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First Sealand dynasty

Conquest of the Sea-Land by the Kassites. 20th century reconstruction.

The First Sealand dynasty (URU.KÙKI[nb 1][1]), or the 2nd Dynasty of Babylon (although it was independent of Amorite-ruled Babylon), very speculatively c. 1732–1460 BC (short chronology), is an enigmatic series of kings attested to primarily in laconic references in the king lists A and B, and as contemporaries recorded on the Assyrian Synchronistic king list A.117. Initially it was named the "Dynasty of the Country of the Sea" with Sealand later becoming customary.[2][page needed]

The dynasty, which had broken free of the short lived, and by this time crumbling Old Babylonian Empire, was named for the province in the far south of Mesopotamia, a swampy region bereft of large settlements which gradually expanded southwards with the silting up of the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (the region known as mat Kaldi "Chaldaea" in the Iron Age). Sealand pottery has been found at Girsu, Uruk, and Lagash but in no site north of that.[3]

The later kings bore pseudo-Sumerian names and harked back to the glory days of the dynasty of Isin. The third king of the dynasty was even named for the ultimate king of the dynasty of Isin, Damiq-ilišu. Despite these cultural motifs, the population predominantly bore Akkadian names and wrote and spoke in the Akkadian language. There is circumstantial evidence that their rule extended at least briefly to Babylon itself. In later times, a Sealand province of the Neo-Babylonian Empire also existed.[4]


Traditionally, all that was known about Sealand came from a few Kings List entries and the stray chronicle mention. It has been suggested that much of the writing in this period used waxed wooden boards, as a way of explaining the paucity of standard tablets found.[5] Recently (2009) 450 published tablets mainly from the Martin Schøyen collection, the largest privately held collection of manuscripts to be assembled during the 20th century, cover a 15 to 18 year period extending over part of each king’s reign.[6] They seem to originate from a single cache but their provenance was lost after languishing in smaller private collections since their acquisition on the antiquities market a century earlier.[7]: v  Most of the tablets pertain to administration of resources.[8] An additional 32 unpublished Sealand tablets are held in Brussels.[9] The tablets include letters, receipts, ledgers, personnel rosters, etc., and provide year-names and references which hint at events of the period. Messengers from Elam are provisioned,[i 1] Anzak, a god of Dilmun (ancient Bahrain) appears as a theophoric element in names,[i 2] and Nūr-Bau asks whether he should detain the boats of Ešnunna,[i 3] a rare late reference to this once thriving Sumerian conurbation. In addition to normal commercial activity, two omen texts from another private collection are dated to the reign of Pešgaldarameš and a kurugu-hymn dedicated to the gods of Nippur mentions Ayadaragalama.[10] A variant version of the Epic of Gilgameš relocates the hero to Ur and is a piece from this period.[7]

Excavations conducted between 2013 and 2017 at Tell Khaiber, around 20 km from Ur, have revealed the foundations of a large mudbrick fortress with an unusual arrangement of perimeter close-set towers.[11] The site is dated, by an archive of 152 (after joins were made) clay cuneiform tablets found there, to Ayadaragalama.[12][13][14] Tablets at Tell Khaiber fell into the same short time period as those published from the Schoyen Collection, that being the later part of Pešgal and early part of Ayadara reigns. Excavators were also able to develop a stratified ceramic array for Sealand allowing other sites to be identified. Sealand ceramics and faunal remains were found at the site of Tell Sakhariya, a few miles east of Ur.[15]

The home city of the Sealand Dynasty is currently unknown. A kings list fragment states that Babylon's "kingship passed to E'urukuga". Given its site being known as uru.ku this capital has been speculated as being Lagash of which little is known in this period.[16] Nippur, and Tell Deḥaila are also in consideration.[17] Modern thinking is that the capital was a Dūr-Enlil (or Dūr-Enlile). There was a Dūr-Enlil in Neo-Babylonian times in the general area between Uruk and Larsa as well as one in Neo-Assyrian times. It is not clear it either is the same place as the potential Sealand capital.[18][19]

The King list tradition

The king list references which bear witness to the sequence of Sealand kings are summarized below:

