Welcome / Bienvenu

This blog presents my different wargames armies, after action reports, campaigns which I have run, some scenarios and a presentation of some of the different rules I play. The pages at the top of the blog contain historical information on the periods that interest me. They are an aid to my poor memory, and not in any way exhaustive nor necessarily correct. As I am an Englishman living in France, some pages are in English and others in French...sorry, I am too lazy to translate...

I hope this blog offers you much enjoyment and some inspiration !

The Bronze Age

THE KINGDOM OF MARI
(18th century BC)
The land of Amurrum is to be found in the vicinity of modern day Lebanon. Towards the end of the 3rd millenium BC, several waves of immigrants left this land, crossing the Syrian desert to the Euphrates, and spreading along its length. Historians have identified three "waves", dating to c. 2050, c.1900 and c.1830. The disruption caused by the Amorites brought the "Sumerian Renaissance" of the Third Dynasty of Ur to an end, and led to the founding of numerous kingdoms throughout Mesopotamia.
The venerable city of Mari (see map) became the centre of one such kingdom when Yahdun-Lim (c. 1810-1794) elected it as his capital. He soon entered into conflict with the complex entity known as the "Kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia" (see my roleplaying site), and its high king, Samsi-Addu.



This conflict - of which Yahdun-Lim won the first round at the epic battle of Nagar (=Tell Brak) - caused Mari to seek alliance with the second major power in northern Mesopotamia, the city of Ešnunna.

The Amorites were composed of two tribal groups, the Bensimalites (to whom Yahdun-Lim belonged) and the Benjaminites. Although these two tribes would often fight side by side in time of need, conflicts between them were equally common. The Benjaminites - with their semi- or wholly independant kingdoms at Tuttul, Samanum and Abattum, seem to have threatened Yahdun-Lim's hegemony, and he was forced to crush a major uprising at some point in his reign. His victory - detailed at length on a foundation brick of a temple of Shamash - was followed, in typical emulation of Mesopotamian heroic traditions, by a march to the Sea, in which he washed his weapons. Yahdun-Lim died c.1794, and his son a year later.

In that same year, Samsi-Addu seized the city of Mari, incorporated it into the "Kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia", and later installed his son Yasmah-Addu there as viceroy. Yasmah-Addu reigned from 1787 to 1775. The major feats of his reign were as follows :

1782 - 1781 : war with Ešnunna
1781 - 1780 : alliance with Qatna, Haššum, Uršum and Karkemiš against the Kingdom of Yamhad (modern Aleppo).
1780 - 1779 : major expedition to Qatna and the Sea. Revolt of the Turukkeans in the east. Their army of 10,000 is fought by Yasmah-Addu's elder brother, Išme-Dagan.
1779 - 1778 : Second Turukkean revolt, and widespread Benjaminite uprising, both supported by Yamhad. The Kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia is seriously threatened, and Samsi-Addu forced to write to the king of Qatna so that he will release the expedition force sent a year earlier. 
1778 - 1777 : the Mariote general Mut-Bisir leads a supplementary expeditionary force to Qatna before bringing the entire army home. The troops of the initial contingent have been four years away from home.
1776 - 1775 : Yet more Turukkean attacks are pushed back by Išme-Dagan, with the help of Guti mercenaries. In early 1775, Samsi-Addu is seriously ill (and perhaps already dead). Išme-Dagan is lulled by the overtures of peace emanating from Ešnunna. In the west, a descendant of Yahdun-Lim, named Zimri-Lim, leads an army of 2,000 exiles, Bensimalites and Benjaminites alike, helped by Yamhad. This army takes Tuttul in early 1775.
1775 - 1774 : Mari falls to Zimri-Lim during the winter of 1775-1774, whilst Ešnunna attacks the Kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia in the east. Mari is once again an independant kingdom, with a Bensimalite ruler. Yasmah-Addu disappears from history; his brother Išme-Dagan finds refuge with Hammurapi at Babylon.

