The Suteans were a possibly Semitic people[1] who lived throughout the Levant and Canaan c. 1350 BC, and later also lived in Babylonia. They are mentioned in eight of the 382 Amarna letters. Like the Habiru, they traditionally worked as mercenaries, and were sometimes called Ahlamu. They are listed in documents from the Middle Assyrian Empire (1395-1075 BC) as being extant in the Assyrian colony city of Emar, in what is now north east Syria. Together with other Semitic peoples; the Chaldeans and Arameans, they overran swaths of Babylonia c. 1100 BC. They were eventually conquered by Assyria, along with the rest of Babylonia.[2][3]

Amarna letters

One letter mentioning the Suteans is entitled "Waiting for the Pharaoh's words", from Biryawaza of Dimasqu-(Damascus) to pharaoh:

I am indeed, together with my troops and chariots, together with my brothers, my 'Apiru and my Suteans, at the disposition of the archers, wheresoever the king, my lord, shall order (me to go).[4]

This usage is somewhat atypical of the usage of Habiru and external mercenary forces in the Amarna letters, since this letter quotes them as being necessary and beneficial to the efforts of Biryawaza.

The Sutean language appears to have been Semitic.[5]

See also


  1. ^ "Letters to the King of Mari: A New Translation, with Historical Introduction, Notes, and Commentary" p.26="A closer look at Sutean names shows a small percentage of non-Akkadian and non-Amorite names that nevertheless belong to a Semitic language, presumably Sutean."
  2. ^ "A Companion to the Ancient Near East - Google Książki".
  3. ^ George Roux. Ancient Iraq. ISBN 978-0140125238.
  4. ^ EA 195 (EA for el Amarna), lines 24-32. From Moran, William L. The Amarna Letters. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987, 1992. (softcover, ISBN 0-8018-6715-0)
  5. ^ "Letters to the King of Mari: A New Translation, with Historical Introduction, Notes, and Commentary" p.26="A closer look at Sutean names shows a small percentage of non-Akkadian and non-Amorite names that nevertheless belong to a Semitic language, presumably Sutean."

Adad-apla-iddina, typically inscribed in cuneiform mdIM-DUMU.UŠ-SUM-na, mdIM-A-SUM-na or dIM-ap-lam-i-din-[nam] meaning the storm god “Adad has given me an heir”, was the 8th king of the 2nd Dynasty of Isin and the 4th Dynasty of Babylon and ruled 1067–1046 BC. He was a contemporary of the Assyrian King Aššur-bêl-kala and his reign was a golden age for scholarship.


Ahlamu or Aḫlamū (literally "Companions" or "Confederate"), were Semitic semi-nomads. Their habitat was west of the Euphrates, between the mouth of the Khabur and Palmyra.

They were first mentioned in the sources since Rim-Anum (18th century BC), a king of Uruk, and in texts from Mari; then, in the 14th century BC in Egyptian sources, in one of the Amarna letters, in the days of Akhenaten, where it is affirmed that they had advanced until the Euphrates.

Ancient Semitic-speaking peoples

Ancient Semitic-speaking peoples were West Asian people who lived throughout the Ancient Near East, including the Levant, Mesopotamia, the Arabian peninsula, and the Horn of Africa from the third millennium BCE until the end of antiquity.

The languages they spoke are usually divided into three branches: East, Central, and South Semitic.

Proto-Semitic was likely spoken in the 4th millennium BCE, and the oldest attested forms of Semitic date to the mid-3rd millennium BCE (the Early Bronze Age).

Speakers of East Semitic include the Akkadians and the descended cultures of Assyria and Babylonia. Central Semitic combines Northwest Semitic and Arabic. Speakers of Northwest Semitic were the Canaanites (including the Phoenicians and the Hebrews) and the Aramaeans. South Semitic peoples include the speakers of South Arabian and Ethiopic.


The Arameans (Aramaic: ܐܪ̈ܡܝܐ‎, ʼaramáyé, Arabic: آراميون‎), were an ancient Northwest Semitic Aramaic-speaking tribal confederation who emerged from the region known as Aram (in present-day Syria) in the Late Bronze Age (11th to 8th centuries BC). They established a patchwork of independent Aramaic kingdoms in the Levant and seized tracts of Anatolia as well as briefly conquering Babylonia.