Position King List A[i 4] King List B[i 5] Purported reign[i 4] Contemporary
1 Ilima[ii] Ilum-ma-ilī 60 years Samsu-iluna and Abi-ešuh (Babylon)[i 6]
2 Ittili Itti-ili-nībī 56 years
3 Damqili Damqi-ilišu II 36 years Adasi (Assyria)[i 7]
4 Iški Iškibal 15 years Belu-bāni (Assyria)[i 7]
5 Šušši, brother Šušši 24 years Lubaia (Assyria)[i 7]
6 Gulki… Gulkišar 55 years Sharma-Adad I (Assyria)[i 7]
6a mDIŠ-U-EN[i 7] ? LIK.KUD-Šamaš (Assyria)[i 7]
7 Peš-gal Pešgaldarameš,[nb 2] his son, same 50 years Bazaia (Assyria)[i 7]
8 A-a-dàra Ayadaragalama,[nb 3] his son, same 28 years Lullaya (Assyria)[i 7]
9 Ekurul Akurduana 26 years Shu-Ninua (Assyria)[i 7]
10 Melamma Melamkurkurra 7 years Sharma-Adad II (Assyria)[i 7]
11 Eaga Ea-gam[il] 9 years Erishum III (Assyria)[i 7]

An additional king list[i 8] provides fragmentary readings of the earlier dynastic monarchs.[20] The king list A totals the reigns to give a length of 368 years for this dynasty. The Synchronistic King List A.117 gives the sequence from Damqi-ilišu onward, but includes an additional king between Gulkišar and Pešgaldarameš, mDIŠ-U-EN (reading unknown). This source is considered reliable in this respect because the forms of the names of Pešgaldarameš and Ayadaragalama match those on recently published contemporary economic tablets (see below).[7]



Ilum-ma-ilī,[i 9] or Iliman (mili-ma-an),[i 5] the founder of the dynasty, is known from the account of his exploits in the Chronicle of Early Kings[i 6] which describes his conflicts with his Amorite Babylonian contemporaries Samsu-iluna and Abi-ešuḫ. It records that he “attacked and brought about the defeat of (Samsu-iluna’s) army.” He is thought to have conquered Nippur late in Samsu-iluna’s reign[21] as there are legal documents from Nippur dated to his reign.[i 10][22] Abi-eshuh, the Amorite king of Babylon, and Samsu-iluna’s son and successor, “set out to conquer Ilum-ma-ilī,” by damming the Tigris, to flush him out of his swampy refuge, an endeavor which was apparently confounded by Ilum-ma-ilī’s superior use of the terrain.


The last surviving year-name for Ammi-ditana commemorates the “year in which (he) destroyed the city wall of Der/Udinim built by the army of Damqi-ilišu.[i 11] In the original "MU am-mi-di-ta-na LUGAL.E BÀD.DA UDINIMki.MA (ÉREN) dam-qí-ì-lí-šu.KE4 BÍ.IN.DÙ.A BÍ.IN.GUL.LA".[23] This is the only current contemporary indication of the spelling of his name, contrasting with that of the earlier king of Isin.[24]


Gulkišar, meaning “raider of the earth,” has left few traces of his apparently lengthy reign. He was the subject of a royal epic (Tablet HS 1885+ plus 2 recent fragment joins) concerning his enmity with Samsu-ditāna, the last king of the first dynasty of Babylon.[25] The text describes Gulkišar addressing his troops and being accompanied by the god Istar.[26] The colophon of a tablet giving a chemical recipe for glaze[i 12] reads “property of a priest of Marduk in Eridu,” thought to be a quarter of Babylon rather than the city of Eridu, is dated Gul-ki-šar lugal-e "year after (the one when) Gul-kisar (became?) king.”[27] A kudurru[i 13] of the period of Babylonian king Enlil-nādin-apli, c. 1103–1100 BC, records the outcome of an inquiry instigated by the king into the ownership of a plot of land claimed by a temple estate. The governors of Bit-Sin-magir and Sealand, upheld the claim based on the earlier actions of Gulkišar who had “drawn for Nanse, his divine mistress, a land boundary.” It is an early example of a Distanzangaben statement recording that 696 years had elapsed between Nabû-kudurrī-uṣur, Enlil-nādin-apli’s father, and Gulkišar.[28]

