Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Qarqar Coalition

Given the state of the world today, it is interesting that the same inscription provides us with both the earliest named Arab and the earliest naming of an Israeli king, chronicling events in which they were allies.

During the middle of the 9th century, the Assyrian ruler Shalmeneser III waged a campaign of expansion into what is now Syria. In 853 BCE, he crossed the Euphrates at Carchemish, then went to Aleppo, a territory he had already conquered, where he made sacrifices to the God Hadad.

His ultimate goal was the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon; however, a few decades earlier, those cities had formed alliances with inland military powers. Therefore, Shalmeneser first had to deal with them. He entered the lands of King Irluheni of Hamath (modern Hama). At the city of Qarqar, he met an alliance of Syro-Palestinian rulers, including King Ahab of Israel and one Jindibu the Arab.

Ahab's contribution was 2000 chariots and 10,000 soldiers, while Jindibu had 1000 camels. Shalmeneser claims he defeated them, though not everyone today is convinced. Jan Retso believes Jindibu's name is the same as the common Jundab, and that he came from what is now northeastern Jordan, perhaps near al-Azraq. King Ahab perhaps needs little introduction. However, his claim to epigraphic priority is a photo finish. The Mesha Stele, erected a couple of years after the Kurkh Monolith which records the Battle of Qarqar, mentions his father, Omri.



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