'Kassite' is one of the tribes that lived in southern part of Caspian Sea with two major branches; that is, 'coastal' branch (Ksspi) and the mountainous branch (Kassite). After passing Alborz mountains, Kassites reached to the Zagros area and some of them moved to Mesopotamia plains during 12–18 centuries B. C. Then, they were driven away from Mesopotamia by Elams in the 1157 and settled down in Lorestan.
Key words: Gods, Kassite, religious beliefs.
Primitive men during their life were uninformed of the events and their causes; thus they were fraught with fright and apprehension. Such factors, all together, paved the way for driving human's attention to religion, religious thoughts, and emersion of Gods. Primitive men did not understand such events as solar eclipse, lunar eclipse, earthquake, volcano, thunder, flood, death, and their reasons. Therefore, for relieving themselves, they supposed Gods. In this respect, for attracting the God's attention and satisfaction to keep them away from frights and dangers, they offered them sacrifice. It was exactly from this point that the fright from death, sense of surprise from haphazard events, and hope for the God's help made had made for religious beliefs [6, p. 89/1]. Although primitive religions dispersed throughout the world and it is not possible to imagine any connection among them, the religions had the same beliefs. One of the major characteristics of the religion in the ancient societies is the polytheism; that is, supposing numerous Gods which are generally considered as symbols of natural forces and elements.
The present study attempts to investigate the prehistoric era, Kassites' government in Mesopotamia, their returning time to Lorestan and their gunmetal works to answer the major question that 'what were the Kassites' beliefs and Gods?' it is worth mentioning that they were religious tribes and they believed the reincarnation and in their realm there were combination of variegated beliefs.
Kassite. According to Razani «Kassi or Kassite was derived from the infinitive of 'Kasss' which means blue-eyed, immature hair, and dark-blue is similar to the raven's color and blueness. This tribe was referred as 'kassian, Kasis, Kašušuha or Kašian'" [25, p. 2]. The oldest texts within which Kssite were referred are the 24 century B. C. texts which were related to Puzur inshushinak era [3, p. 13].
Kass with the prefix of 'pi' and suffix of 'si', namely, Kassi or Kassite is the oldest preArian tribes [26, p. 68]. Kassite was the tribe composed of two families of mountainous and coastal which were called with discrimination adjectives of 'bi' or 'pi' coastal kass, respectively. They settle down around Caspian Sea or the rivers which led into this sea; thus, they borrowed their name from Caspian Sea. They were moved from northern part of Alborz to its southern parts and scattered in the central plateau and lived beside the natives on that parts. The second family that were introduced with the special adjective of 'si' were the mountainous Kass which were separated from the first family and after passing from Alborz mountains reached to the Zagros and some of them migrated to Mesopotamia plains, gradually ruled over it and had a long-term government there. Others settled down in Lorestan and its northern parts [26, p. 79]. Although some researchers believed that Kassites were Lorstan aboriginal, others believed that they were immigrants from southern parts of Caspian Sea. «they were Asian people who lived in Zagros mountainous areas in the first half of the second millennium B. C. It seemed that their original dwellings were around the south-western parts of Caspian Sea» [18, p. 142]. In fact, Kssites were originally from Zagros who moved towards the south and they settled down the central Zagros mountainous areas in the central plateau of Iran through ruling other Asian tribes» [12, p. 9].
Figure 1. Kiririše Goddess, Šooš (fourth millennium B. C.)
After Kassites' hegemony over Lorestan, on the basis of their conquest habit or due to continuous migration they paid their attention to Babylon. Kssite who were the eastern neighbor of Babylon were powerful tribe that attacked to Babylon 8 years after the death of Hammurabi and gained their throne. After that time, they attacked continuously to this country. Finally, as a result of their conquest they ruled over there about 6 centuries; that is, 12–18 centuries B. C. [13, p. 29–30]. During the Kassi's government, they used ' Karduniash' (i.e., Gods' Gate) for referring to Babylon [Eskandari, p. 438]. As a result of Kassites' battle with Elams, their fate in the political arena was changed. In the battles, sometimes Kassites conquered and sometimes lost. However, between 1157–1168 B. C. Shutruk-nakhkhunte and then his son, Kutir-nakhkhunte, conquered Kassites' territory and returned them to their original district, namely Zagros Mountains. They arrested Enlil-nadin-ahi, last kassi king, and exiled him in Elam until his death [12, p. 11].
