The absolute 2nd millennium BC
dates resulting from these reference points have very little academic support, and have essentially been disproved by recent dendrochronology
The middle chronology
(reign of Hammurabi 1792–1750 BC) is more commonly accepted in academic literature. For much of the period in question, middle chronology dates can be calculated by adding 64 years to the corresponding short chronology date (e.g. 1728 BC in short chronology corresponds to 1792 in middle chronology).
After the so-called "dark age" between the fall of Babylon and the rise of the Kassite dynasty in Babylonia, absolute dating becomes less uncertain.
While exact dates are still not agreed upon, the 64-year middle/short chronology gap ceases from the beginning of the Third Babylon Dynasty onward.
Early Bronze Age
Estimation of absolute dates becomes possible for the second half of the 3rd millennium BC. For the first half of the 3rd millennium, only very rough chronological matching of archaeological dates with written records is possible.
Kings of Ebla
The city-states of Ebla and Mari
(in modern Syria
) competed for power at this time. Eventually, under Irkab-Damu, Ebla defeated Mari for control of the region just in time to face the rise of Uruk
and Akkad. After years of back and forth, Ebla was destroyed by the Akkadian Empire
. Pottery seals of the Egyptian
pharaoh Pepi I
have been found in the wreckage of the city. 
Third Dynasty of Uruk
Further information: Uruk
Dynasty of Akkad
Further information: Akkad
Since Akkad (or Agade), the capital of the Akkadian Empire
, has not yet been found, available chronological data comes from outlying locations like Ebla
, Tell Brak
and Tell Leilan
. Clearly, the expansion of Akkad came under the rules of Sargon and Naram-sin. Its last king, Shar-kali-sharri barely held the empire together, but upon his death, it fragmented. Finally, the city of Akkad itself was destroyed by the Guti
Second Dynasty of Lagash
Following the collapse of the Akkadian Empire
of Akkad under pressure from the invading Gutians, Lagash gradually regained prominence. As a client state to the Gutian Kings, Lagash was extremely successful, peaking under the rule of Gudea. After the last Gutian king, Tirigan
, was defeated, by Utu-hengal
, Lagash came under the control of Ur under Ur-Namma
Note that there is some indication that the order of the last two rulers of Lagash should be reversed. 
Fifth Dynasty of Uruk
Further information: Uruk
Uniting various Sumerian city-states, Utu-hengal frees the region from the Gutians
. Note that the Sumerian king list
records a preceding 4th Dynasty of Uruk which is as yet unattested. 
Third Dynasty of Ur (Sumerian Renaissance)
In an apparently peaceful transition, Ur
came to power after the end of the reign of Utu-hengal
, with the first king, Ur-Namma, solidifying his power with the defeat of Lagash
. By the dynasty's end with the destruction of Ur by Elamites
and Shimashki, the dynasty included little more than the area around Ur.
Middle Bronze Age
The Old Assyrian / Old Babylonian period (20th to 15th centuries)
First Dynasty of Isin
Further information: Isin
Kings of Larsa
Further information: Larsa
The chronology of the Kingdom of Larsa is based mainly on the Larsa King List (Larsa Dynastic List), the Larsa Date Lists, and a number of royal inscriptions and commercial records. The Larsa King List was compiled in Babylon
during the reign of Hammurabi
, conqueror of Larsa. It is suspected that the list elevated the first several Amorite Isinite
governors of Larsa to kingship so as to legitimize the rule of the Amorite Babylonians over Larsa. After a period of Babylonian occupation, Larsa briefly breaks free in a revolt ended by the death of the last king, Rim-Sin II.
First Babylonian dynasty (Dynasty I)
Following the fall of the Ur III Dynasty, the resultant power vacuum was contested by Isin
, with Babylon and Assyria
later joining the fray. In the second half of the reign of Hammurabi
became the preeminent power, a position it largely maintained until the sack by Mursili I
in 1531 BC. Note that there are no contemporary accounts of the sack of Babylon. It is inferred from much later documents.
1st Sealand Dynasty (2nd Dynasty of Babylon)
When the names of Sealand Dynasty kings were found on cuneiform records like the Babylonian Kings Lists, Chronicle 20, Chronicle of the Early Kings, and the Synchronistic King List, it was assumed that the dynasty slotted in between the First Dynasty of Babylon
and the Kassites
Later discoveries changed this to the assumption that the dynasty ran entirely in parallel to the others. Modern scholarship has made it clear that the Sealand Dynasty did in fact control Babylon and the remnants of its empire for a time after its sack by the Hittites
in 1531 BC.
