History Files
 

 

Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Syria

 

 

 

MapAlep / Aleppo (State of Yamkhad / Amkhad)

Starting out as one of the world's oldest inhabited settlements in the eleventh century BC, Alep (modern Aleppo) has been continuously inhabited since around 5000 BC. Strategically located on the trade route from the Euphrates Valley to the Mediterranean, it prospered as one of the northern Syrian city states from around the middle of the third millennium BC.

Following a downturn in the region's fortunes shortly before the collapse of Ur, Alep was ripe for takeover by the newly dominant Amorites, along with some Hurrian groups. They expanded the city state to form the small kingdom of Yamkhad, still centred on the city of Alep, with their most stubborn opponent in the west being the rival state of Qatna. Since the city has been continuously inhabited for perhaps seven thousand years, excavations there are impossible, and any account has to be assembled based on outside sources.

c.2260s BC

Ibbi Sippis of the powerful city of Ebla concludes treaties with Canaanite Alep (or Armi), its close neighbour in the region.

c.2004 BC

Following the collapse of Sumer, Amorites gain control of much of Mesopotamia, including the Syrian city of Alep. The city comes to prominence for the first time, perhaps after Ebla's loss of independence, but records are sparse for the first two centuries of its existence as the state of Yamkhad. The small city state of Alakhtum is probably a vassal from the start, as are the cities of Arpad and Tuba.

? - c.1780 BC

Sumu'epuh

c.1800? BC

Yahdun-Lim of Mari sends troops north to join Sumu'epuh's forces in fighting several hostile Syrian states, including Tuttul, defeating their armies and attacking their cities.

Both Sumu'epuh and his son become involved in wars against Shamshi-Adad's kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia, as that state supports its fierce rival, Qatna. Sum'epuh also sells the territory of Alakhtum to his son-in-law, Zimri-Lim, who, in 1776 BC becomes king of Mari.

c.1780 - 1765 BC

Yarim-Lim I

Son.

c.1776 BC

Yamkhad and Eshnunna attack and destroy the kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia. Yarim-Lim is free to expand his kingdom down the Euphrates Valley as far as the borders of Mari, with whom relations are friendly as the ruler, Zimri-Lim, is Yarim-Lim's brother-in-law. Now more powerful than Hammurabi of Babylon in terms of his level of support, a letter excavated from Mari claims Yarim-Lim is followed by twenty [lesser] kings, including those of Ugarit and Ebla.

c.1765 - 1760 BC

Hammurabi I

Son.

c.1761 BC

After Hammurabi of Babylon turns on Mari and conquers it, contact between Yamkhad and the south comes to an end, with Yamkhad seemingly regaining the city of Alakhtum. Hammurabi of Alep appears to be the acknowledged overlord of all of northern Syria and Mesopotamia at this time.

c.1760 - ? BC

Abba'el / Abba-ili / Abban I

Relationship unknown, possibly son.

There follows a reorganisation of Yamkhad's state following what may be a revolt (which is otherwise undocumented). Abba'el places his brother (another Yarim-Lim) on the throne of Alakhtum.

Yarim-Lim / Yarimlim II

Son.

Niqmepa / Niqmiepu' I

Son.

Irkabtum

Son.

c.1650 - 1620 BC

Yamkhad now controls north-western Syria, dominating Qatna, and as a result becomes a key target for attacks by the newly created Hittite kingdom to its north. They attack and destroy several of Yamkhad's vassals over several years, such as Alakhtum, Carchemish, and Hashshu, and the two states compete over Urkesh further east, but Alep itself survives despite several campaigns in the region.

Yarim-Lim III

Brother of Irkabtum, or younger son of Niqmepa.

? - c.1595 BC

Hammurabi II

Son. (Sometimes listed before his father.)

c.1595 BC

Mursili's Hittites capture and destroy Alep on their way south to sack Babylon, ending the political situation that has been holding the Syrian states together. There is a gap of around a century before a new ruling elite emerges. The collapse in authority in the region allows a greater influx of Hurrians into Anatolia and Syria.

Abba'el / Abba-ili II

fl c.1500 BC

Ili Illima / Ilimilimma I

Murdered at the same time as Idrimi fled.

c.1470s BC

The Mitanni expand their empire westwards to encompass Alep (which they call Halab). There is a popular rebellion within the state that may be encouraged or orchestrated by Parrattarna of Mitanni so that he can secure overlordship. If so, it succeeds when Ili Illima is murdered and his son is forced to flee.

Idrimi

Son. Forced to flee and later conquered Alakhtum.

?

Vassal or puppet ruler, or direct Mitanni rule?

It seems that Idrimi's son later extends his territorial control from the family's new home in Alakhtum to reclaim his ancestral seat. This is probably under Mitanni domination.

c.1450 - 1425 BC

Niqmepa / Niqmiepu' II

Son. King of Alakhtum.

fl c.1420 BC

Ili Illima / Ilimilimma II

Son. King of Alakhtum.

c.1370 - 1340 BC

Suppiluliuma, the new Hittite ruler, takes direct control of much of northern Syria, including Alep and Arpad, placing Hittites on the throne.

MapHittite Princes of Alep

Once Suppiluliuma had reorganised Hittite control of northern Syria, Hittite princes were placed on the throne of Alep as regional representatives of the empire, but either this was not a permanent arrangement or there are gaps in the record. However, Alep was still the most prominent city in north-western Syria.

fl c.1360s BC

Telipinu / Telepinush

Son of Hittite ruler, Suppiluliuma,

fl c.1330 BC

Talmi-Sharruma

fl mid-1200s BC

Rimisharina

c.1200 BC

With the collapse of the Hittite empire, and the general instability which grips the region, some cities in Syria are destroyed, while others such as Alep, fall under the control of Aramaeans.

Treaty of Mursili II
Treaty between the Hittite king Mursili II and Talmi-sharruma of Aleppo to regulate future relations between the two states

c.1115 - 1077 BC

Under Tiglath-Pileser I, the Assyrians temporarily conquer the region.

Lukhuti / Hatarikka-Luhuti (Lu'as / Luash)

During the early first millennium, Aleppo was occupied by Aramaeans who formed a small state which is very poorly documented. At the same time, Aleppo itself was known as Halman, and this changed over time to Hatarikka (or Hadrach, in the Old Testament). While this Iron Age Aleppo may initially have been independent, it quickly formed a southern province for Pattin, before falling into the hands of Hamath.

c.900s BC

Aleppo is the capital of the poorly documented region or state which is known as Lukhuti. By around 900 BC it is probably controlled by Pattin.

c.870 BC

The Assyrians obtain submission from a number of cities in the region, solving the problem of Aramaean incursions into their territory. The frontier fortress of Aribua within the land of Lukhuti (probably Late Bronze Age Nukhashe, and possibly within the neighbourhood of modern Idlib) is one of the locations to be ravaged.

c.850s BC

Lukhuti forms part of the state of Hamath by this date, if not as early as 870 BC.

c.847 BC

Hamath is conquered by Assyria and local governors or vassal kings are placed in control of the state.

c.796 BC

Ben-Hadad III of Damascus leads a coalition of states against Zakir of Hamath, and Luash, but is defeated by the latter.

738 BC

Hamath becomes a confirmed vassal of Assyria at the same time as the territories to its north, Lukhuti and Pattin, fall.

609 BC

Following the destruction of the Assyrian empire, the region is governed by successive empires; Babylon, Persia, Macedon, the Seleucid empire, Armenia, Rome, the Islamic empire, and then the Hamdanids. Always playing a key role in regional history is the city of Aleppo.