The reign of Zimri-Lim
The major events of Zimri-Lim's reign, which correspond to the apogee of Mari, are as follows :
1774 : Installation and consolidation of the kingdom
1773 : First Benjaminite revolt. The Benjaminites seem to have been excluded from power by Zimri-Lim, and promised aid by Ešnunna, the eternal rival of Mari.
1772 : Ešnunna invades the Suhum.
1771 : The war with Ešnunna continues, but Zimri-Lim wins an important victory at Andarig. The Benjaminites attack Saggaratum, one of the prinicipal cities of the kingdom of Mari.
1770 : Zimri-Lim is reconciled with the Benjaminites, and signs a peace treaty with Ešnunna. Mari enters its (albeit short) golden age.
1766 : The "journey to Ugarit". In order to help Yamhad to put down a serious rebellion, Zimri-Lim brings the Mariote army to the Sea (where they encounter Minoan merchants and their translators).
1765 : Ešnunna, who at this moment in time is the major power in northern, or perhaps the whole, of Mesopotamia, is attacked by the Elamites. The sukkalmah of Elam (modern Iran) is the nominal overlord of all the Amorite kingdoms, but his power has long been held at bay by Ešnunna. When Mari and Babylon join the sukkalmah, Ešnunna is unable to resist.
The exigences of the sukkalmah soon prove unbearable to his allies, and the Elamites invade both Babylon and the Habur region. This sparks a great "Amorite alliance", in which political and tribal rivalries are momentarily forgotten, in an almost "national" reaction. The only kingdoms to support Elam are Qatna (actively) and the "Kingdom of Sumer and Akkad" of Rim-Sin in the south (by deliberate inaction). Hammurapi even restores Išme-Dagan on the throne of Ekallatum so that he can mobilise the Amorites of this region.
1764 : The Elamites are forced to leave the Habur region. At the beginning of the summer, the sukkalmah orders the pillage and the razing of Ešnunna (despite 5,000 of its soldiers having fought for him) and retreats back to Iran.
The destruction of Ešnunna unbalances the politics of the region, opening the way for hegemony. It is Hammurapi of Babylon who is best placed - and most able - to seize his chance. Towards the end of 1764, he attacks Rim-Sin, and seizes his capital of Larsa in early 1763.
1763 : Zimri-Lim goes to war with Išme-Dagan in the Yahmutbaal (Andarig region). The son of Samsi-Addu has rallied the ruins of Ešnunna to his cause. Hammurapi of Babylon, however, remains faithful to his Mariote ally, disavows Išme-Dagan, and detaches Ešnunna from his cause. Išme-Dagan is finally defeated, but once again finds exile in Babylon. Hammurabi perhaps sets him as governor of the town of Tutub in the Diyala valley, where he ends his political career.
1762 : The search for influence in the Sindjar region will be the spark for war between Babylon and Mari. Ešnunna joins the latter.
Hammurabi of Babylon defeats Ešnunna in mid-1762, and takes Mari at the end of the year. The city was occupied for around two years by Babylonian troops, and then destroyed (in the 34th year of Hammurabi's reign).

"I took Mari and all the land around it. I destroyed its walls / its fortress, and I transformed the country into tells and ruins".


THE HURRIANS

Spreading out from an unknown homeland – most likely the Caucasus – the Hurrians spread throughout the Near East towards the end of the 3rd millennium BC. Speaking a still poorly understood language, unrelated to the Semitic tongues of the Near East, they can be detected when their personal names appear in cuneiform texts from the region, including as far west as Yamhad and Kizzuwatna.
In some localities, intense Hurrian migration allowed them to coalesce into political entities, notably in the Habur triangle. This was the case of the Turukkeans (who my army principally represents), who rallied behind a King, himself a vassal of Mari. The Turukkeans were, however, poorly sedentarised semi-nomads, wont to uproot in mass and wander throughout the lands, always causing consternation and, on occasions, destruction.

Hurrians were closely associated with smithing, the Sumerians borrowing their copper vocabulary from their language. They were also associated with horses, and the Hurrians no doubt played a role in introducing the horse into the Near East c. 2000 BC and no perhaps the two wheeled chariot into Near Eastern warfare around the mid 2nd millennium. The king of Mari, Zimri-Lim, was renowned for the un-Amorite practice of riding on horseback, habit that he acquired during his exile in Yamhad, which harboured a strong, perhaps even dominant, Hurrian population. The Hittite vocabulary related to the rearing and dressing of horses was drawn from Hurrian.
Increasing Hurrian political and cultural influence in many areas, especially in the north-west (Yamhad, Uršum, Haššum, Alalakh, Kizzuwatna) is suspected as early as the 18th century BC.
It is in any case clear by the mid-2nd millennium. An important Hurrian kingdom is to be found at Arrapha, with a satellite at Nuzi, as of c. 1500. Hurrian religion and magical practices spread to the Hittites, and even become predominant by the 14th century BC. Most importantly, the Hittite sack of Babylon in 1595 led to the formation of the kingdom of Mitanni. The exact role of an Indo-Aryan aristocracy in the formation of this kingdom is disputed and somewhat vague; the majority of the population and the political class was however Hurrian (or, at least, bore Hurrian names, which as Hittite practice has shown is not quite the same thing). The Mitanni were a key player in the geopolitics of the 15th and 14th centuries, before being subjugated by the Hittites and then by the Assyrians.