The Arameans never formed a unified state but had small independent kingdoms across parts of the Near East, (present-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestinian territories, the northwestern Arabian peninsula and south-central Turkey). Their political influence was confined to a number of states such as Aram Damascus, Hamath, Palmyra, Aleppo and the partly Aramean Syro-Hittite states, which were entirely absorbed into the Neo-Assyrian Empire (935–605 BC) by the 9th century BC. In the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the Aramaeans, Chaldeans, Suteans and indigenous Assyrians-Babylonians became largely indistinguishable, as these groups were culturally and ethnically absorbed into the native populace of Mesopotamia.By contrast, Imperial Aramaic came to be the lingua franca of the entire Near East and Asia Minor after King Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria (ruled 745–727 BC) made it one of two official languages of the vast Neo-Assyrian Empire (the other being Akkadian) in the mid-8th century BC, in recognition of the mostly-Aramean speaking population in areas Assyria had conquered west of the Euphrates and the large numbers of Arameans in Mesopotamia. This empire stretched from Cyprus and the East Mediterranean in the west to Persia and Elam in the east, and from Armenia and the Caucasus in the north to Egypt, Libya and Arabia in the south. The Achaemenid Empire (c. 550–330 BC) greatly spread Imperial Aramaic: north to the coast of the Black Sea and eastward to the Indus Valley. This version of Aramaic, influenced by Akkadian and later by Old Persian, later developed into the Syriac dialect of Edessa.

Between the 1st and 4th centuries AD, the Arameans began to adopt Christianity in place of the polytheist Aramean religion, and the Levant became an important centre of Syriac Christianity, along with Assyria to the east from where the Syriac language and Syriac script emerged.

Use of the Western Aramaic language has steadily declined in the face of Arabic since the Islamic conquest of the area in the 7th century AD, and the last vestiges of the spoken tongue in and around Maalula are in danger of extinction, although Assyrian population maintain spoken dialects of Akkadian influenced Neo-Aramaic as well as Syriac as a liturgical language. Similarly, some Jewish communities and the Mandean people also retain dialects of Aramaic. Today, an Aramean identity is mainly held by a small number of largely Arabic-speaking Syriac Christians in south-central Turkey, in Syria, and in the Aramean diaspora overseas. In 2014, Israel recognized the Aramean minority, an Arabic- and Aramaic-speaking Christian community.


Arik-den-ili, inscribed mGÍD-DI-DINGIR, “long-lasting is the judgment of god,” (1319 BC–1308 BC or 1307 BC–1296 BC) (short chronology) was an Assyrian king of the Middle Assyrian Empire (1366–1050 BC) who succeeded Enlil-nirari, his father, and was to rule for twelve years and inaugurate the tradition of annual military campaigns against Assyria’s neighbors.


Assyriology (from Greek Ἀσσυρίᾱ, Assyriā; and -λογία, -logia) is the archaeological, historical, and linguistic study of not just Assyria, but the entirety of ancient Mesopotamia (a region encompassing what is today modern Iraq, north eastern Syria, south eastern Turkey, and north western and south western Iran) and of related cultures that used cuneiform writing. The field covers Sumer, the early Sumero-Akkadian city-states, the Akkadian Empire, Ebla, the Akkadian and Imperial Aramaic speaking states of Assyria, Babylonia and the Sealand Dynasty, the migrant foreign dynasties of southern Mesopotamia, including; the Gutians, Amorites, Kassites, Arameans, Suteans and Chaldeans, and to some degree post-imperial Achaemenid Assyria, Athura, Sassanid Syria, Assyria (Roman province), and Assuristan, together with later Neo-Assyrian states such as Adiabene, Osroene, Hatra, Beth Nuhadra and Beth Garmai, up until the Arab invasion and Islamic conquest of the mid 7th century AD. Some Assyriologists also write on the further Assyrian continuity of the Assyrian people as well as the Mandaeans into the present day.

The large number of cuneiform clay tablets preserved by these Sumero-Akkadian and Assyro-Babylonian cultures provide an extremely large resource for the study of the period. The region's (and indeed the world's) first cities and city-states such as Ur are archaeologically invaluable for studying the growth of urbanization.

Scholars need a good knowledge of several languages: The two main languages of Mesopotamia; Akkadian (including its major dialects) and Sumerian, together with such neighbouring languages as Biblical Hebrew, Hittite, Elamite, Hurrian, Indo-Anatolian, Imperial Aramaic, Eastern Aramaic dialects, Old Persian and Canaanite for comparative purposes, and the knowledge of writing systems that use several hundred core signs. There now exist many important grammatical studies and lexical aids. Although scholars can draw from a large corpus of literature, some tablets are broken, or in the case of literary texts where there may be many copies, the language and grammar are often arcane. Moreover, scholars must be able to read and understand modern English, French, and German, as important references, dictionaries, and journals are published in those languages.


