Sunday, July 31, 2011

Amorite Giants in Babylon


Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, by Donald A. Mackenzie


Chapter XI. The Golden Age of Babylonia

Abstract
Rise of the Sun God--Amorites and Elamites struggle for Ascendancy--The Conquering Ancestors of Hammurabi--Sumerian Cities Destroyed--Widespread Race Movements--Phoenician Migration from Persian Gulf--Wanderings of Abraham and Lot--Biblical References to Hittites and Amorites--Battles of Four Kings with Five--Amraphel, Arioch, and Tidal--Hammurabi's Brilliant Reign--Elamite Power Stamped Out--Babylon's Great General and Statesman--The Growth of Commerce, Agriculture, and Education--An Ancient School--Business and Private Correspondence--A Love Letter--Postal System--Hammurabi's Successors--The Earliest Kassites--The Sealand Dynasty--Hittite Raid on Babylon and Hyksos Invasion of Egypt.
      Sun worship came into prominence in its most fully developed form during the obscure period which followed the decline of the Dynasty of Isin. This was probably due to the changed political conditions which brought about the ascendancy for a time of Larsa, the seat of the Sumerian sun cult, and of Sippar, the seat of the Akkadian sun cult. Larsa was selected as the capital of the Elamite conquerors, while their rivals, the Amorites, appear to have first established their power at Sippar.
Babbar, the sun god of Sippar, whose Semitic name was Shamash, must have been credited with the early successes of the Amorites, who became domiciled under his care, and it was possibly on that account that the ruling family subsequently devoted so much attention to his worship in Merodach's city of Babylon, where a sun temple was erected, and Shamash received devout recognition as an abstract deity of righteousness and law, who reflected the ideals of well organized and firmly governed communities.
      The first Amoritic king was Sumu-abum, but little is known regarding him except that he reigned at Sippar. He was succeeded by Sumu-la-ilu, a deified monarch, who moved from Sippar to Babylon, the great wall of which he either repaired or entirely reconstructed in his fifth year. With these two monarchs began the brilliant Hammurabi, or First Dynasty of Babylonia, which endured for three centuries. Except Sumu-abum, who seems to stand alone, all its kings belonged to the same family, and son succeeded father in unbroken succession.
     Sumu-la-ilu was evidently a great general and conqueror of the type of Thothmes III of Egypt. His empire, it is believed, included the rising city states of Assyria, and extended southward as far as ancient Lagash.
        Of special interest on religious as well as political grounds was his association with Kish. That city had become the stronghold of a rival family of Amoritic kings, some of whom were powerful enough to assert their independence. They formed the Third Dynasty of Kish. The local god was Zamama, the Tammuz-like deity, who, like Nin-Girsu of Lagash, was subsequently identified with Merodach of Babylon. But prominence was also given to the moon god Nannar, to whom a temple had been erected, a fact which suggests that sun worship was not more pronounced among the Semites than the Arabians, and may not, indeed, have been of Semitic origin at all. Perhaps the lunar temple was a relic of the influential Dynasty of Ur.
     Sumu-la-ilu attacked and captured Kish, but did not slay Bunutakhtunila, its king, who became his vassal. Under the overlordship of Sumu-la-ilu, the next ruler of Kish, whose name was Immerum, gave prominence to the public worship of Shamash. Politics and religion went evidently hand in hand.
Sumu-la-ilu strengthened the defences of Sippar, restored the wall and temple of Cuthah, and promoted the worship of Merodach and his consort Zerpanitum at Babylon. He was undoubtedly one of the forceful personalities of his dynasty. His son, Zabium, had a short but successful reign, and appears to have continued the policy of his father in consolidating the power of Babylon and securing the allegiance of subject cities. He enlarged Merodach's temple, E-sagila, restored the Kish temple of Zamama, and placed a golden image of himself in the temple of the sun god at Sippar. Apil-Sin, his son, surrounded Babylon with a new wall, erected a temple to Ishtar, and presented a throne of gold and silver to Shamash in that city, while he also strengthened Borsippa, renewed Nergal's temple at Cuthah, and dug canals.