Hittite Old Kingdom
The absolute chronology of the Hittite Old Kingdom hinges entirely on the date of the sack of Babylon
. In 1531 BC, for reasons that are still extremely unclear, Mursili I marched roughly 500 miles from Aleppo
to Babylon, sacked it, and then promptly returned home, never to return. Other than that event, all the available chronological synchronisms
are local to the region in and near Anatolia
Late Bronze Age
The Middle Assyrian period (14th to 12th centuries)
Third Babylon Dynasty (Kassite)
Perhaps because the capital of Mitanni, Washukanni
, has not yet been found, there are no available king lists, year lists, or royal inscriptions. Fortunately, a fair amount of diplomatic, Hittite
, and Assyrian
sources exist to firm up the chronology. Having become powerful under Shaushtatar, Mitanni eventually falls into the traditional trap of dynasties, the contest for succession. Tushratta and Artatama II both claim the kingship and the Hittites and Assyrians take advantage of the situation. After that, Mitanni was no longer a factor in the region.
Assyrian Middle Kingdom
Long a minor player, after the defeat of its neighbor Mitanni
by the Hittites
, Assyria rises to the ranks of a major power under Ashur-uballit I. The period is marked by conflict with rivals Babylon
and the Hittites
as well as diplomatic exchanges with Egypt
, in the Amarna letters
. Note that after the excavation, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, of various Neo-Assyrian
documents, such as the Assyrian king list
, scholars assumed that the chronological data for earlier Assyrian
periods could be taken as accurate history. That view has changed over the years and the early Assyrian
chronology is being re-assessed. Since there is yet no consensus, the traditional order and regnal lengths will be followed.
Hittite New Kingdom
Beginning under his father, Suppiluliuma I brought the Hittites from obscurity into an empire that lasts for almost 150 years. The Hittite New Kingdom reaches its height after the defeat of Mitanni
, an event which ironically leads to the rise of Assyria
. The dynasty ends with the destruction of Hattusa
by parties undetermined but which may have included the Sea People
and the Kaskians
Kings of Ugarit
A client state of Mitanni
and later the Hittites
, Ugarit was nonetheless a significant player in the region. While regnal lengths and an absolute chronology for Ugarit are not yet available, the known order of kings and some firm synchronisms make it reasonably placeable in time. The fall of Ugarit has been narrowed down to the range from the reign of PharaohMerneptah
to the 8th year of Pharaoh Rameses III
. This is roughly the same time that Hattusa
The Early Iron Age
(12th to 7th centuries BC). While not subject to the long versus short dating issue, chronology in the Ancient Near East is not on a firm footing until the rise of the Neo-Babylonian and Neo-Assyrian rulers in their respective regions. The dates, regnal lengths, and even the names of a number of rulers from that interim period are still unknown. To make matters worse, the few surviving records, such as the Synchronistic Chronicle, give conflicting data.
Second Dynasty of Isin
After the fall of the Kassite dynasty
of Babylon to Elam
, power in the region, and control of Babylon, swung to the city-state of Isin. Assyria at this time was extremely weak, except during the reign of the powerful Assyrian ruler Tiglath-Pileser I
. Other polities in the area had yet to recover from the Bronze Age collapse
After the Middle Assyrian Kingdom there is an uncertain period in Assyrian history. The current cornerstone of chronology for this time is the Assyrian King List which, unfortunately, conflicts with other records such as the Synchronised King List and the Babylonian King List. In any event, the rulers of Assyria in this time were all fairly weak, except for Tiglath-Pileser I. Note too that this chronology is based on assumed synchronisms with Egypt in the previous period.
Dynasties V to IX of Babylon (post-Kassite):
empire rises to become the dominant power in the ancient Near East for over two centuries. This occurs despite the efforts of various other strong groups that existed in this period, including Babylon
, and Egypt
Dynasties X of Babylon (Assyrian):
Babylon was under the direct control of Neo-Assyrian rulers or their appointed governors for much of this period.
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Last edited on 16 August 2020, at 19:57
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