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Hittite Languages - The Hurrian Name of Tudhaliya IV

Posted May 19th, 2018 at 08:11 PM by Lord Oda Nobunaga
Updated May 19th, 2018 at 08:17 PM by Lord Oda Nobunaga

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Hittite reliefs of Tudhaliya IV in the sanctuary discovered at Yazilikaya, this one depicts the king embraced by the god Sharruma

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This relief shows Tudhaliya IV with his ceremonial Hurrian name written in Hurrian glyphs "Hishmi-Sharruma"

The Hittite King Tudhaliya IV (reigned 1237 BC - 1209 BC) chose the Hurrian god Sharruma as his patron deity. This king would also take for himself the Hurrian name "Hishmi-Sharruma". As was common with Hittite conventions the Hurrian name used ceremonially was a sacred name for the individual and included the name of their patron deity in many cases. What exactly does the name "Hishmi-Sharruma" mean and what does this say about the Hurrian language used by the Hittites?

In the New Kingdom period (circa 1430 BC - 1178 BC) the Hittites had taken on an Anatolian character of sorts and adopted the Luwian language for cultural reasons. Royal seals and inscriptions show the use of Hurrian glyphs, Luwian glyphs and Hittite cuneiform although some kings seemed to have a preference for one of these particular languages. When it comes to religion the Hittites had a state pantheon that incorporated various gods from within their empire and even neighboring peoples. The Hittites were obsessed with collecting information of various gods. The king could at will order the creation of a new cult for a foreign deity and instruct the priesthood in how to conduct these rituals. They also documented extensively about legal matters, in fact most of what has been discovered has been prayers and legal records among subjects or vassals. They developed three methods of writing: a standardized set of Luwian glyphs for use within the empire, Akkadian cuneiform for foreign diplomacy, Hittite cuneiform for royal scribes and record keeping and Hurrian glyphs for religious and ceremonial purposes. Understanding this is paramount to deciphering and translating Hittite texts.

Determining who is mentioned in Hittite texts can be a nightmare unless there exists some sort of reference point. That is because the Hittites used both their Hurrian "sacred names" and their Hittite/Luwian names interchangeably. Determining what Hittite names are actual Hittite or Luwian are also a challenge because they seemed to combine Luwian words with Hittite words from time to time. For instance the name "Muwatallis" doesn't seem to have a meaning in Hittite, but in Luwian it can be translated as "the conqueror" or more accurately "one that conquers". Applied textually the Luwian glyph for "Mu" is represented by a bull (the symbol of Tarhunta), so you could probably interpret it to mean "Tarhunta has conquered". Perhaps it is unrelated but Muwatallis' name in Hurrian is "Sarri-Teshub" (King chosen of Teshub? Teshub is King? Teshub is above?) so the linguistic connection to Tarhunta might be there or Muwatallis is an extremely zealous worshiper (textual evidence implies that he was). But even if that rather tenuous connection could be made it does not appear to have been a theme with Hittite/Luwian to Hurrian naming conventions.

Now that said I have seen the name Sharruma being used quite a bit within the Hurrian "sacred names". For example a vassal king called Talmi-Sharruma was made king of Halab (Aleppo) in the reign of Mursili II and he is also referenced in treaties during the reign of Muwatallis. There was also an Ari-Sharruma, the king of a city called Melid (Melitene???) who married a daughter of Hattusili III. Hattusili III had a son or grandson called Tashmi-Sharruma, though unclear in the records. Whether the Hurrian names were merely a Hittite practice or not is hard to determine. Were Talmi-Sharruma and Ari-Sharruma Hittites or locals from the Euphrates territories? If so can this give us a clue as to the meaning of Sharruma? If we know whether this was a widespread practice which the Hittites adopted or if this was a requirement for their subjects (particularly their vassal kings) it might help, unfortunately records do not really give this information.

Now given what we know about the use of personal names it stands to reason that if gods were treated as actual living beings then they likely had various names or titles, of course syncretism would also play a role in this. Since these names are given in Hurrian (for instance "Sarri-Teshub" is Hurrian, the god referenced is equated to the Luwian Tarhunta, Sarri is likely the same word as Sharu or has a similar meaning, it has been translated as "above" and so can have a similar connotation to "kingship"). Which means that Sharruma is likely a Hurrian name or title. If "Sharru" means "king" in the Semitic languages then either these Semitic languages adopted the Hurrian words or the Hurrians adopted this term from the Semites. As I recall Sharru is an Akkadian word (Akkadian being Semitic of course) referenced in the Sargonic epics. Indeed the name itself "Sharru-kinu" is a regnal title with the connotation of legitimate kingship. The god Sharruma is also written in Luwian as the softer "Sarama". The "ma" portion is likely a grammatical suffix or perhaps carries its own meaning. Sharruma is likely a title that became a proper name. In mythology Sharruma was known as the King of the Mountain and was the son of Hurrian gods Teshub and Hebat. So we have established that Sharruma is a proper name or god and not just a place name or title such as "Lady of Sausga" (Shaushka; Hittite equivalent with Ishtar). Judging by what we know of these naming conventions then Hishmi is a verb or adjective. Names which can be found in records also show "Hismi-Teshub" and "Hismi-Kushub" (like the biblical Kehob?). We know that both are of Hurrian origin. Teshub is a god but the meaning of Kushub (Kushuh?) is hard for me to determine.

Luckily I was able to find the name in the "Handbook of Ugaritic Studies" (page 324). Kushuh is actually some sort of long forgotten Hurrian deity which was preserved by the Ugaritic peoples (the moon god YRH). A very obscure god but a god nonetheless. So we can establish based on this small sample that the term Hishmi (also given the transliteration of Heshmi) can be used in conjunction with actual names of gods, a good insight into the grammar. Judging by the PU-Sarruma historical controversy then "PU" could very well be the Luwian version of Hishmi, if PU-Sarruma and Tudhaliya IV were one and the same. This is difficult to discern for the simple reason that when taken together "PU-Sarruma" means "grandfather of the king" according to Emil Forrer. This translation does not make sense for Hishmi, the connotation is not up to par with the grandeur of sacred names. Moreover in Luwian the meaning of the word changes dramatically when a suffix or prefix is added to the word, which is not like the Hurrian language. Another dead end it seems...

It was extremely hard to find Heshmi or Hishmi as a Hurrian translation. After a long time of searching I found something in French. The well known translator Arnaud Fournet had decent Hurrian translations in French, according to him Hishmi might be a Hurrian word meaning "clear/visible (clair)" and equates it with "etre clair". Which means that Hishmi in this connotation means "to be visible" or more appropriately "to make visible". So that Hishmi-Sharruma probably means "Sharruma has made clear" or perhaps "the king (of the mountain) has made clear", whether this is meant literally or metaphorically can be debated but the meaning is more or less there. The god Sharruma has in fact made something visible or clear.
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