Ethno-Cultural Mosaics of Ancient Anatolia: Prolegomena to the Study of Ethnic Groups and their Expression in the Old Testament
The history of Biblical research is rife with attempts to identify the origins of Biblical people. In Biblical scholarship particular attention is paid to the several criterion, in that case most significant are: the geographical area of inhibition of Biblical peoples, the particular toponyms and ethnonyms connected to these ethnic groups ,which helps to differentiate these groups and classifying them inside the kingships or states, the as well the role of “kinship”, which could be recognized sometimes as a key point in identification of some relative ethnic groups in Near East and their connection to ancient Anatolian states in the I millennium BCE. And lastly, one of the most interesting aspects of the Biblical historical study is to compare historical texts with art objects reflecting the same phenomena.
It must be stressed also, that some western scholars use “kinship” as a main criterion for differentiating ethnicity from “nations” or “political” identities in ancient times, which other scholars might also term “ethnic” (Sparks 1998: 344). In some occasion, it should be more proper to use the term “ethnic” as a main designation for people of Anatolia in the Irion Age ,then a “nation”, as a” nation” seems to be more “extensive”, permanent occurrence and conceptually different from understanding the meaning of “ethnicity” in Asia Minor.
In this article I have limited my interest to the ethno-historical diversity of the so-called “Biblical Anatolia”, or Asia Minor in the First millennium BCE. In the Ancient Near Eastern sources during Biblical period the different ethnical groups from Anatolia interchangeably appear, as well as disappear without any clarification and commentaries in these sources. Beside of the textual evidence, we still have a very incomplete knowledge about some of these tribes and we hardly are able to discuss the problem of a direct connection between those ethnic entities and particular material remains from ancient Anatolia.
It is commonly accepted axiom, that ethnically and religiously motley region such as the ancient Anatolia was formed by different cultures and ethnic groups. From pre-historical times the cultural units coexisted and developed in Anatolia independently throughout many centuries, in the II millennium BCE this region became the homeland for a number of peoples, for the Indo-Europeans, for the Semites, for the non-Indo-Europeans and the non-Semitic population as well.
After the collapse of the Hittite empire in Anatolia, its material culture and traditions survived in the architecture and writing of the principalities of the southeastern highlands. Sooner than, additional powers such Urartu, the Lydians and Phrygians, Tabal to the north of the Taurus, and Que in the Cilician plain, would emerge in the rest of Anatolia and fill the political and cultural gap created by the absence of the Hittites (Cimok 2005: 11).Almost all of these kingdoms or states are mentioned in the Bible and connected with the ethno-geographical history of Anatolia.
The chapter of the Old Testament known as the “Table of the Nations” or “descendants of Noah’s sons” (Gn.10; 1Chr1) presents a classification of the various people known to the ancient Israelites during the later part of the Iron Age. This passage gives an ethno- geographic description of the lands and peoples with which Israel had come into contact. It apparently dates to the united Kingdom (Aharoni 1979: 84) but some scholars believe that the chart was drawn when the Babylonian captives freed by Cyrus the Great returned home in 538 BCE and the editors put this vision into writing basing it on their pre-exilic recollections (Cimok 2005:22). Obviously such an all-encompassing list as this, could not have served any practical administrative function. It is simply a literary and historical creation based on the principle that all the peoples known to Israel had descended from one ancestor, Noah and his sons. The list takes the form of a genealogical tree .The order generally followed is political and territorial, beside tongue and race the homeland of each people is defined in terms of its geographical position and political dependence. All of the human family is divided into three main groups, which surrounded Palestine: the sons of Shem to the East, the sons of Ham to the south and sons of Japheth to the North and West. In its general outlines Japheth’s seven sons, the ancestors of Indo-European and non Indo-European nations populated the area to the north of Canaan from the Taourus westward, including Greece and northwards as far as the Caucasus (Gen.10; I Ch.1: 1-23) (Ahaoni 1979:6). The descendants of Japheth are: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Tubal, Meshech, Javan and Tiras (Gn 10:2; 1Chr 1). In the listing of Noah’s sons, Japheth usually comes last (Gen.10: 2-5), but here he is first because the tribes descended from Japheth were appeared across the remote lands of the north and therefore were less involved in Israel’s history (Ross 1980:22;Neiman 1973:124). While some of the locations or people mentioned in the “Table of the Nations”, especially those who are included in Japheth’s progeny such as Tubal or Meshech may be regarded as being indigenous to Anatolia, some, such as Aram or Assur, are closely related with Anatolia’s ancient History. The sons of Japheth are seven. The ninth century Welsh monk Nennius summarized the sixth centaury Alanic genealogies of the French noble houses discuss a genealogy tree of Japheth and his sons, according to him :Galli are descended from Gomer, Scythe and Goths from Magog, Madian from Madi, Greeks from Javan and Iberi, Hispani and Itali from Tubal, and Cappadoces from Mosoch (Graves 1961:132; Nennus 1841:12). In Table of the Nations Gomer is placed of the head of Japheth’s seven sons (Gn. 10: 1; I Chr 1: 5).
