Episode 12: Migrants and Old Assyrian Merchants
Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization
Dr Amanda H Podany
This lecture mainly concerns the foreign refugees that settled n Mesopotamia during the Ur III period. These included the Eblaites from Ebla (west of the Euprates); the Hurrians (from Assyria); the Gutians (from the Zagras mountains on Iran’s western border); the Elamites (from Elam – now western Iran); and the Amorites (originating in the Levant but occupying large portions of southern Mesopotamia from 2000 to 15000 BC).
Only the Amorites, who repeatedly raided Mesopotamian crop land to pasture their herds, posed a serious threat to the Ur III dynasty. During the 21st century BC, King Shulgi and King Shu-Sin constructed one of the world’s first defensive walls to keep them out. This would prove ineffective. When Amorite kings eventually took power in central and northwest Mesopotamia, their territory included a previously insignificant area known as Babylon,
Hamurabi was one of these kings. In 1900 BC, Yamhad (Aleppo in modern day Syria) eventually emerged as the largest Babylonian (Amorite) kingdom.
During this period, Mesopotamia had between 70 and 100 separate kingdoms that formed military alliances with other powerful kingdoms and engaged in near constant warfare.
King Gilgamesh, who ruled Uruk around 2500 BC, was celebrated in the Akkadian epic poem the Epic of Gilgamesh. According to Podany, his rule was a prelude to the very successful Old Babylonian Period.
Podany spends a significant portion of the lecture discussing the trading colony Assyrian immigrants established in 2000 BC in Kanash in Anatolia (modern day Turkey). The merchants originated from Ashur, the religious capitol of Assyria on the west bank of the Tigris. Ashur tradesmen (usually extended family members) transported tin and fine textiles via donkey caravans from Assyria to Kanash, which they traded for silver (the medium of exchange).
The film can be viewed free with a library card on Kanopy.