     The next monarch was Sin-muballit, son of Apil-Sin and father of Hammurabi. He engaged himself in extending and strengthening the area controlled by Babylon by building city fortifications and improving the irrigation system. It is recorded that he honoured Shamash with the gift of a shrine and a golden altar adorned with jewels. Like Sumu-la-ilu, he was a great battle lord, and was specially concerned in challenging the supremacy of Elam in Sumeria and in the western land of the Amorites.
For a brief period a great conqueror, named Rim-Anum, had established an empire which extended from Kish to Larsa, but little is known regarding him. Then several kings flourished at Larsa who claimed to have ruled over Ur. The first monarch with an Elamite name who became connected with Larsa was Kudur-Mabug, son of Shimti-Shilkhak, the father of Warad-Sin and Rim-Sin.
It was from one of these Elamite monarchs that Sin-muballit captured Isin, and probably the Elamites were also the leaders of the army of Ur which he had routed before that event took place. He was not successful, however, in driving the Elamites from the land, and possibly he arranged with them a treaty of peace or perhaps of alliance.
     Much controversy has been waged over the historical problems connected with this disturbed age. The records are exceedingly scanty, because the kings were not in the habit of commemorating battles which proved disastrous to them, and their fragmentary references to successes are not sufficient to indicate what permanent results accrued from their various campaigns. All we know for certain is that for a considerable period, extending perhaps over a century, a tremendous and disastrous struggle was waged at intervals, which desolated middle Babylonia. At least five great cities were destroyed by fire, as is testified by the evidence accumulated by excavators. These were Lagash, Umma, Shurruppak, Kisurra, and Adab. The ancient metropolis of Lagash, whose glory had been revived by Gudea and his kinsmen, fell soon after the rise of Larsa, and lay in ruins until the second century B.C., when, during the Seleucid Period, it was again occupied for a time. From its mound at Tello, and the buried ruins of the other cities, most of the relics of ancient Sumerian civilization have been recovered.
      It was probably during one of the intervals of this stormy period that the rival kings in Babylonia joined forces against a common enemy and invaded the Western Land. Probably there was much unrest there. Great ethnic disturbances were in progress which were changing the political complexion of Western Asia. In addition to the outpourings of Arabian peoples into Palestine and Syria, which propelled other tribes to invade Mesopotamia, northern Babylonia, and Assyria, there was also much unrest all over the wide area to north and west of Elam. Indeed, the Elamite migration into southern Babylonia may not have been unconnected with the southward drift of roving bands from Media and the Iranian plateau.
      It is believed that these migrations were primarily due to changing climatic conditions, a prolonged "Dry Cycle" having caused a shortage of herbage, with the result that pastoral peoples were compelled to go farther and farther afield in quest of "fresh woods and pastures new". Innumerable currents and cross currents were set in motion once these race movements swept towards settled districts either to flood them with human waves, or surround them like islands in the midst of tempest-lashed seas, fretting the frontiers with restless fury, and ever groping for an inlet through which to flow with irresistible force.
     The Elamite occupation of Southern Babylonia appears to have propelled migrations of not inconsiderable numbers of its inhabitants. No doubt the various sections moved towards districts which were suitable for their habits of life. Agriculturists, for instance, must have shown preference for those areas which were capable of agricultural development, while pastoral folks sought grassy steppes and valleys, and seafarers the shores of alien seas.
     Northern Babylonia and Assyria probably attracted the tillers of the soil. But the movements of seafarers must have followed a different route. It is possible that about this time the Phoenicians began to migrate towards the "Upper Sea". According to their own traditions their racial cradle was on the northern shore of the Persian Gulf. So far as we know, they first made their appearance on the Mediterranean coast about 2000 B.C., where they subsequently entered into competition as sea traders with the mariners of ancient Crete. Apparently the pastoral nomads pressed northward through Mesopotamia and towards Canaan. As much is suggested by the Biblical narrative which deals with the wanderings of Terah, Abraham, and Lot. Taking with them their "flocks and herds and tents", and accompanied by wives, and families, and servants, they migrated, it is stated, from the Sumerian city of Ur northwards to Haran "and dwelt there". After Terah's death the tribe wandered through Canaan and kept moving southward, unable, it would seem, to settle permanently in any particular district. At length "there was a famine in the land"--an interesting reference to the "Dry Cycle"--and the wanderers found it necessary to take refuge for a time in Egypt. There they appear to have prospered. Indeed, so greatly did their flocks and herds increase that when they returned to Canaan they found that "the land was not able to bear them", although the conditions had improved somewhat during the interval. "There was", as a result, "strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle."
