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Rim-Sin (Amorite, translates as Bull of Sin ) - The name given one or (more probably) two Mesopotamian kings who opposed Babylon in the 17th c. BCE

Rim-Sin I (or Rim-Sin of Larsa)[edit]

Map showing rough sphere's of influence for the Mesopotamian states of Larsa (purple), Babylon (orange) and Eshnunna (green) at approximately 1790 BC

King of the city of Larsa from 1822 BC to 1763 BC middle chronology,[1] when the city was conquered by Hammurabi.[2]

Kudur-Mabuk was probably an Elamite official whose family exercised authority over the Amorite people around the city of Mashkan-shapir, on the frontier between Mesopotamia and Elam. Around 1835 BC when king Silli-Adad of Larsa, was killed in a war with Babylon, Kudur-Mabuk managed to exploit the resulting power vacuum and have his sons elevated to the throne of that city. First Warad-Sin (1834BC-1823BC)[1] and then Rim-Sin.[3] Though ethnically Elamite, the brothers had Amorite names and appear to have conscientiously ruled as Amorite leaders. They erected temples to the local Mesopotamian gods and continued the cultural grudges they had inherited -- most specifically regarding Larsa's arch-rival Isin.

Since the reign of Sargon it had been tradition in Mesopotamia that the office of High Priestess of Ur was given to a family member of the most powerful ruling family in the region. That this office fell to Rim-Sin's sister En-ane-du[4] suggests that Larsa had become the pre-eminent power in Mesopotamia. Indeed Larsa's control extended some 150 miles along the Euphrates from Nippur and Mashkan-shapir to the Persian Gulf.[1]

In the ninth year of Rim-Sin's reign that pre-eminence was challenged as Isin besieged and captured Nippur. By 1810 there was general war along Larsa's southern frontier against a coalition made up of Isin, Babylon and Uruk. Larsa came out on top of this and Uruk lost several frontier cities as a result. Babylon's taste for war appears to have waned by this point, but Isin and Uruk kept going, to their eventual sorrow. Larsa was able to retake Nippur in 1801 BC and a year later they defeated Uruk utterly, capturing that city and all its territory. Isin alone was no match for Rim-Sin's armies and, though they held on grimly, in 1794 Larsa's armies were at the walls of Isin itself, it's capitulation left Rim-Sin the unchallenged master of all Mesopotamia from Nippur to the gulf. He had been in power for 13 years.[1]

This new configuration proved durable, Larsa's two remaining rivals were otherwise occupied, so Rim-Sin was able to spend the next 7 years focused on domestic issues. Both he and his brother were enthusiastic patrons of public works, and paid for the construction of numerous monuments and temples (30 are known in the city of Ur alone).[3] He also set about centralizing control of his empire's administrative and economic functions around the capitol, swelling the city's importance and size.

The reason Babylon had been quiet for so long was that it had gained a new king. Hammurabi, who succeeded his father in 1792 BC, was a deliberate man and gave himself five years to consolidate power at home before turning his attention to the wider world; but by 1787 BC he was ready and his armies went out in three directions. The invasion of Rim-Sin's territory was swift and decisive. He took Isin immediately and advanced down the Euphrates all the way to Uruk.[5] If Rim-Sin had a response to this aggression, the records have not been found, and the new configuration, with Babylon controlling the entire Euphrates east of Rapiqum and a somewhat smaller Larsa still holding the floodplain north and east, became the new status quo.

In 1766 Hammurabi struck again, and this time Rim-Sin, who had ruled for 59 years, was too old to effectively contain the armies of him and his ally Zimri-Lim of Mari. City after city fell away and by 1763 BC, Hammurabi controlled the entirety of Rim-Sin's former territory, including Larsa itself. Two years later Hammurabi had also conquered Mari and Eshnunna, as well as defeating Elam and Assur.[5][6] Rim-Sin's personal fate is ambiguous.

Rim-Sin II (or Rim-Sin of Elam)[edit]

Hammurabi ruled his unified territory for over a decade, and when he died that territory was passed on to his son Samsu-iluna. In the 9th year of Samsu-iluna's reign, the name Rim-Sin again entered the literature. A man going by this name raised a rebellion against Babylonian authority that spread to include Larsa, Uruk, Ur, Isin, Kisurra and Sabum at least. There is considerable continuity in the territory under revolt which would seem to indicate that this man managed to attract widespread support, a potential indicator that we are dealing with the same man. But we know Rim-Sin's reign over Larsa had lasted 56 years. So even if he had ascended to the throne in his pre-teens, the man would have been in his late-60's when the struggle started, and over 70 when it came to a close.

The current prevailing belief[7][8] is that this Rim-Sin was an opportunist who took the name because of its associations with successful non-Babylonian authority in the region.


  1. ^ a b c d Van de Mieroop, Mark (2006). A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 BC, 2nd Edition. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 92–93. ISBN 1405149116. 
  2. ^ Postgate, J.N. (1994). Early Mesopotamia: society and economy at the dawn of history, reprint edition. Routlidge Publishing. p. 39. ISBN 0415110327. 
  3. ^ a b Roux,Georges (1992). Ancient Iraq, Third Edition. London: Penguin Books. pp. 184–185. ISBN 014012523X. 
  4. ^ Van de Mieroop, Mark (2006). A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 BC, 2nd Edition. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 90. ISBN 1405149116. 
  5. ^ a b Roux,Georges (1992). Ancient Iraq, Third Edition. London: Penguin Books. pp. 197–201. ISBN 014012523X. 
  6. ^ Van de Mieroop, Mark (2006). A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 BC, 2nd Edition. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 111. ISBN 1405149116. 
  7. ^ Roux,Georges (1992). Ancient Iraq, Third Edition. London: Penguin Books. p. 243. ISBN 014012523X. 
  8. ^ Van de Mieroop, Mark (2006). A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 BC, 2nd Edition. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 115. ISBN 1405149116.