The Mysterious Sealand kings

20th November 2016

All ancient places have hidden secrets. We knew from the outset that Tell Khaiber was occupied during the second millennium BC, and suspected that it concealed a large public building, but have been greatly surprised at what it contains. Now we know, from dated documents left in its long-abandoned offices, that it was part of the administration not of Hammurabi, as we first thought, but of the Sealand kings. Three texts have a date in the ‘year of the accession of King Ayadaragalama’. He was the eighth king of this dynasty, and came to the throne in 1500BC, give or take a year or two.

Very little is known about the world of the Sealand kings, who took over southern Babylonia when Hammurabi’s son lost control of the area in the 1730s BC. Our discoveries point to a complex, settled, functioning economic system in the area. There are indications from other sources that the Sealand rulers had some political and kinship ties with the Gulf and to Iran, but details are vague. What Tell Khaiber tells us is that under its jurisdiction there was continuity in local religion, material culture and personal names in the Ur area, and that regime change did not change the basic way of life.