     It is evident that the area which these pastoral flocks were allowed to occupy must have been strictly circumscribed, for more than once it is stated significantly that "the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled in the land". The two kinsmen found it necessary, therefore, to part company. Lot elected to go towards Sodom in the plain of Jordan, and Abraham then moved towards the plain of Mamre, the Amorite, in the Hebron district.[272]With Mamre, and his brothers, Eshcol and Aner, the Hebrew patriarch formed a confederacy for mutual protection.[273]
      Other tribes which were in Palestine at this period included the Horites, the Rephaims, the Zuzims, the Zamzummims, and the Emims. These were probably representatives of the older stocks. Like the Amorites, the Hittites or "children of Heth" were evidently "late comers", and conquerors. When Abraham purchased the burial cave at Hebron, the landowner with whom he had to deal was one Ephron, son of Zohar, the Hittite.[274]This illuminating statement agrees with what we know regarding Hittite expansion about 2000 B.C. The "Hatti" or "Khatti" had constituted military aristocracies throughout Syria and extended their influence by forming alliances. Many of their settlers were owners of estates, and traders who intermarried with the indigenous peoples and the Arabian invaders. As has been indicated (Chapter I), the large-nosed Armenoid section of the Hittite confederacy appear to have contributed to the racial blend known vaguely as the Semitic. Probably the particular group of Amorites with whom Abraham became associated had those pronounced Armenoid traits which can still be traced in representatives of the Hebrew people. Of special interest in this connection is Ezekiel's declaration regarding the ethnics of Jerusalem: "Thy birth and thy nativity", he said, "is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite."[275]
It was during Abraham's residence in Hebron that the Western Land was raided by a confederacy of Babylonian and Elamite battle lords. The Biblical narrative which deals with this episode is of particular interest and has long engaged the attention of European scholars:
      "And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel (Hammurabi) king of Shinar (Sumer), Arioch (Eri-aku or Warad-Sin) king of Ellasar (Larsa), Chedor-laomer (Kudur-Mabug) king of Elam, and Tidal (Tudhula) king of nations; that these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedor-laomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled."[276] Apparently the Elamites had conquered part of Syria after entering southern Babylonia.
     Chedor-laomer and his allies routed the Rephaims, the Zuzims, the Emims, the Horites and others, and having sacked Sodom and Gomorrah, carried away Lot and "his goods". On hearing of this disaster, Abraham collected a force of three hundred and eighteen men, all of whom were no doubt accustomed to guerrilla warfare, and delivered a night attack on the tail of the victorious army which was withdrawing through the area afterwards allotted to the Hebrew tribe of Dan. The surprise was complete; Abraham "smote" the enemy and "pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people."[277]
     The identification of Hammurabi with Amraphel is now generally accepted. At first the guttural "h", which gives the English rendering "Khammurabi", presented a serious difficulty, but in time the form "Ammurapi" which appears on a tablet became known, and the conclusion was reached that the softer "h" sound was used and not the guttural. The "l" in the Biblical Amraphel has suggested "Ammurapi-ilu", "Hammurabi, the god", but it has been argued, on the other hand, that the change may have been due to western habitual phonetic conditions, or perhaps the slight alteration of an alphabetical sign. Chedor-laomer, identified with Kudur-Mabug, may have had several local names. One of his sons, either Warad-Sin or Rim-Sin, but probably the former, had his name Semitized as Eri-Aku, and this variant appears in inscriptions. "Tidal, king of nations", has not been identified. The suggestion that he was "King of the Gutium" remains in the realm of suggestion. Two late tablets have fragmentary inscriptions which read like legends with some historical basis. One mentions Kudur-lahmal (?Chedor-laomer) and the other gives the form "Kudur-lahgumal", and calls him "King of the land of Elam". Eri-Eaku (?Eri-aku) and Tudhula (?Tidal) are also mentioned. Attacks had been delivered on Babylon, and the city and its great temple E-sagila were flooded. It is asserted that the Elamites "exercised sovereignty in Babylon" for a period. These interesting tablets have been published by Professor Pinches.
