Kassites

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History of Iran
see also Kings of Persia · Timeline of Iran

The Kassites were an ancient Near Eastern tribe who gained control of Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire after ca. 1531 BC to ca. 1155 BC (short chronology). Their language is classified as an isolate.

Contents

History

The original homeland of the Kassites is obscure, but appears to have been located in the Zagros Mountains in Lorestan in Iran.[1][2] Their first historical appearance occurred in the 18th century BC when they attacked Babylonia in the 9th year of the reign of Samsu-iluna (reigned ca. 1686–1648 BC (short)), the son of Hammurabi. Samsu-iluna repelled them, as did Abi-Eshuh, but they subsequently gained control of northern Babylonia sometime after the fall of Babylon to the Hittites in ca. 1531 BC (short), and conquered the southern part of the kingdom by ca. 1475 BC. The Hittites had carried off the idol of the god Marduk, but the Kassite rulers regained possession, returned Marduk to Babylon, and made him the equal of the Kassite Shuqamuna. The circumstances of their rise to power are unknown, due to a lack of documentation from this so-called "Dark Age" period of widespread dislocation. No inscription or document in the Kassite language has been preserved, an absence that cannot be purely accidental, suggesting a severe regression of literacy in official circles. Babylon under Kassite rulers, who renamed the city Karanduniash, re-emerged as a political and military power in the ancient Near East. A newly built capital city Dur-Kurigalzu was named in honour of Kurigalzu I (ca. early 14th century BC). His successors Kadashman-Enlil I (ca. 1374–1360 BC (short)) and Burnaburiash II (ca. 1359–1333 BC (short)) were in correspondence with the Egyptian rulers Amenhotep III and Akhenaton (Amenhotep IV) (see Amarna letters). Their success was built upon the relative political stability that the Kassite monarchs achieved. They ruled Babylonia practically without interruption for almost four hundred years— the longest rule by any dynasty in Babylonian history. Even after a minor revolt ca. 1333 BC and a seven-year hiatus of Assyrian rule (ca. 1224 - 1217 BC (short)), the ruling Kassite family regained the throne.

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