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Samsuiluna cone (sikkatu) in Sumerian and Akkadian languages, c. 1749-1712 BC

Updated: Apr 20, 2022

Samsu-iluna (Amorite: Shamshu; c. 1750–1712 BC) was the seventh king of the founding Amorite dynasty of Babylon, ruling from 1750 BC to 1712 BC (middle chronology), or from 1686 to 1648 BC (short chronology). He was the son and successor of Hammurabi by an unknown mother. His reign was marked by the violent uprisings of areas conquered by his father and the abandonment of several important cities (primarily in Sumer).

Circumstances of Samsu-iluna's reign

When Hammurabi rose to power in the city of Babylon, he controlled a small region directly around that city, and was surrounded by vastly more powerful opponents on all sides. By the time he died, he had conquered Sumer, Eshnunna, Assyria and Mari making himself master of Mesopotamia. He had also significantly weakened and humiliated Elam and the Gutians.

While defeated, however, these states were not destroyed; if Hammurabi had a plan for welding them to Babylon he did not live long enough to see it through. Within a few years of his death, Elam and Assyria had withdrawn from Babylon's orbit and revolutions had started in all the conquered territories. The task of dealing with these troubles—and others—fell to Samsu-iluna. Though he campaigned tirelessly and seems to have won frequently, the king proved unable to stop the empire's unwinding. Through it all, however, he did manage to keep the core of his kingdom intact, and this allowed the city of Babylon to cement its position in history.

Fragmentation of the Empire

In the 9th year of Samsu-iluna's reign a man calling himself Rim-sin (known in the literature as Rim-sin II, and thought to perhaps be a nephew of the Rim-sin who opposed Hammurabi)[3]:48–49 raised a rebellion against Babylonian authority in Larsa which spread to include some 26 cities, among them Uruk, Ur, Isin and Kisurra in the south, and Eshnunna. in the north.

Samsu-iluna seems to have had the upper-hand militarily. Within a year he dealt the coalition a shattering blow which took the northern cities out of the fight.[Note 1] In the aftermath the king of Eshnunna, Iluni, was dragged to Babylon and executed by strangulation. Over the course of the next 4 years, Samsu-iluna's armies tangled with Rim-sin's forces up and down the borderlands between Babylon, Sumer and Elam. Eventually Samsu-iluna attacked Ur, pulled down its walls and put the city to the sack, he then did the same to Uruk, and Isin as well. Finally Larsa itself was defeated and Rim-sin II was killed, thus ending the struggle.

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