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Gutian Dynasty (2083-1992 BC)

Gutian Dynasty was once dated as early as c.3567-?, but is now dated 2083-1992 BC. The land of Guti appears to have taken its name from Guti its national god. The Guti were a mountainous tribe to the east of the lower Zab, inhabiting the upper section of the region watered by the Adhaim and the Diyala rivers. The dynasty of Akkad was succeeded by another with its capital at Erech in the south, which was short-lived. The people of Gutium took revenge for their long subjection to Accad and Uruk by ravaging the cities under their king, Erridu-pizir. The Akkadian empire probably collapsed under pressure of Gutian invaders from the east. Whether they ruled from their own capital, Arrapcha, or chose one of the great cities of Babylonia as seat of government, is unknown, as is the duration of the dynasty. It is not impossible that it lasted for centuries, as the Kassite rule at a subsequent period. There is no list of rulers, but Iiasium, Lasirab, and the last of the kings, Tirikan, are referred to in inscriptions.

Sargon of Akkad repeatedly marched against the country of Gu-ti-umkl or Ku-ti-umk, even capturing King Sdrla-ak. Under Sargon I of Akkad the Guti became so troublesome that the Babylonian king had to fight against them in several campaigns. He evidently defeated them so thoroughly that for some time they ceased their raids upon his provinces. NaramSin of Akkad appears indeed to have surpassed all of his predecessors in opening up new fields of conquest, particularly to the northeast and to the southwest. His father had crossed arms with a strong mountainous group known as the Guti, and succeeded in capturing their king, Sharlak. It was left to the son, however, to follow up this movement by more systematic endeavors and on a larger scale to bring various of the groups in these distant, forbidding regions, so difficult of access, to subjection.

But soon the Guti rallied, attacked the country anew and apparently immediately after Naram-Sin's death, or even towards the end of his government, they carried their arms victoriously into Babylonia itself, first establishing themselves in the north, where under Lasirab, who calls himself only "king of (the) Guti," they conquered Sippar.

After his successful overthrow of the ruling ancient dynasty, Erridu-pizir, following in the footsteps of Naram-Sin, assumed the additional and much more significant title, "king of the four quarters of the world." Erridu-pizir, king of the Guti, was in the possession of Nippur and sat on the throne of Babylonia; for he calls himself several times in an inscription: E-ir-ri-du-pi-zi-ir (once writen En-ri-da-pi-zi-ir), da-num, sar Gu-ti-im U ki-ib-ratim ar-ba-im, "En(r)ridu(a)pizir, the powerful one, king of (the) Guti and of the four quarters of the world." Under Erridu-pizir they took possession of Nippur and subdued the whole of Babylonia, at the same time sacking many of her famous cities and temples.

This period of utter ruin and devastation is depicted in a number of beautiful Sumerian hymns, prayers and lamentation songs from the second dynasty of Ur in the Temple Library of Nippur. It doubtless also was during this first invasion of the Guti that the statue of the goddess Ishtar, referred to in a late text of the British Museum, was carried off by these ruthless barbarians, whose hand lay heavily upon the conquered nation.

The most interesting historical fact is the complete domination of the country by the Semitic Kingdom of Guti, which lay to the east of the lower Zab. The Gutian invasion led to the subjugation of both North and South Babylonia, and there can be little doubt that Elam itself acknowledged the suzerainty of these vigorous rulers, who had long been established in the mountainous regions upon their western border.

The invasion of Babylonia by the Semitic kingdom of Guti to the east of the Lower Zab, which is attested by the King List, is an event of the first importance. The puzzling stele of victory found at Lagash, on which Semites are depicted slaying Semites, may well commemorate the event. Moreover, there is proof that the invasion was followed by a complete domination of Babylonia for some considerable time. The ceremonial mace-head of Lasirab, King of Guti, which was found at Sippar, is evidence in point, as also is the text of Erridu-pizir, King of Guti, from Nippur. From a text found at Jokha it is known that Lugal-annatum, patesi of Umma, owed allegiance to Sium, King of Guti.

The domination of these Gutian Semites was brought to an end by the valor of Utukhegal, King of Erech, who captured and defeated the Gutian King. Utuchegal, who succeeds in driving the Guti out of the country," gave a vivid picture of the ravages committed. He calls the Guti "the dragon of the mountains, the enemy of the gods," and described how they tore the wives away from their husbands, robbing parents of their children and spreading devastation on all sides. Such invasions of semi-barbarous groups from the northwest and northeast were destined to repeat themselves frequently in the course of Babylonian-Assyrian history and inflicted a serious check to the advance of the Euphratean culture, though on the other hand they lead fierce tribes to take on at least a veneer of culture through contact with a higher civilization. Tribute was no doubt exacted from the conquered groups, and relationships were maintained with Magan and Melucha to the extent of procuring stones and metals from these rich districts; but the control over such sections as Subartu and the more distant settlements of the Amorites could at most have been nominal. The more direct result was the check given to the advance of the Semites, and another period of 250 years elapsed before the latter were strong enough again to risk a passage of arms with the Sumerians.

Utu-khegal, King of Erech, records how he overcame "Guti, the dragon of the mountain," defeating and capturing Tirikan, its king, after having sought the assistance of the great Babylonian gods in their shrines upon his line of march. His success marked the first wave of a Sumerian reaction, and was followed up not long afterwards by the establishment of the powerful Dynasty of Ur. The sovereignty of Sumer was not regained until Utu-Hegal of Uruk (c. 2123-2113 BC) routed the Gutians, and Ur-Nammu, the governor of Ur (2112-2095 BC), asserted the independence of his city and founded the Third Dynasty of Ur.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:48:33 ZULU