A noted ruler of the city-state of Mari, situated on the upper Euphrates. When Zimri-Lim was still a child, his father, Iahdun-Lim, the second Amorite ruler of the city, was murdered, possibly by one of the boy’s brothers. Not long afterward, the formidable early Assyrian king Shamshi-Adad I attacked and captured Mari, forcing Zimri-Lim, then in line for Mari’s throne, into exile. For several years to come, one of Shamshi-Adad’s sons, lasmah-Adad, ruled Mari. But following Shamshi-Adad’s death in about 1781 b. c., Zimri-Lim returned to his native city and reclaimed the throne.
A skilled ruler and diplomat, Zimri-Lim proceeded to make valuable alliances with several Syrian city-states as well as with King Hammurabi of Babylon. This helped Mari to expand its trade and wealth. Zimri-Lim put these monies to good use, initiating building programs in Mari, including the construction of an impressive new palace. He also maintained the city’s vast archive of clay tablets bearing cuneiform characters. Many of these tablets were letters exchanged by Zimri-Lim, his Assyrian predecessors at Mari, and rulers of cities across Mesopotamia and Syria. These documents discuss a wide range of subjects, ranging from serious affairs of state to relatively trivial matters such as obtaining ice to cool the king’s drinks. As fate would have it, one of Zimri-Lim’s correspondents in these letters, Hammurabi, turned out to be more of a nemesis than an ally. In about 1761 B. C., Hammurabi’s army swept across the plains, defeated Zimri-Lim’s forces, and sacked Mari.
See Also: Hammurabi; Mari; palaces