In the first millennium B. C. they settled down in their original area and faced with Assyria's force. At the time of Achamendian's government, they were tollable. Finally, their territory was seized by Macedonian Alexander. After the death of Alexander they gained their independence. It seems that Iranian Lur families (Lurs) are from Kassites (25, p. 8). Kassites' Beliefs. On the basis of the examined works in different areas of Iran, it can reach to interesting results about the Kassite's beliefs while they settled in coastal parts of Caspian Sea and before their arrival to Mesopotamia. For example, some sculptures were found in the prehistoric tombs (Fig. 1) which were the symbol of the peoples' beliefs of that time to the Nanaee custom, namely adoring Demeter.
On the basis of the proofs regarding their beliefs and religions it was unveiled that that their beliefs were combination of Indian and Caucasian customs. If names of Iranian kings and combination of Kassites' language with Hurrian, Asian, Elamite, and Minor Asia's languages are added to the list, there is no doubt that Kassi religion, culture, and language were the combined religion, culture, and language (24, p. 207). God in the Kassi language was called 'Bukæšæ'. It can be claimed that it was the same as the west Iranian's word item for referring to Indian God; that is, Baga-Bahaga [20, p. 330]. In fact, their Gods originated from Caucasian, for example, Shipak that had the same status as Babylonian Marduk. Sah or Sax is the same as Babylonian bar. It was claimed that the name of this Kassi God was derived from Vadaee origin of Sur (i.e., sun). Likewise, Hozah was equated to Babylonian Adad and Harebe which was equated Babylonian Enlil [22, p. 40].
At the beginning of the second millennium Indo-European tribes arrived Iranian plateau and divided into two groups. One of them moved towards south-eastern part and arrived India and the other group proceeded to the western plateau, approached to the Kassi areas and mixed with the tribe there to the extent that they taught its citizens adoring of Surya (i.e., God of sun), Muruttash (i.e., God of Plague), and Buriash (i.e., God of flood) [22, p. 45].
In the Indian language, Surya means sun and is the same as šoorijaš, namely Kassites' God of sun. There is no doubt that Kassites adopted this word item from Arian and it is worth mentioning that sun had special status among Arians [14, p.37]. Muruttash or Marattash was used among Kassites as the God of war, guard of warriors, and efficient and the symbol of this God among them was 'ploughshare'. Buria or Buriash is the God of wind, flood, and lightening. And its symbol among Kassites was 'lightening' [23, p. 5]. However, the major Kassi Gods are as follows:
- Kašu was the God of the tribe and was considered as the ancestor of Kassites and Kassites assumed themselves as the descendants of Kašu which was undoubtedly had caused the denomination of this tribe [9, p.55].
- Shimali or Shimaliya is the God of mountain. This God is the female Kassi in companion with Neney God who had Iranian origin were also taken into account as the God of Namari women, which was located in the west of Iran plateau. She was the lady of the brilliant mountains and lived in their summits and walked there. The term 'Shomalee' is considered as a combination of two word items of the assumed language of Kasspi, namely shoo (i.e., brilliant) and Melli (i.e., mountain) which means 'the Goddess of brilliant mountains' in its plural form [16p.183].
- Shu kAmun or Shu mu is the underlined God and is the protector of kingship progeny [5, p.130]. Kassi kings knew themselves as the original children of Shu kAmun. This God was equated as the Babylonian God of Nergel, namely 'God of the midday sun'. The name of this God was made from two parts of Shooge + Moone. The first part means 'burning', 'light', or 'blame'; the second part means 'thinking, behavior' which together means 'brilliant, dazzling' [16, p.184].
- Harbe and She hu were honorable Gods which were the same as the Babylonian Gods of Enlil, namely king of the Gods and kings of the earth, and Marduk or the Babylon God [5, p.130].
- Kamul and Me re ZIr Goddess were called fertilizing Gods [5, p. 130].
- The God who protected kingdom progeny was called Imiria [5, p. 130].
With the arrival of Kassites to the Babylon, some Arian Gods influenced to the culture of that area [16, p. 177]. Seizure of Mesopotamia by Kassites caused they worship Babylonian Gods and accept them as God. Kssi kings accepted Babylonian Gods, the gods Babylonian people worshiped. Babylonian Gods also were worshiped by people in Babylon. Kassites' belief and culture remained even after the decline of Kassi kings and people worshiped Kassi gods till the second century B. C. [24, p. 209]. Babylonian texts also indicate that there was a combination of customs in which there were Asii Gods beside Babylonian Gods and Indo-European Masters [9, p. 55]. The combination of Kudurrus can be considered as a major evidence for proving this combination. For example, in one of the Kudurrus, the combination among the Gods, it was indicated that in these Kudurrus divine forces governed over the world of Kassites' theology. The text of order was carved behind the Kudurru and it was finished with the list of Gods who observed and preserved the document.
