- (modern TELL-HARIRI, in southeast Syria)Important city on the middle Euphrates, excavated by French archaeologists since 1933. It is of special importance for the reconstruction of historical events at the beginning of the second millennium B.C., which the rich finds of cuneiform tablets at the site have made possible. The occupational levels of the city go back to the early third millennium.According to the Sumerian King List, it was the seat of the 10th dynasty “after the flood,” between those of Adab and Kish, and was said to have lasted 136 years. The names of the kings are not preserved, but there is some archaeological evidence from Early DynasticMari, mainly temples, the remnant of a palace, and several inscribed statues of dignitaries. Mari was destroyed by the ambitious Lugalzagesi and subsequently incorporated into the Akkadian empire. Then followed a period of independence under the rule of another dynasty, the socalled Shakkanakku (originally the title of Akkadian military governors). Mari was subject to Ur during the Third Dynasty of Ur, but then began its most illustrious period, when the city enjoyed its greatest prestige, from c. 2000 to 1800 B.C. Much of its wealth derived from its improved irrigation schemes around the river; good relations with the surrounding pastoralisttribes, which provided wool for flourishing, palace-based textile workshops; and control over riverine and overland trade.Mari became a coveted target of political ambition, and ShamshiAddu I (reigned c. 1813–c. 1781), the Amorite king of Assyria, managed to dislodge the local ruler Sumu-yaman and appoint his own son Iasmah-Addu as governor of Mari.Eventually Zimri-Lim (reigned c. 1775–1761), the son of the dislodged Mari king Iahdun-Lim, who had found exile in Aleppo, defeated the Assyrians and assumed kingship. Zimri-Lim maintained complex relations with tribal leaders and other rulers such as Hammurabi of Babylon. He ordered the complete rebuilding of the palace on a vast scale, covering some 2,500 hectares. Such a huge edifice was not just a royal residence but comprised the center of administration and textile workshops. The walls of some official rooms were decorated with painted murals, the courts were paved with baked brick, and the whole edifice was drained by a complex system of underground water pipes. The walls of this palace are unusually well preserved, up to a height of four meters, because of the sudden and violent destruction it suffered at the hands of Hammurabi’s soldiers (c. 1760 B.C). The city continued to be inhabited, but on a reduced scale, into the first millennium B.C.See also PARROT, Andre.
Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. EdwART. 2012.