The Amorites

A Political History of Mesopotamia in the Early Second Millennium BCE


This study of the political history of Mesopotamia – today’s Iraq and Syria – in the Old Babylonian period (ca. 2000-1600 BCE) is the first comprehensive historical synthesis of this kind published in English after many decades. Based on numerous written sources in Sumerian and Akkadian – royal inscriptions, letters, law collections, economic records, etc. – and on up-to-date research, it presents the region’s political history in a meticulous geographic and chronological manner. This allows the interested academic and non-academic reader an in-depth view into the scene of ancient Mesopotamia ruled by competing dynasties of West Semitic (Amorite) origin, with a complex web of political and tribal connections between them.

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Nathan Wasserman, PhD (1993), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is a Professor of Assyriology at the same university. He specializes in the Old Babylonian period, especially in literary and magical texts, and is the author of numerous articles and several books on these subjects. His latest book, authored jointly with Elyze Zomer, is Akkadian Magic Literature: Old Babylonian and Old Assyrian Incantations (Harrassowitz, 2022).

Yigal Bloch, PhD (2013), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is a curator at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem. He has published several dozen articles in the fields of Assyriology and biblical studies. He is the author of Alphabet Scribes in the Land of Cuneiform: Sēpiru Professionals in Mesopotamia in the Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid Periods (Gorgias Press, 2018).
List of Illustrations and Maps

Part 1: The Historical Arena

1 The Geographical Setting

2 Nomads and Sedentary Peoples
 1 Urban Dwellers and the People of the Steppe
 2 Forefathers and Nomadic Groups: The Ḫana, the Simʾalites, and the Yaminites
 3 The Amorite Origins of Samsī-Addu’s Dynasty and the Assyrian King List
 4 The Amorite Descent of Ḫammurāpi’s Dynasty
 5 Amorite Populations in Southern Mesopotamia
 6 Amorite Tribes as an Example of Enclosed Nomadism
 7 The Amorite Tribal System as Reflected in the Mari Documents
 8 Major Institutions and Customs among the Amorite Tribes

3 Ethnic Identities in Mesopotamia in the Early Second Millennium BCE
 1 Nation, Ethnic Group, and Ethnic Category
 2 The Amorites as Foreigners in Mesopotamian Cities and Their Self-Perceived Identity
 3 Change of Tribal Affiliation as a Political Decision
 4 Covenant Terminology and Its Meaning for Tribal Links
 5 Language as a Vehicle of Ethnic Distinction
 6 The Multiple Faces of Ethnic Identity

4 The Age of the Amorite Dynasties and the Periodization of Mesopotamian History: Some Basic Observations
 1 Periodization of Mesopotamian History according to the Astronomical Treatise

5 The Chronological Framework of the Amorite Dynasties
 1 Relative and Absolute Chronology, Synchronisms, and Astronomical Anchors
 2 The Assyrian King List as a Chronological Source
 3 The Kaneš Eponym List and the Relative Chronology of Assyria
 4 Year Names in Southern Mesopotamia and the Kings of the First Dynasty of Babylon
 5 Mari: A Kingdom with Two Systems of Year-Reckoning
 6 The Sumerian King List
 7 From Relative to Absolute Chronology: The Venus Tablets of Ammī-ṣadūqa and the Solar Eclipse in the Mari Eponym Chronicle
 8 Dendrochronology: Tree-Rings as a Chronological Tool

Part 2: Cities, Dynasties, and Kings: Political History

6 The Kingdom of Isin
 1 Chronology of the Kings of Isin
 2 The Isin Dynasty from Išbi-Erra to Lipit-Ištar
 3 A New Royal Line in Isin: Ur-Ninurta and His Descendants
 4 Isin’s Struggle against Its Neighbors: Erra-imittī, Enlil-bāni, and Their Successors
 5 The End of Isin
 6 Another Successor to the Empire of Ur: The Kingdom of Simurrum

7 The Kingdom of Larsa
 1 The Isin-Larsa Period and the Chronology of the Kings of Larsa
 2 The Early Kings
 3 The Dynasty of Nūr-Adad
 4 The Dynasty of Kudur-Mabuk
 5 The Babylonian Conquest of Larsa
 6 Larsa’s Revolt against Babylon

8 The Kingdom of Uruk
 1 The Early Kings of Uruk
 2 The Sîn-kāšid Dynasty
 3 Uruk at the Time of the South Mesopotamian Revolt against Babylon

9 The Kingdom of Ešnunna
 1 Between Ur, Isin, Elam, and the Amorites: The Beginnings of Ešnunna
 2 Ešnunna on the Rise: The Dynasty of Ibāl-pī-El I
 3 Ešnunna at Its Apex: The Reigns of Dāduša and Ibāl-pī-El II
 4 The Babylonian Conquest of Ešnunna
 5 Ešnunna’s Final Attempts to Regain Independence

10 The Kingdom of Malgium
 1 The Early Kings of Malgium
 2 A Period of Political Upheavals
 3 The End of Malgium

11 The Kingdom of Aššur
 1 Aššur as a City-State
 2 The Rulers of Aššur at Its Apex as a Center of Commerce
 3 The Assyrian Trade with Anatolia
 4 The Crisis of the Assyrian Trade and Its Recovery
 5 The Conquest of Aššur by Samsī-Addu

12 The Kingdom of Samsī-Addu
 1 Samsī-Addu’s Family Origins
 2 The Early Years of Samsī-Addu: The Escape to Babylon and the Conquest of Ekallātum, Aššur, and Mari
 3 The Kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia
 4 The Reign of Išme-Dagān I

13 The Kingdom of Mari
 1 The Beginnings of Mari
 2 The Early Rulers of the Amorite Dynasty in Mari
 3 The Reign of Zimrī-Līm
 4 The Babylonian Conquest of Mari
 5 Mari’s Successor: The Kingdom of Ḫana

14 The Kingdom of Yamḫad
 1 The Beginnings of the Amorite Dynasty of Yamḫad
 2 Yamḫad as an Ally of Mari: The Reigns of Yarīm-Līm I and Ḫammurāpi I
 3 Yamḫad from the Death of Ḫammurāpi I to the Hittite Conquest

15 The Kingdom of Qaṭna
 1 Archaeological Discoveries at Qaṭna
 2 The Dynasty of Išḫī-Addu
 3 Qaṭna on the Eve of the Hittite Conquest of Northern Syria

16 The Kingdom of Babylon
 1 Chronology of the Kings of Babylon
 2 The Beginnings of the Kingdom
 3 Babylon at Its Peak: The Reign of Ḫammurāpi
 4 Babylon at the Time of Samsu-ilūna
 5 The Late Kings of the Amorite Dynasty of Babylon

Concluding Remarks: Instead of an Epilogue
The book is intended for readers interested in the history of the ancient Near East, including graduate and post-graduate students, academic institutions and libraries.
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