Joe Baker
Koliński’s Mari Chronology
Mon Jan 30, 2017 00:06

Hi All

Rafal Koliński has recently placed his 2014 paper “The fate of Yasmaḫ-Addu, the King of Mari” online at his page. In it he argues against the conventional opinion of Charpin and Ziegler that Yasmaḫ-Addu, following the death of his father Samsi-Addu, only lasted a few months as king of Mari. Instead he returns to an earlier model whereby Yasmaḫ-Addu lasted for over a year before being ousted by Zimri-Lim. In his scheme the chronology of Ekallatum, Šubat-Enlil, Ešnunna and Babylon does not changed but that of Mari is lowered by about a year.

I find one large problem with his argument in that it leads to holes of about a year in which no documentation has survived (despite document density being extensive before and/or after these holes). Now one might be able to find a reason for one such case but in Koliński’s scheme it happens at least 3 times.

Firstly the documents from Mari. Samsi-Addu died in the last month of the limu year of Ṭab-ṣilla-Aššur. The following year was the limu year of Ennam-Aššur but at Mari (except for one document) they dated documents by “warki Ṭab-ṣilla-Aššur”, with the last limu dated document being 13/Mana (month 6 in the Samsi-Addu Amorite calendar = month 11 in the Samsi-Addu Mari calendar). The earliest Mari documents dated by Zimri-Lim Mari calendar are from 24/Liliatum (month 9 in the Zimri-Lim Mari calendar = month 11 in the Samsi-Addu Mari calendar, since, at this point in time, the Zimri-Lim Mari calendar was 2 months behind the Samsi-Addu Mari calendar due to Zimri-Lim’s calendar lacking two intercalations). Thus, at Mari, the conventional opinion is that the gap in documentation between Yasmaḫ-Addu and Zimri-Lim was around 2 weeks.

However in Koliński’s scheme this document gap is some 10 months. Before and after this gap documentation is plentiful. Koliński justifies this gap by suggesting that the Royal Palace at Mari was temporarily abandoned while it was being remodelled. But this does not explain why (almost) no documents covering this period were found elsewhere in the city. I say (almost) because there were found copies of the Mari Eponym Chronicle dated by the limu year of Aššur-emuqi (the limu after Ennam-Aššur). Koliński says these copies of the chronicle were produced at the start of the limu year of Aššur-emuqi and were brought to Mari while Yasmaḫ-Addu still ruled there.

However, following his argument, if these documents so easily turned up at Mari, then why have no other documents for his other 10 months turned up, even if the main palace had been temporarily closed? The normal explanation for the presence of these chronicle copies is that they were later brought to Mari from its share of the spoils following the fall of Šubat-Enlil. And I note that Koliński has no problem for using similar explanations for the documents found at Mari dated by the later limu years of Puṣṣanum and Aḫiyaya.

A second gap appears at Šubat-Enlil. Following the death of Samsi-Addu this city remained in the hands of Išme-Dagan. Control was able to be maintained because the multiple greedy kinglets, who came to rule across this region, were not individually strong enough to take the city and if some of them formed an (inevitable) temporary coalition, they were opposed by others, either by being paid off by the city of Šubat-Enlil, or just because they wanted to ensure others did not get to exclusively share the spoils.

Meanwhile, control of the city from Ekallatum is attested by many documents, the last being dated to the Samsi-Addu Amorite month of Tamḫirum (month 3) in the limu year of Ikun-pi-Ištar. The city only finally succumbed when an army from Ešnunna, accompanied by its allies from the Sindjar and Upper Habur, entered the city. This occurred around the middle of year 4 [=3'] Zimri-Lim, which in the conventional opinion would be around the Samsi-Addu calendar month of Tamḫirum (we do not know the exact correspondence between these calendars at this time).

However, in Koliński’s scheme year 4 [=3'] of Zimri-Lim starts some 6 months later and Ešnunna does not occupy Šubat-Enlil until a few months after that (which in his scheme would be during the limu year of Aḫiyaya). So in his scheme there is a gap of some 10 months between the last limu dated document at Šubat-Enlil and its taking by Ešnunna.

Thirdly at Tuttul there are a large number of documents dated by the Samsi-Addu Amorite calendar during the later reign of Samsi-Addu, down to 15/Ayyarum (month 7)/Ṭab-ṣilla-Aššur, The ailing Samsi-Addu and Yasmaḫ-Addu probably lost control of Tuttul soon after for in that month revolts broke out across the kingdom. In the west places known to have been hit hard included the Upper Ḫabur (Kaḫat, Ašnakkum, Naḫur and Talḫayum) and the Baliḫ (Šubat-Šamaš). By months 9 and 10 (in the Samsi-Addu Amorite calendar) at Terqa (near the Euphrates/Ḫabur confluence), Yasmaḫ-Addu was organising weapon and provision supplies for his Euphrates strongholds. Also at this time, there arrived at Ṣuprum (between Terqa and Mari) an army send by Išme-Dagan to the aid of his brother.

Following the last Tuttul document dated by the limu year of Ṭab-ṣilli-Aššur there are a few documents dated by the Zimri-Lim Mari calendar beginning with 21/Abum (month 4)/Zikri-Lim entered Tuttul. (Zikri is probably a mistake for Zimri - see the Tuttul document dated to the month of Ḫibirtum (month 5)/Zimri-Lim entered Tuttul). In contemporary opinion the distance between the last document dated by the Samsi-Addu Amorite calendar (month 7) and the first document dated by the Zimri-Lim Mari calendar (month 4 = month 6 Samsi-Addu Mari calendar = month 9 Samsi-Addu Amorite calendar) is 2 months. However in Koliński’s scheme the difference is over a year. So again a large gap during which there are no documents (especially when compared with the document density of the preceding years at Tuttul).

Regards Joe

    • Re: Koliński’s Mari ChronologyMichael Liebig, Mon Jan 30 09:17
      Hi Joe, the end of Zimri-Lim is fixed in the reign of Hammurabi of Babylon and Kolinski don´t shorten the reign of Zimri-Lim. But he extend the reign of Yasmah-Adad by one year. As a result the end... more
      • Re: Kolinski's Mari ChronologyRobert P. Killian, Tue Jan 31 06:43
        Hi Michael & Joe, Just checking on the actual 'date' conclusions for Hammurabi, of Babylon and Zimri-Lim, of Mari. Right now I have Hammurabi "posted" at: ac.1792 minus 42yrs to 1750. Right now I... more
        • first year Zimri-LimMichael Liebig, Tue Jan 31 08:38
          Hi Bob, According to Charpin/Ziegler the first full year of Zimri-Lim = Hammurabi 19. Death of Shamshi-Adad (year 33) = Hammurabi 18. With one more year for Jasmah-Adad (so Kolinski) we get: Death of ... more
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