1729 BC - 1155 BC - Kassites
|Kashtiliashu II (?)|
|Agum II (?)|
|Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria||1223|
The Kassites retreated, probably, as soon as they came, leaving death and ruin behind them; and the Kassites seized their opportunity. Their leader, Gandash, appropriated the city and vacant throne of Babylon (or Kar-Duniyash, as it was now called in the tongue of the conquerors), and founded the Kassite dynasty, which endured for six hundred years.
The scheme of the dynasties of Babylon reckons as Kassite its third house of thirty-six kings, a period of five hundred and seventy-six years, extending from about 1530 to the eleventh century. The struggle between Assyria and Babylonia for the supremacy in their sphere of civilization began under the Kassite dynasty, and, owing to the abundant sources of information, it is possible to follow its vicissitudes more accurately than the events of the earlier age. This struggle and its result constitute the most important subject for the subsequent political history. The history of Babylon and that of Assyria touch each other and are interconnected, and are two streams of development flowing side by side. On the other hand Babylon almost always asserted her independence as a State, and after she had been for a long time subdued, quite at the end she remained once more the conqueror. At the beginning of this war Babylon was the predominant power, and never ceased, even when under the influence of Assyria, to have a separate history and development.
The Kassite period appears as a very uneventful one. The kings, of whom the list is very imperfect, are mere names, and nothing in particular seems to have happened during their reigns. This impression may be due simply to an unusual lack of information with regard to this period. But it may well be that this lack of information reflects a real lack of incident. The conquest, too, by the Kassite barbarians may very well have caused a temporary retrogression in culture, when the arts of the scribe and historiographer were not so much in demand, in royal circles at any rate, as before. And there are very few records of temple-building or restoration at this period. The Kassite kings worshipped their own deities, and probably did not hasten to put themselves under the protection of the gods of Babylon. Obviously they cared very little for the religion and probably less for the literature and arts of their highly civilized subjects.
An insight into the order of things at the beginning of this period is afforded us by the inscription of one of the first princes in this dynasty, perhaps the sixth, by name Agum Kakrime. He styles himself "king of the Kashshu and Akkadians (= Babylonians), king of the wide dominion of Babylon, who settled with numerous inhabitants the land of Umliash (border laud to Elam), king of Padan and Alvan (frontier territories to Media), king of Gutium (the northern lauds !), the king who rules the four countries of the world." The whole enumeration of titles, different from that of the Babylonian monarchs, and the precedence given to the Kassites, show that this is one of the first kings of the new conquerors; a later king, Karaindash, already bears the usual Babylonian titles, and only adds at the end "king of the Kashshu," which his successors actually omit. These barbarians also had thus soon adapted themselves to civilization, - they had become Babylonians.
Soon after the invasion of Thutmosis III, about 1450 BC, the Kassite king of Babylonia Karaindash, made a treaty with the king of Assyria, whose name is given as Asshur-bel-nisheshu. This latter is the first king of Assyria of whom much is known. He claims a certain territory in Mesopotamia, and makes good his claim to it. Assyria now is clearly acknowledged by the king of Babylonia as an independent kingdom.
It is obvious that the whole conquest could only be due to the feebleness of Babylonia. The kingdom of Hammu-rabi (d. 2213) must have gone the way of its predecessors, its power must have been broken, confusion and weakness must have crept in, before it was easy for the barbarians to occupy the warm nest. This feebleness of Babylonia and the exhaustion of the "Canaanite " population are still more clearly visible in two further occurrences of this time. The third Semitic migration, the Aramaean, makes its mark in the age of the Kassites (1700-1100), and the dominion of Babylonia over the West is disputed and finally destroyed by a new power, which now develops itself from a "town kingship" and seeks aggrandisement, namely, Assyria.
Mesopotamian civilization was unaffected by the Mitannians and Kassites, who seem to have been entirely uncultured. They learnt civilization from the conquered. The process seems to have taken about two centuries: by the time of Kurigalzu and Burnaburiash the Kassite kings have adopted the Babylonian religion, at any rate for official purposes, and differ from their subjects only in the retention of their Kassite names, which they affected to the last, six hundred years after the time of Gandash.
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