The Sealand

The Sealand was controlled by the Chaldean Bit-Yakin. Nabû-bel-šumati, their leader and grandson of Merodach-baladan II, had been loyal to Assyria probably as the governor of the Sealand before the outbreak of the revolt. He reports in no. 109 that he has heard that the king of Elam, probably Teumman (664-653), suffered a stroke and that several towns revolted against him. He also states that the Sealand has not been settled since the time of Na'id-Marduk, who was the son of Marduk-apla-iddina II and the previous governor of the Sealand (c. 680-673).[[51]] By Nisan (I), 651, however, he had sided with Šamaš-šumu-ukin,[[52]] and he eventually fled to Elam and died there (see below under Elam). In order to regain control of the south from the rebels, Assurbanipal appointed Bel-ibni as a military commander of the Sealand. He informs the Sealanders in no. 43, dated 650-II-5, that he is sending Bel-ibni to assume their leadership. He also promises them that he has disassociated them from the crime of Nabû-bel-šumati. The king addresses no. 49 to eight individuals referred to by their names and filiations who are possibly Sealanders.[[53]]

The king addresses five letters, nos. 44-48, to Bel-ibni about his military activities. He praises Bel-ibni for having reported on the Puqudu sojourning on a canal in no. 44. The Puqudu was one of the Aramean tribes who resided in eastern Babylonia and appeared as one of the main rebels during the revolt.[[54]] In no. 45, the king expresses displeasure with the fact that without his explicit permission Bel-ibni invaded the territory of the Gurasimmu, who lived in the vicinity of Ur and were under the jurisdiction of the governor of Ur.[[55]] The Gurasimmu had been loyal to Assurbanipal at the beginning of the revolt but later switched to the rebel side, because the Puqudu and the Sealanders harassed them.[[56]] Bel-ibni had a nephew named Mušezib-Marduk, who worked as his ally[[57]] and intermediary.[[58]] The king relates in no. 46 that Mušezib-Marduk had been admitted into his presence and then sent on a mission forthwith, without even spending a night in Nineveh. In no. 47, Assurbanipal mentions bdellium and bronze, on which Bel-ibni had reported. The king instructs him to send any available amount of them to the king for inspection, but the context is unclear. In no. 48, the king thanks Bel-ibni for having brought out a certain Kiṣir-Aššur and for having written to him about the Puqudu, but he does not provide additional details.

51 Mattila 1987. Frame suggested that Nabû-bel-šumati may have already been planning to rebel against Assyria though he was pretending to be a loyal servant, see Frame 1992, 128-129.

52 SAA 4 280, dated 651-I-4.

53 The Sealand is mentioned on r. 5'.

54 Frame 1992, 44-45 and 167.

55 Frame has tentatively suggested that the Gurasimmu was one of the Aramean tribes (Frame 1992, 47), while Lipiński (Lipiński 2000, 482-483) and Zadok (Zadok, 2013, 317) have proposed that this tribe might be Arabs.

56 Frame 1992, 170. Nos. 22-25 indicate that Nabû-ušabši was concerned about the Gurasimmu.

57 ABL 280.

58 ABL 277.

Sanae Ito

Sanae Ito, 'The Sealand', The Correspondence of Assurbanipal, Part I: Letters from Assyria, Babylonia, and Vassal States, SAA 21. Original publication:Winona Laka, IN, Eisenbrauns, 2018; online contents: SAAo/SAA21 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 []

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SAAo/SAA21, 2014-. Since 2015, SAAo is based at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Historisches Seminar (LMU Munich, History Department) - Alexander von Humboldt Chair for Ancient History of the Near and Middle East. Content released under a CC BY-SA 3.0 [] license, 2007-20.
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