The Man who Assyria Feared: Demon Gallu and King of the Universe

The Man who Assyria Feared: Demon Gallu and King of the Universe

In 660 BCE, mighty Assyria was about to be shaken. A Scythian named Dugdammi united many nomadic tribes into a confederation. This nomadic confederation pushed at the borders of Assyria which so frightened King Ashurbanipal that they felt Assyria had finally met its equal. 

Origins of a Mystery Man

The origin of Dugdammi (or Lygdamis) is rather vague according to most historians, but we will try to discover the facts. His name in classical Greek was Lygdamis; in Assyrian it was either Dugdammi or Tugdammi. He was either a Cimmerian or Scythian, since the names are interchangeable and are practically the same.

His story begins around 660 BCE. It seems that the first known attacks from Dugdammi were against Greek coastal cities such as Sardis of Lydia. Afterward, he pushed at the Assyrian empire around 652 BCE. Because of this external pressure, Assyria was drawn into another war against Urartu and Dugdammi's forces. Ashurbanipal mentioned Dugdammi in his annals as “King of the Sakai and Qutu.” The term Sakai (Scythians) was used primarily by Western Iranians to indicate those who spoke in the Iranian vernacular.

Ashurbanipal. The Royal lion hunt reliefs from the Assyrian palace at Nineveh, about 645-635 BC.


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