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With the dawning of the twentieth century, a long forgotten culture has been rediscovered in the Anatolian Highlands of Asia Minor. This ancient civilization, Urartu (pronounced oo-rar'-too), which was centered about Lake Van, flourished from the ninth to the sixth century B.C., extending from Lake Urmia in the east to North Syria in the west. During its three hundred years of existence, the Urartian Empire was a formidable power. Later, it was vanquished and disappeared from the memory of man.
Distinguished predecessors revealed
The land occupied by the Urartians has played a prominent part in the agelong universe ministry to and on our planet reported in The URANTIA Book. The pendulum of world destiny turned in that direction long before the recall of modern man.
It was two hundred thousand years ago when Van, an ascendant (rematerialized) volunteer to Urantia, listened to Caligastia, his superior and the celestial ruler of our planet, announce a plan to reject the Paradise rule of the Father and the Creator Son (1). Van, who had labored in Caligastia's headquarters city of Dalamatia for three hundred thousand years under the plan for world advancement, denounced the rebels vigorously. With Amadon, his modified Andonite associate, he gathered a small band of loyalists and withdrew to a nearby unwalled settlement. Loyal seraphim, cherubim, midway creatures, life carriers, ascendant corporeal volunteers, modified Andonites, and others each turned from the authority of the Planetary Prince and the tasks of three hundred thousand years to choose the truth of the primacy of the Universal Father over the easy habits of obedience (2).
Though darkness and death reigned outside the settlement, loyal midway sentries were ever vigilant. Van and Amadon had the priceless tree of life, appropriated by loyal cherbim, seraphim, and midway creatures at the outbreak of the rebellion (3). By partaking of the fruit and leaves of this tree, within which circulated superhuman energies, these two beings, whose bodies contained the organic complement of the system life circuits, were able to live on indefinitely (4). Those of their loyal material and semimaterial comrades whose bodies were similarly constituted were also thus able to lead an immortal existence. Their disloyal counterparts in Dalamatia, however, finding themselves shut off from this life ministry, were faced with certain mortal death and dissolution (5).
The outbreak of rebellion had thrown the interplanetary circuits silent by quarantine (6). For seven anxious years, the loyalists waited to learn of their status with the universe authorities. At last a messenger came, with news vindicating their actions in defying the Prince. Turning finally and forever from the former city of promise as it lay (possibly) at the (then) mouth of the Persian Gulf, the group traveled across the expanse of the Mesopotamian plain to the abrupt wall of the bordering highlands. Leaving behind the dust of Mesopotamia, they entered the highlands--and a rendezvous with destiny (7).
Soon after this relocation, all of Van and Amadon's loyal material and semimaterial associates of immortality status were translated from Urantia to system headquarters (8), and Van was invested as titular head of all superhuman personalities on Urantia (9). From these secluded heights, within one thousand years, Van and Amadon established three hundred and fifty settlements of people loyal to the plan of mortal progression and universe cooperation (10). This network stretched from Lake Van eastward to the region of the southern Caspian Sea (11) and on to the foothills of the Kopet Dagh, in Turkestan, which we are led in The URANTIA Book to believe was the eastern terminus of the Vannic network and also the primary headquarters of Van and Amadon (12).
For one hundred and fifty thousand years, Van and Amadon led the highland descendants of their original human followers in laboring for the uplift of the world (13). For untold generations, legends grew about these two immortal ministers of God who continued to live and work among men. Gradually, Van and Amadon came to be viewed as divine or near-divine personages and were woven into the spreading traditions, superstitions, and religions of mankind (14).
After the dispatch of a material son and daughter to Urantia had been approved on high, Van and Amadon led their followers in preparing a garden site for the couple (15). Thirty-seven thousand years ago, Adam and Eve arrived and took up the administration of Urantia. Van and Amadon had transplanted the tree of life to the Garden of Eden for the use of the Adamic couple. Shortly after Adam and Eve arrived, Van and Amadon returned to system headquarters, after nearly half a million years of ministering on this small and needy world, leaving behind them a truly living legacy (16).
