Shamshi-Adad I

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Shamshi-Adad I, (Akkadian) or Shamshi-Addu (Amorite) (c. 1809 – 1776 BCE) was an Amorite ancient Near East king of Assyria and other regions in Upper Mesopotamia. He rose to prominence when he carved out an empire encompassing much of Mesopotamia, Syria and Asia Minor often referred to as the Kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia. During his reign, the Kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia competed for power with Yahdun-Lim of Mari as well as the kingdom of Eshnunna in lower Mesopotamia.[1] After his death, the empire was soon defeated by Hammurabi of Babylon, coming briefly under the control of the First Babylonian Dynasty throughout this period. He was incorporated into the traditional king lists of Assyria and earlier archaeologists assumed he was indeed Assyrian.

Rise to power[edit]

His father Ila-kabkabu ruled in Terqa, a city on the borders of Mari in northern Syria. He was an Amorite king. Around 1833 Shamshi-Adad I inherited the throne in Terqa. After ten years of rule he was forced to flee to Babylon while Naram-Sin of Eshnunna attacked Ekallatum. Shamshi-Adad spent seven years in exile until Naram-Sim died. In 1808 he re-emerged as king and also conquered Assur.[2]

He took over the long abandoned Akkadian Empire era town of Shekhna in north eastern Syria,[3] building it into his capital and renaming the city Shubat-Enlil. The modern name of the site is Tell Leilan.

He placed his sons in key geographical locations and gave them responsibility to look over those areas. While he remained in Shubat-Enlil, his eldest son son, Ishme-Dagan I was put on the throne of Ekallatum. The younger son Yasmah-Adad was in charge of Mari following conquest there. Shamshi-Adad I attempted to legitimize his position on the Assyrian throne by claiming descent from Ushpia, a 21st-century BC Assyrian ruler. at ang suso ni solenn heussaff


Shamshi-Adad I ascended the throne of Assur in 1808 BCE and ruled northern Mesopotamia until his death in 1776 BCE.

A main target for expansion was the city Mari, which controlled the caravan route between Anatolia and Mesopotamia. The king of Mari, Iakhdunlim, was assassinated by his own servants, possibly on Shamshi-Adad's orders. In 1795 Shamshi-Adad seized the opportunity and occupied Mari. The heir to the throne, Zimri-Lim, was forced to flee to Aleppo, ancient Yamkhad. Shamshi-Adad put his second son, Yasmah-Adad on the throne in Mari, and then returned to Shubat-Enlil.

With the annexation of Mari, Shamshi-Adad was in control of a large empire,[4] controlling the whole of Upper Mesopotamia. On inscriptions Shamshi-Adad boasts of erecting triumphal stelae on the coast of the Mediterranean, but these probably represent short expeditions rather than any attempts at conquest. Shamshi-Adad also proclaimed himself as "king of all", the title used by Sargon of Akkad.

In 1781 BCE Dadusha, a king of the neighboring state Eshnunna, made an alliance with Shamshi-Adad in order to conquer the area between the two Zab rivers. This military campaign of joint forces was commemorated on a victory stele which states that Dadusha gives the lands to Shamshi-Adad. Shamshi-Adad later turned against Dadusha by attacking cities including Shaduppum and Nerebtum. After the death of Shamshi-Adad, Eshnunna captured cities around Assur.[5]

Naturally, Shamshi-Adad's rise to glory earned him the envy of neighbouring kings and tribes, and throughout his reign, he and his sons faced several threats to their control. While Ishme-Dagan probably was a competent ruler, his brother Yasmah-Adad appears to have been a man of weak character; something the disappointed father was not above mentioning: Are you a child, not a man, have you no beard on your chin, he writes, and in another letter While here your brother is victorious, down there you lie about among the women.

