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Episode 41 - Assyria 2 Shamshi-Adad and the Upper Mesopotamian Empire

From a refugee in Babylon to the king of the largest empire Mesopotamia has seen since the fall of Ur, and the first Assyrian empire at that, Shamshi-Adad's life is a roller coaster of ups and downs. This week we watch as he builds up his northern empire and begins to develop and handle it in a distinctively empire-like way. The fact that it wouldn't survive his death is almost beside the point.

The origins of Shamshi-Adad are very confused. As mentioned in the show, some think his dynasty started in Ekallatum, some think it started in Terqa, some think there may have been a small territorial kingdom that held both cities even though they are very far apart and held nothing in between. Additionally, while everyone agrees Ekallatum was on the Tigris, whether it was north or south of Assur is also debated, though south seems more right to me. Honestly, there are so many different stories that there isn't even a most popular one, each source I can find interprets it in a diff…
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Episode 40 - Syria 1 Barbarian Kingdoms and Biblical Patriarchs

The Amorites swept through Syria and held the region in a dark age longer than any other part of Mesopotamia. But when the dust finally does settle, we will see a number of nations ruled by barbarians, but behaving in quite civilized fashions. Today we will look at the establishment of Yamhad, Qatna, and Mari as well as the early kings of Assyria, getting a feel for the new players that will be with us for the next few hundred years. In the second half of the show, we enter briefly into the Age of Biblical Patriarchs and events of the Book of Genesis, though this is more of an interesting tangent than a major part of the historical narrative at this point.

A general map of Hurrian settlements is below, taken from the partially complete but interesting website on the Hurrian city of Urkesh.

Also, for my own reference I put together a few dates of when places were active, this might help someone else, but don't take it as gospel:

Shamshi-Adad - 1812 - 1776
Hammurabi - 1792 - 1750

Episode 39 - Assyria 1 The Merchants and Families of Assyria

We know very little about the kings of early Assyria, so our introduction to the north will be bottom up by necessity. We know about merchants and farmers and pastoralists and slaves, men and women who worked the land and built the nation. It is a welcome break from the endless listing of "King did this" that makes up so much of the rest of history. In this period, old Assyria is primarily a commercial power, not a military one. Instead of conquests, we will see colonies, and instead of soldiers, we will see caravans.

Episode 38 - Amorite 7 Rim Sin the Pretty Good

Today we see the near collapse of Larsa, and its sudden and unexpected rescue by an Amorite from Elam. After the failure of Nur-Adad's line, Kudur-Mabuk sweeps in from the desert to revitalize the city, and gives birth to the first great conquerer in 250 years, Rim-Sin, who despite his ultimate failure still deserves the title of Rim-Sin the Pretty Good.

Pretty much every date with Rim-Sin appears to be plus or minus one year. It is almost as if there are two year name lists floating around that have everything the same but one of the first few years is missing or added on. It doesn't make that much difference, the order of everything that matters is still the same, but it is a bit odd and if anyone is looking it up on their own it is just a discrepancy to be aware of.

Episode 37 - Amorite 6 Petty Kings

The multi-polar Isin-Larsa period continues this week, covering the period from the 1860s to the 1830s BCE. This week is a bit easier that the mess of last week, because we are slowly consolidating to only three major players, Isin, Larsa, and Babylon, and the first two see the coming of benevolent, peaceful kings that actually seem to care at least a little bit about the common citizens of their cities. This state of affairs won't last forever, but it is nice while it lasts.

Sin-Kashid's Palace

Audio quality is terrible again this week, I can't seem to keep a consistent set-up from episode to episode. I will try and get it improved again for next week, but there is a lot of construction both in my apartment building and in the lot next door, so it is a bit of a challenge.

Episode 36 - Amorite 5 The Founding of Babylon

This week we continue to watch as Isin and Larsa fight each other and the many other rising dynasties over the chaotic period from 1905 to 1865 BCE. Only slightly notable at the time, though soon to be much, much more important, is the occupation of the tiny fishing village of Babylon by an Amorite coalition who will over these forty years give it its first king Sumu-la-el, first walls, and protector god Marduk. This forty years is an absolute mess of conquest, re-conquest, and confused chronologies, but I feel like simplifying the story wouldn't do justice to how completely insane this period was.

Episode 35 - Amorite 4 Middle Bronze Age Warfare

The main narrative of the Isin Larsa period is full of battles both stated and implied, but what do those battles actually look like? What sort of equipment and organization was common in this part of the middle bronze age? Honestly, quite a lot is similar from when we last looked deeply at military organization under Sargon the Great, but a number of things have changed as well, with the introduction of many Amorite battlefield innovations, so this episode will take a break from linear narrative and sketch an example battle of what it could have looked like to be a soldier in a Mesopotamian middle bronze age battle.