Pešgaldarameš and Ayadaragalama

Pešgaldarameš, “son of the ibex,” and Ayadaragalama, “son of the clever stag,” were successive kings and descendants (DUMU, "sons" in its broadest meaning) of Gulkišar.[26]

Ayadaragalama’s reign seems to have been eventful, as a year-name records expelling the “massed might of two enemies,” speculated to be Elamites and Kassites, the Kassites having previously deposed the Amorites as rulers in Babylon. Another records the building of a “great ring against the Kalšu (Kassite) enemy” and a third records the “year when his land rebelled.” A year-name gives “year when Ayadaragalama was king – after Enlil established (for him?) the shepherding of the whole earth,” and a list of gods includes Marduk and Sarpanitum, the tutelary deities of the Sealand.[i 14][7]

A neo-Babylonian official took a bronze band dedicatory inscription of A-ia-da-a-ra, MAN ŠÚ “king of the world,” to Tell en-Nasbeh, probably as an antique curio, where it was discarded to be found in the 20th century.


Ea-gâmil, the ultimate king of the dynasty, fled to Elam ahead of an army led by Kassite chief Ulam-Buriaš, brother of the king of Babylon Kashtiliash III, who conquered the Sealand, incorporated it into Babylonia and “made himself master of the land.” Agum III, successor to Ulam-Buriaš, is also described as attacking Sealand and destroying a temple in "Dūr-Enlil".[29]

A serpentine or diorite mace head or possibly door knob found in Babylon,[30] is engraved with the epithet of Ulaburariaš, “King of Sealand”.[31] The object was excavated at Tell Amran ibn-Ali, during the German excavations of Babylon, conducted from 1899 to 1912, and is now housed in the Pergamon Museum.

See also


  1. ^ MS 2200/40 and MS 2200/455.
  2. ^ MS 2200/394, 444, 321 and so on.
  3. ^ MS 2200/3.
  4. ^ a b Babylonian King List A, BM 33332, i 4 to 14 where the names are abbreviated but give their lengths of reign.
  5. ^ a b Babylonian King List B, BM 38122, reverse 1 to 13.
  6. ^ a b Chronicle of Early Kings, tablets BM 26472 and BM 96152, B rev. (Ilum-ma-ilī) 7-10 (Ea-gâmil) 12–14.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Synchronistic King List A.117, Assur 14616c, i 1 to 10.
  8. ^ Formed from BM 35572 and eleven other fragments.
  9. ^ Tablet Ashm. 1922.353 from Larsa.
  10. ^ Five legal tablets such as CBS 4956, published in Chiera (1914), CBS 11013, published as BE VI 2 text 68, 3N-T 87, UM 55-21-239 catalogued as SAOC 44 text 12, and OIMA 1 45, from Nippur.
  11. ^ Tablets MCS 2 52, YOS 13 359.
  12. ^ Tablet BM 120960 thought to have been recovered from Tall 'Umar (Seleucia) on the Tigris.
  13. ^ Kudurru in the University Museum, Philadelphia, BE I/1 83 15.
  14. ^ MS 2200/81.


  1. ^ Where ŠEŠ-ḪA of King List A and ŠEŠ-KÙ-KI of King List B are read as URU.KÙ.KI
  2. ^ Given as PEŠ.GAL-DÀRA.MAŠ.
  3. ^ Given as A-DÀRA-GALAM.MA.


