The kingdom of Urartu, originally a confederation
of numerous tribes from Eastern Anatolia, was
one of the most powerful states in the Ancient
Near East during the first half of the 1st
millennium BC, constituting one of the fearest
rivals of the Assyrian Empire.
It was in the 9th century BC under Shalmaneser
III (858-824) that the Urartian state developed a
centralised system with several interconnected
palace-fortresses placed on high rock outcrops.
Yet our knowledge of Urartian culture and history
is mostly based on epigraphic evidence
discovered especially in the area of Lake Van and
in the Assyrian chronicles. From these sources,
we know that during the 8th century BC Urartu
expanded from Northern Turkey and Armenia,
into today's Azerbaijan, Kurdistan and the
Euphrates region, eventually coming into friction
with the Assyrians and the Persians.
Most of the Urartu military campaigns were
indeed aimed at acquiring silver, copper and iron
for their intensive metal-smithing trade.