The Reconquest of Babylon (710)

In 710 Sargon had consolidated his empire so firmly that he was able to start the large and prolonged war necessary to reckon with his Elamite, Aramaean and Chaldaean enemies, and finally, to reconquer Babylon. According to Sargon's inscriptions his campaign had two parts.[[2]] First, the main force attacked the areas east of the Tigris, subjugated the Aramaean tribes there and ravaged the Elamite border. The intention was to prevent the Aramaean and Elamite forces from combining with Merodach-Baladan's army. At about the same time an Assyrian detachment took the city of Dur-Ladinni south of Babylon. When the attack began Sargon's enemies were more or less unprepared, only the large fortress of Dur-Abihara is said to have been reinforced by Merodach-Baladan. It soon fell.[[3]] From the beginning, the Assyrian side had the initiative and kept it all the time while the alliance lead by Merodach-Baladan completely failed to coordinate their actions or did not react at all. The Aramaeans were subjugated piecemeal, every tribe fighting alone against overwhelming odds. The Elamite king did nothing and Merodach- Baladan soon found himself isolated in Babylon. He retreated to Elam for a last and desperate attempt to enquire for help, but to no avail. So he prepared for defending his homeland Bit-Yakin.

When the notables of Babylon invited Sargon to enter the city, the first part of his Babylonian war was completed. According to the inscriptions no armed resistance had to be overcome and the Chaldaean tribes, with the exception of Bit-Yakin, of course, hurried to pay homage to the new king of Babylon.[[4]] The second part of the war began soon after the new year's festival in 709. Aimed at Bit-Yakin, this campaign was less spectacular than the fast-moving one of the previous year. It soon got bogged down in a prolonged siege of Dur-Yakin, Merodach-Baladan's main fortress and ended in a draw. After bitter fighting against a desperate foe entrenched in massive fortifications, Sargon at last was ready for a compromise: Merodach-Baladan handed over the fortress but the Assyrians had to agree to give him safe conduct to Elam together with his retinue.[[5]] According to the annals the siege is supposed to have ended in the year it started, in 709. But the razing of Dur-Yakin was not completed before 707.[[6]]

What can be expected of letters which are for the most part addressed to the king? It would have been of no use to report on what the king could see with his very own eyes. Accordingly, no details about the main events such as the proceeding of the campaigns, Sargon's triumphal entrance into Babylon or the siege of Dur-Yakin should be sought. When used as a source to reconstruct political events, letters to the king in many respects are diametrically opposed to the royal inscriptions: While the inscriptions concentrate almost exclusively on the king and his deeds, the letters he received deal with everything except details of how the king was occupied. Letters are unique sources of events which happened parallel to or at a distance from the king's own actions. Similarly, whereas the inscriptions are artfully composed to impress some future audience, the letters are a direct source, written expressly for the eyes or ears of the king and to be delivered as soon as possible. As such they not only provide additional information to the inscriptions but may correct their biased accounts. Genuine as they may be, letters unfortunately give only bits and pieces of information and too often allude to facts known exclusively by the sender and the addressee, but not by us. And worst of all, even a sequence of letters belonging to the same context can rarely be combined to reconstruct a coherent flow of events. In spite of their insufficiencies only the accounts of the royal inscriptions provide a framework within which letters can be assigned to a specific part of a larger context. Therefore one relies heavily on citations of royal orders, short references to events in process or just completed, mentions of the momentary position of the king and his camp and other hints or incidental remarks which can be used to place a letter into the context of a scene or event we know from the inscriptions. The use of such a method leads to an interpretation which is a picture still incomplete; not of how it was but of how it might have been.

Browsing through the letters in search of Merodach-Baladan it soon becomes clear that he is referred to not only by his name proper, but also as the "son of Yakin," i.e. as a member or the head of the Chaldaean tribe of Bit-Yakin. Furthermore there is an enigmatic "son of Zerî," who must have been the head or a member of a tribe called Bit-Zerî and whose activities and whereabouts are strikingly similar to those of the "son of Yakin." Moreover it is no coincidence that for the year 7 0, the very year of Sargon's campaign which resulted in the conquest of Babylon, the eponym chronicle provides the entry: "To Bit-Zerî; the king stayed in Kiš."[[7]] Obviously the conglomerate of tribes and cities headed by Bit-Yakin was called Bit-Zerî. The reasons for this are unknown and the name is otherwise unattested but if the king of Bit-Yakin was also the master of Bit-Zerî, the "son of Yakin" and the "son of Zerî" must have been identical as well. With the exception of Il-yada' the senders have a clear preference for just one of the names or nicknames of Merodach-Baladan.[[8]]