Babylonia () was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). A small Amorite-ruled state emerged in 1894 BC, which contained the minor administrative town of Babylon. It was merely a small provincial town during the Akkadian Empire (2335–2154 BC) but greatly expanded during the reign of Hammurabi in the first half of the 18th century BC and became a major capital city. During the reign of Hammurabi and afterwards, Babylonia was called "the country of Akkad" (Māt Akkadī in Akkadian), a deliberate archaism in reference to the previous glory of the Akkadian Empire.It was often involved in rivalry with the older state of Assyria to the north and Elam to the east in Ancient Iran. Babylonia briefly became the major power in the region after Hammurabi (fl. c. 1792–1752 BC middle chronology, or c. 1696–1654 BC, short chronology) created a short-lived empire, succeeding the earlier Akkadian Empire, Third Dynasty of Ur, and Old Assyrian Empire. The Babylonian Empire, however, rapidly fell apart after the death of Hammurabi and reverted to a small kingdom.

Like Assyria, the Babylonian state retained the written Akkadian language (the language of its native populace) for official use, despite its Northwest Semitic-speaking Amorite founders and Kassite successors, who spoke a language isolate, not being native Mesopotamians. It retained the Sumerian language for religious use (as did Assyria), but already by the time Babylon was founded, this was no longer a spoken language, having been wholly subsumed by Akkadian. The earlier Akkadian and Sumerian traditions played a major role in Babylonian and Assyrian culture, and the region would remain an important cultural center, even under its protracted periods of outside rule.

The earliest mention of the city of Babylon can be found in a clay tablet from the reign of Sargon of Akkad (2334–2279 BC), dating back to the 23rd century BC. Babylon was merely a religious and cultural centre at this point and neither an independent state nor a large city; like the rest of Mesopotamia, it was subject to the Akkadian Empire which united all the Akkadian and Sumerian speakers under one rule. After the collapse of the Akkadian Empire, the south Mesopotamian region was dominated by the Gutian people for a few decades before the rise of the Third Dynasty of Ur, which restored order to the region and which, apart from northern Assyria, encompassed the whole of Mesopotamia, including the town of Babylon.

Canaanite languages

The Canaanite languages, or Canaanite dialects, are one of the three subgroups of the Northwest Semitic languages, the others being Aramaic and Amorite. They were spoken by the ancient Semitic people of the Canaan and Levant regions, an area encompassing what is today Israel, Jordan, Sinai, Lebanon, Syria, the Palestinian territories and also some fringe areas of southern Turkey and the northern Arabian Peninsula. The Canaanites are broadly defined to include the Israelites (including Judeans and Samaritans), Phoenicians (including parts of Carthaginians), Amorites, Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Suteans, Ekronites and Amalekites. The Canaanite languages continued to be everyday spoken languages until at least the 4th century CE. Hebrew is the only living Canaanite language today, having remained in continuous use by many Jews well into the Middle Ages as a liturgical language, a literary language and for commerce. It was then revived as an everyday spoken language in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and became the main language of the Jews of Palestine and later the State of Israel.

This family of languages has the distinction of being the first historically attested group of languages to use an alphabet, derived from the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, to record their writings, as opposed to the far earlier Cuneiform logographic/syllabic writing of the region.

The primary reference for extra-biblical Canaanite inscriptions, together with Aramaic inscriptions, is the German-language book Kanaanäische und Aramäische Inschriften, from which inscriptions are often referenced as KAI n (for a number n).


Chaldea (, also spelled Chaldaea) was a country that existed between the late 10th or early 9th and mid-6th centuries BCE, after which the country and its people were absorbed and assimilated into Babylonia. Semitic-speaking, it was located in the marshy land of the far southeastern corner of Mesopotamia and briefly came to rule Babylon. The Hebrew Bible uses the term כשדים (Kaśdim) and this is translated as Chaldaeans in the Greek Old Testament, although there is some dispute as to whether Kasdim in fact means Chaldean or refers to the south Mesopotamian Kaldu.

During a period of weakness in the East Semitic-speaking kingdom of Babylonia, new tribes of West Semitic-speaking migrants arrived in the region from the Levant between the 11th and 9th centuries BCE. The earliest waves consisted of Suteans and Arameans, followed a century or so later by the Kaldu, a group who became known later as the Chaldeans or the Chaldees. These migrations did not affect the powerful kingdom of Assyria in the northern half of Mesopotamia, which repelled these incursions.

