political union in Zamua at the first part of the 9th century. The state was ruled by governors. There was developed agriculture, trade and here were rich natural resources. There was existed polytheism in Zamua.

Along with Zamua, Gilzan was the other powerful union of the basin of Urmia Lake. This name was initially noticed in Assyrian sources at the beginning of the 9th century BC. The state of Gilzan boundaried with Kirruri and Khubushki. Gilzan was very rich country and that is why, it always inclined Assyrian leaders. But Assyrian invaders never could capture this state. Even magnificent ruler of Assyria, Salmanasar III took only trophy from Gilzan, during his campaign.

The state of Urartu, which strengthened for some time at the end of the 9th century BC, could subordinate Gilzan. One of the other political formation, established in the basin of the Urmia Lake, it was the state of Parsua. It was situated in the East of Gilzan and in the South and South-West of Manna. Parsua was as well as such cattle-breeding “military” tribes as Messi, Maday and Gizilbunda were often invaded by Assyrian and Urartu troops.

Among the states of that period, which was engaged in farming and trade and “did not know any authority over itself” was Gizilbunda. Although such Assyrian rulers as Shamshiadad V and Adadnirari III destroyed Gizilbunda, this state could preserve its independence.

There was noticed the name of Amaday region in the Assyrian sources of the 9th century BC, which was situated in the Southeast from Zikertu, along to the river of Kiziluzen (modern river of Sefidrud). The centre of this region was Sagbitu.

Andia, which played an important role in social-political and socio-economic history of South Azerbaijan and that was situated in the North from Gizilbunda (along to the river of Kiziluzen) occupied the territories between Maghara and Ardabil in 8th century BC. So, Andia, Zikertu, Shurdira, Kharuna, the regions of Ulmania, Sangibutu, Puluadi and others shaped suitable conditions for the formation of the slavery state of Manna. Exactly, during the fought against Assyrian and Urartu armies, there was established the state of Manna in the zone of Urmia and Zagrossian mountains.

First signs of the state of Manna that was successor of the state formations of Aratta, Lulluby and Kutium, which was existed in the 3rd and 2nd millenniums BC in this region appeared in the second half of the 9th century BC. But, even in the 8th century BC this state began to play an important role within the whole regions.

The name of Manna (in the form of “Munna”) was firstly mentioned in manuscripts of Salmanasar III, Assyrian ruler, which was compiled in 843 BC. This name was often mentioned as “Mannas” or “Manna” in cuneiform sources. The name of this state was noticed as “Manna” in Urartu cuneiform sources, but as “Minni” in Byblia.

Manna, with its capital, called Zirtu (Izirtu) fought “not for life, but for death” in order to preserve its existence, soon became a powerful state that subordinated all the territories of South Azerbaijan. In the beginning of last quarter of the 9th century BC Manna was invaded by Assyrian leader-Shamshiadad V. Assyrian leader destroyed 300 populated zones and then by attacking to the leader of Urartu – Ishnini he captured 11 castles, 200 populated zones and “killed his soldiers” too. In 820 BC, Shamshiadad V again attacked to Urartu through the lands of Manna. The region of Messi fought against Assyrian interference. So, the Assyrian army, which pursued Messians captured 500 populated zones, also obtained trophy and captives. Then Shamshiadad V moved to Gizilbunda and conquered the city of Kinaki, the castle of Urash, the region of Dirishati and others. Assyrian invasion to Manna continued even later, but they could not strengthen in this state.

The state of Urartu, established around the Van Lake, in Eastern Anatolia in the 9th century BC, began to big expansive policy through Eastern lands in the second half of the same century. Ishpuini did his best to increase his lands with the lands of Manna.

Even after the withdrawal of Ishpuini from Manna he continued his campaigns. During his and his son’s reign (his son was Menua (810- 781 BC)) Urartu attacked to the lands of Manna, even captured the city of modern Miandob, but could not strengthen there. During the reign of other leaders of Urartu-Argishti I, Sarduri I and others-plundering campaigns had been continuning.

At the result of the weakening of Assyia, the attacks of Urartu to Manna became much more powerful. Nevertheless, the success of Sarduri II in the 40 s of the 8th century BC had not been continued long. Manna became a powerful dynasty. Assyrian tsar-Tiglatpalasar II did many invasions and repaired the power of its state. He defeated Urartu, which settled in western parts of Manna. Tiglatpalasar III, without touching the lands of Manna, made wars with Urartu and Media. During this period there was created an alliance between Manna and Assyria.

One of the most magnificent rulers of Manna, Iranzu (740-719 BC) rationally used from his military-political power and made an alliance with Tiglatpalasar III, attained to return the captured regions by Urartu. During the reign of Iranzu Manna was the centralized state. Its lands were ruled by governors that appointed by Iranzu. The boundaries of Manna stretched from the river of Aras to the Median lands in the Southeast, in the South till the lands of Kassits and in the West till the lands of Urartu.