TABLE I. Identification of Merodach-Baladan by Various Senders

sender Merodach-Baladan son of Yakin son of Zerî
Il-yada' 155, 156 157, 158, 161, 172 162
(unknown) 189 189 -
Aššur-belu-taqqin 177-180 - -
lssar-duri 1 - -
Nabû-belu-ka''in - 30-33 -
Marduk-šarru-uṣur - - 184
Šamaš-abu-uṣur - - 186
Šarru-emuranni - - 218, 219
(sender unknown) 199, 201, 202, 204-208 200, 209 210-214

Most of the letters mentioning Merodach-Baladan by one of his three names give information about his current position. Information such as this theoretically could have been sent to the king in any of the years of Merodach-Baladan's kingship between 721 and 710, but there are additional aspects to many of these letters which make such a supposition doubtful. First of all, the king should have been interested in the movements of his bitterest enemy through all these years, and at least some letters should be linkable with events earlier than 710. But this is not the case. Moreover, from most letters and especially from those reporting Merodach-Baladan to be in Babylon, we gather that Sargon's enemy not only was in trouble, but that his kingdom was about to dissolve. It is therefore probable that most if not all of these letters are to be dated exactly to the span of time in 710 when Sargon was campaigning east of the Tigris and before he entered Babylon. Especially during these months it must have been of the utmost importance to him to know what was going on at his back and what his adversary in Babylon was up to.

TABLE II. Activities of Merodach-Baladan

I) ... is advised to attack Dur-Šarrukku 189 (unknown)
... has departed from Cutha to the river [ . . . ] 155 [Il-yada']
. . . crossing over at Bab-bitqi, his Aramaean allies at Apallâ 186 Šamaš-abu-uṣur
. . . back in his country, Dur-Šarrukku is safe 156 II-yada'
II) . . . in Babylon 30 [Nabû-belu-ka''in]
. . . in Babylon 157 [Il-yada']
. . . in Babylon 160 [Il-yada']
. . . in Babylon, Sippar changes sides 158 Il-yada'
. . . in Babylon, Eṭiru sends messengers 161 Il-yada'
. . . [might go?] to Borsippa, (Eṭiru and Sippar mentioned) 33 [Nabû-belu-ka''in]
Assyrian troops occupy Dur-Ladinni in Bit-Dakkuri Ann. 304-305
. . . in Babylon, Bit-Dakkuri is well 178 [Aššur-belu-taqqin]
III) . . . in Babylon, his army in Kiš 162 Il-yada'
. . . retreats from Babylon Ann. 305-307
. . . in Nippur, news from Bit-Dakkuri 177 Aššur-belu-taqqin
. . . in Hiuri/Puqudu 218 Šarru-emuranni
. . . in Yadburu, groveling before the Elamites Ann. 307-309
IV) . . . first in Puqudu, now perhaps in Uruk 219 Šarru-emuranni
. . . in Iqbi-Bel Ann. 311
. . . in Dur-Yakin 179 Aššur-belu-taqqin

Arranged in geographical order from north to south the reported movements and whereabouts of Merodach-Baladan can easily be matched with the evidence given by Sargon's annals. Four phases can be distinguished:

Phase l. At least for a short time and on a rather small scale Merodach-Baladan tried to impede or disturb the Assyrian activities with a counterattack. For obvious reasons nothing about this can be found in Sargon's royal inscriptions. Typical of this phase is the absence of news about defections of Chaldaean, Babylonian or Aramaean subjects in the letters.

Merodach-Baladan tried an attack against Dur-Šarrukku, probably relying on some news about the city's insufficient water supply which would have made its capture easier (no. 189 r.9-13 ). Merodach-Baladan departed from Cutha to a river, the name of which is not preserved (no. 155 ). If it was the watercourse Merodach-Baladan crossed over at Bab-bitqi (no. 186), a city not far from Opis (SAA l 94), the river in question might well have been the Tigris. Merodach-Baladan's forces advanced in two separate columns, the Aramaean troops from the ltu'u, Rubu'u and Lita'u tribes crossing at a different place and before "them" (186 r.2), whereby "they" can be understood as the main part of Merodach-Baladan's forces.

