History Files


Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Mesopotamia




MapFeatures for Ancient MesopotamiaThe Guti Hordes / Gutium / Gutians

The Gutians were a people of ancient Mesopotamia who lived in the central Zagros Mountain range. Nothing is known about their origins. They may have been an Indo-European-speaking people, possibly related linguistically to Tocharians (who ended up in north-west China) or early Kurds. Its people have been linked by some scholars to the 'Qutils', a group that has also been linked to the Mitanni of the subsequent millennia, and to the modern-day Kurds.

For around a generation they appeared in increasing numbers in Sumer and Akkad as settlers, to the extent that they required the royal appointment of an interpreter in Adab. However, shortly after about 2200 BC they swept down in force into southern and central Mesopotamia, destroying the Akkadian empire and subjugating much of Sumer either directly or indirectly.

The Gutians proved to be very poor rulers of Sumer, being crude administrators, and prosperity declined. They were not at all used to the complexities of civilization and failed to provide proper organisation, particularly in connection with the canal network. This was allowed to sink into disrepair, with famine and death resulting. A short dark age swept over Mesopotamia. The Gutians based themselves near the ruins of Agade, so the cities in the south enjoyed a certain level of freedom, and were able to manage their own affairs to an extent.

FeatureAccording to the Sumerian king list, a total of 21 kings (MS P4+Ha has 23) ruled for 125 years and 40 days (MS P4+Ha has 99 years), once (one dynasty) in the army of Gutium. This is the seventeenth set of entries on the list comprising kings 98-118. Here, List 1 is primarily used, backed up by List 2 and List 3 (see Sumer for details). Dates are calculated back from circa 2120 BC, when the Gutians were ejected, and may not be entirely accurate.

c.2350 BC

The short-lived empire of Lugalannemundu of Adab subjects the Gutians. The latter can only recently have arrived in the Zagros Mountains, possibly the last stage of a migration from the northern coast of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea (if indeed they are Indo-Europeans).

fl c.2300 BC


Ruled in the Gutian mountain homelands.

Sargon of the Akkadian empire campaigns against the Gutian king Sarlak.

c.2220 -2211 BC


Not on the king list. Claimed inheritance of Akkadian titles.

The king list states that after the Gutians seized power from Akkad and the Fourth Dynasty of Uruk in southern Mesopotamia, everyone was his own king for three years (ie, no dominant rule had been established).

c.2216/15 BC

(Nameless king) / (No king was famous)

Ruled for ?/3/5/4 years.

c.2211 BC

Imta / (No data)

Ruled for 3 years.

c.2208 BC

Inkishush / Inkicuc / Inkishu

Ruled for 6/7 years.

c.2202 BC

Sarlagab / Zarlagab / Nikilligab

Ruled for 6 years.

c.2196 BC

Shulme / Culme / Yarlagac

Ruled for 6 years.

c.2193 BC

The Gutians overthrow Elam and sweep through Sumer, effectively destroying the Akkadian empire, and ending Sumerian/Akkadian domination of the region. They also defeat Uruk, carrying off the kingship. Both Sumer and Egypt endure a short dark age at this time. Very little is known about Akkad until around 2100 BC. It is from this point that the Gutian kings are recorded in more detail (although some lists place Shulme after Imta, missing out Inkishush and Sarlagab).

Gutian figurine
A figurine of Gudea of Lagash, who came to prominence in southern Mesopotamia, for the most part outside of direct Gutian rule but still subject to its influence

c.2190 BC

Elulumesh / Silulumec / Silulu

Ruled for 6/7 years.

c.2184 BC

Inimbakesh / Inimabakec / Duga

Ruled for 5/6 years.

c.2179 BC

Igeshaush / Igecauc (or Ilu-an?)

Ruled for 6 (or 3) years.

c.2173 BC

Iarlagab / Yarlagab

Ruled for 15/5 years.

c.2158 BC


Ruled for 3 years.

c.2155 BC

? / Yarla / Yarlangab? / Iarlagash

Ruled for 3 years.

c.2152 BC


Ruled for 1/3 years.

c.2151 BC

? / Apil-kin

Ruled for 3 years.

c.2148 BC

? / La-erabum?

Ruled for 2 years.

c.2146 BC


Ruled for 2 years.

c.2144 BC


Ruled for 1 year.

c.2143 BC


Ruled for 2 years.

c.2141 BC

Puzur-Sin / Puzur-Suen

Son. Ruled for 7 years.

c.2138 BC

The city of Kissura establishes its own kings, possible as a result of weakening Gutian influence in the region.

c.2134 BC

Iarlaganda / Yarlaganda

Ruled for 7 years.

c.2127 BC

(Name unknown)

Ruled for 7 years.

c.2120 BC

? / Tiriga / Tirigan

Ruled for 40 days.

c.2120 BC

Utuhegal, king of Erech (Uruk) throws out the Gutians once and for all, claiming the kingship. They retreat back to the mountains.

Zagros Mountains
The Zagros Mountain range provided the Gutians with their home, as it did the later Medes and Persians

c.1764 BC

A major invasion of southern Mesopotamia by a coalition army of Elamites, Assyrians, Gutians and Eshnunnians is defeated and crushed. The region sinks into historical obscurity for many centuries, but later provides a home to new arrivals such as the Mannaeans, Medes, and Persians. During the seventh century BC, it is conquered by the Cimmerians, who are acclaimed by Assyria as rulers of 'Qutium'.