Tell Hariri

At a distance of 120 Km southeast of Deir Ezzor, is Tell Hariri, one of the many hills that can be found in this area. Since 1933 the tell has been an excavation site for the ancient dead city of Mari, one of the oldest cities in the world.

This royal state resembling that of Ebla, had flourished for more than a millennium. Starting in 2900 BC, the state of Mari was already trading in tin (which would be manufactured into bronze), and had an extensive irrigation system to strengthen its agriculture. With the production of tin and strong ties with Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean, Mari was considered an important trading point.

After 2340 BC Mari was mastered by the Akkadians of Agadeh and the Sumerians of Ur. Both the Akkadians and the Sumerians would appoint kings or princes that would govern the state of Mari, these governing leaders were called the Shakkanakkou. 

The Amorites came a little later from Mesopotamia and founded many kingdoms, of the most important was Babylon. In 1760 Mari fell to the most powerful of the Babylonian kingdom, Hammurabi. Hammurabi destroyed the kingdom and looted the palace and Mari was left abandoned. The knocking down of the brick walls meant that the rooms would be filled with earth and this is why everything is so well preserved.

As for the site itself, it constitutes mainly of a royal palace that is almost 100 meters long on all sides. The palace, which is said to be the residence of the last of the Mari kings, Zimri Lim, has two courtyards, an audience chamber or shrine dedicated to Ishtar (Goddess of fertility), a few religious buildings, slaves quarters, royal living quarters and a throne room. The throne room is the largest of the rooms in the palace and the throne is situated on the west wall. The room to the west of this is where the 17 000 tablets were found inscribed in cuneiform signs, that were used by the Babylonians. Outside the palace are a group of temples (to the east) and the temple of Ishtar (west), which probably dates back to 2500 BC.

Andre Parrot, a French archaeologist, did most of the important excavating on this site (died in 1980). He is known said that Syria was the birthplace of civilization. Most of the Artifacts found at Tell Hariri of this ancient kingdom are now in the Aleppo, Damascus, and Louvre museums. 


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