The most scholars are agree in that Gomer, mentioned also in Ezekiel 38:6, represents the Cimmerians (Encyclopedia Biblica 1903:4330; Ross, 1980:23; Bible Dictionary1987:395) thought to be of the same stock as the Scythians. Classical author Josephus identifying Gomer and Magog, and Magog to Scythians:” for Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians (the name of a territory in Asia Minor, comprising parts of what was formally Phrygia and Cappadocia, occupied and settled by a Celtic people in III centaury BCE (The Oxford Classical Dictionary 1961:376 ) but were then called Gomerities.Magog founded those that from him were named Magogities,but who are by Greeks called Scythians”( Josephus Antiq.3) . In the records of king Urartu and Assyria those peoples frequently appeared, Cimmerians are called Gimirrai/ Gimmirraya and in Greek literature are listed as Kimmeroi ( Odyssey 11.14 ;Herodotus I.15, 103; 4.1-142 ) . Some scholars identify them as well with Cymry as in the Welsh (Speiser 1964; 63). According to some Christian writers Magog/Scythians could be related to Gog( Gog as a prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, Ezek.38: 2,38:18;see also, Rev 20:8 ”The Nations in the four corners of the earth-Gog and Magog”in this context Gog and Magog bouth words stand for term “ nations”) , and simpler sustain of this hypotheses is in that, that Magog was miswritten for Gog (Encyclopedia Biblica 1903:4330). In Amarna Tablets (#1383) Amenhotep III mentions three countries-Gag, Hanigalbat and Ugarit. Hanigalbat is probably Melitene and the Gag/Gog is likely to have been situated near Commagene (Encyclopedia Biblica 1903:4330). It is significant that, in the days of Strabo, there was a province of Gogarene immediately east of the territory occupied by the Moschi, the Colchians, the Tibarenes and the Chaldaeans (Str.Geogr.11, 14) (Encyclopedia Biblica 1903:4331). As, according to Ezekiel 38:2-3 “Gog is a prince of Meshech, Tubal and Rosh “it could be that Scythians/Magogs at least since the beginning of the seventh centaury BCE occupied a territory named Gogarene/Gog (K. Kekelidze 1926:13-14; Movses Movses1985:180,176) and became the neighbors or rulers of the Tubal, the Meshech and the Rosh. Some scholars interpreted the term Rosh as a well –known geographical sites in ancient Near East (Price 1985:68-89), but these places seems to be a far away from the geographical location of inhabitance Tubal and Meshech.
In” the Table of Nations” Magog is one of the sons of Japheth like Tubal, Meshech and Gomer.when it is encountered elsewhere in the Old Testament (Ez 38; 39) the word also is coupled with the same nations and used with Gog interchangeably. Ezekiel, when he says turn towards the direction where Tubal, Meshech and Magog are located, probably had an actual ethnic groups in his mind in the same direction as Tubal and Meshech that is northern Anatolia (Cimak 2005:73).