  1. ^ Oppenheim, A. Leo (1977). Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a Dead Civilization. University of Chicago. p. 414. ISBN 978-0-22663186-8 – via The Internet archive.
  2. ^ King, L.W., "Chronicles concerning Early Babylonian Kings", vol. 2. London: Luzac, 1907
  3. ^ Al-Hamdani, A. (2020). The Settlement and Canal Systems During the First Sealand Dynasty (1721–1340 BCE). In S. Paulus & T. Clayden (Ed.), Babylonia under the Sealand and Kassite Dynasties, Berlin, pp. 28–57.
  4. ^ Paul-Alain Beaulieu, Ea-dayān, Governor of the Sealand, and Other Dignitaries of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 54, pp. 99–123, The American Schools of Oriental Research, 2002
  5. ^ Paulus, Susanne, "Die babylonischen Kudurru-Inschriften von der kassitischen bis zur frühneubabylonischen Zeit. Untersucht unter besonderer Berücksichtigung gesellschafts-und rechtshistorischer Fragestellungen", AOAT 51, Münster: Ugarit Verlag, 2014
  6. ^ [1]Chapin, Michael Arthur, "'My-Mother-Is-Precious': Names and Naming Practices in the First Dynasty of the Sealand (ca. 1500 BCE)", Dissertation, Johns Hopkins University, 2023
  7. ^ a b c d Stephanie Dalley (2009). Cornell University Studies in Assyriology and Sumerology. Volume 9 Babylonian Tablets from the First Sealand Dynasty in the Schoyen Collection. CDL Press. pp. 1–16.
  8. ^ Odette Boivin, "Agricultural Economy and Taxation in the Sealand I Kingdom", Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 68, pp. 45–65, 2016
  9. ^ Boivin, Odette, "Accounting for livestock: principles of palatial administration in Sealand I Babylonia", Iraq, vol. 78, 2016, pp. 3–23, 2016
  10. ^ Gabbay, Uri and Boivin, Odette. "A Hymn of Ayadaragalama, King of the First Sealand Dynasty, to the Gods of Nippur: The Fate of Nippur and Its Cult during the First Sealand Dynasty" Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie, vol. 108, no. 1, pp. 22-42, 2018
  11. ^ Text - [2] Supplement - [3]Campbell, S.; Killick, R.; Moon, J.; Calderbank, D.; Robson, E. (2021). "Summary report on excavations at Tell Khaiber, an administrative centre of the Sealand period, 2013-2017". Sumer. A Journal of Archaeology and History in Arab World. 65: 15–46. ISSN 0081-9271.
  12. ^ [4] Eleanor Robson, Information Flows in Rural Babylonia c. 1500 BC, in C. Johnston (ed.), The Concept of the Book: the Production, Progression and Dissemination of Information, London: Institute of English Studies/School of Advanced Study, January 2019 ISBN 9780992725747
  13. ^ "Castle of the Sealand kings: Discovering ancient Iraq's rebel rulers - The Guardian". 2017-09-01. Retrieved 2017-09-02.
  14. ^ Odette Boivin, The First Dynasty of the Sealand in Mesopotamia, Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, 2018, ISBN 9781501507823
  15. ^ Twiss, Katheryn C. "Animals of the Sealands: Ceremonial Activities in the Southern Mesopotamian “Dark Age”." Iraq 79, pp. 257-267, 2017
  16. ^ W. G. Lambert (1974). "The Home of the First Sealand Dynasty". Journal of Cuneiform Studies. 26 (4): 208–209. doi:10.2307/1359442. JSTOR 1359442. S2CID 163967718.
  17. ^ Dalley, S. (2020). The First Sealand Dynasty: Literacy, Economy, and the Likely Location of Dūr- Enlil(ē) in Southern Mesopotamia at the end of the Old Babylonian Period. In S. Paulus & T. Clayden (Ed.), Babylonia under the Sealand and Kassite Dynasties (pp. 9-27). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter
  18. ^ MacGinnis, J., "Further Evidence for Intercity Co-Operation among Neo-Babylonian Temples", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 16, no. 2, pp. 127–32, 2006
  19. ^ Wiseman, D. J., "The Vassal-Treaties of Esarhaddon", Iraq, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. i–99, 1958
  20. ^ J. A. Brinkman (1999). Dietz Otto Edzard (ed.). Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie: Meek – Mythologie. Vol. 8. Walter De Gruyter. p. 7.
  21. ^ Albert Kirk Grayson (1975). Assyrian and Babylonian chronicles. J. J. Augustin. p. 221.
  22. ^ Steinmeyer, Nathan, "Samsuiluna and the Reconquest of Nippur", The IOS Annual Volume 23:"Drought Will Drive You Even Toward Your Foe", Brill, pp. 37-55, 2022
  23. ^ Horsnell, M. J. A., "The Year- Names of the First Dynasty of Babylon", 2 vols. Hamilton: McMaster University Press, 1999
  24. ^ William W. Hallo (2009). The world's oldest literature: studies in Sumerian belles-lettres. BRILL. p. 183. ISBN 9789004173811.
  25. ^ Elyze Zomer (2019). Middle Babylonian Literary Texts from the Frau Professor Hilprecht Collection, Jena. Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 3–38.
  26. ^ a b Zomer, Elyze. "Chapter 25. Enmity Against Samsu-ditāna". Law and (Dis)Order in the Ancient Near East: Proceedings of the 59th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale Held at Ghent, Belgium, 15–19 July 2013, edited by Katrien De Graef and Anne Goddeeris, University Park, USA: Penn State University Press, 2021, pp. 324-332
  27. ^ A. Leo Oppenheim (1970). Glass and Glassmaking in Ancient Mesopotamia. The Corning Museum of Glass Press. p. 60.
  28. ^ J. A. Brinkman (1968). A political history of post-Kassite Babylonia, 1158–722 B.C. Analecta Orientalia. p. 118.
  29. ^ Boivin, Odette, "A political history of the Sealand kingdom", The First Dynasty of the Sealand in Mesopotamia, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, pp. 86-125, 2018
  30. ^ Mace head VA Bab. 645 (BE 6405) with ten line possession inscription, in the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin.
  31. ^ B. Landsberger (1954). "Assyrische Königsliste und "Dunkles Zeitalter" (Continued)". Journal of Cuneiform Studies. 8 (2): 70–71. doi:10.2307/1359531. JSTOR 1359531. S2CID 224831525. n. 182

