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1792-1750 BCE

Mesopotamia / Kings /
Babylonia / Kings /
Other spelling: Hammurapi

Carchemish Mari Sippar Larsa Lagash Kish Nippur Isin

Bust of Hammurabi.
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Bust of Hammurabi.

Hammurabi (from his Code Stele)

King of Babylonia 1792-1750 BCE.
Estimates on the emergence of the state of Babylonia corresponds with the rise of Hammurabi, even if he was actually the 6th king in his dynasty.
Other time reconstructions make his governance 1728-1686 BCE.
Hammurabi is principally known for his codification of Babylonian laws, which was probably not his own creation, but a continuation of older legal systems.
Although Hammurabi experienced many military victories during the last period of his reign, he was not a great state builder — principally due to the existence of relatively few models for states and their structure. He did not develop a functional bureaucracy and chose to follow a totalitarian approach to governance. Hence, Hammurabi was active in building and restoring temples, city walls and public buildings, building canals for irrigation and fighting wars. But at the very same time, he was forced to rely upon the aid of his supporters to survive as ruler.
The strategic concern of Hammurabi throughout his reign was to assure Babylonia's control over the Euphrates — the life source of the country.
For the first 25 or so years of his reign, Hammurabi's Babylonia was the victim of much pressure from neighbouring countries and cities. The main contenders were Larsa, Mari, Ashur and Eshnunna, countries that at some periods would also ally with him.
Hammurabi was of the Amoritic people, and is probably the most recognized ruler in the history of early civilizations in Mesopotamia — but it would be wrong to call him the most important. The only real importance he had was, during an extended period, to strengthen northern Mesopotamia at the expense of the southern regions — an act that would have impact on the region for a period of about 1,000 years.

Around 1810 BCE?: Born in Babylon. It is not known when Hammurabi was born, but when he took power in 1792, he was relatively young, although old enough to be an effective leader.
1794: King Rim-Sin of Larsa conquers Isin, the country between Babylonia and Larsa. Over the years this resulted in some clashes between Babylonia and Larsa, but no war.
1792: King Sin-muballit dies, and Hammurabi becomes ruler.
1787: Hammurabi conquers Uruk and Isin.
1786: Clashes with Larsa, but there is no final outcome to the conflicts.
1784: Fightings with the neighbours in the northwest and east.
1764: Hammurabi wages a war against a coalition of Ashru, Eshnunna and Elam, countries that blocked Babylonia's access to the metal-producing areas in Iran.
1763: New war against King Rim-Sin of Larsa, where it is believed that Hammurabi dammed the river Euphrates to weaken Larsa. This war ends with the total victory of Hammurabi.
1760: War against Babylonia's neighbours in the east.
1761: War against Mari in the northwest, despite the fact that King Zimrilim of Mari had been Hammurabi's ally for decades.
1755: Eshnunnu in the north is totally defeated by Hammurabi. This time too, it results from damming up the Tigris River.
1750: Hammurabi dies, and is succeeded by his son, Sumsuiluna.

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By Tore Kjeilen