Damien F. Mackey
“The Mitannians are perhaps one of the most enigmatic Near Eastern Superpowers.
Despite their impressive empire, we know remarkably little about them,
especially compared to the Egyptians or the Hittites”.
Professor Gunnar Heinsohn (University of Bremen) and Emmet Sweeney, historical revisionists, have, in recent times, arrived at some startling conclusions about ancient history - some of these warranting further critical examination, whilst other of their views appear to me to be extreme and well wide of the mark. In order to account for an apparent lack of due stratigraphy for, say, the Mitannians, or the neo-Assyrians, or the Medo-Persians, this pair (not always in perfect agreement) will attempt to merge any one of these with a far earlier kingdom, for instance, the ancient Akkadians to be merged as one with the neo-Assyrians.
Lester Mitcham, however, was able to expose Sweeney’s choices for comparisons using firm archaeological data in his article, “Support for Heinsohn’s Chronology is Misplaced” (SIS Chronology and Catastrophism Workshop, No 1, May 1988).
The Akkadians and the neo-Assyrians were found to be two quite distinct peoples, well-separated in time, and speaking and writing quite different languages.
Mitcham demonstrated similarly the archaeological impossibility of Heinsohn’s and Sweeney’s bold efforts to fuse the Old Babylonian Dynasty of Hammurabi with the Persians – King Hammurabi supposedly being the same as Darius the Great.
Once again, different peoples, different geographies, different times.
Heinsohn and Sweeney do have, though, some degree of support for their argument that the Persian Empire, as classically presented, is seriously lacking in due archaeological strata. For professor Heinsohn, in his far-reaching article, “The Restoration of Ancient History” (http://www.mikamar.biz/symposium/heinsohn.txt), refers to the results of some conferences in the 1980’s pointing to difficulties regarding the extent of the Medo-Persian empires:
In the 1980's, a series of eight major conferences brought together the world's finest experts on the history of the Medish and Persian empires. They reached startling results. The empire of Ninos [pre-Alexander period (3)] was not even mentioned. Yet, its Medish successors were extensively dealt with-to no great avail. In 1988, one of the organizers of the eight conferences, stated the simple absence of an empire of the Medes [pre-Alexander period (2)]: "A Median oral tradition as a source for Herodotus III is a hypothesis that solves some problems, but has otherwise little to recommend it ... This means that not even in Herodotus' Median history a real empire is safely attested. In Assyrian and Babylonian records and in the archeological evidence no vestiges of an imperial structure can be found. The very existence of a Median empire, with the emphasis on empire, is thus questionable" (H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, "Was there ever a Median Empire?", in A. Kuhrt, H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, eds., Achaemenid History III. Method and Theory, Leiden, 1988, p. 212).
Two years later came the really bewildering revelation. Humankind's first world empire of the Persians [Pre-Alexander Period (1)] did not fare much better than the Medes. Its imperial dimensions had dryly to be labelled "elusive" (H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, "The quest for an elusive empire?", in H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, A. Kuhrt, eds., Achaemenid History IV. Centre and Periphery, Leiden l990, p. 264). ….
Enigma of the Mitannians
In their attempt to counteract what they have perceived to be the problem of the dearth of solid historical evidence for the Mitannians, professor Heinsohn and Emmet Sweeney arrived at the conclusion that the Mitanni and Median empires were one and the same.
Admittedly, the Mitannians seem to be a people without an adequate archaeology, a series of kings without precise geographical location.
“The Mitannians are perhaps one of the most enigmatic Near Eastern Superpowers. Despite their impressive empire, we know remarkably little about them, especially compared to the Egyptians or the Hittites”.
“[Mitanni’s] heartland was the Khābūr River region, where Wassukkani, its capital, was probably located”. But: http://www.worldhistory.biz/ancient-history/66326-mitanni.html
“They established a capital at Wassukanni, the location of which remains unknown”.
“Very little of a definite nature is known about Mitanni’s leaders, internal history, and society. It appears that Mitannian society was dominated by a chariotowning warrior class known as the mary-annu, who owned large country estates and bred horses and sheep. Some or all of the members of this class may have been Indo-Europeans, suggesting some sort of cultural or political fusion of that group and the Hurrians in Mitanni”.
Who were the Mitannians?
And, might Emmet Sweeney have - amidst all of his unlikely conclusions - paved the way for an answer to this question in one of his bold claims: namely, that the Mitannian king Parratarna was Shamshi Adad I?
I intend further to investigate this.