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28 The Political Abroad to the Classical World
where they set about the task of draining and cultivating
stretches of that great lake, Nubia was conquered and settled
as far as the Second Cataract, and peaceful trading relations
established with the Sudanese tribes of the further south. As
in the Old Kingdom, sailors made the long voyage to Somaliland
for frankincense and the products of Inner Africa, and north to
Syria for timber.
The Gutian invaders remained in Babylonia for more than
a century. At last a liberator arose to drive out the foreigners,
and a partly Sumerian dynasty was set up at Ur. All Sumer and
Akkad, and even Assyria, were subject to the kings of the
moon-city; the ships of the merchants of Ur sailed the Persian
Gulf, their caravans traversed the network of routes of Western
Asia. But this brilliant revival of an ancient people did not long
survive the reign of its greatest king, Shulgi. His successors
were threatened from either side. To the east, the men of
Elam, always a menace to the fertile plains which they periodic-
ally raided, were again pressing in; and another branch of
Semitic peoples, the Amorites, were advancing upon Sumer
from the west. When the inevitable disaster came, Ibi-Sin
could do nothing to save Ur, and he and his gods were borne
off to captivity in Elam.
There followed a period of some confusion in Sumer and
Akkad. Rival dynasties of rulers at Isin and Larsa were cham-
pioned by the two external powers, who each hoped by such
interference to gain a permanent footing in the country. Even-
tually it fell to the Amorite Hammurabi, of the First Dynasty
of Babylon, to conquer the whole of the Southland and drive
out the Elamites. The Assyrians in the meantime had developed
into a powerful State round their capital, Asshur. Like the
Akkadians they had absorbed a considerable amount of Sumerian
culture, had adopted and modified the Sumerian pantheon, and
wrote their Semitic language in the old cuneiform script. A
vigorous race of fighters, they had continually to guard against