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Ancient Mari (Tell Hariri)

Excavations at Mari (Daniel Johnson)

Ancient city of Mesopotamia. It is on the middle Euphrates south of its junction with the Khabur. The site was discovered by chance in the early 1930s by Arabs digging graves and has subsequently been excavated by the French. The earliest evidence of habitation goes back to the Jemdet Nasr Period in the 3rd millennium BC and Mari remained prosperous throughout the Early Dynastic Period. The temple of Ishtar and other works of art show that Mari was at this time an artistic center with a highly developed style of its own. As the commercial and political focus of West Asia circa 1800 BC its power extended over 300 miles from the frontiers of Babylon proper up the Euphrates to the border of Syria. The inhabitants were referred to as Amorites in the Old Testament and spoke a language related to the Hebrew of the patriarchs.

The archives of the great King Zimri-Lim, a contemporary of Hammurabi in the 18th century BC, were discovered in 1937. They contain over 20000 clay cuneiform documents which have made it possible to fix the dates of events in Mesopotamia in the 2nd millennium BC. Also found at Mari is the great palace complex of Zimri-Lim consisting of more than 200 rooms and covering 5 acres (2 hectares). Hammurabi conquered Mari circa 1700 BC; and Babylon then became the center of West Asia. Mari never regained its former status ...


The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium