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Isin (, modern
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C ...

Arabic
: Ishan al-Bahriyat) is an
archaeological site An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric or recorded history, historic or contemporary), and which has been, or may be, investigated using the discipline ...

archaeological site
in Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate,
Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to Iraq–Turkey border, the north, Iran to Iran–Iraq ...

Iraq
. Excavations have shown that it was an important
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign city which serves as the center of political, economic, and cultural life over its contiguous territory. They have existed in many parts of the world since the dawn of history, including cities such as ...
in the past.


History of archaeological research

Ishan al-Bahriyat was visited by Stephen Herbert Langdon for a day to conduct a sounding, while he was excavating at Kish in 1924. Most of the major archaeological work at Isin was accomplished in 11 seasons between 1973 and 1989 by a team of German archaeologists led by Barthel Hrouda. However, as was the case at many sites in Iraq, research was interrupted by the
Gulf War The Gulf War was a 1990–1991 armed campaign waged by a Coalition of the Gulf War, 35-country military coalition in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Spearheaded by the United States, the coalition's efforts against Ba'athist Iraq, ...
(1990-1) and the
Iraq War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Iraq War , partof = the Iraq conflict (2003–present), Iraq conflict and the War on terror , image = Iraq War montage.png , image_size = 300px , caption ...
(2003 to 2011). Since the end of excavations, extensive looting is reported to have occurred at the site. Even when the German team began their work, the site had already been heavily looted.


Isin and its environment

Isin is located approximately south of
Nippur Nippur (Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logogram, logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. Akkadian language, Akkadian: '' ...
. It is a tell, or settlement mound, about across and with a maximum height of .


History

The site of Isin was occupied at least as early as the Early Dynastic period in the middle of the 3rd millennium BC, and possibly as far back as the
Ubaid period The Ubaid period (c. 6500–3700 BC) is a prehistory, prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The name derives from Tell al-'Ubaid where the earliest large excavation of Ubaid period material was conducted initially in 1919 by Henry Hall (Egyptologist) ...
. While cuneiform tablets from that time were found, the first epigraphic reference to Isin was not until the
Ur III The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century Common Era, BC (middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians c ...

Ur III
period. When the deteriorating Third Dynasty of
Ur
Ur
(
Ur III The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century Common Era, BC (middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians c ...

Ur III
) finally collapsed at the hands of the
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Elamite cuneiform, Cuneiform Elamite: ; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ; he, עֵילָם ''ʿēlām''; peo, 𐎢𐎺𐎩 ''hūja'') was an ancient civilization centered i ...

Elam
ites at the end of the third millennium BC, a power vacuum was left that other city-states scrambled to fill. The last king of the Ur Dynasty,
Ibbi-Sin Ibbi-Sin ( sux, , ), son of Shu-Sin, was king of Sumer and Akkadian Empire, Akkad and last king of the Third Dynasty of Ur, Ur III dynasty, and reigned c. 2028–2004 BCE (Middle chronology) or possibly c. 1964–1940 BCE ...
, had not the resources nor the organized government needed to expel the Elamite invaders. One of his governmental officials,
Ishbi-Erra Ishbi-Erra (Akkadian language, Akkadian: d''iš-bi-ir₃-ra'') was the founder of the dynasty of Isin, reigning from ''c.'' 2017 — ''c.'' 1986 BC on the middle chronology or 1953 BC — ''c.'' 1920 BC on the short chronology. Ishbi-Erra was pr ...
, relocated from Ur to Isin, another city in the south of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...

Mesopotamia
, and established himself as a ruler there. One of Ishbi-Erra's year names reports his defeating Ibbi-Sin in battle.Vaughn E. Crawford, An Ishbi-Irra Date Formula, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 13-19, 1948 Although he is not considered part of the Third Dynasty of Ur, Ishbi-Erra did make some attempts at continuing the trappings of that dynasty, most likely to justify his rule. Ishbi-Erra had ill luck expanding his kingdom, however, for other city-states in Mesopotamia rose to power as well.
Eshnunna Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar in Diyala Governorate, Iraq) was an ancient Sumerian (and later Akkadian Empire, Akkadian) city and city-state in central Mesopotamia 12.6 miles northwest of Tell Agrab and 15 miles northwest of Tell Ishchali. Althoug ...
and were developing into powerful centers. However, he did succeed in repulsing the Elamites from the Ur region. This gave the Isin dynasty control over the culturally significant cities of Ur,
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka or Warkah, was an ancient city of Sumer (and later of Babylonia) situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern Samawah, Muthanna Governorate, Al ...
, and the spiritual center of
Nippur Nippur (Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logogram, logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. Akkadian language, Akkadian: '' ...
. For over 100 years, Isin flourished. Remains of large buildings projects, such as temples, have been excavated. Many royal edicts and law-codes from that period have been discovered. The centralized political structure of Ur-III was largely continued, with Isin's rulers appointing governors and other local officials to carry out their will in the provinces. Lucrative trade routes to the Persian Gulf remained a crucial source of income for Isin. The exact events surrounding Isin's disintegration as a kingdom are mostly unknown, but some evidence can be pieced together. Documents indicate that access to water sources presented a huge problem for Isin. Isin also endured an internal coup of a sort when
Gungunum Gungunum ( akk, , Dgu-un-gu-nu-um) was a king of the city state of Larsa Larsa (Sumerian language, Sumerian logogram: UD.UNUGKI, read ''Larsamki''), also referred to as Larancha/Laranchon (Gk. Λαραγχων) by Berossus, Berossos and conn ...
the royally appointed governor of
Larsa Larsa (Sumerian language, Sumerian logogram: UD.UNUGKI, read ''Larsamki''), also referred to as Larancha/Laranchon (Gk. Λαραγχων) by Berossus, Berossos and connected with the biblical Arioch, Ellasar, was an important city-state of anci ...
and
Lagash Lagash (cuneiform: LAGAŠKI; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Lagaš''), was an ancient city state located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah, Iraq. Lagash ...

Lagash
province, seized the city of Ur. Ur had been the main center of the Gulf trade; thus this move economically crippled Isin. Additionally, Gungunum's two successors Abisare and Sumuel (c. 1905 BC and 1894 BC) both sought to cut Isin off from its canals by rerouting them into Larsa. At some point, Nippur was also lost. Isin would never recover. Around 1860 BC, an outsider named Enlil-bani seized the throne of Isin, ending the hereditary dynasty established by Ishbi-Erra over 150 years earlier. Although politically and economically weak, Isin maintained its independence from Larsa for at least another forty years, ultimately succumbing to Larsa's ruler Rim-Sin I. After the First Dynasty of Babylon rose to power in the early 2nd millennium and captured Larsa, much significant construction occurred at Isin. This ended with a destruction dated to around the 27th year of the reign of
Samsu-iluna Samsu-iluna (Amorite: ''Shamshu''; c. 1750–1712 BC) was the seventh king of the founding Amorite dynasty of Babylon, ruling from 1750 BC to 1712 BC (middle chronology), or from 1686 to 1648 BC (short chronology). He was the son and successor of ...
, son of
Hammurabi Hammurabi (Akkadian language, Akkadian: ; ) was the sixth Amorites, Amorite king of the Old Babylonian Empire, reigning from to BC. He was preceded by his father, Sin-Muballit, who abdicated due to failing health. During his reign, he conque ...

Hammurabi
, based on tablets found there. Later, the
Kassites The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC (Chronology_of_the_ancient_Near_East#Variant_Middle_Bronze_Age_chronologies, short chron ...
who took over in Babylon after its sack in 1531 BC, resumed building at Isin. The final significant stage of activity occurred during the Second Dynasty of Isin at the end of the 2nd millennium, most notably by king
Adad-apla-iddina Adad-apla-iddina, typically inscribed in cuneiform mdIM-DUMU (son Sumerogram), 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 ...
. Of the at least 256 ruler year names about 75% have been found. Most have the standard format, aside from Bur-Sin who numbered his years. These year names combined with new tablet joins show that there were two additional rulers, Sumu-abum and Ikūn-pī-Išta, slotting in between Erra-imittī and Enlil-bān. The reign of Sumu-abum lasted less than a year.


Kings of Isin

First Dynasty of Isin (
short chronology The chronology of the ancient Near East is a framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Historical inscriptions and texts customarily record events in terms of a succession of officials or rulers: "in the year X of king Y". Com ...
)


Culture and literature

The city lay on the Isinnitum Canal, part of a set of waterways that connected the cities of Mesopotamia. The patron deity of Isin was Nintinuga (Gula) goddess of healing, and a temple to her was built there. The Isin king Enlil-bani reported building a temple to Gula named E-ni-dub-bi, a temple for Sud named E-dim-gal-an-na, a temple E-ur-gi-ra to
Ninisina Ninisina (Sumerian language, Sumerian: "Mistress of Isin") was a Mesopotamian goddess who served as the tutelary deity of the city of Isin. She was considered a healing deity. She was believed to be skilled in the medical arts, and could be descri ...
, as well as a temple for the god Ninbgal.William W. Hallo, The Last Years of the Kings of ISIN, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 54-72, 1959
Ishbi-Erra Ishbi-Erra (Akkadian language, Akkadian: d''iš-bi-ir₃-ra'') was the founder of the dynasty of Isin, reigning from ''c.'' 2017 — ''c.'' 1986 BC on the middle chronology or 1953 BC — ''c.'' 1920 BC on the short chronology. Ishbi-Erra was pr ...
continued many of the cultic practices that had flourished in the preceding
Ur III The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century Common Era, BC (middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians c ...
period. He continued acting out the
sacred marriage ''Hieros gamos'', hieros (ἱερός) meaning "holy" or "sacred" and gamos (γάμος) meaning marriage, or Hierogamy (Ancient Greek, Greek , "holy marriage"), is a sacred marriage that plays out between a god (male deity), god and a goddess, ...

sacred marriage
ritual each year. During this ritual, the king played the part of the mortal Dumuzi, and he had sex with a priestess who represented the goddess of love and war,
Inanna Inanna, also sux, 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒀭𒈾, nin-an-na, label=none is an List of Mesopotamian deities, ancient Mesopotamian goddess of love, war, and fertility. She is also associated with beauty, sex, Divine law, divine justice, and political p ...
(also known as
Ishtar Inanna, also sux, 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒀭𒈾, nin-an-na, label=none is an List of Mesopotamian deities, ancient Mesopotamian goddess of love, war, and fertility. She is also associated with beauty, sex, Divine law, divine justice, and political p ...

Ishtar
). This was thought to strengthen the king's relationship to the gods, which would then bring stability and prosperity on the entire country. The Isin kings continued also the practice of appointing their daughters official priestesses of the
moon god A lunar deity or moon deity is a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being who is considered divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a god In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the suprem ...
of Ur. The literature of the period also continued in the line of the Ur III traditions when the Isin dynasty was first begun. For example, the royal hymn, a genre started in the preceding millennium, was continued. Many royal hymns written for the Isin rulers mirrored the themes, structure, and language of the Ur ones. Sometimes the hymns were written in the first person of a king's voice; other times, they were pleas of ordinary citizens meant for the ears of a king (sometimes an already dead one). It was during this period that the
Sumerian King List The ''Sumerian King List'' (abbreviated ''SKL'') or ''Chronicle of the One Monarchy'' is an ancient Composition (language), literary composition written in Sumerian language, Sumerian that was likely created and redacted to legitimize the claims ...
attained its final form, though it used many much earlier sources. The very compilation of the List seems to lead up to the Isin Dynasty itself, which would give it much legitimacy in the minds of the people because the dynasty would then be linked to earlier (albeit sometimes legendary) kings.M. B. Rowton, The Date of the Sumerian King List, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 156-162, 1960


See also

*
Cities of the Ancient Near East The earliest cities in history were in the ancient Near East, an area covering roughly that of the modern Middle East: its history began in the 4th millennium BC and ended, depending on the interpretation of the term, either with the conquest by ...


References


Further reading

*Vaughn Emerson Crawford, Sumerian economic texts from the first dynasty of Isin, Yale University Press, 1954 *Frayne, D. R, (1998): New light on the reign of Išme-Dagan, ZA 88, 6-44 *Goetze, A. (1965): Date formula of Iddin-Dagān of Isin, JCS 19, 56 *Barthel Hrouda, Isan Bahriyat I. D. Ergebnisse d. Ausgrabungen 1973–1974 (Veroffentlichungen der Kommission zur Erschliessung von Keilschrifttexten), In Kommission bei der C.H. Beck, 1977, *Barthel Hrouda, Isin, Isan Bahriyat II: Die Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen 1975–1978 (Veroffentlichungen der Kommission zur Erschliessung von Keilschrifttexten), In Kommission bei der C.H. Beck, 1981, *Barthel Hrouda, Isin, Isan Bahriyat III: Die Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen 1983–1984 (Veroffentlichungen der Kommission zur Erschliessung von Keilschrifttexten), In Kommission bei C.H. Beck, 1987, *Barthel Hrouda, Isin, Isan Bahriyat IV: Die Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen, 1986–1989 (Veroffentlichungen der Kommission zur Erschliessung von Keilschrifttexten), In Kommission bei C.H. Beck, 1992, *Kaniuth, Kai. "18. Isin in the Kassite Period". Volume 2 Karduniaš. Babylonia under the Kassites 2, edited by Alexa Bartelmus and Katja Sternitzke, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2017, pp. 492-507 *M. van de Mieroop, Crafts in the Early Isin Period: A Study of the Isin Craft Archive from the Reigns of Isbi-Erra and Su-Illisu, Peeters Publishers, 1987, *Wilcke, C., Edzard, D. O., Walker, C., Odzuck, S., & Sommerfeld, W. (2018). Keilschrifttexte aus Isin-Išān Baḥrīyāt: Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft unter der Schirmherrschaft der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Bayerische Akademie d. Wissenschaften.


External links


Archaeological Site Photographs of Isin at Oriental Institute
Edmund L. Andrews.
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...

The New York Times
, May 23, 2003. {{Authority control States and territories established in the 20th century BC States and territories disestablished in the 18th century BC 1924 archaeological discoveries Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate Archaeological sites in Iraq Former populated places in Iraq Sumerian cities Isin-Larsa period City-states Former kingdoms