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Empire Of Hammurabi

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



Upon the western edge of this country appeared nomadic tribes of Semitic-speaking peoples who traded, raided, and fought with the Sumerians for many generations. Then arose at last a great leader among these Semites, Sargon (2,750 B. c.), who united them, and not only conquered the Sumerians, but extended his rule from beyond the Persian Gulf on the east to the Mediterranean on the west. His own people were called the Akkadians and his empire is called the Sumerian-Akkadian empire. It endured for over two hundred years.

But though the Semites conquered and gave a king to the Sumerian. cities, it was the Sumerian civilization which prevailed over the simpler Semitic culture. The new-comers learnt the Sumerian writing (the "cuneiform" writing) and the Sumerian language; they set up no Semitic writing of their own. The Sumerian language became for these barbarians the language of knowledge and power, as Latin was the language of knowledge and power among the barbaric peoples of the middle ages in Europe. This Sumerian learning had a very great vitality. It was destined to sur vive through a long series of conquests and changes that now began in the valley of the two rivers.

As the people of the Sumerian-Akkadian empire lost their political and military vigour, fresh inundations of a warlike people began from the east, the Elamites,1 while from the west came the Semitic Amorites, pinching the Sumerian-Akkadian empire between them. The Amorites settled in what was at first a small up-river town, named Babylon; and after a hundred years of warfare became masters of all Mesopotamia under a great king, Hammurabi (2,100 B. C.), who founded the first Babylonian empire.

Again came peace and security and decline in aggressive prowess, and in another hundred years fresh nomads from the east were invading Babylonia, bringing with them the horse and the war chariot, and setting up their own king in Babylon.



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