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 into five sub-sections, with the purpose of outlining the main aspects of a period of transition for the city of Aššur. In the first half of the second millennium, the Assyrian city often changed its status, starting as an independent trade city and home of the Puzur-Aššur Dynasty, then becoming a secondary center in the trans-regional kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia ruled by Samsī-Addu I, and finally falling under the dominion of the Mittanian Union. This state of transition continued beyond the period of Mittanian dominance, ending only with the Middle Assyrian period. By this time, the Assyrian state was significantly altered.

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

The two external elements that ignited these transformations in Assyrian society, Samsī-Addu's conquest and the Mittanian hegemony, both strongly influenced (in different ways) the genesis of what would become the Middle Assyrian kingdom. Samsī-Addu's conquest represented a break in the ideal continuity of kingship described in the Assyrian King List [] (AKL), but it is in that same list that this break was "healed." The sub-section "Tent dwellers and Forefathers []" describes the first part of the AKL and the rulers named therein as a product of Samsī-Addu's policy: a list of ancestors, orchestrated to create a bond between the new king and the city of Aššur. This section is, therefore, strongly linked to (and should 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 [], includes two, or possibly three, more rulers, including Mut-aškur (a son of Išme-Dagan I), Remu-x, and [Asīnum] (whose career is clarified in other sources, especially from Mari). A further city-ruler of Aššur, Puzur-Sîn, does not appear in any of the lists, but is known from his own unusual inscription, in which he declared that he liberated the city of Aššur 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, the "son(s) of nobody []," that followed Samsī-Addu's dynasty. At the time when we would expect to see some record of Mittanian power, the AKL instead records the beginning of the "eternal line of Bēlu-bāni []" (as Esarhaddon will call it centuries later). 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 scholars to fully understand the developments that brought Aššur from one phase to the other. However, the absence of any Mittanian element in the king lists is supported by the few sources that we do have, indicating a relationship with the Assyrian city that was not entirely dominant, and which left space for a degree of 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, 2021 []

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