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Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Syria


Amurru (Syria)

Located in ancient Syria (now southern Lebanon), not far from Tyre, this city state was governed by the Amorite peoples who rose to prominence throughout Mesopotamia at the start of the second millennium BC. The term 'Amurru' had been coined by the Akkadians to denote these new people, and it came to be generally applied to those of them who remained to the west of Mesopotamia after 2000 BC. Eventually it was also applied to the eponymous state so that 'Amorite' came to be a place rather than a people who, by that stage, had largely been assimilated into the general population anyway. In Assyrian inscriptions from about 1100 BC, the term Amurru was used to designate part of Syria and all of Phoenicia and Palestine, but no longer referred to any specific kingdom, language, or population following the state's destruction.

By the fourteenth century, the kingdom extended from the Mediterranean coast in northern modern-day Lebanon to the plains of Homs in Syria inland, but its history is only known from texts found outside the sate, in the records of the neighbouring major powers, as well as those of Ugarit. The city of Damas was part of Amurru's domains, as were the ports of Arqa and Sumur.

(Additional information from The Hittites and Their World, Billie Jean Collins.)

c.1650 - 1620 BC

Yamkhad controls north-western Syria, and 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, and Amurru is one such victim, falling under Hittite control. A local king is allowed to retain the throne as a vassal.


Vassal king of the Hittites.

1453 BC

Egypt's territories in the Levant and Syria reach up to Amurru, which is taken from its former masters, Mitanni. The Egyptians establish their own province with the same name as the city, along with those of Upe and Canaan. However, this region, and Amurru in particular, is a source of perpetual trouble for Egypt.

fl c.1380s BC


Led revolt against Gebal. Assassinated by Egypt.

fl c.1380s BC

Pubahla ben Abdi-Ashirta

In Ullaza.

c.1350 BC

The subject city of Damas has a king of its own in this period.

c.1340 BC

An Egyptian expedition assassinates the troublesome king of Amurru, and Egypt pins its hopes of greater obedience from the state on his successor. In the end, Aziru fails to live down to those hopes.

c.1340 - 1315 BC

Aziru / Azirou

Son of Abdi-Ashirta. Also ruled Gebal and Damas for a time.

c.1340 BC

Sensing the weakness of the neighbouring Mitanni empire (as well as of Egypt), Aziru makes a secret deal with the Hittite king, Suppiluliuma. He also establishes himself as a strong king in the region, taking control in Damas and even going so far as to conquer the city of Sumur, where the Egyptian representative has his residence.

The restoration of the city is demanded, but Aziru forces Egypt to recognise him first, while he also attacks pro-Egyptian Tyre in cooperation with Zimredda (II) of Sidon. However, whatever good relations may remain with Egypt, they are constantly being soured by the frequent complaints from Gebal.

c.1315 - 1313 BC


Son. Raided against Gebal. Killed Rib-Adda of Gebal.

c.1313 - 1280 BC



c.1280 - 1275 BC

Benteshina / Ben-Teshina


c.1275 - 1260 BC

At some point in his life, Benteshina is married to Gassulawiya, half-sister to Kilushepa, queen to Ari-sharruma of Ishuwa, to the north of the Anti-Taurus Mountains in eastern Anatolia. This northern king is otherwise known only from a royal seal discovered at the archaeological site of Korucutepe.

Benteshina attempts to take advantage of his Hittite allies in light of recent Egyptian military successes, precipitating a retaliatory campaign by Muwatalli II (dates are hard to pin down precisely). Benteshina is defeated and deported to Hattusa, and placed in the care of the future Hattusili III. The latter grabs power, seemingly with Benteshina's help, and Benteshina is rewarded with the return of his throne and an exchange of marriages between the families of the two kings.

c.1275 - 1260 BC


Hittite replacement and loyal vassal.

c.1260 - 1230 BC

Benteshina / Ben-Teshina

Restored by Hattusili III.

c.1230 - 1210 BC

Shaushga-muwa / Shaushkamuwa

Son. Some lists put another Shaushga-muwa in place of Shapili.

c.1230 BC

Shaushga-muwa confirms Amurru's alliance with his brother-in-law and uncle, the Hittite king, Tudhaliya V (IV). Amurru has to follow the Hittite lead in all international matters, provide troops, and prevent seaborne trade between Assyria and Ahhiyawa. The last point comes from records in Ugarit and relates to the divorce of its ruler, Ammistamru II, from Shaushga-muwa's sister.

c.1200 BC

The state is sacked and destroyed by the Sea Peoples during the collapse of the Hittite empire. Then the 'Denyen', Peleshet, Shekelesh, Tjekker, and Weshesh groups of Sea Peoples subsequently use it as a base from which to launch attacks against Egypt.

Perhaps lasting a quarter of a century, such attacks fade quickly afterwards, leaving Syria to settle into relative obscurity during a short regional dark age. Within a century the former subject city of Damas begins to flourish.

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