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The Amurites or Amorites ( Sumerian country name: KUR MAR.TU KI ; Akkadian : Amurrum ) were an ancient people of the Semitic language from the Near East . They can be found mainly in the area of ​​the central Euphrates . Before they settled on the Euphrates, they were nomadic cattle .


The Sumerian name Martu is derived from the phrase tum-mar-tu , which basically means sons of the wind and refers to the origin. In general, the wind was mostly blowing from the west and south, which is why they were also considered the sons of the west / southwest / south . In a figurative sense, the name referred to the immigration area of ​​the nomads. The expressions are to be understood historically without always referring to the same tribe. The naming thus represented a general designation of Semitic tribal groups on the southern and western borders of Mesopotamia .


The beginnings

The Amurrites are first mentioned in battles under the Akkadian king Naram-Sin around 2,240 BC. BC, who fought them in northern Syria and tried to incorporate them into the kingdom of Akkade . Obviously this integration did not succeed because Naram-Sins successor Šar-kali-šarri had further armed conflicts with them and they defeated them in a battle in the mountain bazaar. At that time, the Amurites were still nomads who did not live in any defined area. Their increased penetration and the simultaneous clashes with the Guteans accelerated the fall of the Akkadian Empire, which had previously lost stability. In Sumerian mentions of the 3rd Dynasty of Ur , they are described as uncivilized warriors:

"In the vicinity of Sumer and Akkad, the Martubeduins, those who know no barley, rose up, but the wall of Uruk was indeed stretched over the steppe like a bird's net."

- Epic Lugalbanda and Enmerkar , lines 303 to 305

First dynasty founded

In the further course the Amurites penetrated further and further into Mesopotamia and interfered in many places in political disputes between the respective city-states. This was done first through various raids through the regions, in order to then come to terms with the respective rulers peacefully. They later rose to become rulers in many parts of the country.

You are responsible for several new dynasties , for example in Aleppo , Qatna , Mari , Babylon , Assur and the oldest dynasty of Larsa under Gungunum from 1932 BC. Chr.

The Mari palace archives name around 6,000 male and female Amurri names. There are several Amurrian loanwords, but Amurrian never became a written language.

The names of the rulers of Mari Jaḫdun-Lim , Sumu-jamam and Zimri-Lim in the 19th century BC. BC clearly show the Amurrian origin. Although they felt connected to the Sumerian-Akkadian tradition, the original names or name attachments were used for generations.

Later course

The best known Amurriter is the ruler of Babylon, Hammurapi , who lived around 1770 BC. BC Mari conquered and installed an Amurri ruler. The Amurites' collection of laws (an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth ) is a cultural achievement that is echoed in the Bible : an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth .

In the 17th century BC They were possibly part of the Semitic conquerors of Egypt , the so-called Hyksos . After the Hyksos period, individual groups dispersed to Canaan, where they appear as Amorites in the context of the biblical reports . (Not to be confused with the ammonites ). They formed a small state of Amurru in the northern Levant , which was at times independent, Hittite and Egyptian .

Their pantheon shows similarities with that of the Ugarites , see Ugaritic mythology .

The Amurrites in the Bible

The Amurites are called Amorites in the Tanach and are mentioned 88 times, 20 times of them in a list of different peoples of Canaan (e.g. Jos 11.3  EU ). They are considered to be pre-Israelite inhabitants of Canaan with other peoples with whom fights had been waged during the settlement by Israel (e.g. Num 21,21ff  EU ). They are localized imprecisely, both in the north ( Dtn 3.8f  EU ) and in the south of Canaan ( Gen 14.7  EU ) or in the mountains of Judas ( Jos 10.5ff  EU ), so that the Amorites are probably synonymous with various pre-Israelites Had become tribes of which only dark historical memories remained. They were regarded as a stereotypical enemy of the past (e.g. Am 2.9  EU ) and were equated with the entire pre-Israelite population (e.g. Ri 1.34ff  EU ).


Notes and individual references

  1. Mostly the origin from the southwest , since the wind rose in Mesopotamia did not correspond to today's conditions, but was transferred to the course of the Euphrates and Tigris, which in southern Mesopotamia did not run directly in a north-south direction; in addition, the expression corresponded to the mythological wind directions (west and south).
  2. a b c Cf. Dietz-Otto Edzard : The nomads in the old Babylonian time . In: Elena Cassin , Jean Bottéro , Jean Vercoutter (eds.): The ancient oriental empires I. From the Paleolithic to the middle of the 2nd millennium (= Fischer Weltgeschichte . Volume 2). Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 1965, p. 167.
  3. Also known under the title Lugalbanda and the Storm Bird.