Amurru was the god of the Arabian immigrants, the Amorites, according to the ancient people of Mesopotamia. They settled in the adjoining lands of the present-day countries of Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon. Later, they made this territory the country of Amurru.

Our historians bring you the authentic story of this ancient civilization and how it came into being. This article answers the questions of formation, demise, and religious beliefs of the Amorites and their god Amurru.

The Country of the ancient Amorites: Amurru

The word Amurru means “western” in different dialects of Egyptian, Akkadian, and Hebrew languages. In 2000 BC, before the emergence of the country of Amurru, many small tribes rooted themselves across the Syrian coast.

These tribes consisted of immigrants from Arabia commonly called the Amorites. They were a group of northwest Semitic-speaking people with strong built, height, and exceptional skills in warfare and crafts. Many viewed them as a band of savages and bandits. Instead, they would go ahead to form a sovereign state that has left a mark on history.

Who was Abdi Ashirta? The Founder of Amurru

Among these tribes rose a leader: Abdi Ashirta. Not much information is known about his early childhood but he was a local Amorite, who envisioned uniting the scattered tribes of immigrants along the coastline to form a fully functional, self-sufficient independent state.

His idea quickly gained popularity and the tribesmen supported him with all they had, be it their life’s savings or life itself. With the power vested in him by his people, he started to implement his idea of uniting all of the Amurru tribes into a kingdom: a visionary plan that was unheard of at that time.

After uniting the tribes, Abdi Ashirta turned to the occupation of the nearby cities. He offered them safety from looting and killing by the very bandits and thieves that he controlled, in exchange for allegiance.

Among these tumbling cities was Gubla. The siege laid to this city has been proved to be of the utmost importance to us as we try to unravel the course of Abdi Ashirta through the streets of Mesopotamia. From this city, in fact, we received the gift of one of the most important archeological findings in history: the Amarna Letters. Let’s take a step back and see what this is about.

The Importance of Amarna Letters: The Ancient Way of Royal Correspondence

Rib Hadda was the hereditary ruler of Gubla and, among other things, he was the prolific writer of the concerning adventures of Abdi Ashirta to the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten. Everything we know of Amurru and his formation, along with his leaders, is credited to the 70 letters written by Rib Hadda to the Pharaoh.

Originally found in the ruins of the city of Akhenaten, these letters are collectively called the Amarna Letters. The only difference they have in appearance to a normal paper letter is that they were made of clay tablets.

In an interesting turn of events, the Amarna letters are not on display in any museums worldwide today. This is because the information, promises, and suspected secrets of the Egyptian empire are written on them. Who knows, maybe they have the secrets about who actually built the wondrous pyramids. Maybe we will never know.

The Acceptance of Amurru as a Country

The increasing popularity of Amorites and their prowess in warfare was an imminent threat to the Egyptians. The best way for them to secure their land, wealth, and access to the coast was to accept the new state and form an alliance. And that is what they did.

The Egyptian court recognized the country of Amurru, and its leader Abdi Ashirta was given the recognition of the Mayor of Amurru. After allying with the Egyptians, they tried to force on the Amorites the implementation of the framework of the Egyptian Imperial Rules, but Abdi Ashirta had other plans.

Throughout the life of Abdi Ashirta, Amurru remained a decentralized land. As such, the country included numerous independent polities. According to the Amarna letters, Abdi wanted to alter the geopolitical landscape of the state by keeping it decentralized.

For this reason, he took many cities and tribes under his rule, expanding from the mountains down in the foothills, forming his base at Ardata, and coming in the closest contact with Sumur, the seat of the local Egyptian Commissioner, and his garrison.

The Demise of Abdi Ashirta of Amurru: The fall of Amurru

The Amarna letters report of Abdi Ashirta for the last time in Sumur, and it is suspected he died there. The reason for his death is highly debated, with some siding with a cold-blooded murder and some pressing it as a natural death.

After his death, Amurru fell in the hands of Azuri, Abdi’s son and, as history unveils, Amurru was never the same. Azuri could not control the state as well as his father did. It resulted in the state being torn apart by the long-waiting alien forces.

Ultimately the demise of Amurru came. In the coming times, many leaders tried to bring the state of Amurru back on the map but failed miserably, because they were faced with stronger armies and civilizations.

Crusade Wars and Amorites

In the preceding history, the word Amurru is read many times at various historic places. Historians concluded that the nature of Amorites was to be savage and cut-throat. The ancient civilizations started calling and labeling an Amorite anyone who was a threat to their safe-being, livelihood, and had a different set of religious values. This is why many crusade wars were fought against the Amorites.

The Amorites — also called Amurra and Amurri throughout history — were so famous that they were talked about in the Bible as the highland mountaineers with strong built who occupied parts of Jordan. The Book of Joshua, the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible, narrates that Joshua defeated the Amorites on five different occasions. One of the reasons for the conflict with the Amorites was their belief in pagan gods.

Amurru: The Pagan God

According to literature, there were many Gods of the Amorites but the most famous one was Amurru together with one of his wives, Asherah, the lady of the desert.

Amurru and his various Avatars

Amurru, also known as Mar Tu, was the god of Amorites living in the outskirts of Mesopotamia (modern-day Syria). In the Mesopotamian religion Anu, An, or Ilu is a divine personification of the sky, and Amurru is considered his son.

Many different adaptations of the god Amurru are present. The most famous one describes him as the lonesome god of the Akkadian Mountains, the god of the nomadic people and their flocks. He is sometimes also called bêlu šadī or bêl šadê: “the God who dwells on the mountains.” This is because the people of Amorites came down from the highland mountains.

Farming was most famous back then and it is not untypical for nomads to believe in a higher power that would be the savior of their livelihood and, in this case, their cattle. This is why Amurru’s symbols are a gazelle and a shepherd’s crook.

Another famous adaptation of Amurru is Ba’al, the god of fertility. In the Hebrew inscriptions, Prophet Elijah fought and defeated Ba’al. In some parts of the Amorite’s kingdom, Amurru was thought to have storm-god-like features. This face was called Adad, meaning the thunderer or hurler of thunder.

Other Gods of the Amorites

As the Amorites took land after land, many different solar deities were added to their religious beliefs, especially the gods of the Sumerians, Babylonians, and the Mesopotamians. They followed seven Major Gods: four primaries, and three sky gods:

Primary Gods:

  • Anu
  • Enlil
  • Enki
  • Ninhursag

Sky Gods:

  • Ishtar
  • Sin
  • Shamash

Like in the Roman and Greek mythologies, every Amurru god has a unique power, giving them control over some natural phenomena:

Name of the God Elements of Dominion
Anu Sky, Supreme God
Enlil Wind. Air, Earths, and Storms
Enki Water, Knowledge, Mischief, and Creation
Ninhursag(Goddess) Fertility and Mountains
Ishtar(Goddess) Love, Beauty, Sex, War, and Justice
Sin Moon and Planet
Shamash Sun and Morality

 

Conclusion

All important points related to Amurru can be summarized as:

  • Amurru was the God of the Amorite people.
  • Amorites were immigrants that came from Arabia some 4000 years ago and settled in southern Syria.
  • Abdi Ashirta united the scattered tribes and formed the state of Amurru.
  • Amorites were also called Amurra and Amurri.
  • In Christianity and Judaism, Amorites were seen as an enemy because of their different religious beliefs.
  • Most of the knowledge that exists on Amurru and its people comes through the Amarna Letters.

We understand now how the Amorites jolted Mesopotamia and became a country of immigrants. How they rose to power due to a single man and ultimately fell. This chapter of our history is surely something to think about when discussing the roots of our civilization.

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