Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Assyria (1100-600 BC)

About 1100 BC, a people called Assyrians established their control over the people and land surrounding their most important city of Nineveh. In Mesopotamia, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers start in the eastern mountains of Anatolia and flow southeast into the Persian Gulf. Assyrians built Nineveh on the eastern bank of the Tigris River in northwestern Mesopotamia.

By 900 BC, the Assyrians had conquered all of Mesopotamia. They defeated less powerful rulers because they had a professional army. Their army also had stronger iron weapons than those they chose to attack.

The Assyrians also intimidated others by committing atrocities and becoming notorious for them. Weaker rulers of cities could either pay debilitating taxes or face attack. If the Assyrians attacked a city, they would take control of it, burn it to the ground, and take its wealth back to Nineveh. The inhabitants would be scattered, enslaved, tortured, and murdered. Delighting in these methods, the Assyrians created an empire encompassing Mesopotamia, the Levant, and eastern Egypt.

In 700 BC, at the height of Assyrian power, the ruler Sennacherib (704-681) made Nineveh the capital of Assyria. There he ordered the construction of wider streets, new temples, the world’s first aqueduct, and an impressive palace. He also had the city adorned with sculptures and reliefs. There he was also murdered by two of his sons.

Despite his brutal policies, Ashurbanipal (ruled 668-627) chose to pay for the creation of one of the world’s first libraries. It contained over 25,000 tablets of stories and songs.

Assyrian cruelty bred strong resentment. In 612 BC, the Babylonians, a people of southeastern Mesopotamia, led a coalition of nations which destroyed Nineveh. The Babylonians then quickly established their control over the peoples and lands, with the exception of Egypt, that the Assyrians had so recently exploited.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.