Mari took the lead in 2400 B.C. with 50,000 citizens.
Mari was the robust trade capital of Mesopotamia, central in moving stone, timber, agricultural goods and pottery throughout the region.
The city was home first to the Sumerite kings, then the Amorite kings, one of which built a massive 300-room palace.
Mari was sacked in 1759 B.C. by Hammurabi of Babylon and then abandoned.
In the 1930s, a French archaeologist discovered 25,000 tablets written in an extinct language called Akkadian. Most were municipal documents, economic reports and census rolls -- a third were personal letters. The find changed our understanding of the ancient Near East.
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