In “Table of the Nations “Ashkenaz descent from Japheth through Gomer (Gn10: 3; 1Chr1: 6). According to some scholars Ashkenaz appears to represent a northern branch of Indo- Germanic tribes related to the Scythians (Brown, Driver and Briggs 1907:79). This information confirms the historical fact of the succession of the Cimmerians by the Scythians in ancient Near Eastern politics. In the Assyrian texts they are called “Askuzai” ( Cimak 2005:70). In Genesis 10:3 the Scythian is then regarded as a son of Cimmerian/Gomer and a brother of Riphath (Riphath may bear a remote resemblance to the name of the river Rhebas near Bosphorous, or the Riphaean Mountains to the west, Josephus suggested these were the Paphlagonians) and Togarmah, but in Jeremiah (52:27) he appears as the companion of the Manneans and Urartians (Encyclopedia Biblica, 1903:4330; Melikishvili 1954:12-21). The spelling of Urartu, one of the powerful ancient states of Anatolia, encountered in the Old Testament is rrt, mistakenly vocalized as Ararat. The last Biblical reference to Urartu belongs to the fourth year of king Zedekiah’s reign (594BCE), when Jeremiah (51:27-28) prophesies that Babylon (Biblical Arpachshad) will fall at the hands of foreign nations; that is Ararat (Urartians), the Minni (Manneans), the Askhenaz (Scythians) and the Medes (Cimok 2005:60).
In the Biblical scholarship the most controversial opinions connected to the issues of identification and localization of Biblical Meshech and Tubal as the tribes or the tribal unions and their connections to the states of the ancient Anatolia. Assyrian sources identify the Western Mushki with Phrygians, while Greek sources clearly distinguish between Phrygians and Caucasian Moschoi. Tubal and Meshch elsewhere in Bible are coupled, but also as well distinguished by their terms and names. This coupling could be true for their geographical location and the chronology of the two states (Cimok 2005:63). They occupied the region, which would later be known as Cappadocia, region in the southeast Black Sea and the Commagene (Graves 1992:151-598). These two tribes could have also very a close relationship as kinship tribes.
In Table of the Nationals Meshech is the sixth son of Japheth (Gn.10: 2; 1Chr1: 5) and elsewhere coupled with Tubal (Tabal). According to Bible they were traders and commercial partners of Tyre, they supplying the Tyrians with slaves and articles of bronze for goods (Ez.27: 13; 32; 38; 39). Assyrian texts confirmed existence of Tabalu or Tubalin in central Anatolia was famous for its metalworking (Bernal 1991:231). It seems to be that, Tubals were indigenous population of this region and Tubal-ki as a tribe also mentioned in Hittite Texts (Tubal-ka could be associated to biblical Tubal-Qayin or Tubal, -Cain? E.A.). According to Wiseman Hittite Tipal and Tibar were districts, which Naram Sin traversed around 2200BCE (Wiseman 1955:18). Herodotus located the region in the North on the shore of the Black Sea (Herodotus 3, 94). Josephus ( I, 122-29) called them ‘Cappadocians “.
The Most scholars agree in that the Tubals occupied territory somewhere in the Caucasus region (Nettleton 2002: 72).
Tabal of the Assyrian sources located in East Lycaonia, near Kayseri. According to Nettleton Tubal-Cain, archetypal artificer in metals, the master of all coppersmiths and blacksmiths comes from that region (Nettleton, 2002: 72).
Josephus accepted the descendants of Tubal with the Iberians, he wrote: “Tobal gave rise to the Thobeles (it could be that from the term ‘Thobeles/Tubals” derived”Tbilisi”, “Tbeli”,”Tbileli “, Thbl-TblS-Tbl, Tbll -Tubal), who are now called Ibers”. Ancient Ibers were inhibitions of a tract of country between the Caspian and Euxine Seas, which is nearly corresponded to the modern Georgia (:Smith’s Bible Dictionary online version). However, historian Nennius stated other traditions, that Tubal was ancestor not for only Caucasian Iberians but Italians and Spanish, who were also called Iberians (Graves, 1961; 132; Nettleton, 2002:71) .Iberian Basques also believed to be offspring of Tubal. According to Georgian historian, Javakhishvili Tubal, Tabal, Jabal and Jubal to be ancient Georgian tribal designations (Javakhishvili 1950:130-135;Khazaradze 1978:3-139).
