By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
The Babylonian King List places the Kassites as successors to Hammurabi's Dynasty, but their kings' reigns sum to over 576 years. Knowing that the Kassite Dynasty ended in 1155, a literal interpretation places the first Kassite kings of Babylonia as shortly after Hammurabi himself reigned. Thus, the King List includes not just Kassite kings of Babylonia, but their ancestors as well. It remains undetermined when or who was the first Kassite king of Babylonia. The Kassites were a distinct new population in Babylonia who spoke a language isolate. A few Akkadian-Kassite vocabulary lists exist, but no known works were composed in Kassite. Their kings took Kassite names exclusively until the 13th century, at which time only a few took Akkadian names. Kassites had their own pantheon, known from their names, but only two temples were built and these were in the palace for coronation rites. Neighbors referred to the Babylonian king as King of the Kassites or King of Karduniash, a term which may have been Kassite in origin.
Like Hammurabi's Amorites before them, the Kassites ruled Babylonia but did not change its language nor religion; they controlled the government without leaving a cultural impact. However, the settling-down of formerly semi-nomadic tribes fundamentally changed Babylonia's social structure. Within the tribe, people were grouped according to their ancestor -- Bit + Name of ancestor -- though the ancestor may have been fictitious. Males were known as sons of the ancestor. When the Amorites and Kassites grew sedentary, each unit could grow to include several villages and fields. The unit had its own administration, including a chief. Even after the Kassites lost hegemony over Babylonia, they continued to live in the land and these units existed even without a Kassite presence in the state apparatus. Thus, the tribal influence on Babylonian social structure lasted long beyond the tribe's dynasty.
Babylonian cultural developments
Though Kassite rulers kept their own religion, pantheon and societal structure, they did not interfere with Babylonian cultural development. Their centuries of rule were crucial for the creation of a Babylonian literary corpus in the Akkadian language. Even the Sumerian language was not abandoned as an esoteric language of elite culture and the cult. Great works were preserved, with lines alternating between the Sumerian original and their direct translation into Akkadian. The production of Akkadian literature involved a great deal of creativity. A distinct literary dialect was developed, now known as Standard Babylonian. This remained the literary dialect for Assyria and Babylon for the rest of Mesopotamian history, with vernaculars leading to slight regional variations.
In the ensuing 1st millennium, it was used as the language of royal inscriptions. The distinction between Assyrian and Babylonian literature is removed; Assyrian literature becomes fully inspired by the Babylonian tradition. In the 1st millennium, Babylonian scribes were grouped into families whose eponymous ancestors were Sin-leqe-unninni, Hunzu'u, Eku-zakir and Ahhutu. It has been suggested that these families dated back to the Kassite period. The works from the Kassite period were dutifully copied, providing most of our copies of literature from that period. Literature provides insight into notions of the time. While Old Babylonian literature praised military and cultic acts, literature of the Second Isin Dynasty portrays man as at the sometimes brutal whim of the gods.
|Ulamburiash||1475 BC||Ulamburiash was a Kassite who became lord of Sealand, replacing a a dynasty that had ruled southern Babylonia since the disappearance of Babylonia's control in the 18th century. He may have succeeded his brother Kashtiliashu as king of Babylon, hence bringing Sealand into the Babylonian state.|
|Kadashman-Enlil I||~1374 - 1360|
|Nippur Archives||Mostly spanning from Burnaburiash II's reign (begun in 1359 BC) until the end of Kashtiliashu IV's reign (ended in 1225 BC), the Nippur archives reveal the details of Babylonian administration.|
|Burnaburiash II||1359 - 1333 BC||When Assyrian king Assur-ubalit I contacted Egypt, Burnaburiash angrily claimed Assyria was still a Babylonian vassal and could not act independently in such affairs. However, Assyria was strong enough at that time to not be under Babylonian suzerainty and Assyrian king Assur-ubalit I even had Burnaburiash II marry his daughter as his main wife.|
|Kara-hardash||Burnaburiash's son and Assyrian king Assur-ubalit I's grandson assumed the throne but was assassinated in a rebellion. Assyria responded by removing the usurper and placing a new king on the throne.|
|Kurigalzu II||1332 - 1308 BC|
|Stress on Kassite Rule||Early 13th Cent||Assyria began to expand starting in the early 13th century, gradually exerting more pressure on Babylonia until the Babylonian king was finally deposed by Assyria. While the Kassites were able to regain control of Babylonia after a series of Assyrian puppet rulers, Elamite raids and Assyrian force deposed them.|
|Kashtiliashu IV||1232 - 1225 BC||Assyrian king Tukulti-Ninurta I invaded Babylonia, deposed Kashtiliashu IV and took the king in chains to Assur. At this time the Nippur Archives also ended.|
|Puppet Rulers||Assyrian puppet rulers reigned in Babylonia until Elamite raids and a Babylonian rebellion returned Babylon to Kassite control.|
|End of Kassite Rule||1155 BC||Elamite raids weakened Kassite rule, and when the Kassite Dynasty collapsed it was the Second Isin Dynasty and the less powerful Second Sealand Dynasty (composed of Kassites) which took over thereafter.|
Second Isin Dyn
|1125 - 1104 BC||Nebuchadnezzar I conquered Susa and precipitated the collapse of Elam. However, shortly after his rule Babylonia drifted into a Dark Age.|
|Dark Age||Various factors led to Babylonia's Dark Age, most often blamed on the invasions of Arameans.|