The short-lived 11th dynasty of the Kings of Babylon (6th century BCE) is conventionally known to historians as the Chaldean Dynasty, although the last rulers, Nabonidus and his son Belshazzar, were from Assyria. (This is not found in Georges Roux - Ancient Iraq. Roux states that Nabonidus "was the son of a certain Nabu-Balatsu-Iqbi, who belonged to the Babylonian nobility but was not of royal blood and of a votaress... of the city of Harran.")These nomadic Chaldeans settled in the far southeastern portion of Babylonia, chiefly on the left bank of the Euphrates. Though for a short time the name commonly referred to the whole of southern Mesopotamia in Hebraic literature, this was a geographical and historical misnomer as Chaldea proper was in fact only the plain in the far southeast formed by the deposits of the Euphrates and the Tigris, extending about four hundred miles along the course of these rivers and averaging about a hundred miles in width.


DU–Teššup was the son of Aziru, of the 1350–1335 BC Amarna letters correspondence, and also the father of Aziru's successor, in Amurru (regional Syria). DU-Teššup's name refers to the Hurrian god of sky and storm, Teshub.

Aziru, and his father Abdi-Ashirta, were some of the major instigating forces (in the north) causing conflict with the Egyptian pharaoh, as cities ('city-states'), and regions were under constant threat and destruction in the northern, and western Canaan region (Lebanon, and southern Syria).

DU–Teššup is the presumed author of tablet-letter EA 169-(EA is for 'el Amarna') written to pharaoh, requesting Aziru's return from "forced"

consultation. DU–Teššup is not mentioned by name in the Amarna letters corpus.

Kadashman-harbe I

Kadašman-Ḫarbe I,inscribed in cuneiform contemporarily as Ka-da-áš-ma-an-Ḫar-be and meaning “he believes in Ḫarbe (a Kassite god equivalent to Enlil),” was the 16th King of the Kassite or 3rd dynasty of Babylon, and the kingdom contemporarily known as Kar-Duniaš, during the late 15th to early 14th century, BC. It is now considered possible that he was the contemporary of Tepti Ahar, King of Elam, as preserved in a tablet found at Haft Tepe in Iran. This is dated to the “year when the king expelled Kadašman-KUR.GAL,” thought by some historians to represent him although this identification (KUR.GAL = Ḫarbe) has been contested. If this name is correctly assigned to him, it would imply previous occupation of, or suzerainty over, Elam.


Karduniaš, also transcribed Karduniash, Karaduniyaš or Karaduniše), is a Kassite term used for the kingdom centered on Babylonia and founded by the Kassite dynasty. It is used in the 1350-1335 BC Amarna letters correspondence, and is also used frequently in Middle-Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian texts to refer to the kingdom of Babylon. The name Karaduniyaš is mainly used in the letters written between Kadashman-Enlil I, or Burna-Buriash, the Kings of Babylon, and the Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt-(called: Mizri), letters EA 1-EA 11, a subcorpus of letters, (EA for 'el Amarna'). Much later, a version of the name was used in the Babylonian Talmud as Kardunya referring to similar locations.There are two additional letters in the 382–letter Amarna corpus that reference Karaduniyaš. The first is a damaged, and partial letter, EA 200, (with no author), regarding "Ahlameans", (similar to the Suteans); the title is: "About Ahlameans". The second letter is complete and undamaged, a letter from one of the sons of Labaya, namely Mutbaal-(Mut-Bahli, or Mut-Ba'lu), letter EA 255.

Phoenicia under Assyrian rule

During the Middle Assyrian Empire (1392–1056 BC) and the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–605 BC), Phoenicia, what is today known as Lebanon and coastal Syria, came under Assyrian rule on several occasions.Southern Canaan (in modern terms Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan) was inhabited by a number of Semitic states speaking Canaanite languages, these being Israel, Judah, Samarra, Ammon, Edom, Moab, the Suteans and Amalekites. In addition, the Philistines migrated into this region from the Aegean, a non-Semitic Indo-European speaking people. Northern Canaan (in modern terms Lebanon the Mediterranean coast of Syria and far south west coast of Turkey) was also inhabited by Canaanite speaking peoples, coalesced into city states such as Tyre, Sidon, Berytus, Arvad, Simyra, Onoba and Tarshish. The term Phoenicia was applied to this region, but it is a later Greek application which was not used during the Assyrian period.To the east, in modern terms the interior of modern Syria (the Assyrian north east excluded), the region had since the 24th century BC been inhabited by the Canaanite speaking Amorites and for a time the East Semitic speaking Eblaites also, thus much of this region had been known as the Land of the Amurru. However, from the 12th century BC a new Semitic group appeared, in the form of the Arameans, and by the late 11th century BC this region was known as Aramea/Aram and Eber Nari and remained named as such during the latter part of the Middle Assyrian Empire, Neo Assyrian Empire, Neo-Babylonian Empire and Achaemenid Empire. The term Syria is in actuality originally a 10th-century BC Indo-Anatolian name for Assyria, centuries later applied by the Greeks during the Seleucid Empire (311–150 BC) not only to Assyria itself but much of the Levant (see Etymology of Syria).