In Dur-Šarrukku the Assyrian official Il-yada' was awaiting them, with "troops and horses arrayed" (156:11). When he informed the king of the outcome of Merodach-Baladan's campaign the latter already had "turned back and is in his country" (156 r.24). It seems as if the Chaldaean campaign never even reached the vicinity of Dur-Šarrukku at all, because "ever since the king, my lord, went to the country of the enemy, there have been no enemy attacks whatever" (156:17-19). The affirmation "there is much water in the Diyala river, the waters go to Dur-Šarrukku" (156 r.18-20)[[9]] which sums up a lenghty report on measures to improve the water supply of this city is clear evidence that Dur-Šarrukku had indeed suffered from lack of water, exactly as described by Merodach-Baladan's informer (no. 189). It can be assumed that Merodach-Baladan broke off his attempt to capture the city when he received the news that the prerequisite for success no longer existed.

From the royal order quoted in the same letter it can be seen how much time Sargon still estimated necessary to finish his campaign east of the Tigris: "For these two months, be attentive and keep your guard strong until I come!" (156:8-10). A number of the letters tell us what happened in Babylonia exactly during these two months.

Phase II. Alarming news reached Babylonia: The Assyrian king irresistably forced his way through swamps, fortresses and hostile tribes giving vivid examples of his destructive capability. In due course he would appear in Babylonia with all his might. There was no help from the king of Elam and Merodach-Baladan held out passively in Babylon. No wonder that the leaders of the local tribes and cities began to look for ways out of the looming catastrophe.

From the beginning of the war Assyrian officials tried to use diplomacy and secret negotiations to win over tribes and cities in northern Babylonia. At an early stage an attempt failed to convince the Ru'ua tribe, whose leaders were reluctant to change sides too early (no. 1:4ff). If the Nabû-šallim mentioned in the same letter (r.14) is the Nabû-šallim of Larak (no. 236), there was a simultaneous attempt to influence the city of Larak. As seen above, the city of Dur-Šarrukku was the target of a military move by Merodach-Baladan. Before 710 the status of this city is unknown; Sargon possibly never lost it to Merodach-Baladan at all,[[10]] but if it did not fall into Assyrian hands before 710, this must have happened at a very early stage. The same holds true for Opis; at least letters 158 and 159 do not consider it as an enemy town.

From his palace in Babylon a helpless Merodach-Baladan watched as his empire crumbled: Sippar signaled to Il-yada' her readyness to cooperate: "the king should come!" (no. 158). At the same time Bit-Dakkuri, south of Babylon, was considered as friendly territory by the Assyrians (no. 178), who established an observation post (no. 177) in the city of Dur-Ladinni (no. 245).[[11]] Even from within Babylon, under the very nose of Merodach-Baladan, Eṭiru, a prelate of Esaggil,[[12]] secretly negotiated with the Assyrian king (no. 161). More to the north the greater part of the Tu'mana tribe had been subjugated by Sargon already in 721 or 720.[[13]] Now the remaining members of the tribe who lived among the Hadallu were invited to join the winning side (157 r.6-9). And Merodach-Baladan could not prevent the Assyrians from building a fort (no. 166) in order to check the sorties of his cavalry stationed in Dur-Kurigalzu (164:8ff).

Apart from whole tribes and cities, members of Merodach-Baladan's retinue and staff also defected (nos. 214 and 161 r.4-8); so did parts of his forces, for instance a cavalry commander of the šandabakku (184 r. 10-13) and cavalrymen of the "son of Zerî" (ibid. r.22-26). In Jetter 243 no less than 600 deserters are counted.

Among the Assyrian officials who secretly undermined Merodach-Baladan's position in northern Babylonia Il-yada' was the most important. Mentioned above already as the defender of Dur-Šarrnkku he might have been the main organizer of these subversive activities. Willing defectors were first invited to meet him: "Let us get together and go to Il-yada'!" (157:8-9). Important people he sent on to the king for an audience, others who had to stay in place, communicated with him secretly by means of messengers (no. 161) or negotiated with an Assyrian agent (no. 158).