     The fact that the four leaders of the expedition to Canaan are all referred to as "kings" in the Biblical narrative need not present any difficulty. Princes and other subject rulers who governed under an overlord might be and, as a matter of fact, were referred to as kings. "I am a king, son of a king", an unidentified monarch recorded on one of the two tablets just referred to. Kudur-Mabug, King of Elam, during his lifetime called his son Warad-Sin (Eri-Aku = Arioch) "King of Larsa". It is of interest to note, too, in connection with the Biblical narrative regarding the invasion of Syria and Palestine, that he styled himself "overseer of the Amurru (Amorites)".


Figure XI.1. HAMMURABI RECEIVING THE "CODE OF LAWS" FROM THE SUN GOD
(Louvre, Paris)

Figure XI.2. THE HORSE IN WARFARE
Marble slab showing Ashur-natsir-pal and army advancing against a besieged town. A battering ram is being drawn on a six-wheeled carriage From N.W. Palace of Nimroud: now in the British Museum
No traces have yet been found in Palestine of its conquest by the Elamites, nor have the excavators been able to substantiate the claim of Lugal-zaggizi of a previous age to have extended his empire to the shores of the Mediterranean. Any relics which these and other eastern conquerors may have left were possibly destroyed by the Egyptians and Hittites.
When Hammurabi came to the throne he had apparently to recognize the overlordship of the Elamite king or his royal son at Larsa. Although Sin-muballit had captured Isin, it was retaken, probably after the death of the Babylonian war-lord, by Rim-Sin, who succeeded his brother Warad-Sin, and for a time held sway in Lagash, Nippur, and Erech, as well as Larsa.
It was not until the thirty-first year of his reign that Hammurabi achieved ascendancy over his powerful rival. Having repulsed an Elamite raid, which was probably intended to destroy the growing power of Babylon, he "smote down Rim-Sin", whose power he reduced almost to vanishing point. For about twenty years afterwards that subdued monarch lived in comparative obscurity; then he led a force of allies against Hammurabi's son and successor, Samsu-iluna, who defeated him and put him to death, capturing, in the course of his campaign, the revolting cities of Emutbalum, Erech, and Isin. So was the last smouldering ember of Elamite power stamped out in Babylonia.
Hammurabi, statesman and general, is one of the great personalities of the ancient world. No more celebrated monarch ever held sway in Western Asia. He was proud of his military achievements, but preferred to be remembered as a servant of the gods, a just ruler, a father of his people, and "the shepherd that gives peace". In the epilogue to his code of laws he refers to "the burden of royalty", and declares that he "cut off the enemy" and "lorded it over the conquered" so that his subjects might have security. Indeed, his anxiety for their welfare was the most pronounced feature of his character. "I carried all the people of Sumer and Akkad in my bosom", he declared in his epilogue. "By my protection, I guided in peace its brothers. By my wisdom I provided for them." He set up his stele, on which the legal code was inscribed, so "that the great should not oppress the weak" and "to counsel the widow and orphan", and "to succour the injured.... The king that is gentle, king of the city, exalted am I."[278]
Hammurabi was no mere framer of laws but a practical administrator as well. He acted as supreme judge, and his subjects could appeal to him as the Romans could to Caesar. Nor was any case too trivial for his attention. The humblest man was assured that justice would be done if his grievance were laid before the king. Hammurabi was no respecter of persons, and treated alike all his subjects high and low. He punished corrupt judges, protected citizens against unjust governors, reviewed the transactions of moneylenders with determination to curb extortionate demands, and kept a watchful eye on the operations of taxgatherers.