THE HITTITE KINGDOM c.1750 - 1380

The Hittite Empire and its conflict with the Egyptians, personified in the epic battle of Qadesh, is well known; the period of the so-called « Old and Middle Kingdom » less so. This is the period I have chosen to present here, especially as it corresponds to that of my other Biblical armies (Amorites and Early Hurrians).

The historical sources for this period (c.1750 – 1380) are fragmentary, the extant texts often difficult to place chronologically and the limited number of Hittite royal names a source of endless confusion. It is for example uncertain, in the period between Telepinu and Suppiluliuma, whether there reigned two or three Tudhaliyas, and one, two or three Arnuwandas, not to mention to phantom “Hattušili II” that may or may not have existed. Depending on one’s point of view, different texts can be attributed to different homonyms and change the precise view of early Hittite history.
One must also contend with the different “Chronologies” of modern historians. The “Middle Chronology” was in favour when I studied Hittite culture, but the “Lower / Short Chronology” has recently gained ground.

As you can imagine, the historical account I present here is just one possibility amongst many. It most notably leads to a long reign for Suppiluliuma (c.1380-1336), whereas other interpretations, currently I believe in academic favour, prefer a shorter and later reign (c.1344-1320).
The origins of the Hittites, an Indo-European people, are uncertain; certain early legends suggest a homeland beyond the Black Sea, or in the mountains, and some scholars look to the North Caucasian region with a migration towards the end of the 3rd millennium BC. They may however have simply been native to Anatolia.
At some point, probably during the same period of strife that destroyed the first Old Assyrian colony at Kultêpe, the Hittites (who referred to themselves as Nešites, after the city of Neša, their capital) threw off the tutelage of the local Hattian princes and moved their dynastic seat to Hattuša.

The first firmly attested Hittite King is Labarna II, who built a fortress at Hattuša and took the better-known throne-name “Hattušili I” (c.1625-1600 ?). He may have been preceded by Labarna I (c.1650-1625?), if this shady figure who supposedly “made the seas his frontier” is anything more than the legendary springhead of the dynasty, created to justify what may have been an usurpation by Hattušili I. There are also traces of earlier Hittite kings of lesser might, such as a certain Pušarruma; in any case, it is not improbable that a nascent Hittite kingdom can be traced back to c.1750.
Hattušili I’s main challenge was the growing power of the Hurrians in the East. At this time, Hurrian dynasties had spread throughout northern Mesopotamia and north-west Syria, able to stir up rebellion in Anatolia and “seize the land of Hatti in their jaws like a wild dog”. The king of Haleb (the future Aleppo) appears to have been the catalyst for Hurrian aggression at this time, although the future kingdom of Mitanni was no doubt beginning to coalesce.

The early Hittite texts make no attempt to gloss over Hattušili’s difficulties (which may in itself constitute an element of royal propaganda). Despite several defeats, he was nonetheless able to regain control over the Hittite heartland, and then cross the mountain passes to ravage the Hurrian-ruled cities of north-western Syria, most notably Alalakh, Uršum, Haššuwa and Hahhum, whose “smoke he showed to the Storm God of Heaven”.  
The kings of Haššuwa and Hahhum were “yoked to a four-wheel cart full of the silver and gold taken from their cities, and made to pull it back to Hattuša to decorate the temples of the Thousand Gods”.
It is probable that Hattušili was seriously wounded during an attempt to march against Haleb itself, and forced to return to Hattuša. In earlier days, his sons had rebelled against him, obliging him to adopt his nephew; this fellow however plotted however against the King and was disowned in turn.
Hattušili I adopted his grandson Muršili, calling to witness the Hittite assembly, the panku, which has fuelled speculation that early Hittite monarchs were elective, or at least approved by this institution.
“Praise to Hattušili, for wherever he campaigned, he held the lands of the enemy conquered with his strong arm. He made of the seas his frontiers, and in his hand the individual great cities ate and drank. He protected his people against the subjects of the royal sons who, disloyal, consumed their estates and became powerful against their lords and shed their blood”.
Muršili (1600-1585) “revenged the blood of his adopted father” (it is this phrase that suggests that Hattušili received what was to prove a mortal wound whilst campaigning in Syria) and marched against Haleb, which he destroyed. Its people were deported to Hattuša. Muršili then launched a daring raid the length of the Euphrates, and sacked Amorite Babylon in 1595 (Middle Chronology), putting an end to the reign of Samsu-ditana, the last of Hammurapi’s dynasty, and paving way for Kassite rule in central Mesopotamia.

