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Old Assyrian Period

The name describes north Mesopotamia in the period about 2000-1740 BC, when the Assyrian dialect of the Akkadian language is first written. The period is best known for the Assyrian trading colonies established in Anatolia for the exchange of textiles and tin for silver and gold. Some of the most important evidence comes from the trading colony of Kanesh (near modern Kayseri in Turkey).

Assyrian lists of kings show that from around 2000 BC the city of Ashur was governed by local rulers. However, the highly profitable position which Ashur gained from trade probably made it a target for the Amorite chieftain Shamshi-Adad I (1813-1776), whose power base lay to the west of Ashur. He conquered much of north Mesopotamia, establishing an empire which stretched from the city of Mari on the River Euphrates to Ashur in the east. When Shamshi-Adad died his empire attracted the ambitions of Hammurapi of Babylon who destroyed Mari and captured parts of Assyria.