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Aratta was a city, city-state, or country with which Sumerians had close trade and religious ties in the third millennium B.C. Its location is not known. Of four general sites suggested for Aratta, two are located in eastern Asia Minor: the Van-Urmia area and the Ayrarat district of historical Armenia. The Anshan-Hamadan area of western Iran was the choice of S. Cohen who translated one of four sources to mention Aratta, Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta. However, since the publication of that work (1973), several of the criteria he used for locating Aratta have been challenged.

Aratta, apparently, was under the special protection of the Sun god's daughter, Inanna, the goddess of love and war. In "Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta", the goddess and/or her statue were taken from Aratta to the Sumerian city of Uruk by the ruler of Uruk, Enmerkar.

Now believing himself to have the goddess' protection, the Sumerian king challenged the lord of Aratta. Enmerkar ordered him to send to Sumer precious metals, precious stones, building materials and the craftsmen to transform them into shrines. The lord of Aratta is willing to provide the materials if Enmerkar will send him large amounts of barley. When the barley arrives in Aratta, its lord unexpectedly refuses to fulfill his part of the agreement. After ten years, Enmerkar again sends his herald to Aratta. This time, the lord of Aratta challenges Enmerkar to select one of his champions to fight in single combat with one of Aratta's champions. Enmerkar accepts. Because his response was lengthy and his herald was "heavy of mouth", Enmerkar inscribed his message on clay tablets and sent them to Aratta with his herald. The poet implies that this was the beginning of writing. However, at this point the famine, which apparently had been plaguing Aratta, lifts and Aratta's ruler takes courage, believing Inanna had not really abandoned him. Although the ending is fragmentary, Aratta eventually seems to provide the materials and craftsmen.

In a second Sumerian myth, "Enmerkar and Ensuhkeshdana", the lord of Aratta demands the submission of Enmerkar, king of Uruk and the return of the goddess Inanna to her home in Aratta. Enmerkar refuses and demands Aratta's submission. The lord of Aratta consults with his advisors who urge him to capitulate, which he angrily refuses to do. Then his priest comes forward and boasts that he will subdue Uruk and other territories through magic.

The lord of Aratta delightedly rewards the priest and sends him to Uruk. But the priest is assassinated there; and the lord of Aratta submits to Uruk.

Aratta is mentioned again in a third, briefer story known as "Lugulbanda and Enmerkar". In this myth, Enmerkar of Uruk is under military attack from the Martu people. Enmerkar desperately sends his messenger, Lugulbanda, to Aratta to the goddess Inanna, here called his sister. Inanna's response is unclear. However, it appears that Aratta again supplied Enmerkar with metals, precious stones, and craftsmen; and there is a suggestion that the materials were transported to Uruk by river. Finally, Aratta appears in a fourth myth, "Lugulbanda and Mount Hurum". Enmerkar and his army are traveling to Aratta to make it a vassal state.

En route they stop at Mount Hurum where Lugulbanda becomes ill and "dies". His comrades place his body on Mount Hurum, intending to retrieve it after their war in Aratta. However, Lugulbanda was not really dead. After praying to the sun, moon, and the star Venus, he emerges from his trance and wanders the highlands. Unfortunately, the ending of this story is lost.

The myths outlined above portray Aratta as a wealthy and militarily powerful state with which Sumer had relations from very early times. It was located some distance from Sumer and protected by its forbidding mountains, but it was not so distant as to prevent trade relations. Aratta had building materials, precious stones, metals and craftsmen skilled in their transformation. Aratta also had primacy with regard to the religion of the mother goddess, Inanna, who resided in Aratta, was the patron of that state, and was taken or lured south to Sumerian cities. Uruk and Aratta also were in contest for military superiority--each demanding the submission of the other. The method of transporting the "stones of the mountain" from Aratta to Uruk and of transporting grain from Uruk to Aratta seems consistent with such trade historically between the Armenian highlands and areas to its south, namely, by boat from Aratta south, and by pack animal from Uruk north.

As an Irish man I have since childhood always asked the question as to who exactly built Newgrange? Some schols of thought attribute it to the same people who built Stonehenge. This, however, seems wide of the mark as Newgrange is quite a uniqe structure.

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Subject Views Written By Posted
The Mystery of Aratta 1732 Sean1977 25-Jul-07 23:32
Re: The Mystery of Aratta 327 bjcorbin 20-Apr-17 21:28
Re: The Mystery of Aratta 362 Thanos5150 20-Apr-17 23:31
Re: The Mystery of Aratta 320 Vanya 21-Apr-17 09:05
Re: The Mystery of Aratta 310 Thanos5150 21-Apr-17 16:38
Re: The Mystery of Aratta 329 bjcorbin 22-Apr-17 02:00
Re: The Mystery of Aratta 234 Thanos5150 22-Apr-17 19:20
Re: The Mystery of Aratta - further clues 239 Vanya 22-Apr-17 21:13
Re: The Mystery of Aratta 383 Notinham 22-Apr-17 22:47
Aratta proposed route map 403 bjcorbin 26-Apr-17 02:03
Re: The Mystery of Aratta 284 Rofhessa 27-Apr-17 06:41
Re: The Mystery of Aratta 289 Rofhessa 27-Apr-17 15:58
Re: The Mystery of Aratta 88 RDoctorD 22-Mar-18 06:23
Re: The Mystery of Aratta 116 Thunderbird 22-Mar-18 14:59

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