A land forgotten by history
The earliest recorded mention of Urartu is in ancient Assyrian inscriptions of the thirteenth century B.C., a time before Urartu had become consolidated as a state. At that time, the Assyrians applied the term Uruartri to the loose groupings of people in the region where Urartu was later to appear. The Assyrians also referred to these peoples as the Nairi (17). (Could this be connected with the Nerites referred to in The URANTIA Book?) (18).
In the year 860 B.C., the Urartian kingdom was formed under its first king, Aramu, and the Assyrians began referring to the new nation as Urartu (19). The Urartians, however, referred to their country as the land of Biaini. Scholars somehow derive the word Van, as in Lake Van (and perhaps nearby Lake Sevan), from the word Biaini and sometimes refer to Urartu as the Kingdom of Van (20).
The Urartians were overthrown in 590 B.C. by the Medes and some others formerly held subject by the Urartians. After the destruction of Urartu, a strange thing happened: Other empires have disappeared from the scene of human affairs and lived on in history: the Assyrians, for example; but the vanished civilization of Urartu was completely forgotten. Its great successes were ascribed to its enemies. Its name was lost to the world except for certain Assyrian inscriptions, which constituted a puzzle to later historians.
The ancient Hebrews knew the Urartians and had dealings with them, but the Old Testament mistakenly refers to them by a distorted name. Similarly, the name of a mountain vital to the Hebrew tradition has been distorted through the corruption of the name of Urartu. Professor Boris Petrovskii, a researcher into the Urartian Kingdom, writes of the Hebrew corruption of the name Urartu as follows:
"The name was preserved in the Old Testament in the corrupt form 'Ararat,' which in the Latin version became 'Armenia.' When the Massoretic writers were vocalising the text of the Bible they inserted the vowel a into words which were unknown to them, so that 'Urartu' became 'Ararat'; and it is only within very recent years that the Qumran scrolls have yielded a form of the name with the semi-vowel w in the first syllable (21)."
Two Old Testament references to Urartians are described by Professor Petrovskii as follows:
"A passage in the Book of Jeremia dated to the fourth year of the reign of King Zedekiah (i.e., 594 B.C.) talks of calling together against Babylon the Medes, the Urartians ('Ararat'), the Mannaeans ('Minni') and the Scythians ('Aschenaz') (22)."
"The Old Testament preserves a recollection ... that Sennocherib's sons, having killed their father, fled to Urartu (the 'land of Ararat' or 'land of Armenia') (23)."
Today, almost any Bible atlas includes Urartu on its maps of the ancient world and explains that Ararat in the Bible really refers to Urartu.
Professor Seton Lloyd, another researcher into Urartu, has this to say about the ancient civilization:
"Urartu is now being presented to us as a nation--and in its time a very great nation-whose history and even identity seem to have been completely expunged from the records of human memory for two-and-a-half thousand years. Yet today, everything about it--its racial characteristics, political and economic history and its art--constitute it one of the most intriguing problems in Near Eastern Archaeology (24)."
The Urartian Culture
It is generally agreed that the Urartians arose from the Hurrians and employed a language similar to Hurrian. These mountaineers built great fortresses on overlooks throughout the highlands of Urartu. Their kingdom supported huge building programs. Palace remains show evidence of economic might. Much of their art has been recovered, particularly works in bronze. The art of Urartu contains abundant depictions referring to the Cult of the Tree--images of sacred trees guarded by seraphim and genii and sometimes attended by a king or kings.
This persistent portrayal of the tree of life with its guarding celestial beings pervaded the Urartian culture. For generations, personal seals imprinted the sacred tree on correspondence carried throughout the empire (25). Rulers and administrators sipped wine from bronze cups stamped with the emblem of the tree (26). Urartian warriors carried the symbol of the sacred tree to battle on bronze belts (27) and pointed helmets (28). Carved stones displayed the sacred tree throughout the land (29). Colorful wall paintings (30) and carved columns (31) in palaces and other buildings repeated the recurring theme.
