6 March 2011

Ancient City of Pitura

The city of Pitura is referenced in cuniform inscriptions in various forms across the bas-reliefs of Ashurnasirpal II's Palace of Kalhu (in modern day Iraq). Ashurnasirpal II was king of Assyria who reigned from 883-859BC. These inscriptions, referred to as the Annals of Assur-natsir-pal, provide an invaluable picture of Western Asia in the ninth century before our era, and before Assyrian conquest had changed the political map of the country. They also detail the brutal battles of the vast program of expansion, first conquering the peoples to the north as far as Nairi, then conquering the Aramaeans between the Khabur and the Euphrates Rivers.

Here is the translated inscription that mentions the city of Pitura from the Annals of Assur-nastir-pal, Column II, lines 104-110. (Source: RECORDS OF THE PAST New Series):

104. I crossed the TIGRIS. All night I pursued (my way). To the city of PITURA the stronghold of the DIRRANS I approached. The city was very difficult (of access).

105. Two walls surrounded (it). Its citadel was situated like the peak of a mountain. Through the hands supreme of ASSUR my lord, (and) with the might of my armies and my vehement battle,

106. I fought with them. After two days, towards midday I roared upon them like RIMMON the inundator of the plain. I rained destruction upon them. With violence

107. and power my fighting-men flew upon them like the vulture. I captured the city; 800 of their fighting-men I slew with weapons; their heads

108. I cut off. Many soldiers I took alive with the hand; the rest of them I burned with fire. Their heavy spoil I carried away. A pyramid of the living (and) of heads

109. I built up at the entrance to its chief gate. I impaled 700 men upon stakes at the approach to their great gate. The city I overthrew, dug up (and) reduced to a mound and ruin. Their young men

110. (and) their maidens I burned as a holocaust.

And then can you believe I found a map of Northwestern Mesopotamia according to Assyrian Inscriptions. You can see the city of Pitura on the far right.

This map and the following excerpt description of the area called Alzi is from "Researches in Assyrian and Babylonian geography" published 1908 by University of Chicago Press in Chicago.

That king had again to recapture the land of Alzi, and he reaches
it, coming from the city of Pitura, through the mountain pass of
Alzi, and from this land he proceeds to the lands of Suhni and
Daiaeni. The city of Pitura was only a night's march from
Tusba, which was located on the southern shore of the Tigris,
opposite the mouth of the river Kallama, and the city of Pitura
was most probably located on the western shore of this river, a
little north of the city of Arbaki. The land of Subni or
Subme was situated on the northern shore of the Euphrates,
opposite Enzite, Kireki and Alzi. All the inscriptions of
Shalmaneser II agree, that this king did not cross the Tigris on
his march from Pitura to Suhme and Daiaeni, and that Alzi
must consequently lie east of the Tigris.

Based on this map, and using the Euphrates and Tigris River as reference, this would put the city of Pitura in what we know today as Turkey - which starts to correlate with further references of a city of Pitura in Kizzuwantna, which was an ancient Anatolian kingdom in the second millennium BC. There is also speculation derived from a 1440BC document that the city of Pitura is around the Yumuktepe (burial mounds) close to modern-day Mersin, Turkey. There has been much archeaology work done in this area and I look forward learning more about Kizzuwanta.

Understandably, translation plays a big part in if there actually was an ancient city of Pitura thousands of years ago, and then of course if it has anything to do with our Pitura surname. Regardless, it's now a story to share.