The Kingdoms of Isin and Larsa
Updated: Jun 19, 2021
The end of Ur's rule over Sumer and Akkad did not lead to an immediate fragmentation of political power. Early in the reign of Ibbi-Sin, the last king of Ur, Ishbi-Erra, a general under his authority, had established a dynasty in Isin and took over control of much of the region. When Ur was captured by the Elamites, it was Ishbi-Erra who freed the city, and his successors usurped the title “King of Ur” after capturing Uruk and Lagash (which Larsa was subject to). Subsequent Isin rulers appointed governors to rule over the cities.
One such governor, Gungunum, broke with Isin and established an independent dynasty at Larsa. To legitimize his claim to the throne and to deliver a blow to Isin, he captured the city of Ur. He and his successors then took steps to block trade routes to diminish Isin's supremacy. Larsa's political peak occurred under the reign of Rim-Sin, who would rule for 60 years, making him the longest reigning king in Mesopotamian history. Upon acquiring the throne from his brother, Warad-Sin, Rim-Sin immediately expanded Larsa by attacking the neighboring city-states of Uruk, Isin, and Babylon, capturing some villages near Uruk. He would go on to eventually take Uruk in roughly 1800 B.C. and then Isin in 1793 B.C., making Babylon the only rival state in Babylonia. Rim-Sin spent the next thirty-years consolidating his grasp over the south by concentrating on administrative functions in the capital, and reducing the economic independence of the earlier city-states.
Hammurabi, now king of Babylon, waited until Rim-Sin was an old man to initiate his swift conquest of all his neighbors, including Larsa, which he conquered in 1763 B.C. After a six month siege, Rim-Sin escaped the city, but was soon found and taken prisoner where he died thereafter. Hammurabi left Rim-Sin's organization in place, however, continuing to rely on men from Larsa to supervise the administration of southern Babylonia. Rim-Sin thus laid the groundwork for Hammurabi's centralized state.
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