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Publisher's Summary

The Early Bronze Age in the Near East (c. 3300 - 2100 BCE) was an era of significant cultural, political, and scientific development. At the same time, city-states became empires, gaining hegemony over the region, and then collapsed, sending Mesopotamia and the Levant into political chaos. The Sumerians were the dominant ethnic group during the first part of the Early Bronze Age Mesopotamia, and the Semitic Akkadians followed them, with the language of the latter became the lingua franca of the Near East for more than a millennium. However, as the Early Bronze Age transitioned into the Middle Bronze Age (c. 2100-1550 BCE), new ethnic groups came to prominence that would once more change the region’s political composition. These groups ushered in a new era where the Near East’s cultural and economic focus shifted from southern Mesopotamia to central and northern Mesopotamia and the Levant.

The primary ethnic group that led this transition was the Amorites, who were originally a collection of nomadic Semitic tribes from the deserts of Arabia. When the Amorites began steadily infiltrating the cities and states of Mesopotamia and Syria around 2000 BCE, they brought a new way of conducting geopolitics in the region while adopting many centuries-old Mesopotamian and Levantine traditions regarding religion literacy and other aspects of culture.

The legendary Hammurabi (r. circa 1792 - 1750 BCE) descended from the Amorites and most famously established the First Dynasty of Babylon, but other rulers named Hammurabi also reigned in Mari, Assyria, Yamhad, and Qatna. The Kingdom of Qatna, named for the primary city in the kingdom, was located on the other Amorite states’ geographical periphery in the northern Levant but was still a significant participant in the Near East’s geopolitical system during the Middle Bronze Age. Although researchers know little about the chronological details of the Qatna kings, a combination of sources from Mari, Egypt, and Qatna itself provide an image of the kingdom’s place in the world at the time, and it seems Qatna was every bit as powerful as its brother states in Mesopotamia. Thanks to its location, it was able to withstand the aggression of the more powerful states of Assyria and Babylon.

The textual and archaeological evidence shows that Qatna was able to grow and prosper throughout the Middle Bronze Age. As the other Amorite powers collapsed at the onset of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1550 - 1200 BCE), it was able to stay politically relevant longer by playing the new powers against one another. Eventually, though, Qatna could not stop the march of history, or the armies of Egypt, Mitanni, and Hatti, and Qatna was ultimately leveled, only to be rediscovered over 3,000 years later in the 20th century.

Qatna: The History and Legacy of the Ancient Syrian City During the Bronze Age chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of the Syrian city, and what life was like there; You will learn about Qatna like never before."

©2021 Charles River Editors (P)2021 Charles River Editors

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