There can be little doubt but that he won the hearts of his subjects, who enjoyed the blessings of just administration under a well-ordained political system. He must also have endeared himself to them as an exemplary exponent of religious tolerance. He respected the various deities in whom the various groups of people reposed their faith, restored despoiled temples, and re-endowed them with characteristic generosity. By so doing he not only afforded the pious full freedom and opportunity to perform their religious ordinances, but also promoted the material welfare of his subjects, for the temples were centres of culture and the priests were the teachers of the young. Excavators have discovered at Sippar traces of a school which dates from the Hammurabi Dynasty. Pupils learned to read and write, and received instruction in arithmetic and mensuration. They copied historical tablets, practised the art of composition, and studied geography.
Although there were many professional scribes, a not inconsiderable proportion of the people of both sexes were able to write private and business letters. Sons wrote from a distance to their fathers when in need of money then as now, and with the same air of undeserved martyrdom and subdued but confident appeal. One son indited a long complaint regarding the quality of the food he was given in his lodgings. Lovers appealed to forgetful ladies, showing great concern regarding their health. "Inform me how it fares with thee," one wrote four thousand years ago. "I went up to Babylon so that I might meet thee, but did not, and was much depressed. Let me know why thou didst go away so that I may be made glad. And do come hither. Ever have care of thy health, remembering me." Even begging-letter writers were not unknown. An ancient representative of this class once wrote to his employer from prison. He expressed astonishment that he had been arrested, and, having protested his innocence, he made touching appeal for little luxuries which were denied to him, adding that the last consignment which had been forwarded had never reached him.
Letters were often sent by messengers who were named, but there also appears to have been some sort of postal system. Letter carriers, however, could not have performed their duties without the assistance of beasts of burden. Papyri were not used as in Egypt. Nor was ink required. Babylonian letters were shapely little bricks resembling cushions. The angular alphabetical characters, bristling with thorn-like projections, were impressed with a wedge-shaped stylus on tablets of soft clay which were afterwards carefully baked in an oven. Then the letters were placed in baked clay envelopes, sealed and addressed, or wrapped in pieces of sacking transfixed by seals. If the ancient people had a festive season which was regarded, like the European Yuletide or the Indian Durga fortnight, as an occasion suitable for the general exchange of expressions of goodwill, the Babylonian streets and highways must have been greatly congested by the postal traffic, while muscular postmen worked overtime distributing the contents of heavy and bulky letter sacks. Door to door deliveries would certainly have presented difficulties. Wood being dear, everyone could not afford doors, and some houses were entered by stairways leading to the flat and partly open roofs.
King Hammurabi had to deal daily with a voluminous correspondence. He received reports from governors in all parts of his realm, legal documents containing appeals, and private communications from relatives and others. He paid minute attention to details, and was probably one of the busiest men in Babylonia. Every day while at home, after worshipping Merodach at E-sagila, he dictated letters to his scribes, gave audiences to officials, heard legal appeals and issued interlocutors, and dealt with the reports regarding his private estates. He looks a typical man of affairs in sculptured representations-- shrewd, resolute, and unassuming, feeling "the burden of royalty", but ever ready and well qualified to discharge his duties with thoroughness and insight. His grasp of detail was equalled only by his power to conceive of great enterprises which appealed to his imagination. It was a work of genius on his part to weld together that great empire of miscellaneous states extending from southern Babylonia to Assyria, and from the borders of Elam to the Mediterranean coast, by a universal legal Code which secured tranquillity and equal rights to all, promoted business, and set before his subjects the ideals of right thinking and right living.