Some scholars saw close links between biblical Tubal Greek Tibarenoi and Latin Tibareni.According to Strabo’s Geography “above Trapezus and Pharnacia situated the Tibareni and Chaldaei and Sani, in earlier times called Macrones and lesser Armenia” (Str.XII.III.8) In N29 of the same chapter of his book, Srabo mentions that:” the Tibareni and Chaldaei, extending as far as Colchis”.
The ethimology of the term Tubal is still doubtful. In Semitic languages bal /baal/ bēl /bēlī means “Lord, possessor, husband” and sometimes it is a” master” or “owner”( Biblical Dictionary 1987:113.) Most often, however, the word refers to the Semitic deities (Biblical Dictionary 1987:113). In Georgian on of the meaning of this foreign term- “baal” translated as “ Mpqrobeli”/”mpkrobeloba” which means “owner “ownership” (Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani 1993:605).and means to owning lands, towns, states and kingships as well as to be the master of people .In Georgian “floba”(to “owning” verb) “samflobelo”(“the area, which is owning by somebody, noun,) could be corresponding to early Semitic influence of fro-Kartvelian Languages. We have no evidence for what the Tubals called themselves. Biblical Tubal/Tabal seems to be derivate from Assyrian Tabalu and Hittite Tubal-ki (ki “land”), and in our opinion, Tu/Ta could be the ancient term for the ethic group, who was “owning” /bal/bel northern lands in Anatolia.
The Mushki (Muški) were inhibitions of Anatolia in the I millennium BCE, known from Assyrian sources as Mushkaia/Muskaia, but as a tribal designation they do not appear in earlier Hittite records. Some scholars saw direct connections between the Kaškas mentioned in Hittite texts and the Mushkis in North Anatolia (Diakonoff 1984:116). But problem is that two different groups in Anatolia were called Muški in the Assyrian Sources, one from the 12 th to 9 th centuries BCE, located near the confluence of the Arsanis and the Euphrates (“Eastern Mushki”), and the other in the 8th to 7th centuries BCE, located in Cilicia (“Western Mushki”). As a matter of fact, Assyrian sources identify the Western Mushki with the Phrygians(Wittker 2004:17) , while Greek sources clearly distinguish between Phrygians and Moschoi.Diakonoff identifies the Muški with Proto-Armenians, who carried their Indo-European Language eastward across Anatolia. According to Giorgadze the Kaška tribes in the II Millennium BCE, actually occupied as the same region in Anatolia as Mushki letter in the I Millennium BCE, that was the northern Anatolia, Pontus area and it’s neighborhood states. The Kaškian toponimics, personal names and some words with “ia”,”shqa”, and “el” suffixes system could have some analogies with Megrelian language. Giorgadze is convinced that Kaškian ethno-toponyms and data of onomastics are indicating more on their connection with old Collchian or Megrelo-Lasian language than with Abkhazo-Adighean, Hittite, Hurrian, Luvian and Hattian. Generally, when languages share common features, they have either inherited them from a common origin or acquired them through borrowing (Gordon and Rendsburg, 1999: 25) The issue of identification of these two ethnic groups the Kaška/Kaškaia with the Muški/Mushkaia, as well as their languages, needed more evidential verification, the further research on this direction seems to be very affirmative (Giorgadze 2002:108-112; Encyclopedia Biblica 1903:4331) But we still have very limited knowledge about this issue, what exactly was the old Collchian language and was it related or not to the Megrelo-Lasian language.
Josephus considered the Moschs, as well the Iberians, as being of Anatolian origin, while Herodotus always coupling Moschi and Tibareni tribes, who are mentioned together twice (Herodotus III, 94;VII, 78).
The classical author of the Vth century BCE Hecateus of Miletus defines the Moschs as a Colchian tribes situated next to the Matieni (Hurrians) (Hec.FHG 188,228), and according to Khazaradze and Kavtaradze the Moschs occupied the territory in the neighborhood of western Matieniens (Hurrians), in Cappadocia, in the north-easternmost part of the peninsula (Khazaradze 2001: 256-259;Kavtaradze 1985:9f.).
