SHAMASH-SHUMA-UKIN
(reigned 667–648 B.C.)
   Assyrian king of Babylon. He was the eldest son of King Esarhaddon of Assyria, who had appointed his younger son, Ashurbanipal, to be his successor while he destined Shamash-shuma-ukin to rule Babylon. If this arrangement was meant to secure brotherly unity between the two countries, it did not succeed. Ashurbanipal’s position was much stronger, and he treated his older brother like any other vassal ruler, making him swear an oath of allegiance and maintaining a policy of noninterference as long as there was no trouble.
   Shamash-shuma-ukin was no doubt under pressure from the citizens of Babylon to push for a speedy return of the divine statues that his grandfather Sennacheribhad removed from their sanctuaries, but Ashurbanipal prevaricated. Neither did he come to punish the raids by nomadic tribes that Babylonia suffered at this time. Shamash-shuma-ukin decided to find support elsewhere and sought allies among Arab and Chaldean tribes and from Elam. Babylonia became split into a pro-Assyrian faction, which comprised the old cities in the south, and the rebellious party led by the Chaldeans. Although Ashurbanipal seems to have been reluctant to intervene with arms, clashes between Assyrian and rebel forces went on for several years. The Babylonian side was weakened by mutiny among the Elamite troops and by the capture of the Chaldean leader Nabu-bel-shumati. Ashurbanipal then brought down his full force and set siege to Babylon, which was taken after two years, with terrible deprivation and suffering caused to the inhabitants. Shamashshuma-ukin probably died in the final assault in his palace. The conflict between the brothers and the renewed destruction of Babylon did much to incite hatred against Assyria.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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