In order to protect and preserve his independence, Iranzu created an alliance with Assyria and conducted pro-Assyrian foreign policy too. Nevertheless, there were pro-Urartian people in Manna. Urartu was engaged in provocations among the disagreed people of Manna at that time. At the result of the attempts and support of Urartian leader-Rusa I of the regions of Manna – Zikertu rebelled against the authority. Along with the governor of this region-Metatti, the other regions, such as Durdukka and Shundakhul also rebelled against Iranzu in 719 BC. Soon the cities of Sukka, Bala, and Abitikna made uprising and went to the side of the enemy. At that time, when Iranzu needed the aid, Assyrian king Sargon II understood the danger over Assyria and immediately sent expeditions to rebelling cities, defeated them and exiled its population to other regions (especially to the territory of modern Syria).

After the death of Iranzu the circumstances in Manna became strained again. Coming to the throne, Aza (718-716 BC) conducted pro- Assyrian policy, as his father Iranzu. His rivals, i.e. pro-Urartian powers organized attempted assassination against Aza. No one could protect him on “the mountain of Uaush”. Urartu leader Rusa I and rebellor Metatti could incline the governor of Uishdish-Bagdatti to this revolt.

After the death of Aza, his brother Ullusunu (his name means, “most prominent, great man”) came into the throne of Manna (716-680 BC). It is obvious that, he came into this throne by the vehicle of Rusa I and the first gave 22 Mannian castles as gift to the ruler of Urartu. Ullusunu immediately changed the direction of the foreign policy of Manna and shaped alliance with Urartu against Assyria. That is why, angry Sargon II directed his army to Manna, captured Izirtu and other cities and killed Bagdatti, who associated Aza. Governors of Allabria and because of their betray Karalla were punished. But Metatti could hide from Sargon II. Assyrian king, withdrewing Urartians, returned “tsar gifts” to Manna. So, Ullusunu, being alone came to Sargon II and begged Assyrian king to forgive him. Sargon II forgived Ullusunu and returned him the throne of Manna.

Rusa I, who did not agree with coming back of Ullusunu to the reign in Manna invaded to this state and captured 22 castles. Although the campaign of Sargon II in 715 BC was over tragedically for rebels, Assyrian tsar could not completely liquidate anti-assyrian powers in Manna. That is why, in order to strengthening his position there, Sargon organized campaign to Manna and neighbourhood states in 714 BC. Sargon II, met with Ullusunu in the castle of Sirdakka, confirmed alliance with him again, destroyed rebelling powers of Manna and returned Zikertu, Uishdish and other rebelling lands under the subordination of Ullusunu. Then Assyrian king attacked to Urartu, destroyed its cities and villages too. Rusa I could not bear to this lost and killed himself. Urartu, weakened after this event could not intervene to the interior affairs of Manna.

Manna, which was the ally of Assyria for a long time, shaped the alliance with cimmerian-scythian-sakian kingdom after the establishment of the kingdom of the last one in the South-Caucasus. In these circumstances, there were also created anti-Assyrian powers in Manna. During the reign of Ahsheri (675-650 BC) Manna denied to conduct pro-Assyrian policy and began to carry out independent policy. At the result of it, mannian territories were invaded by Assyrian army in 650 BC and Assyrian tsar Assurbanipal destroyed Izirtu, overwhelmed Ahsheri. Soon pro-Assyrian powers rebelled against Ahsheri and he was killed. His son Ualli (650-630 BC) came on the throne and restored alliance with Assyria, sent his sons as captives to Ninevia. After this, Manna preserved alliance with Assyria.

The name of Manna was finally mentioned in the sources, related with the events of 616 BC. In this year, Manna came to the help of Assyria, which was under the danger of the expansion of Midia-Babylon coalition. Manna could preserve its independence till 593 BC. In the 6th century BC, at the result of Median activity Manna was collapsed from the scene of history.

Evidences of Assyrian, Urartian and other sources confirm that, there was developed economy and plenty of cities in Manna. Evidences about the capture of castles, cities and villages of Manna dynasty, showed that this country was tightly populated.

There was developed farming, cattle breeding and trade in Manna. The population maintained close relationship with neighbourhood countries. Founding in Hasanli prove that, trade was improved in Manna too.

Writings and archaeological materials showed that, there was exited writing in Manna. Mannians possessed rich religious culture. There were constructed plenty of temples to the honour of Gods of Manna in various cities and villages. Generally, Mannian pantheon was too large.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

Author of t extbook for the higher educational institutions "THE HISTORY OF AZERBAIJAN, from ancient times to the present day"