History Files
 

 

Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia

 

 

 

MapKaskans / Gasga (Kashku)

Living on the south coast of the Black Sea, to the north of the Hittites, the Bronze Age Kaskans (or Gasga) were in existence as a recognisable people by the eighteenth century BC, although they never formed a unified state. Instead, they may have moved into territory which had been abandoned by the former inhabitants of Zalpa. They may also have been nudged a little further eastwards to keep Zapla as their western border by the arrival of Luwian speakers in what became Paphlagonia. From the fifteenth century BC onwards, the Kaskans continually threatened their immediate neighbours to the south, the Hittites, attacking and sometimes sacking the Hittite capital at Hattusa. In return the Hittites portrayed them as aggressive and wild tribesmen and continually campaigned against them.

The non-Indo-European Kaskans were generally pig farmers and linen weavers while they weren't fighting. Their neighbours to the west were the Indo-European Pala, whom they may have displaced. The Pala were replaced (or absorbed) by the Phrygians in the late thirteenth century BC. The Georgian kingdom of Colchis lay to the east.

c.1430 BC

The Kaskans had previously moved into the ruins of the Hittite holy city of Nerik. Tudhaliya II (I) conducts his third campaign against them, apparently unsuccessfully as his successor has to offer a prayer to the gods for the city to be returned. The cities of Kammama and Zalpa are also under Kaskan control.

c.1400 BC

The Hittite king, Arnuwanda, has serious problems with the Kaskans, with many northern territories falling into their hands, including the cult centre of Nerik.

c.1375 BC

The Kaskans suffer the loss of their grain to locusts so, in search of food, they join up with Hayasa-Azzi and Ishuwa, as well as other Hittite enemies. They burn down the Hittite fort of Masat, as well as the capital, Hattusa (although the event is shrouded in mystery), and possibly the secondary capital at Sapinuwa. The Kaskans make Nenassa their frontier.

c.1370 BC

Before seizing the throne, the Hittite king, Suppiluliuma pushes back the Kaskan invasion and invades Hayasa-Azzi. Twelve tribes of Kaskans unite under Piyapili and attempt to support their recent allies, but are defeated.

fl c.1370 BC

Piyapili

Temporary leader of twelve tribes.

c.1350 BC

The reputation of the Kaskans has reached as far south as Egypt. In the Amarna letters, the pharaoh requests that the king of Arzawa sends some of the Kaskan people of whom the pharaoh has heard. For periods around this time, relations with the Hittites are sometimes friendly, although the frontier commanders are constantly engaged in hostilities.

Southern coast of the Black Sea
The southern coast of the Black Sea is a dramatic and mountainous territory, and it is here that the hard-fighting Kaskans emerged

c.1333 BC

The old Hittite general Hannutti marches from the Lower Land upon the Kaskan frontier town of Ishupitta. Unfortunately, the regional plague which has already killed Hittite king Suppiluliuma, claims his son, Arnuwanda II and the general too. Kaskan client kings Pazzannas and Nunnutas take over Ishupitta.

fl c.1333 BC

Pazzannas

fl c.1333 BC

Nunnutas

c.1326 BC

The Hittite king, Mursili II, attacks the Kaskans for their rebellion. The Kaskans unite under Pihhuniya and advance as far as Zazzissa, but Mursili defeats them and captures Ishupitta and then Pihhuniya behind it. Pazzannas and Nunnutas flee to Arzawa where the king refuses to hand them over. They resurface in the Kaskan lands to lead a fresh rebellion, so Mursili chases them out of Palhuissa into Kammama where the locals put the two fugitives to death.

fl c.1326 BC

Pihhuniya

Kaskan leader from Tipiya.

c.1310 BC

For a while clients of the Hittites, rebellious Kaskan elements take over Ishupitta, before it is re-taken by Mursili II.

c.1300 BC

The Kaskans attack and sack the Hittite capital of Hattusa. Whether this is the reason for the Hittites moving their capital south to Tarhuntassa or a result of it is unclear. The future Hattusili III, in charge of the northern areas of the kingdom, reconquers Hattusa and the cult centre of Nerik, lost many years before.

c.1200 BC

Decaying from late in the thirteenth century BC, the Hittite empire, and probably Tarhuntassa, are looted and destroyed by various surrounding peoples, including the Kaskans and Sea Peoples. The Kaskans themselves now disappear from the historical record and Luwian-speaking Paphlagonia emerges in the western half of the territory, with the Halizones perhaps being one of the many groups in that region.

Following the subsequent dark age, the Armenians occupy eastern Anatolia by the eighth century BC, although the region is often overrun by barbarian peoples such as the Cimmerians. In the Classical period Pontus is located in the eastern half of the former Kaskan territory.