Kingdom of Urartu
860 BC – 590 BC
Urartu, 9th–6th centuries BC
Urartu, 9th–6th centuries BC
Common languages
Religion Polytheism[clarification needed]
• 858–844
• 844–828
Sarduri I
• 828–810
• 810–785
• 785–753
Argishti I
• 753–735
Sarduri II
Historical eraIron Age, Prehistoric
• Established
860 BC 
• Disestablished
 590 BC
Succeeded by
Median Empire
Satrapy of Armenia

Urartu (/), which corresponds to the biblical mountains of Ararat, is the name of a geographical region commonly used as the exonym for the Iron Age kingdom also known by the modern rendition of its endonym, the Kingdom of Van, centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands.

That a distinction should be made between the geographical and the political entity was pointed out by König.[3][who?] The geographical area corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Anatolia, Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, and the Caucasus Mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands.

The written language that the kingdom's political elite used is referred to as Urartian, which appears in cuneiform inscriptions in Armenia and eastern Turkey. It is unknown what language was spoken by the peoples of Urartu at the time of the existence of the kingdom, but there is linguistic evidence of contact between the proto-Armenian language and the Urartian language at an early date (sometime between the 3rd—2nd millennium BC), occurring prior to the formation of Urartu as a kingdom.[2][4][5][6][7]

The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but went into gradual decline and was eventually conquered by the Iranian Medes in the early 6th century BC. The geopolitical region would re-emerge as Armenia shortly after. Being heirs to the Urartian realm, the earliest identifiable ancestors of the Armenians are the peoples of Urartu.[6][8][9][10]


The name Urartu (Armenian: Ուրարտու; Assyrian: māt Urarṭu;[11] Babylonian: Urashtu; Hebrew: אֲרָרָטArarat) comes from Assyrian sources. Shalmaneser I (1263–1234 BC) recorded a campaign in which he subdued the entire territory of "Uruatri".[12][13] The Shalmaneser text uses the name Urartu to refer to a geographical region, not a kingdom, and names eight "lands" contained within Urartu (which at the time of the campaign were still disunited). "Urartu" is cognate with the Biblical "Ararat", Akkadian "Urashtu", and Armenian "Ayrarat".[14][15] In addition to referring to the famous Biblical highlands, Ararat also appears as the name of a kingdom in Jeremiah 51:27, mentioned together with Minni and Ashkenaz. Mount Ararat is located approximately 120 kilometres (75 mi) north of its former capital.

The name Kingdom of Van (Urartian: Biai, Biainili;[16] Armenian: Վանի թագավորություն, translit. Vani t′agavorut′yun),[17] is derived from the Urartian toponym Biainili (or Biaineli), which was adopted in Old Armenian as Van (Armenian: Վան),[18] because of betacism (in linguistics, when the letters b and v undergo a sound change), hence the names "Kingdom of Van" or "Vannic Kingdom". Other Urartian toponyms and words went through the same sound change as the Armenian language spread throughout the region and absorbed them (see Erebuni and Erevan).

In the 6th century BC, with the emergence of Armenia in the region, the name of the region was simultaneously referred to as variations of Armenia and Urartu. In the trilingual Behistun Inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC[19] by the order of Darius I, the country referred to as Urartu in Babylonian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in the Elamite language.

The mentions of Urartu in the Books of Kings[20] and Isaiah of the Bible were translated as "Armenia" in the Septuagint. Some English language translations, including the King James Version[21] follow the Septuagint translation of Urartu as Armenia.[22] The identification of the biblical "mountains of Ararat" with the Mt. Ararat (Turkish: Ağrı Dağı) is a modern identification based on postbiblical tradition.[23]

Some scholars have speculated that Ovid may have read the Pentateuch due to his use of the word ararat in the Metamorphoses flood narrative, which describes humanity's suffering the consequences of angering the Roman god Jupiter.[24]

Other names

Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after the god Ḫaldi.[25] Boris Piotrovsky wrote that the Urartians first appear in history in the 13th century BC as a league of tribes or countries which did not yet constitute a unitary state. In the Assyrian annals the term Uruatri (Urartu) as a name for this league was superseded during a considerable period of years by the term "land of Nairi".[26]

Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was part of the Urartu confederation. Later, there is reference to a district in the area called Arme or Urme, which some scholars have linked to the name of Armenia.[14][15]

The biblical hare Ararat (mountains of Ararat) is called bet Kardu (house of Kardu or Kurdistan) in Aramaic. It was called ture-Kardu (mountains of Kardu) in the Targum Onkelos, and there are several references to Kardu in the Talmud.[27]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Urartu
አማርኛ: ኡራርቱ
العربية: أورارتو
asturianu: Urartu
azərbaycanca: Urartu
تۆرکجه: اورارتو
বাংলা: উরারতু
башҡортса: Урарту
беларуская: Урарту
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Урарту
български: Урарту
català: Urartu
Чӑвашла: Урарту
čeština: Urartu
dansk: Urartu
eesti: Urartu
Ελληνικά: Ουράρτιοι
español: Urartu
Esperanto: Urarto
euskara: Urartu
فارسی: اورارتو
français: Urartu
galego: Urartu
한국어: 우라르투
hrvatski: Urartu
Bahasa Indonesia: Urartu
italiano: Urartu
עברית: אוררטו
ქართული: ურარტუ
kurdî: Urartû
latviešu: Urartu
lietuvių: Urartija
magyar: Urartu
მარგალური: ურარტუ
Nederlands: Urartu
日本語: ウラルトゥ
norsk: Urartu
norsk nynorsk: Urartu
occitan: Urartu
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Urartu
polski: Urartu
português: Reino de Urartu
русский: Урарту
Scots: Urartu
shqip: Urartu
Simple English: Urartu
slovenčina: Urartu
slovenščina: Urartu
کوردی: ئورارتوو
српски / srpski: Урарту
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Urartu
Basa Sunda: Urartu
suomi: Urartu
svenska: Urartu
татарча/tatarça: Урарту
Türkçe: Urartular
українська: Урарту
Tiếng Việt: Urartu
中文: 烏拉爾圖