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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 193

The Elamites were not slow to take advantage of the state of anarchy which prevailed in Babylonia during the closing years of Assyrian rule. They overran a part of ancient Sumer, and captured Nippur, where they slew a large number of inhabitants and captured many prisoners. On a subsequent occasion they pillaged Isin. When, however, the Babylonian king had cleared his country of the Assyrians, he attacked the Elamites and drove them across the frontier.

Nothing is known regarding the reign of the parricide Ashur-natsir-pal I of Assyria. He was succeeded by Ninip-Tukulti-Ashur and Adad-shum-lishir, who either reigned concurrently or were father and son. After a brief period these were displaced by another two rulers, Ashur-nirari III and Nabu-dan.

It is not clear why Ninip-Tukulti-Ashur was deposed. Perhaps he was an ally of Adad-shum-utsur, the Babylonian king, and was unpopular on that account. He journeyed to Babylon on one occasion, carrying with him the statue of Merodach, but did not return. Perhaps he fled from the rebels. At any rate Adad-shum-utsur was asked to send him back, by an Assyrian dignitary who was probably Ashur-nirari III. The king of Babylon refused this request, nor would he give official recognition to the new ruler or rulers.

Soon afterwards another usurper, Bel-kudur-utsur, led an Assyrian army against the Babylonians, but was slain in battle. He was succeeded by Ninip-apil-esharia, who led his forces back to Asshur, followed by Adad-shum-utsur. The city was besieged but not captured by the Babylonian army.

Under Adad-shum-utsur, who reigned for thirty years, Babylonia recovered much of its ancient splendour. It held Elam in check and laid a heavy hand on Assyria, which had been paralysed by civil war. Once again it possessed Mesopotamia and controlled its caravan road to Haran and Phoenicia, and apparently its relations with the Hittites and Syrians were of a cordial character. The next king, Meli-shipak, assumed the Assyrian title "Shar Kishshati", "king of the world", and had a prosperous reign of fifteen years. He was succeeded by Marduk-aplu-iddin I, who presided over the destinies of Babylonia for about thirteen years. Thereafter the glory of the Kassite Dynasty passed away. King Zamama-shum-iddin followed with a twelvemonth's reign, during which his kingdom was successfully invaded from the north by the Assyrians under King Ashur-dan I, and from the east by the Elamites under a king whose name has not been traced. Several towns were captured and pillaged, and rich booty was carried off to Asshur and Susa.

Bel-shum-iddin succeeded Zamama-shum-iddin, but three years afterwards he was deposed by a king of Isin. So ended the Kassite Dynasty of Babylonia, which had endured for a period of 576 years and nine months.

Babylonia was called Karduniash during the Kassite Dynasty. This name was originally applied to the district at the river mouths, where the alien rulers appear to have first achieved ascendancy. Apparently they were strongly supported by the non-Semitic elements in the population, and represented a popular revolt against the political supremacy of the city of Babylon and its god Merodach. It is significant to find in this connection that the early Kassite kings showed a preference for Nippur as their capital and promoted the worship of Enlil, the elder Bel, who was probably identified with their own god of fertility and battle. Their sun god, Sachi, appears to have been merged in Shamash. In time, however, the kings followed the example of Hammurabi by exalting Merodach.


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