To establish first contact with a targeted tribe, Assyrian diplomacy made use of members already on the Assyrian side. To win over the Ru'uaeans a eunuch stemming from this tribe was brought from as far as Damascus (1:4-10), and in another case a certain Ṣalâ-il is described as "one of them (the members of his tribe) who has been trying to persuade them" (157:5-9).[[14]]

The actual procedure of changing sides could be rather complicated. In the case of some cavalrymen who were ready to desert, it was proposed to send them some tokens to facilitate their transition (184 s.1-2). These tokens (ithurtāte) obviously are to be understood as a kind of passport to spare their users serious trouble. Such as for example being treated as prisoners of war and sold as slaves. This happened to three tailors "of the son of Zerî" (no. 214).

The decision which side to join had to be made neither too early nor too late, in order to avoid retaliation from either side. When for example the Ru'ueans (no. 1) were reproached by Merodach-Baladan for their negotiations with Assyria, their answer was evasive: "Why should we run away? This brother of ours (a eunuch in Assyrian service, who tried to persuade them) who has come is on the other side. (Of course), he came - but he will go back again" (1:16-18). Likewise they refused to give a declaration of loyalty in favor of Merodach-Baladan which could prove dangerous later: "If we sent [it] and the king then defeated Merodach-Baladan, and if these words [then reached the king's ears ... ]" (ibid. 21-23). It is obvious that the Ru' uaeans feared punishment from their present overlord no less than future trouble from the one who would replace him.

The Assyrians suffered a minor setback too. Marduk-šarrani, who is said to have instigated Merodach-Baladan's attack on Dur-Šarrukku (no. 189), was an Assyrian official, if he is the sender of nos. 187 and 188.

The reactions to Assyria's offers and attempts at persuasion and the ability to avoid internal dissentions correlated with the degree of internal organization of the different political entities in Babylonia. The well organized Chaldaean tribes such as Bit-Dakkuri, Bit-Amukani, and possibly Bit-Sa'alla and Bit-Šilani changed sides or submitted en bloc.[[15]] For example Bit-Dakkuri after a certain point is regarded as friendly territory (no. 178), no letter mentions different factions within this tribe. The same holds true for cities like Sippar or Babylon, who entered into secret agreements (16 1:9ff) but made their actual transition dependent on effective protection provided by the new master (158:13-16).

Cities and tribes less well organized were soon divided into factions either siding with Merodach-Baladan or ready to take up with the Assyrians. For instance some inhabitants of Darati offered to hand the city over to the Assyrians. But to bring in troops they had to rely on a tunnel which had to be constructed in secret (no. 199). Therefore Darati must have been controlled by a strong faction supporting Merodach-Baladan. Likewise there were differences among Aramaeans: No sooner had the above mentioned Ṣalâ-il won over parts of his tribe for Assyria, when "one of his brothers" went straight to Babylon to inform Merodach-Baladan (157:9-12).

Generally, the Chaldaean tribes viewed Sargon's war against Merodach-Baladan as not a business of theirs but of Bit-Yakin only. Consequently they remained passive or even allowed the Assyrians to make use of their territory. Bit-Dakkuri did exactly that when this tribe allied with Assyria even before Merodach-Baladan had left Babylon (no. 178).[[16]] However the numerous Aramaean tribes were divided over which line to take with Merodach-Baladan. From the beginning, Aramaean tribes were among the closest supporters of Merodach-Baladan, the Puqudaeans being the most prominent among them.[[17]] But the neighbouring Gambulaeans seem to have nurtured a strong dislike for Merodach-Baladan. When Sargon attacked them in 710 they submitted at once and probably they even prevented Merodach-Baladan's garrison from effectively defending the fortress of Dur-Abihara.[[18]]

The loyalty of cities depended on the presence of troops. Certainly the reason for the resistance offered by Dur-Kurigalzu was that soldiers were stationed there (164: 8-9, and 166 r. 1 5-17). Likewise, Merodach-Baladan had tried to encourage the inhabitants of the frontier fortress of Dur-Abihara by providing a strong garrison.[[19]] As a consequence, Merodach-Baladan's refusal to reinforce the city of Darati in the same way (199 r.18ff) induced parts of the worried inhabitants to negotiate with Assyria.

