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World History - The Near East, Part 2

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1/6/2016 2:06:03 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
This is Part 2 of my Near East series. You can find part 1 here -

The Rise of Babylon (I love Babylon)

Location: Modern Iraq, Southeastern Syria
Time period: 1900-1595 BC (approximately)

From around 1900 BC, the Babylonian kings began annexing states to the north, such as Sippar and Kish, marking the start of the "Old Babylonian" period. They were prevented from further advanced by Shamshi-Adad, who held a strong state in upper Mesopotamia.

After Shamsi-Adad's death, Hammurabi of Babylon extended his city-state's reach even further, conquering the whole of southern Mesopotamia between 1766 and 1761 BC. Only further west, in modern Syria, did kings such as Zimri-Lim of Mari seek to maintain independence. Late in his reign, Hammurabi attacked even Maria and reduced Zimri-Lim to vassalage. Having achieved his territorial ambitions, Hammurabi issued his famous code of law. By the time of Hammurabi's death, Babylon had become the regional superpower.

Under Samsuiluna, Hammurabi's son, Babylon faced a serious rebellion during cities such as Nippur and Ur broke away from its control. The south of Mesopotamia went into decline, but the Old Babylonian dynasty continued to rule the north until 1595 BC, when a new group, the Kassites, sacked the city.

Sub-Section: Hammurabi and his Law Code

A warrior, statesman, and lawgiver, Hammurabi raised Babylon from the status of a minor city-state to the principal Mesopotamian power. He described himself as "the king who has made the fourth quarters of the Earth subservient" and his law code, containing some 282 legal decrees, was probably more an attempt to portray himself as a supporter of justice than a practical legal document. Its penalties often harsh and retributive, such as the loss of an eye for blinding a free man.

The Hittites

Location: Central and Southeastern Turkey
Time period: 1700-1200 BC

The kingdom of the Hitties, called Hatti, was based in central Anatolia around their capital city Hattusa, but constantly shifted its borders, extending at times as far as western Syria in the south and the costs of the Black Sea and the Aegean in the north and west. Comparatively little is known of the Hittite Old Kingdom, the first ruler of which, Hattusili, founded Hattusa in about 1650 BC. Under Hattusili's successor Mursili I, Hittite armies campaigned in Syria, but by the reign of Telipinu, Hatti was once again reduced to its core territory around the capital. Under Tudhaliya III, the first ruler of the New Kingdom, the Hittites expanded again, defeating the rulers of Aleppo and the Mitanni. Hatti reach its height under Suppiluliuma I, who conquered northern Syria and threatened Egyptian control over Palestine. Mursili III fought the Egyptians in a bitterly contested battle at Kadesh in 1274 BC, which both sides claimed as a victory. However, the aftermanth of the battle firmly cemented Hittite control in Syria. The growing threat from Assyria to the east, and the rebellion of vassal states in the west, rapidly undermined the Hittite Kingdom and in 1207 unknown raiders sacked Hatti again, after which the Hittite state collapsed completely.
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