A figure of 24 Gods was craved in five rows. These symbols from left to right and from up to down are as follows: 1) newmoon (i.e., sin), 2) octagonal star (Ishtar), 3) the disk of the sun (i.e., Sun god), 4 and 5) horned hat on the base (i.e., the symbol of tomb or throne) (i.e., Anu- Enlil), 6) scepter with a head of ram beside an ibex on its base (i.e., E.A.), 7) an Omega-like symbol on the knife and the base (i.e., Ninhursag), 8) mace with two heads of lion mounted on flying dragon with a head of lion, 9) scepter with a head of eagle (i.e., Ninurta), 10) a bird with a reverted head, 11) scepter with a head of lion, 12) Griffin, 13) bayonet or shovel on the base on the back of dragon, 14) wedge or chisel on the back of dragon (i.e., Nebo), 15) bust on the base on the back of a dog, 16) thunder bident on the base with a calf (i.e., Adad), 17) chisel on the base on the back of a ram (i.e., Nebo), 18) ploughshare, 19) tallow-burner (i.e., Nosko), 20) flying bird, 21) bird above a pillar or a rod, 22) a package or a bundle (corn with high probability), 23) scorpion, 24) snake (MajidZade, 1997:140). As King pointed out Kassites' intended to be protected by the Gods through writing their names in the Kudurru.(King,1969:235) For example, in a Kudurru belonged to Melishipak (the thirty third Kassi king of Babylon, 1174–1188), who prepared it for his daughter, the king protected his daughter under the umbrella of Sin, Sun God, and (Ishtar) (MajidZade,1997:140). A Kudurru from Melishipak is displayed in Figure 2.
Figure 2. A Kudurru from Melishipak, Shoosh
However, for recognition of Kassites' beliefs after their returning to Lorestan, it should be referred to their bronze artifacts because they embedded their beliefs in these objects. Most of the bronze artifacts of Lorestan were achieved from tombs. They were belongings of the dead people which were buried with their corpus which resurrection day. These objects were divided into four groups: the sculptures and religious symbols were the first group. The people who made these bronze objects believed to the Gods who work under the observation of Sky God. It seemed that these sculptures were representatives of Gods which were worshiped by people and the numbers of masters were promoted. These things are as follows: sculpture with a human's head, Demeter, and so on. On that time, people believed to the expelling of wicked spirits and regarding this belief numerous armlets and talismans were discovered. The abracadabra was made in the form of strange symbols with numerous heads and horns. Some of the talismans were symbol of misfortune, demon, and afreet. Also, large pins with the length of about 25 cm were discovered. They were used for religious purposes. For satisfying their needs, people of that time bestowed the pins to the Gods (1, p. 42–43) (Figure 3a, b, & c).
Fig. 3a. Knitting needle (found in Lorestan) Fig. 3b, c. Talisman (found in Lorestan)
Likewise, a cylindrical seal was found in Lorestan within which a God with horned hat sits in the throne. This seal with two devils is similar to the cylindrical seals of Middle Elam. Figure 4 displays this seal [21, p. 90].
Figure 4. A cylindrical seal (found in Lorestan)
The basis of Kassites' religion was the belief to the Majesty who ruled over all the celestial beings, the four seasons, and all the life's affairs. This celestial power and the Majesty accepted human's face and sometimes with the combination of parts of animals' face. The combination of human's face and animal was seen in most of the Kassites' bronze works which were found in Lorestan. In companion with the Majesty, there were smaller Gods, each was considered a symbol of an element. The Majesty's orders were in force in the sky and the smaller God's orders were standing within the earth, especially in the case of fertilizing grasses and trees. The image of the Majesty who ruled over the lion or horned animals is evident on the bronze objects which were made or designed by the Kassites. Sometimes the image of the Majesty was engraved with threefold beard with a life's tree or a goat. Sometimes the Majesty or the sky's God put on a hat with cow's horn (because cow means celestial power) which is considered as a source of power. Sometimes, the Majesty was engraved with a horn of a cow and a wing of an eagle. An image of eagle that seeks the Majesty's forgiveness is evident on some of the objects; the image of eagle is encircled on the body of the objects [19, p. 5].