Greek geographer Strabo also mentioned Moschike as a tribe, while Moschian land was included inside of Colchis (Str.XI, II, 18).
Meshech and Tubal are always mentioned together in the Old Testament, except same passages, in Is. 66:19, where Tubal and Javan are mentioned together as distant nations, and in Ps.120: 5, where, strangely enough, Meshech is related to Kedar, the second in order of the sons of Ishmael (Bible Dictionary1987:563), and in IChron.1: 17, where Meshech is introduced as last in order of the sons of Shem (Bible Dictionary 1987:563).In those contexts the Moshech appears as a tribe linked to the Semites, who occupied lands faraway from the Anatolian region. In this case, the Biblical information regarding Meshech as a people of Anatolian origin implicate some contradiction; on one hand Meshech is offspring of Japheth, implied that he was ancestor of Anatolian people, but on the other hand, he is connected to the Semitic group of people. It is steel doubtful issue under the Biblical Meshech, which ethnic group is implicited, Anatolian or Arabian? But there is one more significant detail could be taken in account; According to Ezekiel (38:2-3; 39:1) the coming of Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal had been predicted by prophet. It is difficult to interpret this prophecy directly, but some scholars would suggest that the conqueror whose career inspired this prophecy is far more likely to have been Mithridates VI Eupator Dionysus of Pontus (Encyclopedia Biblica 1903: 4332). Mithridates VI alone could be entitled “Prince of Meshech and Tubal”his seat of power being where the Moschi and the Tibarenes lived, and his away extending over the territory once associated with those names. None could more aptly to consider as the coming Gog than the proud conqueror of Scythia, who reigned over the entire coast –lands of the Black sea and brought from the farthest north his armies(The Oxford Classical Dictionary 1961:576). According to C.Torrey, Gog could be Alexander the Great and some scholars saw in r’š (Ez.38:2;39:1) reference to Javan (Greece ) (Torrey 1970:96).
Mithridates first acquired the north shore of the Euxine, then he occupied Lesser Armenia, eastern Pontus and Colchis.
Tiras was a son of Japheth, mentioned after Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal and Meshech (Gen.10; 1Ch.15). It is usually assumed that he must be the representative of a northern folk. The older commentators mostly think of Thracians of Anatolia (Jos.Ant.I, 6), and some of the classical authors identified Tiras with Thracians living in the area of river Tiras (Thucydides 4.109; Herodotus I.57, 59), while some scholars connects Tiras with Hittite T (a) rš/Tarsi and Tarsus (Encyclopedia Biblica 1903: 5098).
It is now popular to identify Biblical Tiras as the Pelasgian pirates Tyrsha of the Aegean coast mentioned in Mernepthah’s list of “Sea People” (Ross 1980:22-34). Tyrsha as a group of “sea people” was identified as Tyrrheni/Tyrsanioi /Tyrseni of classical traditions as well. It was suggested by some scholars that Tyrsha/Tyrseni connected with the latter Etruscans (Dhorme 1932:28-49; Encyclopedia Biblica 1903;5098;Nemirovski 1983 :32-33 ) .According to same classical traditions Tyrseni were colonists from Asia Minor, from Lydia (Hero.I, 94). Former Tyrrheni/Tyrsanioi /Tyrseni and later classical times Etruscans had very close political relationship with Phoenicians; They were the commercial partners as well as political allies. By the eight centenary BCE Phoenicians establishing trade relations with Etruria and Latium (Bonfante1986:66). It is obvious that biblical authors were aware about Etruscan tradition, that they were people of ancient Anatolia in past and emigrated to Italy in I millennium BCE. Most likely, Biblical authors received that tradition through Phoenicians, who were Etruscan’s allies for a long time and get acquainted with their past history. Another people of Anatolia, who are Lydians related to the Lud. Lud is one of the sons of Shem (Gn10:20;1Chr1:7) and refers to the Lydians. It seems that Lud and Tyrsha/Tyrseni inhabited in the same area in Lydian kingdom and in this case Lydian population was ethnically very mixed. Lydian language however is not Semitic, and the racial affinities of the Lydians are obscure (The Oxford Classical Dictionary 1961:522). So, the Lydians were not Semites and consequently should have been better listed among Japheth’s descendents. According to some scholars Lydians were Indo-European population of Anatolia (Cimok, 2005:77).