Of course Merodach-Baladan was well aware of the success the Assyrian diplomatic activities met with. A number of letters quote his reactions and even his personal comments on some incidents of growing disloyalty. Even if the quotation of direct speech must be seen as fictional, we get an impression of his desperate struggle to stem the tide: he negotiated personally with tribes who were likely to defect (1:11-19) and he threatened them with "I will kill you! " (208:3-4), but he rapidly lost the means of compelling obedience. In one case he was on the fringe of despair: "You have tur[ned your faces] towards Assyria[[20]] – how will you treat me tomorrow?" (245 r.1-3). Later on the Assyrian kings Sennacherib and Assurbanipal complained bitterly about the treacherous character of the Babylonians, but obviously a defeated Chaldaean had the same reason to do so.

During the critical months of 710 mainly two motives determined the reactions of the various political groups or individuals involved. First of all efforts were made to avoid harm from either side during the transition of power. With the first aim achieved, this political change could perhaps be exploited to one's own advantage,[[21]] e.g. a Chaldaean leader is mentioned, who admits rather bluntly his intent to make a personal profit from the imminent turmoil. He offers to defect to the king if "the king should give me all the people of mine whom I shall conquer" (216:8-12). This can hardly mean anything but his readyness to fight against his own tribe. Since all of the other Chaldaean tribes submitted to Sargon in time, the only opportunity for this Chaldaean to take prisoners among his own people was to fight against Bit-Yakin. It is very likely that he was a member of the tribe of Merodach-Baladan!

Phase III. Merodach-Baladan' s retreat from Babylon as well as his fruitless attempt to elicit help from Elam at the very last minute is known from Sargon's annals. And again important details can be added by a number of letters.

The news of Merodach-Baladan's army being (already?) in Kiš, while he himself (still?) stayed in Babylon was perhaps the first indication of Merodach- Baladan' s move to the south (162 r.11-14). At the same time this seems to be the last report coming from Il-yada' who sent many reports and was mentioned by others quite often during the time when Merodach-Baladan was in Babylon. The next report is sent by Aššur-belu-taqqin, who relayed observations made by the Assyrian outpost at Dur-Ladinni in Bit-Dakkuri to the king. Merodach-Baladan is then said to have reached Nippur (no. 177). From there he must have crossed the Tigris in order to reach Elam for help. The letters reporting on the trans-Tigridian route of Merodach-Baladan's journey come from Šarru-emuranni, Sargon's governor in Babylon.[[22]] This is the first appeareance of Šarru-emuranni and it can therefore be assumed that Sargon' s triumphal entry into Babylon must have taken place around the time when the retreating Merodach-Baladan was about to cross the Tigris.

It may seem somewhat surprising that the governor of Babylon should have sent letters to the king who allegedly resided in the very same city, in the palace of Merodach-Baladan.[[23]] Sargon's new subjects indeed supposed their king to be in Babylon but when they came to meet him there they were received instead by the governor who for his part informed the king by means of letters. Sargon himself stayed in Babylon for ceremonial purposes only. An entry in an eponym chronicle suggests that Sargon spent most of the remaining year in Kiš with his army.[[24]] No wonder that the governor of Babylon regarded it as an unusual event that the king stayed "overnight here" (i.e. in Babylon) (223 r.9-10). In another letter Šarru-emuranni perhaps refers to a report he sent to Kiš (217 r.2-7).

Meanwhile Merodach-Baladan was encamped "in the town of Hiuri [of] the Puqudu [land]" (218 r.5-7). This town had been subjugated by Sargon shortly before and it was not far from the Uqnû river, i.e. the eastern branch of the Tigris.[[25]] Šarru-emuranni's involuntary source of information was an unlucky Chaldaean spy, who had been identified and captured by the inhabitants of Larak (218:5-16) which at that time must have been also on the Assyrian side.[[26]] At the same time the city of Uṣur-Adad sent to the king the leftovers of the local gods' sacrificial meal (218 r.8-11). This was the same ceremony with which the Babylonians had invited Sargon to accept their surrender.[[27]] According to Sargon's annals, Merodach-Baladan was in Yadburu when he desperately negotiated with the Elamite king.[[28]] Yadburu bordered on Puqudu/Hiuri,[[29]] so it can be assumed that the negotiations began after no. 218 was written. Unfortunately, the reports on Merodach-Baladan's contacts with Elam are unclear or poorly preserved.[[30]]