The Urartians were formidable in war. The Assyrians mounted attacks on Urartian fortresses, but there were periods when they were careful to cultivate the good will of these mountain dwellers. In 714 B.C., for example, Sargon, at the head of his Assyrian army, sacked some Urartian strongholds; but in 654 B.C., the later Assyrian king Ashurbanipal, at the celebration of his victory over King Teuman of Elam and capture of Susa, received emissaries from Urartu's King Rusa. According to Assyrian annals recording the event,
"Rusa, king of Urartu, heard of the mightiness of my gods and was overcome by terror at my majesty. Then he sent his princes to Arbela to bring me greetings (32)."
In 590 B.C., Urartu was sacked and burned. Only hulks remained. The dust and winds of time did their work. It was not until about a hundred years ago that researchers began to connect the ruins throughout the Anatolian highlands with the vague references to Urartu in the Assyrian records; it had previously been believed that they were Assyrian (33). Not until 1936 was the first systematic excavation of a major Urartian fortress begun (34).
After the disappearance of Urartu as a political entity, the Armenians dominated the ancient highlands, absorbing portions of the previous Urartian culture in the process. More recently the Armenians, like their Urartian predecessors, have met tragic and depopulating devastations in these ancestral homelands. The hand of fate seems not yet to have completed its drama of violent readjustment in the Anatolian highlands.
A casual reading of The URANTIA Book might give the impression that Van's headquarters were primarily in the Lake Van area (35). A more detailed analysis and comparison of statements in The URANTIA Book indicates, however, that Van's principal headquarters were in the foothills south of the Kopet Dagh, where Adamson subsequently settled (36). In this connection, The URANTIA Book explains that the Vanites (early followers of Van) and their descendants later settled about the shores of Lake Van and their subsequent traditions developed around this area (37).
It would be interesting to speculate on the racial makeup of the early followers of Van and their relatiionship to the better known peoples of today: the Armenians, for example. This is a subject for another study. We know that the human followers of Van and Amadon who subsequently reproduced--the non-immortal individuals--were of the Andonite race, as were their modified human followers, none of whom reproduced. We also know that the ascendant corporeal volunteers resembled their modified associates, at least in skin color (38). The bodies of these rematerialized volunteers were of the same order as the body of later-appearing Machiventa Melchizedek, who was similarly supplied with a fabricated body for special planetary service; in personal appearance, Machiventa Melchizedek resembled the people around him, but he possessed a commanding presence (39). The early Andonites, half a million years before Van and Amadon, somewhat resembled present-day eskimos both in general appearance and skin color (40). We do not know how much change occurred in the Andonic race during the intervening one-half million years before the times of Van and Amadon. The Nodites, being descendants of the modified Andonites, underwent some changes because of artificially encountered mutations (41), but might have kept a skin color similar to that of the Andonites. The later-appearing Adamsonites in the Turkestani locale previously inhabited by Van and Amadon were the ancestors of the early greeks (42).
Events of vast significance have occurred in that small area of the world, ringing down their consequences through the ages. Perhaps some day we shall know more about this subject. One thing is becoming increasingly clear: The modern revelation contained in The URANTIA Book is not merely a theoretical article of belief to be sheltered from all links with external reality. Even the word Urantia, which we URANTIA Book readers know as the name of our planet, is not, it now seems, new to this world (a possibility that brings a comforting sense of continuity with the past): the similarity between Urantian and Urartian is too close--the ubiquity of the Ur prefix too universal. Perhaps someday scholars will find a new inscription or discover a new language fact and show that the exact term Urantia has been in widespread use on our world for ages upon ages.
