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Title: Nairi  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: History of Armenia, Anatolia, Nairi (Armenian usages), Urartu, Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity)
Collection: Anatolia, Ancient Peoples of Anatolia, History of Armenia, Hittite Empire
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Nairi (Armenian: Նայիրի in TAO or Նաիրի in RAO) was the Assyrian name (KUR.KUR Na-i-ri, also Na-'i-ru) for a Pre-Armenian (Hurrian-speaking) tribe in the Armenian Highlands,[1] roughly corresponding to the modern Van and Hakkâri provinces of modern Turkey. The word is also used to describe the tribes who lived there, whose ethnic identity is uncertain. Nairi has sometimes been equated with Nihriya, known from Mesopotamian, Hittite, and Urartean sources.[2] However, its co-occurrence with Nihriya within a single text may argue against this.[3]

During the Bronze Age collapse (13th to 12th centuries BC), the Nairi tribes were considered a force strong enough to contend with both Assyria and Hatti. The Battle of Nihriya, the culminating point of the hostilities between Hittites and Assyrians for control over the remnants of the former empire of Mitanni, took place there, c. 1230 BC. Nairi was incorporated into Urartu during the 10th century BC.


  • Geography and history 1
  • Populations 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4
  • See also 5

Geography and history

According to Trevor Bryce the Nairi lands were inhabited by what he calls "fierce tribal groups" divided into a number of principalities, and are first mentioned by Tukulti-Ninurta I (1243–1207 BC) when he defeated and exacted tribute from forty Nairi kings.[4] The names of twenty-three Nairi lands were recorded by Tiglath-Pileser I (1114–1076 BC). Their southernmost point was Tumme, known to have been south-west of Lake Urmia, and their northern one Daiaeni.[5] These lands are known from the list of defeated kings: "the king of Tumme, the king of Tunube, the king of Tuali, the king of Kindari, the king of Uzula, the king of Unzamuni the king of Andiabe, the king of Pilakinni, the king of Aturgini, the king of Kulibarzini, the king of Shinibirni, the king of Himua, the king of Paiteri, the king of Uiram, the king of Shururia, the king of Albaia, the king of Ugina, the king of Nazabia, the king of Abarsiuni, and the king of Daiaeni."[6] It is believed that Nairi extended from the Tur-Abdin mountains in the south to the mountainous area southwest of Lake Van in the north.[7]

Shalmaneser III campaigned in the region, erecting a statue at the source of the Tigris. Bryce states that some of his "royal inscriptions indicate that the term now also denoted a specific region to the southwest of Lake Urmia, centred on the land of Hubushkia."[8](the exact location of Hubushkia is uncertain).


Albrecht Goetze suggested that what he refers to as the Hurriland dissolved into a number of small states that the Assyrians called Nairi.[9] Others take this hypothesis skeptically; e.g., Benedict (Benedict 1960) points out that there is no evidence of the presence of Hurrites in the vicinity of Lake Van.

An early, documented reference to Nairi is a tablet dated to the time of Adad-nirari I (13th century BC), which mentions the purchase of 128 horses from the Nairi region.[10]

The Nairi fought against the southern incursions of the Assyrians and would later unite into Urartu.


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Trevor Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites 2005:316; Bryce locates Nairi north or northeast of modern Diyarbakir.
  3. ^ M. Salvini "Nairi, Na'iri" Reallexikon der Assyriologie 9. Edited by Erich Ebeling and Bruno Meissner. New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1998-2001. p. 87.
  4. ^ Bryce, Trevor (2012). The World of The Neo-Hittite Kingdoms: A Political and Military History. Oxford University Press. p. 199.  
  5. ^ The Armenians — Page 27 by Elizabeth Redgate, A. E. (Anne Elizabeth) Redgate Grayson, IL, 1976 (pp. 12-13)
  6. ^ "Assyrian Catalogue of Anatolian lands and leaders". 
  7. ^ The Origins of the Urartians in the Light of the Van/Karagündüz Excavations - Veli Sevin - Page 159 of 159-164
  8. ^ Bryce, Trevor (2009). The Routledge Handbook of the Peoples and Places of Ancient Western Asia: The Near East from the Early Bronze Age to the fall of the Persian Empire. Routledge. p. 495.  
  9. ^ Götze, Albrecht (1974). Kulturgeschichte Kleinasiens. C H Beck. p. 190.  
  10. ^ "Schriftfunde" (in German).  "Inscribed objects" (English translation)

Further reading

  • Albrecht Götze, Hethiter, Churriter und Assyrer, Instituttet for Sammenlignende Kulturforskning, Serie A: Forelesninger XVII (Oslo, 1936).
  • Warren C. Benedict, Urartians and Hurrians. Journal of the American Oriental Society 80/2, 1960, 100-104.
  • Ralf-Bernhard Wartke, Urartu Das Reich am Ararat, Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz/Rhein 1993
  • A. G. Sagona, Matasha McConchie, Liza Hopkins (2004) "Archaeology at the North-east Anatolian Frontier", ISBN 90-429-1390-8

See also

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