Phase IV. Once in the south, Merodach-Baladan was out of reach of the Assyrian spy network set up in northern Babylonia. Letter 219 shows that it was now increasingly difficult for Šarru-emuranni to follow Merodach-Baladan's moves. A first message suggested that Merodach-Baladan had gone to the Puqudu (21 9:7-8), perhaps coming back from Yadburu. But then it seemed that the "son of Zeî" had in the meantime arrived in Uruk. Šarru-emuranni, now in doubt what to believe, sent messengers to Sapia, a town in the then friendly Bit-Amukani, obviously to get this news confirmed (219:8-11).[[31]] However according to the annals, Merodach-Baladan left Yadburu and went straight to Iqbi-Bel where "he lived in fear."[[32]] The last letter reporting on the whereabouts of Merodach-Baladan says that he was in Dur-Yakin (179:9-10). Most probably he was about to prepare his capital for the siege to come.

For the Puqudaeans the war was not over yet. During the first part of Sargon's campaign the Assyrians had devastated their territory and starved them out in their hiding places in the swamps of the Uqnû river (the eastern branch of the Tigris) until their sheikhs had given up.[[33]] After the Assyrians had withdrawn to capture Babylon, Merodach-Baladan on his way to the Elamite border crossed their territory with his followers (nos. 218 and 219). It must have been a difficult situation for the Puqudaeans who had made their peace with Sargon just before that. This situation perhaps aroused fears of Assyrian retaliation among those Puqudaeans "who lived in Bit-Amukani" (238 r.4ff).[[34]] Later during the siege of Dur-Yakin, the Puqudaeans were divided into two factions: the Puqudaeans east of the Tigris were now treated as Assyrian subjects who fulfilled their obligations (no. 179).[[35]] One letter mentions a certain Yannuqu (222 r.2) who should be Yanuqu, the sheikh of Zame, who according to Sargon's annals had submitted in the course of the initial Assyrian attack.[[36]] Unfortunately the letter is unclear, but one of Yannuqu's servants "came [from Bit]-Yakin" (222 r.5-6) to report to [Šarru-emuranni]. Therefore it is possible that this sheikh might have turned to Merodach-Baladan's side again. If this holds true, he was not the only one who did so. The annals explicitly mention Puqudaean auxiliary troops who helped Merodach-Baladan to defend Dur-Yakin.[[37]]

The submission of Iqbi-Bel, voluntarily offered according to no. 242, can be ascribed to the war raging on the territory of Bit-Yakin in 709. Apart from this, there are no letters which directly refer to this part of the war or the siege proper. As noted above, this is not to be expected because the king was in command of the operations and written reports were unnecessary.

In general the letters add much to the picture of Merodach-Baladan's kingdom drawn by the official Assyrian records. The breakdown of Merodach- Baladan's northern Babylonian position is hinted at in Sargon's annals but the insights given by the letters are dramatic. Whatever Merodach-Baladan may have achieved during his twelve-year reign in Babylon, it was not enough to convince even one of the Chaldaean tribes or the large cities of northern Babylonia to defend his empire. Instead his authority evaporated as soon as he came under pressure. With almost no regard for the ruler, the crucial political decisions were made separately by each tribe and city. From the Assyrian point of view, Merodach-Baladan may have appeared as the king of Chaldaea[[38]] but among the inhabitants of northern Babylonia his kingdom was most probably regarded neither as a Babylonian nor as a Chaldaean kingdom. It was just the kingdom of Bit-Yakin supported by a handful of Aramaean tribes which had expanded into northern Babylonia. The letters indicate much more clearly than the Assyrian royal inscriptions that the empire of Merodach-Baladan was indeed no more than a prelude, and that it was a long way up to a Babylonian empire.[[39]]

2 For the campaigns of 710 and 709 see Ann. 254-383 and the reconstruction given in Fuchs Sar. pp. 399-405, which is followed by D.T. Potts, The Archaeology of Elam (Cambridge l 999), p. 265ff. See also Brinkman Prelude, pp. 50-53.

