Warfare > Babylonian Revolt under Ashurbanipal

Babylonian Revolt under Ashurbanipal

Background

The relations between Ashurbanipal and his brother Shamash-shuma-ukin were initially were good and the dual monarchy they shared over the kingdoms was very beneficial. Shamash-shuma-ukin's power was extremely limited in that he could conduct the daily Babylonian traditional rituals but did not have any authority over building projects or larger politics. However, by 652 BCE the Babylonian king had been infused with the natural power of the city and rebelled against his brother. He wanted to declare the civilization of Babylonia independent and expand its territory free from Assyrian constraint.

Shamash-shuma-ukin was able to ally himself with many of the tribes and other surrounding civilizations such as Chaldea, Aram, the Arabs, the Gutium, Amurru, Meluhha, Nabataeans, and the remnants of Elam. The only surviving account of the tale is on the Papyrus 63 written in Aramaic which states Shamash-shum-ukin declared war on his brother through a letter that claims Ashurbanipal was only the governor of Nineveh and its subject cities, not of Babylonia.

The Assyrians delayed response to Babylon because of unfavorable omens and they waited for Babylon's next move. Even as the rebellion grew in some of their cities they waited until Babylon formally attacked before crushing the force. In 648 BCE Ashurbanipal retaliated and sieged the cities of Babylon and Borsippa, with Shamash-shum-ukin getting killed in the battle and the Babylonian forces surrendering shortly after. Ashurbanipal executed many of the rebels following this engagement and Babylon was significantly destroyed with the palace being set on fire.

Ashurbanipal left the city much weakened and allowed it retain its independence despite the rebellion. However, Ashurbanipal did exert more direct control than before and the new king named Kandalanu had the only function of performing the daily ritual and there are no inscriptions left of his name.

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