Further reading

  • Al-Zubaidi, Ahmed K. Taher, and Mohammed S. Attia, "A Cylinder Seal From TELL Abu Al-Dhahab Dated To THE First Sealand Dynasty (1740–1374 BC)", IRAQ 83, pp. 13-24, 2021
  • Boivin, Odette, "Kār-Šamaš as a South-Western Palace Town of the Sealand I Kingdom", NABU, pp. 162–64, 2015
  • Boivin, Odette, "Taxpayers and the Palace at the Time of the First Dynasty of the Sealand: Social Aspects, Officials, and Keeping Track of the Barley", In Economic Complexity in the Ancient Near East: Management of Resources and Taxation (Third–Second Millennium BC), edited by Jana Mynářová and Sergio Alivernini, 279–297. Prague: Charles University, Faculty of Arts, 2020
  • Boivin, Odette, "Kār-Šamaš as a South-Western Palace Town of theSealand I Kingdom", NABU, pp. 162–64, 2015
  • Boivin, Odette, "On the Origin of the Goddess Ištar-of-the-Sealand, Ayyabītu", NABU, pp. 24–26, 2015
  • Calderbank, Daniel, "Pottery from Tell Khaiber: a craft tradition of the first Sealand dynasty", Moonrise Press Ltd, 2021
  • Calderbank, Daniel, "Moulding Clay to Model Sealand Society Pottery Production and Function at Tell Khaiber, Southern Iraq", The University of Manchester (United Kingdom), 2018
  • Cavigneaux, Antoine and Béatrice André-Salvini. Forthcoming. Cuneiform tablets from Qal’at Dilmun and the Sealand at the dawn of the Kassite era. In Twenty years of Bahrain Archaeology, 1986–2006. Actes du colloque international de Manama, 9–12 décembre 2007, ed. Pierre Lombard et al. Bahrain: Ministry of Culture
  • Dalley, Stephanie, "Gods from North-eastern and North-western Arabia in Cuneiform Texts from the First Sealand Dynasty, and a Cuneiform Inscription from Tell en-Nasbeh, c. 1500 BC", Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 23, pp. 177–85, 2013
  • de Ridder, Jacob Jan, "HS 200B: A Bridal Gift (Tuppu Bibli) from the First Sealand Dynasty.", Journal of Cuneiform Studies 73.1, pp. 89-102, 2021
  • Gabbay, Uri, "A balaĝ to Enlil from the First Sealand Dynasty", Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie 104.2, pp. 146-170, 2014
  • Højlund, Fleming, "Dilmun and the Sealand", Northern Akkad Project Reports 2, pp. 9–14, 1989
  • Zadok, Ran, "On Population Groups in the Documents from the Time of the First Sealand Dynasty", Tel Aviv 41, pp. 222–37, 2014
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First Sealand dynasty
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