Godard believed that Kassites' society consisted of two parts: 1) a group lived in the central part of Lorestan where farmers lived, and 2) a group who lived in the northern part of Lorestan (i.e., highland) where the settler bred horse. The similar culture of the groups affected with their characteristics and precautions. Horse and armor were prevalent among nomadic people and religion was in vogue among farmers and among those who lived at home. However, shepherds and farmers who had not armor or horse were not irreligious. [10,1962:41]
Worshiping the Demeter, the Majesty, was among the beliefs of the settlers in the central part of Lorestan. It seems that they inherited worshiping of the Majesty from their original home town. As regards to this group it can be pointed out to the hero Gilgamesh and the protector of flocks. Also, it seemed that they worshiped God of sun and God of moon (Fig. 5a & b) [10,1962:59].
Figure 5a. Knitting needle with Figure 5b. Gilgamesh image the image of Demeter (700–1500 B.C. (The first millennium B. C.)
However, regarding the second group's beliefs ornamental nozzle of the horse composed one of the most attractive bronze groups. These nozzles usually formed from two animals or monsters which were linked to each other with a strong gunmetal rod. Specialists in unauthorized digging took this as ornamental nozzle of the horse for putting under head (Fig. 6a & b). Putting such nozzles under the dead persons meant that they traveled the afterlife through a horse or a cart, especially the fact that they might be cavaliers or superior charioteers [21, p. 99].
Figure 6a. Gunmetal nozzle of the horse, found in Lorestan, first Millennium B. C.
Figure 6b. Horse trappings, found in Lorestan, 7th and 8th Millennium B. C.
In Kassi culture, horse had an important status to the point that they probably worshiped it. It seemed that the ideas of 'God who control the sun' and 'the Goddess who bred horse' were originated from the important status they granted to the horse and called it 'Mirizyer' [Hall,1994:25]. It seemed that Kassites used horse for both farming and war. They took horse with themselves to Mesopotamia [4, p. 154–155].
Belief to Resurrection Day. Among different kinds of frights, fright from death was the major death among primitive humans, because natural death was the least influential factor in their death. Thus, they supposed metaphysic factor as the major reason for death which formed their beliefs. Also, the ghosts that appeared in their sleep, especially those ghosts that primitive humans were sure they died, heightened their fright. They buried the dead bodies in the grave and cover their surroundings to protect themselves from their returning. Likewise, in this regard, they put provisions beside the death bodies lest they return [27, p. 8–9].
Kassites were religious people to the extent that they regulated their daily affairs to the afterlife world [8, p. 60–61]. Burying horse, cart, ornamental objects, and protective tools were among the evidences for proving their firm belief. They buried personal objects with the dead bodies which enable them to use these objects during their afterlife world [2, p.112]. They buried men with arm and nozzle of a horse and buried women with their ornamental belongings [10, p. 41].
The place for burying the dead bodies was a simple hole on the firm land or a hypogeum which was surrounded with stone. Both types of graves were nearly the same and their materials were also similar. They put the corpse in the curved manner in the soil and buried them with clothes [28, p. 13].
One of the evidences that indicated Kassites' beliefs is the famous Kudurru which is called 'unfinished Kudurru' where a castle was displayed, above which a very big snake curled around the Kudurru and a curled bull slept in the central part. This image was interpreted as follows: this castle (and maybe terrestrial globe) was surrounded with river with current underneath water from the lower part and with a similar river with heaven water from the upper part. Also, a celestial cow slept in its uppermost part. The space between celestial cow and terrestrial globe was divided into two parts. The upper part consisted of the head of celestial snake and was a symbol of paradise and was the residence of Gods. The lower place was a place that indicated a point between terrestrial globe and paradise [17, p. 141].
Conclusion. Regarding the previous materials, the major conclusion points are as follows:
Elements of nature were important for Kassites, accordingly their major Gods were Gods of nature (e.g., God of sun);
Kassites were religious people and polytheism was common among them and the claim can be proved through examining their Kudurrus;
With their arrival to Mesopotamia, Kassites were affected by Babylonian Gods and their Gods arrived to the Babylonian society that means the comprehensiveness of their thought;
Kassites like other ancient tribes believed to the resurrection day; thus, they provided facilities for the afterlife world of the dead.
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