At the heart of the ancient Amorite kingdom of Yamkhad was Alep, a walled city we now call Aleppo. (Aleppo has had many other names, including Beroea and Halab.) Today, it houses an important archaeological museum in Syria, the National Museum of Aleppo, founded in 1931. Bearing the reputation of "the culinary capital of the Eastern Mediterranean," Aleppo produces a tasty spice (a Capiscum: see Ancient Chili Peppers) known by the name of city as Aleppo pepper. During the period of the Silk Road, Aleppo was an important trading stop for the silk and spice-laden caravans on the route from the valley of the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea, with a command of both north-south and east-west routes, according to archaeolologists Akkermans and Schwartz. Although a very ancient city, it defies thorough archaeological excavation because, like Damascus, with whom it competes for title of oldest continually inhabited city, Aleppo has been continually inhabited, at least since it was mentioned in documents from the kingdom of Mari from the 18th century B.C., but probably since 5000 B.C. From 1936-49, British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley investigated the area of Alakh, near Yamkhad, on the Orontes River, and found remains of what is called the palace of Yarim-Lim (c.1780-1765 B.C.), one of the important kings of Yamkhad.
In the 18th and 17th centuries B.C. during the Middle Bronze Age, Yamkhad, which was located on fertile agricultural land, was the most powerful kingdom of northwest Syria, according to Marc Van de Mieroop, professor of Near Eastern history at Columbia, with the cities of Carchemish, Tunip, Urshu, Hashshu, Ugarit, Ebla, and Emar as allies or vassals, but it lost its independence to the Hittites at the start of the 16th century when Mursili I or Hattusili I sacked the city while en route to Babylon. Before that time, it had the following kings, according to History Files:
- Sumu'epuh (- c.1780 B.C.)
- Yarim-Lim I (c.1780 - 1765 B.C.)
- Hammurabi I (c.1765-1760 B.C.)
- Abba'el / Abba-ili / Abban I (c.1760 - ? B.C.)
- Yarim-Lim III and Hammurabi II (? - c.1595 B.C.)
The Hammurabi I who was a king of Yamkhad was a contemporary of the Babylonian king of the same name. The Yamkhad Hammurabi was a son of Yamkhad's king Yarim-Lim, who had married one of his daughters to Zimri-Lim, the king of Mari. At this time, Yamkhad and Mari offered support to Hammurabi of Babylon, but later, in 1761, according to Van de Mieroop, the Babylonian Hammurabi turned on Mari, leaving the more distant and still powerful Yamkhad be.
Documents from Mari, the Mari tablets, and archives from Aleppo's vassal city Alakh on the Orontes River provide record of Yamkhad in the second millennium B.C.
The Biblical Abraham is supposed to have been in Aleppo.
- "Thoughts of Zimri-Lim," by Jack M. Sasson; Biblical Archaeologist June 1984
- "Syria: Land of Civilizations," by J. Maxwell Miller; Near Eastern Archaeology, Vol. 64, No. 3 (Sep., 2001), pp. 122-131
- A History of the Ancient Near East, ca. 3000-323 BC, by Marc Van de Mieroop
- The History Files: Alep / Aleppo (State of Yamkhad / Amkhad)
- The Archaeology of Syria: from complex hunter-gatherers to early urban societies (c. 16,000-300 BC) by Peter M. M. G. Akkermans and Glenn M. Schwartz; 2003.
- "The Anatolian Middle Bronze Age Kingdoms and Alalakh: Mukish, Kanesh and Trade," by K. Aslihan Yener: Anatolian Studies Vol. 57, "Transanatolia: Bridging the Gap between East and West in the Archaeology of Ancient Anatolia" (2007), pp. 151-16