The word Urantia, the revealed universe name of our planet, was known to Van. Derivatives of this word have abounded in the area where Van dwelt, working their way into the languages and traditions of men since time immemorial. Some are obvious, while others are speculative: Urartu--Ur--King Ursa--Ural Mountains. Perhaps it is wrong to look to ancient definitions of the word Ur and its derivatives to find clues to the significance of the name Urantia. Perhaps, as a revealed name, this word has given all human languages their variously and imperfectly perceived interpretations of the true universe meaning of the prefix Ur.
It might seem strange that the Urartians referred to themselves as Biaini and not Urartians, but one hundred and fifty thousand years of fraternizing with an immortal, yet visible, being seems a valid experience to celebrate in one's racial and cultural name. It might also seem strange that it was the Assyrians who used the word Urartu. But The URANTIA Book, a masterpiece of correlation, has answers for many questions as they arise, even those hardly humanly foreseeable at the time of its writing. A small phrase among the more than one million superb words in this book simply informs us that the early Vanites were the ancestors of the Assyrians (43).
URANTIA Foundation, The URANTIA Book, publ. by URANTIA Foundation, Chicago, IL, 1955
B.B. Piotrovskii, Urartu--The Kingdom of Van and its Art, Frederick A. Praeger, New York, NY 1967
Boris B. Piotrovsky, The Ancient Civilization of Urartu, Cowles Book Co., Inc., New York, NY, 1969
Seton Lloyd, Early Highland Peoples of Analolia, Mcgraw-Hill, New York, NY, 1967
1. UB, 67:2.1-67:2.6
2. UB, 67:3.2-67:3.2; 67:6.5
3. UB, 67:3.4-67:3.5
4. UB, 66:4.12-66:4.16; 73:6.4
5. UB, 67:4.4
6. UB, 67:2.3; 67:2.6-67:3.1; 67:3.6-67:3.7
7. UB, 67:6.1
8. UB, 67:6.2-67:6.3
9. UB, 67:6.4
10. UB, 67:6.6
11. UB, 77:4.4; 77:5.2; 77:5.5; 77:5.10; 78:1.3
12. UB, 77:4.4; 77:5.2; 77:2.5; 77:4.13; 77:5.9-77:5.10; 73:1.6;
13. UB, 67:6.1-67:6.4
14. UB, 77:4.10-77:4.11; 74:4.3
15. UB, 73:0.1-73:5.8
16. UB, 73:6.1-73:6.8; 74:5.2; 67:6.8
17. Piotrovsky, pp 43-45; 50-51 Piotrovskii, p. 1
18. UB, 78:8.11
19. Piotrovsky, pp 50-51
20. Piotrovskii, p. 5; Piotrovsky, pp 50-51
21. Piotrovsky, p. 13
22. Piotrovsky, p. 198
23. Piotrovsky, p. 128
24. Lloyd, p. 122
25. Piotrovskii, pp 72, 74; Piotrovsky, pp 127,157
26. Piotrovsky, p. 153
27. Piotrovskii, pp 48, 49, 50; Piotrovsky, p. 177
28. Piotrovskii, p. 46; Piotrovsky, p. 160
29. Piotrovskii, pp 66, 69, 64
30. Piotrovskii, pp 78-79; Piotrovsky, p. 70; Lloyd, p. 120
31. Piotrovsky, p. 132
32. Piotrovsky, pp 133-134
33. Piotrovsky, p. 13
34. Lloyd, p. 113
35. UB, 77:4.11
36. UB, 77:5.2; 77:5.5; 77:4.13; 77:5.9-77:5.10; 73:1.6; 67:6.1; 67:6.3
37. UB, 77:4.10-77:4.11; 77:4.13
38. UB, 66:4.7
39. UB, 66:2.5; 93:2.5
40. UB, 63:4.1
41. UB, 77:2.4-77:2.12
42. UB, 80:7.3-80:7.4
43. UB, 77:4.11
© 1982 Troy R. Bishop