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Showing posts from July, 2020

Episode 43 - Babylon 2 Hammurabi's Siegecraft and Diplomacy

We have actual letters from Hammurabi that show off the diplomacy and statecraft for which the king was celebrated, and in the chaotic years leading up to the Great Elamite War, he will have many opportunities to employ all his many skills to manage the balance of power without violence. But when violence comes, it means cities will be put to siege, so the second half of the episode examines what we know about middle bronze age siegecraft. In both war and peace we will see the calculating intelligence of the men of Mesopotamia on full display.

Episode 42 - Babylon 1 Hammurabi's Kingdom and Character

What was Hammurabi like, and what did the kingdom of Babylon look like in the earliest days? Today, we are going to look at the man himself, Hammurabi, and what he did when he inherited the kingdom from his father. There will be some legal drama, including a trial by water, as well as diplomatic jockeying and a bit of low level warfare. If you are new to the show, this is a great place to start, since this is something of a turning point in Mesopotamian history, and Hammurabi's Babylon is one of the best places to learn about not just exciting military campaigns, but also the daily life, culture, and world view of the people of the Middle Bronze Age. I think the series on Hammurabi is likely to get a number of new listeners, and so I am going to re-explain some things that long-time listeners should already be familiar with. Hopefully this isn't too tiring for my established listeners. There is a small dispute whether his name should be written and pronounced Hammurabi o

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 d

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 - 179

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.