3 Ann. 265-271.

4 Ann. 314-316.

5 Note the different versions in Sargon's annals regarding the outcome of the siege: In one version he just fled (Ann. 360-362), according to another he gave up, submitted and was even pardoned (Ann. 359a-b).

6 Millard Eponyms p. 48 sub 707 B4 r.19.

7 Millard Eponyms p. 47 sub 710.

8 Unclear: mar [...] (no. 160 r.5)

9 This connection of Dur-Šarrukku's with the Diyala excludes its former identification with Tell ed-Der. For a localization near Opis cf. Frame Babylonia p. 220 n. 36.

10 Before the war against Merodach-Baladan was over (no. 184:23), the official Marduk-šarru-[uṣur] dedicated some jewelry to Humhum, one of Dur-Šarrukku's most important gods (Parpola, LAS II p. 300). He was not the first Assyrian who did so (184:4-r.10).

11 Fuchs Sar. p. 402.

12 PNA 1/11 p. 408 sub Eṭiru (2).

13 Ann. 20-23.

14 If the reverse of no. 157 refers to the same subject, he was a member of the Tu'mana tribe who travelled on the Assyrian side of the border between Anat on the Euphrates and the Diyala.

15 Ann. 314-316.

16 Bit-Dakkuri may be a special case. Note the entry in the Babylonian chronicle (Grayson Chronicles p. 75:43f): "The tenth year (712): Merodach-baladan ravaged Bit-...-ri (and) plundered it." lf the name has to be restored as Bit-[Dakku]ri, this tribe in 710 perhaps took revenge on Merodach-Baladan for his attack two years earlier.

17 According to Sargon's annals the tribes of Ru'ua, Hindaru and Puqudu as well as the inhabitants of the land of Yadburu (bordering Elam) supported Merodach-Baladan in setting up his rule over Babylonia in 722 (Ann. 256-260).

18 Fuchs Sar. p. 433ff sub Gambulu.

19 Ann. 266-269.

20 Compare with no. 157:11-12 and no. 150:8-r.1.

21 It should be noticed that according to the letters no one seems to have cared much about divine will, righteousness or legitimacy, elements so much stressed by the royal inscriptions. As usual in history, questions like these were answered in hindsight by the victorious side. And as always the gods proved to be happy with the outcome. Don't expect anything different!

22 See for instance the greeting formula in no. 217:4-6.

23 Ann. 314-316.

24 Millard Eponyms p. 47 sub 710 B4: "to Bit-Zerî; the king stayed in Kiš."

25 Ann. 291-294, especially Ann. 292.

26 See also no. 236.

27 Ann. 311-313.

28 Ann. 305-310.

29 Ann. 291-301.

30 In no. 32 messengers of Merodach.Baladan come to the (Elamite) king's brother-in-law who was leading troops. Letter 200 refers to a letter sent by Merodach-Baladan to the king of Elam, while in no. 201 the Elamite king seems to have tje active part. Also in no. 209 the "son of Yakin" is mentioned together with the Elamite king, who is moving around Bit-Imbî. Unfortunately all these activities cannot be ascribed to a specific stage of the events with certainty.

31 Some people "from Sapia" who are mentioned in another letter of Šarru-emuranni are said to have communicated something to him (220:6ff). But due to the condition of the letter it is not sure if these were the returning messengers.

32 Ann. 311.

33 Ann. 281-295.

34 Perhaps SAA 1 18 refers to this punitive activity around Bit-Amukani. No. 238 and SAA 1 18 both mention a certain Kunâ or Kunaya.

35 The town "Ubuli of the Puqudacans" (179:12) is called Ibuli in the annals (Ann. 285).

36 Ann. 284, the city of Zame is again mentioned in Ann. 291.

37 Ann. 348-350.

38 Ann. 255.

39 For the whole process see Brinkman Prelude.

Andreas Fuchs

Andreas Fuchs, 'The Reconquest of Babylon (710)', The Correspondence of Sargon II, Part III: Letters from Babylonia and the Eastern Provinces, SAA 15. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 2001; online contents: SAAo/SAA15 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2021 []

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SAAo/SAA15, 2014-. Since 2015, SAAo is based at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Historisches Seminar (LMU Munich, History Department) - Alexander von Humboldt Chair for Ancient History of the Near and Middle East. Content released under a CC BY-SA 3.0 [] license, 2007-20.
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