Muršili was assassinated by his cupbearer and brother-in-law, Hantili (1585-1565). Hantili also fought beyond the mountains, notably against Karkemiš, and fortified Hattuša; it is during his reign, however, that the Gasga people of the northern mountains, another recurrent enemy of the Hittite kingdom, appear. The Hittites lost certain key religious centres in northern Anatolia to the Gasga, many for centuries (Nerik, Zalpa,…)
When Hantili was on his deathbed, his son was murdered by a certain Zidanta, who ruled a few months before succumbing to his own son, Ammuna (1565-1550?). Ammuna's family was wiped out by the commander of his bodyguard, who set up his own son, Huzziya, as king.

This long period of bloodshed, which cost the Hittites their control over most of their possessions beyond their heartland, ended when a certain Telepinu (1550-1530), brother-in-law of Huzziya, chased him off the throne and was set upon it by the people of Hattuša.
This monarch issued a text known as the Telepinu Edict, which is in fact the main source for Hittite history for the period 1585-1530. Telepinu’s usurpation and the self-justifying nature of the Edict does obviously render it suspect. It does however appear that he reinforced the dynasty, put an end to the internecine bloodshed and perhaps reduced the power of the panku.

The panku having had Huzziya murdered against the new king’s will, he states “ ’From now on, no-one shall do evil to a son of the šalli haššatar (the Royal Family) and draw a knife on him’. And he set down laws for the succession of kings and the price of treason”.

“Thus, in the olden days the Hatti-land, with the help of the Sun Goddess of Arinna used to take no surrounding countries like a lion. Cities like Haleb and Babylon that it would destroy – from all such countries they took goods, silver and gold, and their Gods, and placed them before the Sun Goddess”.
The “Old Kingdom” comes to an end with the death of Telepinu c.1530, whereupon opens a particularly obscure period of Hittite history, the so-called “Middle Kingdom”, which lasts from c.1530 to c.1465. Six kings rule during this time, the average length of their reign suggesting that Telepinu had succeeded in stabilizing the kingdom and stopping the bloodshed among the royal family. Little is known of this period but it is clear that the Hittites no longer imposed their will on their neighbours.

It is probably during this period that the kingdom of Kizzuwatna, which plays a key role in later Hittite history, was carved out in south-east Anatolia. We find the Kizzuwatnans fighting alongside Idrimi of Alalakh when he invades the Hittite heartland, an attack considered to be a major event in the “Alalakh IV” archives. In the north, later texts make it clear that the Hittites abandon ground to the Gasga.
When light is once again shed on the Hittites with the rule of Tudhaliya I (c.1450-c.1425), the Mitanni kingdom is firmly established, with its king Šaušatar ruling the area of the Euphrates bend, the upper reaches of the Tigris and the Habur triangle. He is also the overlord of Alalakh, Haleb and the kingdom of Kizzuwatna, an entity in south-east Anatolia of great future importance to Hittite history and which seems to have emerged during the Middle Kingdom period.
Synchrony between the Hittite and Egyptian dynasties is speculative for this period; Tudhaliya I may have been the contemporary of Thoutmosis III, or have come to the throne shortly after the latter’s death, and been contemporary to Amenophis II. In any case, Tudhaliya I must face Egyptian ambitions in Northern Syria.

Tudhaliya I is at the beginning of a brief renaissance of the Hittite kingdom. Taking advantage of Mitanni weakness and no doubt of only intermittent Egyptian presence, he brings two important regions, Išuwa and Kizzuwatna, out of the Hurrian fold and into his own. Tudhaliya probably marries a Kizzuwatnan princess, Nikalmati, beginning a long tradition and opening wide the Hittite kingdom to the Hurrian religion in which Kizzuwatna bathes.

Having established a buffer between himself and Mitanni, Tudhaliya I can turn his attention to western Anatolia, where the kingdom of Arzawa has “become strong”. Tudhaliya campaigns at length in the West, and also against the Gasga who are able to ravage the lands around Hattuša itself, “causing the people to live in fear of brigandage and pillage”. He also faces revolt in Išuwa and a regain of strength amongst the Mitanni, who bring Haleb back into their sphere of influence.
Towards the middle of his reign, c.1450, Tudhaliya makes his (adoptive?) son Arnuwanda co-regent, installing another Hittite tradition. It is Arnuwanda who defends Kizzuwatna against the invasion led by Šaušatar; the fighting is hard but Arnuwanda’s victory not only causes the Mitanni to retreat, it also obliges Kizzuwatna to renounce its treaty of equality and become a Hittite vassal.