Hammurabi recognized that conquest was of little avail unless followed by the establishment of a just and well-arranged political system, and the inauguration of practical measures to secure the domestic, industrial, and commercial welfare of the people as a whole. He engaged himself greatly, therefore, in developing the natural resources of each particular district. The network of irrigating canals was extended in the homeland so that agriculture might prosper: these canals also promoted trade, for they were utilized for travelling by boat and for the distribution of commodities. As a result of his activities Babylon became not only the administrative, but also the commercial centre of his Empire--the London of Western Asia--and it enjoyed a spell of prosperity which was never surpassed in subsequent times. Yet it never lost its pre-eminent position despite the attempts of rival states, jealous of its glory and influence, to suspend its activities. It had been too firmly established during the Hammurabi Age, which was the Golden Age of Babylonia, as the heartlike distributor and controller of business life through a vast network of veins and arteries, to be displaced by any other Mesopotamian city to pleasure even a mighty monarch. For two thousand years, from the time of Hammurabi until the dawn of theChristian era, the city of Babylon remained amidst many political changes the metropolis of Western Asiatic commerce and culture, and none was more eloquent in its praises than the scholarly pilgrim from Greece who wondered at its magnificence and reverenced its antiquities.
Hammurabi's reign was long as it was prosperous. There is no general agreement as to when he ascended the throne--some say in 2123 B.C., others hold that it was after 2000 B.C.--but it is certain that he presided over the destinies of Babylon for the long period of forty-three years.
There are interesting references to the military successes of his reign in the prologue to the legal Code. It is related that when he "avenged Larsa", the seat of Rim-Sin, he restored there the temple of the sun god. Other temples were built up at various ancient centres, so that these cultural organizations might contribute to the welfare of the localities over which they held sway. At Nippur he thus honoured Enlil, at Eridu the god Ea, at Ur the god Sin, at Erech the god Anu and the goddess Nana (Ishtar), at Kish the god Zamama and the goddess Ma-ma, at Cuthah the god Nergal, at Lagash the god Nin-Girsu, while at Adab and Akkad, "celebrated for its wide squares", and other centres he carried out religious and public works. In Assyria he restored the colossus of Ashur, which had evidently been carried away by a conqueror, and he developed the canal system of Nineveh.
Apparently Lagash and Adab had not been completely deserted during his reign, although their ruins have not yielded evidence that they flourished after their fall during the long struggle with the aggressive and plundering Elamites.
Hammurabi referred to himself in the Prologue as "a king who commanded obedience in all the four quarters". He was the sort of benevolent despot whom Carlyle on one occasion clamoured vainly for--not an Oriental despot in the commonly accepted sense of the term. As a German writer puts it, his despotism was a form of Patriarchal Absolutism. "When Marduk (Merodach)", as the great king recorded, "brought me to direct all people, and commissioned me to give judgment, I laid down justice and right in the provinces, I made all flesh to prosper."[279] That was the keynote of his long life; he regarded himself as the earthly representative of the Ruler of all--Merodach, "the lord god of right", who carried out the decrees of Anu, the sky god of Destiny.
The next king, Samsu-iluna, reigned nearly as long as his illustrious father, and similarly lived a strenuous and pious life. Soon after he came to the throne the forces of disorder were let loose, but, as has been stated, he crushed and slew his most formidable opponent, Rim-Sin, the Elamite king, who had gathered together an army of allies. During his reign a Kassite invasion was repulsed. The earliest Kassites, a people of uncertain racial affinities, began to settle in the land during Hammurabi's lifetime. Some writers connect them with the Hittites, and others with the Iranians, vaguely termed as Indo-European or Indo-Germanic folk. Ethnologists as a rule regard them as identical with the Cossaei, whom the Greeks found settled between Babylon and Media, east of the Tigris and north of Elam. The Hittites came south as raiders about a century later. It is possible that the invading Kassites had overrun Elam and composed part of Rim-Sin's army. After settled conditions were secured many of them remained in Babylonia, where they engaged like their pioneers in agricultural pursuits. No doubt they were welcomed in that capacity, for owing to the continuous spread of culture and the development of commerce, rural labour had become scarce and dear. Farmers had a long-standing complaint, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few".[280] "Despite the existence of slaves, who were for the most part domestic servants, there was", writes Mr. Johns, "considerable demand for free labour in ancient Babylonia. This is clear from the large number of contracts relating to hire which have come down to us.... As a rule, the man was hired for the harvest and was free directly after. But there are many examples in which the term of service was different--one month, half a year, or a whole year.... Harvest labour was probably far dearer than any other, because of its importance, the skill and exertion demanded, and the fact that so many were seeking for it at once." When a farm worker was engaged he received a shekel for "earnest money" or arles, and was penalized for non-appearance or late arrival.[281]
So great was the political upheaval caused by Rim-Sin and his allies and imitators in southern Babylonia, that it was not until the seventeenth year of his reign that Samsu-iluna had recaptured Erech and Ur and restored their walls. Among other cities which had to be chastised was ancient Akkad, where a rival monarch endeavoured to establish himself. Several years were afterwards spent in building new fortifications, setting up memorials in temples, and cutting and clearing canals. On more than one occasion during the latter part of his reign he had to deal with aggressive bands of Amorites.
