People > Ibbi-Sin



Ibbi-Sin was an ancient Sumerian king of the last 3rd Dynasty of Ur. He reigned between 1963 BC and 1940 BC based on the short chronology and was the son of Shu-Sin. Throughout his reign he was constantly under threat from the Amorites who eventually were able to overtake the civilization, thus ending his rule and dynasty. Following the Amorite victories the Elamites also rebelled and joined in against the Sumerians.

Ibbi-Sin had tried to prevent the Amorite invasion by building huge fortifications and defensive structures at Ur as well as Nippur but to no avail. Cities like Isin were taken by the Amorite leader Ishbi-Erra. Soon the enemies was at the gates of the capital at Ur by 1940 BC and Ibbi-Sin was reduced to his last bastion of power. Joining with the Elamites, the Amorites managed to siege and sack Ur, capturing Ibbi-Sin as a prisoner of war. He was brought to the city of Susa where he later died in exile at an unknown date.

The downfall of Sumer during this period may have also been attributed to a period of drought that had long been plaguing the region along with the soil salinity problems. These same environmental issues had started to affect the Akkadian Empire established by Sargon the Great centuries before around 2193 BC. These environmental problems have been corroborated by analyzing sediments from the Persian Gulf and show this warfare may have been caused by food shortages which led to enemy raids from hungry civilizations.

It is known that in the final years of Ibbi-Sins's reign the price of grain inflated to 60x the normal and this was caused by a coupling of the environmental problems and the disruption of agricultural production and trade networks due to the Amorite invasions. This eventually weakened the central power structure so that the Elamites under Kindattu could finally come in and conquer Sumer.


Ibbi-Sin is known as the last Sumerian king and the 3rd Dynasty of Ur would be the last dynasty of Sumer. While the traditions, developments and culture of Sumer would continue to live on for thousands of years, the political power of the civilization was gone at this point. Sumer would be conquered by the Amorites and later incorporated into the civilization of Babylonia under the leader Hammurabi. Sumer would eventually serve as the great foundation for the civilization of Babylonia as well as the Chaldea who ended up conquering the former as well. Overall the legacy of Sumer has long been felt after its death, really giving credibility to the term "cradle of civilization".

Votive bead dedicated to the Moon god by Ibbi-Sin, god-king of Ur, in recognition for saving his life: "To (the god) Nanna, his master, Ibbi-Sin, god of his country, strong king, king or Ur, king of the four regions, has, for his life, dedicated this bead."Ibbi-Sin, son of Shu-Sin, was king of Sumer and Akkad and last king of the Ur III dynasty, and reigned c. 1963 BC-1940 BC (Short chronology). During his reign, the Sumerian empire was attacked repeatedly by Amorites. As faith in Ibbi-Sin's leadership failed, Elam declared its independence and began to raid as well.Ibbi-Sin ordered fortifications built at the important cities of Ur and Nippur, but these efforts were not enough to stop the raids or keep the empire unified. Cities throughout Ibbi-Sin's empire fell away from a king who could not protect them, notably Isin under the Amorite ruler Ishbi-Erra. Ibbi-Sin was, by the end of his kingship, left with only the city of Ur. In 1940 BC, the Elamites, along with "tribesmen" from the region of Shimashki in the Zagros Mountains" (Stiebing 79) sacked Ur and took Ibbi-Sin captive; he was taken to the city of Elam where he was imprisoned and, at an unknown date, died.The success of the Amorite invasion[edit]The Amorites were considered a backward people by Mesopotamian standards; Ibbi-Sin's 17th year was officially named "Year the Amorites, the powerful south wind who, from the remote past, have not known cities, submitted to Ibbi-Sin the king of Ur." However, despite his father Shu-Sin having built a "wall of Martu" across Mesopotamia against Amorite incursions, these were penetrated early in Ibbi-Sin's reign.Scholars have suggested that, by the reign of Ibbi-Sin, the empire was already in decline due to long-term drought—in fact, the same drought that helped to take down the Akkadian Empire c. 2193 BC may have been responsible for the fall of Ur III.Studies of Persian Gulf sediments indicate that the stream flow of the Tigris and Euphrates was very low around 2100-2000 B.C.E. [...] Any damage to the agricultural system by enemy raids, bureaucratic mismanagement, or an inattentive ruler would result in food shortagesIn years seven and eight of Ibbi-Sin's kingship, the price of grain increased to 60 times the norm. From this, we can conclude that the success of the Amorites in disrupting the Ur III empire is, at least in part, a product of attacks on the agricultural and irrigation systems; these attacks brought famine and caused an economic collapse in the empire, paving the way for the Elamites under Kindattu to strike into Ur and capture the king.[hide] v t eNotable rulers of SumerAntediluvian kingsAlulim Dumuzid the Shepherd En-men-dur-ana Ziusudra1st Dynasty of KishEtana Enmebaragesi1st Dynasty of UrukEnmerkar Lugalbanda Dumuzid, the Fisherman Gilgamesh1st Dynasty of UrMeskalamdug Mesannepada Puabi2nd Dynasty of UrukEnshakushanna1st Dynasty of LagashUr-Nanshe Eannatum En-anna-tum I Entemena UrukaginaDynasty of AdabLugal-Anne-Mundu3rd Dynasty of KishKubaba3rd Dynasty of UrukLugal-zage-siDynasty of AkkadSargon Tashlultum Enheduanna Rimush Manishtushu Naram-Sin Shar-Kali-Sharri Dudu Shu-turul2nd Dynasty of LagashPuzer-Mama Gudea5th Dynasty of UrukUtu-hengal3rd dynasty of UrUr-Nammu Shulgi Amar-Sin Shu-Sin Ibbi-SinReferences[edit]Stiebing Jr., William H. (2003). Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture. New York: Pearson Education. ISBN 0-321-06674-X.
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