A few years later, a revolt in Kizzuwatna leads to the massacre of its Royal Family; having suppressed the rebellion, it seems (from later, indirect evidence) that Tudhaliya decides to transform the kingdom into a Hittite province. If this is so, it clearly demonstrates his confidence in Hittite military strength, as he now has a common border with the Mitanni and is not far from Egyptian-controlled lands. Indeed, this obvious manifest of growing Hittite power may have been the catalyst for marriage negotiations between Amenophis II and Artatama, Šaušatar’s successor on the Mitanni throne.
Towards the end of his reign, Tudhaliya I demonstrates to what point the Hittites have become a power to reckon with. He attacks and destroys Haleb, overthrows the dynasty of Alalakh and goes on to capture the city of Waššukanni, the Mitanni capital itself. This is no simple raid, as the Hittite army is able to garrison and hold its gains.

Hittites and Egyptians are now face to face, and their first military confrontation may well have occurred shortly afterwards, upon the accession of Thoutmosis IV to the Egyptian throne, although the two powers appear to have kept an uneasy peace. Tudhaliya I is, in any case, sufficiently powerful to exert control over the rich island of Alašiya (Cyprus).
Upon his death, his son Arnuwanda I (c.1425-1400) faces numerous challenges, with widespread unrest in Anatolia. In the west, he must contest with a powerful but troublesome vassal, named Madduwatta, who is possibly in contact with Mycenean kings, adventurers or pirates. In the south, the kingdom of Arzawa seeks to expand its frontiers, and encourages the Gasga to invade the north. These mountain tribes overrun and devastate the land and settle dangerously near to Hattuša; Arnuwanda, unable to fight them off, is forced to conclude a series of treaties with them.

To make matters worse, at the instigation of the Arzawans, a marriage alliance is concluded between their king Tarhandaradu and the Pharoah, Amenhopis III. It may be even be inferred that Gasgan emissaries travelled to Egypt to finish bringing the Hittites to their knees.
Finally, in the east, the Hittites lost control over Waššukanni; this regain of Mitanni influence allows them to conclude a marriage alliance with Egypt. In a particularly interesting episode, the Mitanni monarch, Šuttarna II, sends the statue of the goddess Ištar-Šaušga to Amarna, to help cure the sickness of Amenophis III.
Certain historians claim – though with no concrete proof – that the Mitannian priestess who transported the statue married Amenophis III’s son, Amenophis IV, the future Akhenaten, and took the name of Nefertiti.


Upon the death of Arnuwanda, his son Tudhaliya II (c. 1400-1380) was thus isolated against a hostile, though doubtlessly very loose, coalition of Hurrians, Egyptians, Arzawans and Gasgans. Certain fragmentary texts infer that Hattuša even fell into enemy hands during the early years of this King, and that he had to move his court to the city of Samuha.
There are also signs that at this date Kizzuwatna had become the cultural, religious and even partially political heartland of the Hittite kingdom; in any case, Samuha was located on its borders. Kizzuwatna was nonetheless threatened to such an extent that Tudhaliya II was forced to move the statue of the “Black Goddess” out of the province and bring her to Samuha.
Under Tudhaliya II, it seems obvious that the Hittites had been once more reduced to nothing more than a petty kingdom, on the point of vanishing without a trace.

Its survival can be attributed to a certain Suppiluliuma, son of Tudhaliya II (possibly his younger son, as there are traces of an elder brother, yet another Tudhaliya).
Leading the Hittite army against a coalition of nine Gasga tribes, the Prince recovered Hattuša and brought a semblance of peace to the north. It is possible that he subsequently made Hattuša his operational base, and began to rally to his cause those disaffected by Tudhaliya’s reign, helped by the military skill that later events would make evident, by his decisiveness and his charisma.
The Hittite court may have been polarized on the issue of which of Tudhaliya’s sons should be named tukhanti (regent). Tudhaliya III may have favoured his (hypothetical) son Tudhaliya “the Younger” and his tawananna (Queen) Daduhepa her second son, Suppiluliuma.

If this is the case, Suppiluliuma seems to have had his elder brother assassinated, and when his father fell mortally ill at Samuha, it is he that became King.
Suppiluliuma (1380 – 1336) brought the Hittite Kingdom out of the shadow of history and made of it an Empire.


















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