The greatest danger to the Empire, however, was threatened by a new kingdom which had been formed in Bit-Jakin, a part of Sealand which was afterwards controlled by the mysterious Chaldeans. Here may have collected evicted and rebel bands of Elamites and Sumerians and various "gentlemen of fortune" who were opposed to the Hammurabi regime. After the fall of Rim-Sin it became powerful under a king called Ilu-ma-ilu. Samsu-iluna conducted at least two campaigns against his rival, but without much success. Indeed, he was in the end compelled to retreat with considerable loss owing to the difficult character of that marshy country.
Abeshu, the next Babylonian king, endeavoured to shatter the cause of the Sealanders, and made it possible for himself to strike at them by damming up the Tigris canal. He achieved a victory, but the wily Ilu-ma-ilu eluded him, and after a reign of sixty years was succeeded by his son, Kiannib. The Sealand Dynasty, of which little is known, lasted for over three and a half centuries, and certain of its later monarchs were able to extend their sway over part of Babylonia, but its power was strictly circumscribed so long as Hammurabi's descendants held sway.
During Abeshu's reign of twenty-eight years, of which but scanty records survive, he appears to have proved an able statesman and general. He founded a new city called Lukhaia, and appears to have repulsed a Kassite raid.
His son, Ammiditana, who succeeded him, apparently inherited a prosperous and well-organized Empire, for during the first fifteen years of his reign he attended chiefly to the adornment of temples and other pious undertakings. He was a patron of the arts with archaeological leanings, and displayed traits which suggest that he inclined, like Sumu-la-ilu, to ancestor worship. Entemena, the pious patesi of Lagash, whose memory isassociated with the famous silver vase decorated with the lion-headed eagle form of Nin-Girsu, had been raised to the dignity of a god, and Ammiditana caused his statue to be erected so that offerings might be made to it. He set up several images of himself also, and celebrated the centenary of the accession to the throne of his grandfather, Samsu-iluna, "the warrior lord", by unveiling his statue with much ceremony at Kish. About the middle of his reign he put down a Sumerian rising, and towards its close had to capture a city which is believed to be Isin, but the reference is too obscure to indicate what political significance attached to this incident. His son, Ammizaduga, reigned for over twenty years quite peacefully so far as is known, and was succeeded by Samsuditana, whose rule extended over a quarter of a century. Like Ammiditana, these two monarchs set up images of themselves as well as of the gods, so that they might be worshipped, no doubt. They also promoted the interests of agriculture and commerce, and incidentally increased the revenue from taxation by paying much attention to the canals and extending the cultivatable areas.
But the days of the brilliant Hammurabi Dynasty were drawing to a close. It endured for about a century longer than the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt, which came to an end, according to the Berlin calculations, in 1788 B.C. Apparently some of the Hammurabi and Amenemhet kings were contemporaries, but there is no evidence that they came into direct touch with one another. It was not until at about two centuries after Hammurabi's day that Egypt first invaded Syria, with which, however, it had for a long period previously conducted a brisk trade. Evidently the influence of the Hittites and their Amoritic allies predominated between Mesopotamia and the Delta frontier of Egypt, and it is significant to find in this connection that the "Khatti" or "Hatti" were referred to for the first time in Egypt during the Twelfth Dynasty, and in Babylonia during the Hammurabi Dynasty, sometime shortly before or after 2000 B.C. About 1800 B.C. a Hittite raid resulted in the overthrow of the last king of the Hammurabi family at Babylon. The Hyksos invasion of Egypt took place after 1788 B.C.