amurru

Kassite Green Agate Cylinder Seal - Circa 1400-1100 BC


Depicting a seated god holding a trident sceptre, with three locusts above, with an eight line Sumerian partly intelligible inscription reading ’(Oh god) Amurru …, pre-eminent of the …, the hero of … Adad-… for Kurigalzu the prince who reveres you, bestow on him a happy reign.’

The Kassites were an ancient Near Eastern people who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire in 1531 BC until around 1155 BC. The Kassites gained control of Babylonia after the Hittite sack of the city in 1595 BC and established a dynasty based in Dur-Kurigalzu named after Kurigalzu I, who reigned some time in the 14th century BC.

Kassite Kudurru (Boundary Stone), c. 1125-1100 BC

The cuneiform inscription on this kudurru records the granting by Eanna-shum-iddina, the governor of the Sealand, of five gur of corn land in the district of Edina in south Babylonia to a man called Gula-eresh. The boundaries of the land are laid out; the surveyor is named as Amurru-bel-zeri and the transfer completed by two high officials who are also named.

Nine gods are invoked to protect the monument, along with seventeen divine symbols. The symbols of the important Mesopotamian gods are most prominent: the solar disc of the sun-god Shamash, the crescent of the moon-god Sin and the eight-pointed star of Ishtar, goddess of fertility and war. The square boxes beneath these signs represent altars supporting the symbols of gods, including horned headdresses, the triangular spade of Marduk, and the wedge-shaped stylus of Nabu, the god of writing.

A prominent snake is shown on many kudurru and may, like many of the symbols, be related to the constellations. The text ends with curses on anyone who removes, ignores or destroys the kudurru.

The Sealand was one of the wealthiest regions of Babylonia. A dynasty called ‘Sealand’ first appears in records dating to the middle of the second millennium BC. It controlled the coastline of the south of Iraq and thus the trade routes down the Gulf. The Sealand rulers were defeated by the Kassite kings of Babylon in the fifteenth century BC and governors like Eanna-shum-iddina were then appointed to administer the region.