They overtook the Mesopotamian kings in Syria defeated them, and returned with the spoils to Canaan.
As is often the case, the positive clue comes from the most insignificant portion of this passage.
It still remains a ‘correct’ fit as far as the accepted chronology is concerned and that is where the matter rests.
These extended their empire to include Palestine, or at least the Jordan valley, and in particular they brought under their suzerainity the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim and Bela - the five cities of the plain.For twelve years (verse 4) this continued, but in the thirteenth year the kings of the plain rebelled, so in the fourteenth year the four kings of Mesopotamia, apparently with Chedorlaomer as chief, came and attacked the whole region. Harrison has put it: ‘The chronology of the patriarchal period would be stabilized if a reliable identification of the four invading Mesopotamian Icings could be made.Now many have been the attempts to identify these kings, for most have realised that if they can be identified in the archaeological record, then the times of Abraham can be found for certain. This may emerge as the result of future excavations in the area, but in the meantime the chronology of the period under consideration must be placed between the twentieth and the late seventeenth centuries B.C.’ The problem is not so much one of identification of the kings, for they are named in the narrative and their nations are given.Rather it is a problem of identifying the period from which these kings came in an archaeological context. However, it is my hope that the discussion here will lay to rest that search as we identify the only period when such a confederation could conceivably have existed.