The fact that, Gomer (Kimerian), Madai (Mede), Javan (Greek), Meshech (Moschi), Tubal (Tibarenes), and Tiras (Tyrsha, Tyrrhenians) are so manifestly names of famous people of the past and directly or indirectly they were related to ancient Anatolia.
The geopolitical situation of ancient Anatolia, the brief information of the lands and peoples within the horizon of Israelite knowledge, survived in Biblical tradition. Sometimes this information seems to be a very brief, undefined and some stories is considered anachronistic: For example, Ezekiel could hardly have referred to Meshech and Tubal as living states (38:2-3; 39) when he had spoken of them in 32:25-27, as having passed away. In the other reference to these countries in Ezekiel 27:13, as traders with Tyre, Ezekiel evidently had in mind the earlier history of those peoples (Berry 1922:224).
Many modern scholars see cultures as territorially and politically related (Green and Perman 1985:3-12; Kletter 1999:19-54) , but we have no evidence for such issues and terms in past, what were for the Biblical authors the mean criteria for the identification ethnic groups as the nations and the nations bonded to states? We do not know, was these criterion of statehood, territorial extension of the people, or just ethnic identity, which could be in the past the language, religion, writing system and etc. Some states mentioned in Old Testament really existed in the past, as a cultural modules or “polity”, with clear political borders and well survived material cultures. Despite of many efforts, it is still not possible to define material remains of some Biblical ethnic groups such as Tubal and Meshech from Anatolia. It is because, that any material remains relating to their statehood or distinguish there ethnicity are still doubtful. The explanation to such strange circumstance could be found in some factors; if Biblical nations really existed as the tribal unites and even small states in the Ist milenum BCE, during foremost Biblical period some tribes changed they location, designation and even forms of statehood, Secandly, many states of the early Biblical period in Anatolia collapsed and instant of them the new states with new names occurred in the region. The old tribes could be splendid into these newborn states. Also it could be taken in account, that the fertile lands of Anatolia was the epicenter as for the new invaders, as well as the foreland for many colonists ,who left the area by sea, but left tradition about their presence in Anatolian History.
Judah and the most of its close neighbors in the I millennium BCE were states or kingships with well defined political bordars, but some distant states are not well defined in OT.Most of the ethnic groups of the OT were easily identified with Anatolian tribes and sites of that period, but some of them are still not well investigated and associated with peoples of OT.
1In our opinion “Kinship” as an “Ethnicity” could be understand as t the main criterion for identification some tribes lived in Ancient Anatolia and Caucasus in the I millennium BCE. We think that, some of ancient Anatolian tribes identity was based on territorial expansion and relation rather than on a since of shared descend. About comparative case studies of ancient Near Eastern ethnicity.
2 The connection of Japheth and Iapetos of the Greek tradition is striking. In both Greek and Hebrew traditions Iapetos/Japheth was the ancestor of the Greeks.
3 Patriarch Eustathius of Antioch, Bishop Theodoret, and others repeated this version.
4 Basque intellectuals like Paza (16th century) have named Tubal as the ancestor of Basques, and by extension, the Iberians, another French Basque author Augustin Chacho (19th century) published “The Legend of Aitor”, asserting that the common patriarch of Basques was Aitor, a descendant of Tubal.
5 Close relationship between some tribes,”kinship” appeared between Muška , Kaška and Tubali tribes, we think, that the Muška, the Kaška and Tubali tribes belonging to the one family and they are relative tribes from ancient Anarolia.
6 The tribes that descended from Kedar were nomads for the most part. They have desert civilization; their territory was in the northern part of the Arabian Desert.
7 Or a grandson of Shem.
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