Cultures > Amorites

Amorites

Background

The Amorites also known as the Martu were an ancient nomadic group of Semitic people who eventually grew to take over the Akkadian Empire and Sumer under the famous king Hammurabi and establish the civilization of Babylonia. The Akkadians and Sumerians called them Amurru and they were the first to establish the city of Old Babylon and developed it from a small city within the Akkadian Empire to a major city and an important cultural center for the entire region. The Amorites were also greatly influential in bringing the god Baal/Marduk into the Babylonian religion.

One of the major points of Amorites are that they occupied the key centers of trade.

Origins

Some believe that the origins of the Amorites go back much longer than we previously accepted and can be dated between 4,000 BC and 9,000 BC. They are believed by some to have been the original humans that built the massive cities at Gobekli Tepe, Catalhoyk, Jerico and Hamoukar. If this is indeed true then their origins go back in time much further than 9,000 BC.

It was originally believed that the ancient Semites (Amorites) emerged from the barren wasteland of Saudi Arabia. However, based on Sumerian texts it has been proven otherwise. The first mentions of the Amorites are in the Semitic speaking land of Ebla from around 2500 BC. Based on their perspective the Amorites were a nomadic group that lived in central Mesopotamia.

The Amorites are mentioned by the Sumerians around 2400 BC in their clay cuneiform tablets. They refer to them as being located in the area of Asia Minor and of being nomadic, streaming from an area known as Jebel Bishri or the "mountain of the Amorites". This suggests they lived in the areas around the Zagros Mountains that form the source of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. According to an ancient Sumerian tablet:

β€œThe Martu who know no grain. The Martu who know no house nor town, the boors of the mountains. The Martu who digs up truffles... who does not bend his knees [to cultivate the land], who eats raw meat, who has no house during his lifetime, who is not buried after death...”

- Chiera 1934, 58, 112

Since the Amorites were nomadic they would force themselves onto any land that they needed to graze their massive herds. The Amorites were ruled by tribal chiefs and were a fierce race of people. The Sumerians were so threatened by their encroachment that they tried to build a massive 270 km (170 mi) long wall that stretched from the Tigris to the Euphrates to contain them.

It is believed that a massive drought around 2200 BC brought them down from the mountains and into the fertile regions of Mesopotamia where they managed to overthrow the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2112-2004 BC) and took control of several Sumerian and Akkadian city-states such as Isin, Eshnunna, Kish, Larsa. They also established the fledgling city of Babylon during this period as well. Since the Amorites were much more populous than the Sumerians they were eventually able to inherit the government and establish their own rule after native power declined.

The Amorites are also described by the kings of the Akkadian Empire for example the civilization of Martu was considered one of the Four Quarters of their map surrounding their capital at Akkad. The Akkadian king known as Naram-Sin was known to have launched a military campaign against the Amorites in 2240 BC and the following king named Shar-Kali-Sharri did as well.

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