The approach of the devastating Assyrian armies would more often than not result in the vassalage of these states. Similarly, any long absence would result in rebellion, often sponsored by another of Assyria's numerous opponents. The result is that numerous Kings of Assyria launched campaigns to bring these economically important regions under Assyrian rule. The rebellion after one King's offensive would result in his successor's next vengeful assault. When Tyre ceased to pay tribute to the Assyrian kings, rebellion broke out.

Prostration formula

In the 1350 BC correspondence of 382–letters, called the Amarna letters, the Prostration formula is usually the opening subservient remarks to the addressee, the Egyptian pharaoh. The formula is based on prostration, namely reverence and submissiveness. Often the letters are from vassal rulers or vassal city-states, especially in Canaan but also in other localities.

The formula is often repetitive, or multi-part, with parts seeming to repeat and can go forward in a typical standard format. However, the prostration formula may also be duplicated in a similar format at the end of a letter, or a foreshortened part of the formula may be entered, for effect, in the middle of a letter.


Sumu-Epuh (reigned c. 1810 BC – c. 1780 BC Middle chronology) is the first attested king of Yamhad (Halab). He founded the Yamhad dynasty which controlled northern Syria throughout the 17th and 18th centuries BC.

Sutean language

The Sutean language (Sutû) is a tongue mentioned by a clay tablet from the Middle Assyrian Empire, presumably originating from the city of Emar in what is now northeast Syria, among a list of languages spoken in the region. The other languages are Akkadian, Amorite, Gutian, "Subarean" (Hurrian) and Elamite. The Sutean people may have lived in the region of Suhum. Their language is only known from names, most of which are Akkadian or Amorite. The few which are neither also appear to be Semitic; it is possible that it was an early Aramaic.

Tiglath-Pileser III

Tiglath-Pileser III (cuneiform: 𒆪𒋾𒀀𒂍𒈗𒊏 TUKUL.TI.A.É.ŠÁR.RA; Akkadian: Tukultī-apil-Ešarra, "my trust is in the son of the Ešarra"; Hebrew: תִּגְלַת פִּלְאֶסֶר Tiglat Pil’eser) was a prominent king of Assyria in the eighth century BCE (ruled 745–727 BCE) who introduced advanced civil, military, and political systems into the Neo-Assyrian Empire.Tiglath-Pileser III seized the Assyrian throne during a civil war and killed the royal family. He made sweeping changes to the Assyrian government, considerably improving its efficiency and security. He created Assyria's first professional standing army.Tiglath-Pileser III subjugated much of the Near East region; to the south, his fellow Mesopotamians in Babylonia and Chaldea, and further south still, the Arabs, Magan, Meluhha, and Dilmunites of the Arabian Peninsula. In the south west, Israel, Judah, Philistia, Samarra, Moab, Edom, the Suteans and Nabatea fell. To the north, Urartu, Armenia and Scythia in the Caucasus Mountains, Cimmeria by the Black Sea, and Nairi were subjugated, and in the north west much of eastern and south western Asia Minor, including the Hittites, Phrygia, Cilicia, Commagene, Tabal, Corduene and Caria. In the west, the Greeks of Cyprus and Aram (modern Syria), and the Mediterranean city-states of Phoenicia/Caanan were subjugated. To the east he subjugated Persia, Media, Gutium, Mannea, Cissia and Elam. Later in his reign he was crowned king in Babylonia.

Tiglath-Pileser III discouraged revolts against Assyrian rule with the use of forced deportations of thousands of people all over the empire. He is one of the most successful military commanders in world history, conquering most of the world known to the Assyrians before his death.

Timeline of the Assyrian Empire

The timeline of the Assyrian Empire lists the kings, their successors and the major events that occurred in the Assyrian history.


Yapahu was a mayor/ruler of the city/city-state of Gazru (modern Gezer) of the 1350-1335 BC Amarna letters correspondence. Two other mayors of Gazru during the Amarna letters period, were Adda-danu and Milkilu.

Yapahu is the author of five Amarna letters to the pharaoh of Egypt, EA 297-300, and EA 378, (EA for 'el Amarna').


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