History Files

Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Syria


Alep / Aleppo / Yamkhad / Amkhad (Syria)

Starting out as one of the world's oldest inhabited settlements in the eleventh millennium 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.

(Additional information from the Columbia Encyclopaedia, Sixth Edition (2010), and the Britannica Concise Encyclopaedia (2010).)

c.10,000 BC

Alep emerges as one of the world's first inhabited settlements, showing signs of civilisation during the eleventh millennium BC. Areas to the immediate south of the old Aleppo - at Tell al-Ansari and Tell as-Sawda - reveal occupation that can be dated back at least as far as the late third millennium BC.

c.3400 BC

Alakhtum is first founded as a permanent settlement, located to the west of Alep, about fifty kilometres from the River Orontes. Its fortunes remain largely unknown until the city is re-founded at the beginning of the second millennium BC.

c.2260s BC

Ibbi Sippis of the powerful city of Ebla concludes treaties with Canaanite Alep (or Armi), its close neighbour in the region. This is the first-known historical record to mention ancient Aleppo. If it is also the Armi of Aramaean records then it is also referred to as Armanum and Armani, an otherwise largely mysterious and little-known state.

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


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


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


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


Niqmepa / Niqmiepu' I




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 his son, 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.


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.

Hittite Princes of Alep (Syria)

Once Suppiluliuma had reorganised Hittite control of northern Syria, Hittite princes were placed on the throne of Alep as regional representatives of the empire. Either this was not a permanent arrangement or there are gaps in the record, but Telipinu, son of the Hittite king, Suppiluliuma I and most recently to be found as the 'priest' governor of Kizzuwatna is the first of them. However, Alep was still the most prominent city in north-western Syria.

(Additional information from External Link: The History of Kizzuwatna and the Date of the Šunaššura Treaty, Richard H Beal (Orientalia, Nova Series, Vol 55, No 4 (1986), pp 424-445, available via JSTOR).)

fl c.1360s BC

Telipinu / Telepinush

Son of Hittite ruler, Suppiluliuma. Formerly in Kizzuwatna.

fl c.1330 BC


c.1300 BC

A temple is built at Ain Dara, a little to the north-west of Alep. Its floor plan would seem to be very similar to that of the First Temple in Jerusalem, built from around 966 BC onwards. The Old Testament in the Book of Kings suggests something of that floor plan by giving the measurements of the outer shell and details of the insides. The floor plan would seem to resemble that of other temples in Canaan, not just the one at Ain Dara, all of which are built by people who practice polytheism. Ain Dara's temple remains in use until about 740 BC, about the time that Alep becomes a vassal to Assyria.

The 'Aleppo Treaty' of the fourteenth century BC
The 'Aleppo Treaty' was drawn up on a cuneiform tablet between Mursili II of the Hittites and Talmi-Sharruma of Alep in the mid-fourteenth century, reflecting the increasing Hittite influence in the region at the expense of the Mitanni

fl mid-1200s BC


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.

c.1115 - 1077 BC

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

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

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 Damas 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.

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