Samsī-Addu Dynasty

According to the Assyrian King List [] (AKL), Samsī-Addu I's dynasty ended with the death of his son Išme-Dagan I (1776-1737 BC), who reigned forty years (or fifty, in the manuscript of the SDAS [] list). It followed a period of confusion and instability, in which six "son(s) of nobody [], (who) had no right to the throne" took rule in Aššur. Eventually, one of these men, Adāsi, fathered Bēlu-bāni, who became the first legitimate ruler after the crisis and who acted as the head of an uninterrupted dynastic line [] of Assyrian kings, which would not (according to the AKL) be interrupted or supplanted until its end.

It has been argued that the "forty" year reign of Išme-Dagan I might represent a symbolic number, rather than the historical record. Letters from Mari reveal that, in fact, the king had no stable rule over either Aššur or his capital, Ekallātum. At the same time, it seems that the Assyrian city enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy in the period after the death of Samsī-Addu, even though it was under the influence of the many external polities that arose as a result of the power vacuum in the region (Yamada 2017).

A second king list, VAT 9812 [] (or KAV 14), represents a very different tradition for the rulers who succeeded Samsī-Addu's son. This list has two, or possibly three, additional names: Mut-aškur (a son of Išme-Dagan I), Remu-x, [and Asīnum]. Why did these rulers fail to enter the AKL? One possibility is that they governed Aššur not from within the city itself, but from the nearby capital of the Amorite kingdom, Ekallātum. Since the AKL is exclusively focussed on Aššur, it would not be odd for the scribes who compiled the list to rule out those names. Another possibility is related to memory and prestige; Landsberger (1954:37) suggested that sometime after the reign of Tiglath-pileser I (1114-1076 BC), Samsī-Addu I's popularity rose in the historical memory, which led to the effacing of his less prestigious successors (see the editorial history [] of the AKL ).

Also included in this section is a ruler who is not found in any of the other known king lists: Puzur-Sîn, son of the equally unknown Aššur-bēl-šamê. His link to Samsī-Addu's dynasty is explicitly stated in his unusual inscription, where he says that he "destroyed" the "evil offspring" of Samsī-Addu - a "foreign plague" that was alien to Aššur, not of the same "flesh."

Rulers (in chronological order)

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

Mut-Aškur [] (?-? BC)
Rīmu-x [] (?-? BC)
Asīnum [] (?-? BC)
Puzur-Sîn [] (?-? BC)

Browse the RIAo Corpus []

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 Transition Period (17th to 15th Century BC),' in E. Frahm (ed.) A Companion to Assyria , Malden, MA, 2017, pp. 108-116.

Nathan Morello

Nathan Morello, 'Samsī-Addu Dynasty', The Royal Inscriptions of Assyria online (RIAo) Project, The RIAo Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2021 []

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