Shamshi-Adad clearly kept a firm control on the actions of his sons, as shown in his many letters to them. At one point he arranged a political marriage between Yasmah-Adad to Beltum, the princess of his ally in Qatna. Yasmah-Adad already had a leading wife and put Beltum in a secondary position of power. Shamshi-Adad did not approve and forced his son to keep Beltum in the palace in a leading position.[6] Shamshi-Adad sent a letter on a tablet to Ishi-Addu (Beltum's father, the King of Qatna) in which he discusses their alliance, the attacks of their enemies, as well as the successful marriage between their children. In it he says, I heard that you gladly dispatched my daughter-in-law on a safe way back to me, that you treated my servants when they stayed with you well, and that they were not hindered at all. My heart is very happy.[7]

Shamshi-Adad was a great organizer and he kept a firm controls on all matters of state, from high policy down to the appointing of officials and the dispatching of provisions. His campaigns were meticulously planned, and his army knew all the classic methods of siegecraft, such as encircling ramparts and battering rams. Spies and propaganda were often used to win over rival cities. He allowed conquered territories to maintain some of their earlier practices. In Assur he held the title "governor of Assur." In Ninevah he used state resources to rebuild the Ishtar temple. The city Qattara local rulers maintained authority (but became vassals) when they were incorporated into the Kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia. A new change which was enforced was the unification of the dating system to be the Assyrian eponym system throughout the kingdom in cities such as Mari, Tuttul, Shubat-Enlil, and Terqa.[8]

Shamshi-Adad continued to strengthen his kingdom throughout his life, but as he got older, the state was more vulnerable and the neighboring powers Yamkhad and Eshnunna both began attacking. The empire lacked cohesion and was in a vulnerable geographical position. When the news of Shamshi-Adad's death spread, his old rivals at once set out to topple his sons from the throne. Yasmah-Adad was soon expelled from Mari by Zimri-Lim, and the rest of the empire was eventually lost during the reigns of Ishme-Dagan and Mut-Ashkur to another Amorite ruler, Hammurabi of Babylon.


In Assur, near the temple there, were found stone tablets with Akkadian inscriptions, formatted in three columns and a total of 135 lines, from Shamshi-Adad. In this inscription he claims to be "king of the universe," and "unifier of the land between Tigris and Euphrates." He asserts that the king of the "upper Land" paid tribute to him and that he built the temple of Enlil. Archaeology supports this claim because excavations of the temple of Ashur show that many bricks and objects inside have the inscription "Shamshi-Adad, builder of the temple of Ashur" carved into them.[9] He outlines the market prices of that time as being one shekel of silver being worth two kor of barley, 15 minas of wool, or two seahs of oil.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chavalas, Mark W. (2006). The Ancient Near East: Historical Sources in Translation. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. p. 95. ISBN 0-631-23581-7. 
  2. ^ Van De Mieroop, Marc (2004). A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 BC (2nd ed.). Blackwell Publishing. p. 107. ISBN 9781405149112. 
  3. ^, Harvey Weiss et al., The genesis and collapse of Third Millennium north Mesopotamian Civilization, Science, vol. 291, pp. 995-1088, 1993
  4. ^ Some of the Mari letters addressed to Shamsi-Adad by his son can be found in the Mari Letters section of Shaika Haya Ali Al Khalifa and Michael Rice, (1986). Bahrain through the Ages. KPI. ISBN 0-7103-0112-X. 
  5. ^ Van De Mieroop, Marc (2004). A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 BC (2nd ed.). Blackwell Publishing. p. 99. ISBN 9781405149112. 
  6. ^ Van De Mieroop, Marc (2004). A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 BC (2nd ed.). Malden: Blackwell Publishing. p. 109. ISBN 9781405149112. 
  7. ^ Chavalas, Mark W. (2006). The Ancient Near East: Historical Sources in Translation. Malden: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 114–115. ISBN 0631235817. 
  8. ^ Van De Mieroop, Marc (2004). A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 BC (2nd ed.). Blackwell Publishing. p. 107. ISBN 9781405149112. 
  9. ^ Chavalas, Mark W. (2006). The Ancient Near East: Historical Sources in Translation. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. pp. 102–103. ISBN 0-631-23581-7. 


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Preceded by
Erishum II
King of Assyria
1813–1781 BC (mc)
Succeeded by
Ishme-Dagan I