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Isin (, modern
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

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 Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also kn ...

archaeological site
in
Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate Al-Qadisiyah Governorate ( ar, القادسية, translit=Al Qādisiyah) is one of the governorates of Iraq. It is in the center-south of the country. The estimated population of the province is about a million and a half million people, according ...
,
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
. Excavations have shown that it was an important
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereignty, 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 c ...
in the past.


History of archaeological research

Ishan al-Bahriyat was visited by
Stephen Herbert Langdon Stephen Herbert Langdon (1876May 19, 1937) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), common ...
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 war waged by Coalition of the Gulf War, coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States against Ba'athist Iraq, Iraq in response to Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait, invasion and annexation of Kuwait arising from oil pr ...
(1990-1) and the
Iraq War The Iraq WarThe conflict is also known as the Second Gulf War or the Third Gulf War by those who consider the Iran–Iraq War the first Gulf War. The war was also called the Second Iraq War referring to the Gulf War as the first Iraq war. The p ...
(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: ''Nibru'', often logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian l ...
. It is a tell, or settlement mound, about across and with a maximum height of .


History of occupation

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. 6500–3800 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 by Henry Hall (Egyptologist), Henry H ...
. 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 BC (middle chronology The middle chronology is one chronology of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, which fixes the reign of Hammurabi to 179 ...

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 BC (middle chronology The middle chronology is one chronology of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, which fixes the reign of Hammurabi to 179 ...

Ur III
) finally collapsed at the hands of the
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronz ...

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 Shu-Sin, also Šu-Suen ( akk, 𒀭𒋗𒀭𒂗𒍪: ''dingir, DŠudingir, DSin (mythology), Sîn'', after the Moon God Suen, Sîn", the ":Wikt:𒀭, 𒀭" being a silent honorific for "Divine", formerly read Gim ...
, 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: 𒀭𒅖𒁉𒀴𒊏 ''Išbi-erra'', name was written phonetically in cuneiform: d''iš-bi-ir₃-ra'', in contemporary inscriptions; ''Floruit, fl.'' ''c.'' 1953 BC — ''c.'' 1920 BC by the short chronology ...
, relocated from Ur to Isin, another city in the south of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

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 Diyala Governorate ( ar, محافظة ديالى ) or Diyala Province is a Governorates of Iraq, governorate in eastern Iraq. Provincial government *Governor: Muthana al-Timimi *Deputy Governo ...
and
Ashur Ashur () was the second son of Shem, the son of Noah. Ashur's brothers were Biblical Elam, Elam, Arpachshad, Arphaxad, Lud son of Shem, Lud, and Aram, son of Shem, Aram. Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, there was contention in acade ...

Ashur
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, was an ancient city of (and later of ) situated east of the present bed of the River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern , , .Harmansah, 2007 Uruk is the for the . Uruk played a leading ...
, and the spiritual center of
Nippur Nippur (Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian l ...
. 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, 𒀭𒄖𒌦𒄖𒉡𒌝, Dgu-un-gu-nu-um) was a king of the city state of Larsa Larsa (Sumerian logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language i ...
the royally appointed governor of
Larsa Larsa (Sumerian logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures ...
and
Lagash Lagash (cuneiform: LAGAŠKI; Sumerian: ''Lagaš''), or Shirpurla, was an ancient city state A city-state is an independent sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowe ...

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 Abisare ruled the ancient West Asian city-state of Larsa Larsa (Sumerian logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication use ...
and
Sumuel Sumuel or Sumu-El (, ''su-mu-el3'') ruled the city-state of from c. 1894 BC to 1866 BC (). He was an . Annals for his complete 29-year reign have survived; thus it is known that he campaigned against and in his year 4, in year 5, Pinaratim ...
(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 The First Babylonian Empire, or Old Babylonian Empire, is dated to BC – BC, and comes after the end of Sumerian power with the destruction of the Third Dynasty of Ur, and the subsequent Isin-Larsa period. The chronology of the first dynasty o ...
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 H ...
, son of
Hammurabi Hammurabi () was the sixth king of the First Babylonian dynasty The First Babylonian Empire, or Old Babylonian Empire, is dated to BC – BC, and comes after the end of Sumerian power with the destruction of the Third Dynasty of Ur The ...

Hammurabi
, based on tablets found there. Later, the
Kassites The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratificati ...
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 Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze A ...
.


Kings of Isin

First Dynasty of Isin (
short chronology The short chronology is one of the chronologies of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, which fixes the reign of Hammurabi to 1728–1686 BC and the sack of Babylon to 1531 BC. The absolute 2nd millennium BC dates resulting from these re ...
)


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, 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: 𒀭𒅖𒁉𒀴𒊏 ''Išbi-erra'', name was written phonetically in cuneiform: d''iš-bi-ir₃-ra'', in contemporary inscriptions; ''Floruit, fl.'' ''c.'' 1953 BC — ''c.'' 1920 BC by the short chronology ...
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 BC (middle chronology The middle chronology is one chronology of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, which fixes the reign of Hammurabi to 179 ...
period. He continued acting out the 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 is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, war, justice and political power. She was originally worshiped in Sumer Sumer ()The name is from '; ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the ...
(also known as
Ishtar Inanna is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, war, justice and political power. She was originally worshiped in Sumer Sumer ()The name is from Akkadian language, Akkadian '; Sumerian language, Sumerian '' ...

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 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#Redirect Sumerian King List {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{Redirect from other capitalisation {{Redirect from move ...
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

*Barthel Hrouda, 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, *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, *Vaughn Emerson Crawford, Sumerian economic texts from the first dynasty of Isin, Yale University Press, 1954


External links


Archaeological Site Photographs of Isin at Oriental Institute
Edmund L. Andrews.
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 132 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of a ...

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