From Samsī-Addu to Mittani Cilent State (ca. 1808-1364 BC)

The pages included here are dedicated to the kings from Samsī-Addu I (1808-1776 BC) to Erība-Adad I (1380-1354 BC) and their inscriptions. The rulers have been divided in five sub-sections, with the purpose of giving some general information about the main aspects of a period of transition for the city of Ashur. In the first half of the second millennium, the Assyrian city often changed its status, from being an independent trade city, home of the Puzur-Aššur Dynasty, to become a secondary center in the trans-regional kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia ruled by Samsī-Addu I, and after that, to fall under the dominion of the Mittanian Union. The transition, however, continued beyond the period of Mittanian dominance, ending with the Middle Assyrian period, in which Assyria looked very different.

This was a transition between two deeply different societies: the Old Assyrian one of nineteenth and eighteenth century BC, was city-centred (in Ashur), trade-based, and characterized by a particular – and to date unknown in other contemporary societies – kind of kingship, in which the power of the ruler was limited and counterbalanced by the civil community (e.g., the city assembly, the eponym office, see the introduction [] to the Puzur-Aššur Dynasty); the Middle Assyrian kingdom that emerges in the fourteenth century, is an expansionistic territorial state, with a growing military class and led by a ruler, whose kingship follows the universal model [] adopted by Samsī-Addu I.

The two external elements that contributed to ignite these transitional movements in the Assyrian society, Samsī-Addu's conquest and the Mittanian hegemony, have both strongly influenced, although in different ways, the genesis of what it will be the Middle Assyrian kingdom. Samsī-Addu's conquest represents a break in the ideal continuity of kingship described in the Assyrian King List [] (AKL), but it is in the same list that such break is "healed." The sub-section "Tent dwellers and Forefathers []" describes the first part of the AKL and the rulers named therein as the a product of Samsī-Addu's policy: a list of ancestors, orchestrated in order to create a bond between the new king and the city of Ashur. This section is, therefore, strongly linked to (and to be read together with) the introductory page [] on the editorial history of the AKL.

In the AKL, the dynasty of Samsī-Addu [] is limited to the reign of his son Išme-Dagan I (1776-1737 BC), but a different king list, VAT 9812 [], has two or possibly three more rulers, who bear the names of Mut-aškur (a son of Išme-Dagan I), Remu-x, and [Asīnum], and whose career is clarified in other sources, especially from Mari. A further city-ruler of Ashur, Puzur-Sîn, does not appear in any of the lists, but is known from his own unusual inscription, in which he declares to have liberated the city of Ashur from his predecessor Asīnum, an "evil" offspring of Samsī-Addu, the "foreign plague."

The Mittanian hegemony [] does not appear in the AKL, which records a period of turbulence and illegitimate rulers "son(s) of nobody []" right after Samsī-Addu's dynasty, but not by the time the Mittanian power should intervene, in which on the contrary the "eternal line of Bēlu-bāni []" (as Esarhaddon will call it centuries later) is already begun. This is often called a "dark" period, because the sources for the centuries from the seventeenth to the fourteenth are extremely scarce and do not allow the scholar to fully understand the developments that brought Ashur from one phase to the other. However, the absence of Mittanian element in the king lists is somehow reflected in the few sources that we hold, pointing at a relation of not complete dominance on the Assyrian city, that left spaces for autonomy both within the city and on the international scene.

Rulers (in chronological order)

According to the Assyrian King List, there were seventeen rulers who "dwelt in tents []" who were followed by nine tribal ancestors of Samsī-Addu I.

Samsī-Addu I [] (ca. 1808-1776 BC)
Išme-Dagān I [] (1775-? BC)

Mut-Aškur [] (?-? BC)
Rīmu-x [] (?-? BC)
Asīnum [] (?-? BC)
Puzur-Sîn [] (?-? BC)
Aššur-dugul [] (?-? BC)
Aššur-apla-īdi [] (?-? BC)
Nāṣir-Sîn [] (?-? BC)
Sîn-nammir [] (?-? BC)
Ipqi-Ištar [] (?-? BC)
Adad-ṣalūlu [] (?-? BC)
Adāsi [] (?-? BC)
Bēlu-bāni [] (?-? BC)
Libāya [] (?-? BC)
Šarma-Adad I [] (?-? BC)
Iptar-Sîn [] (?-? BC)
Bāzāyu [] (?-? BC)
Lullāyu [] (?-? BC)
Šū-Nīnua [] (or Kidin-Nīnua) (?-? BC)
Šarma-Adad II [] (?-? BC)
Erišum III [] (?-? BC)
Šamšī-Adad II [] (?-? BC)
Išme-Dagān II [] (?-? BC)
Šamšī-Adad III [] (?-? BC)
Aššur-nārārī I [] (?-? BC)
Puzur-Aššur III [] (?-? BC)
Enlil-nāṣir I [] (?-? BC)
Nūr-ili [] (?-? BC)
Aššur-šaddûni [] (?-? BC)
Aššur-rabi I [] (?-? BC)
Aššur-nādin-aḫḫē I [] (?-? BC)
Enlil-nāṣir II [] (1430–1425 BC)
Aššur-nārārī II [] (1424-1418 BC)
Aššur-bēl-nišēšu [] (1417-1409 BC)
Aššur-rêm-nišēšu [] (1408-1401 BC)
Aššur-nādin-aḫḫē II [] (1400-1391 BC)
Erība-Adad I [] (1390-1364 BC)

Selected Bibliography

Cancik-Kirschbaum, E., Die Assyrer: Geschichte, Gesellschaft, Kultur, München, 2008, pp.72-78.
Radner, K., Mesopotamien: die frühen Hochkulturen an Euphrat und Tigris, München, 2017, pp.72-78.
Wilhelm, G., The Kingdom of Mitanni in Second-Millennium Upper Mesopotamia, in: Jack M. Sasson (ed.), Civilization of the Ancient Near East, Vol. 2, Peabody, MA, 2000, pp. 1243-1254.
Yamada, S., 'The Transation Period (17th to 15th Century BC),' in E. Frahm (ed.) A Companion to Assyria , Malden, MA, 2017, pp. 108-116.

Nathan Morello

Nathan Morello, 'From Samsī-Addu to Mittani Cilent State (ca. 1808-1364 BC)', The Royal Inscriptions of Assyria online (RIAo) Project, The RIAo Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2018 []

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