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Ancient
Mesopotamia
Euphrates · Tigris
Sumer
Eridu · Kish · Uruk · Ur
Lagash · Nippur · Ngirsu
Elam
Susa · Anshan
Akkadian Empire
Akkad · Mari
Amorites
Isin · Larsa
Babylonia
Babylon · Chaldea
Assyria
Assur · Nimrud
Dur-Sharrukin · Nineveh
Mesopotamia
Sumer (king list)
Kings of Elam
Kings of Assyria
Kings of Babylon
Enûma Elish · Gilgamesh
Assyro-Babylonian religion
Sumerian · Elamite
Akkadian · Aramaic
Hurrian · Hittite

Assyria was a civilization centered on the Upper Tigris river, in Mesopotamia (Iraq), that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur (Akkadian: 𒀸𒋗𒁺 𐎹 Aššūrāyu; Arabic: أشور Aššûr; Hebrew: אַשּׁוּר Aššûr, Aramaic: ܐܫܘܪ Ašur, ܐܬܘܪ Atur). The term Assyria can also refer to the geographic region or heartland where these empires were centered.

During the Old Assyrian period (20th to 15th centuries BCE), Assur controlled much of Upper Mesopotamia and parts of Asia Minor. In the Middle Assyrian period (15th to 10th centuries BCE), its influence waned and was subsequently regained in a series of conquests. The Neo-Assyrian Empire of the Early Iron Age (911 – 612 BCE) expanded further, and under Ashurbanipal (r. 668 – 627 BCE) for a few decades controlled all of the Fertile Crescent, as well as Egypt, before succumbing to Neo-Babylonian and Median expansion, which were in turn conquered by the Persian Empire.

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Early history

The earliest neolithic site in Assyria is at Tell Hassuna, the center of the Hassuna culture in Iraq. Of the early history of the kingdom of Assyria, little is positively known. According to some Judaeo-Christian traditions, the city of Ashur (also spelled Assur or Aššur) was founded by Ashur the son of Shem, who was deified by later generations as the city's patron god. The upper Tigris River valley seems to have been ruled by Sumer, Akkad, and northern Babylonia in its earliest stages. The Akkadian Empire of Sargon the Great claimed to encompass the surrounding "four quarters"; the regions north of the Akkadian homeland had been known as Subartu. It was destroyed by barbarian Gutian people in the Gutian period, then rebuilt, and ended up being governed as part of the Empire of the 3rd dynasty of Ur.

Old Assyrian city-states and kingdoms

The first inscriptions of Assyrian rulers appear after 2000 BC. Assyria then consisted of a number of city states and small Semitic kingdoms. The foundation of the Assyrian monarchy was traditionally ascribed to Zulilu, who is said to have lived after Bel-kap-kapu (Bel-kapkapi or Belkabi, ca. 1900 BC), the ancestor of Shalmaneser I.

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City state of Ashur

The city-state of Ashur had extensive contact with cities on the Anatolian plateau. The Assyrians established "merchant colonies" in Cappadocia, e.g., at Kanesh (modern Kültepe) circa 1920 BC – 1840 BC and 1798 BC – 1740 BC. These colonies, called karum, the Akkadian word for 'port', were attached to Anatolian cities, but physically separate, and had special tax status. They must have arisen from a long tradition of trade between Ashur and the Anatolian cities, but no archaeological or written records show this. The trade consisted of metal (perhaps lead or tin; the terminology here is not entirely clear) and textiles from Assyria, that were traded for precious metals in Anatolia.

Like many commercial city-states in history, Assur was to a great extent an oligarchy rather than a monarchy. Authority was considered to lie with "the City", and the polity had three main centres of power — an assembly of elders, a hereditary ruler, and an eponym. The ruler presided over the assembly and carried out its decisions. He was not referred to with the usual Akkadian term for "king", šarrum; that was instead reserved for the city's patron deity Assur, of whom the ruler was the high priest. The ruler himself was only designated as "the steward of Assur" (iššiak Assur), where the term for steward is a borrowing from Sumerian ensi(k). The third centre of power was the eponym (limmum), who gave the year his name, similarly to the archons and consuls of Classical Antiquity. He was annually elected by lot and was responsible for the economic administration of the city, which included the power to detain people and confiscate property. The institution of the eponym as well as the formula iššiak Assur lingered on as ceremonial vestiges of this early system throughout the history of the Assyrian monarchy.[1]

Kingdom of Shamshi-Adad I

The city of Ashur was conquered by Shamshi-Adad I (1813 BC – 1791 BC) in the expansion of Amorite tribes from the Khabur river delta. He put his son Ishme-Dagan on the throne of a nearby city, Ekallatum, and allowed the former Anatolian trade to continue. Shamshi-Adad I also conquered the kingdom of Mari on the Euphrates putting another of his sons, Yasmah-Adad on the throne there. Shamshi-Adad's kingdom now encompassed the whole of northern Mesopotamia. He himself resided in a new capital city founded in the Khabur valley, called Shubat-Enlil.

Ishme-Dagan inherited the kingdom, but Yasmah-Adad was overthrown, and Mari was lost. The new king of Mari allied himself with Hammurabi of Babylon. Assyria now faced the rising power of Babylon in the south. Ishme-Dagan responded by making an alliance with the enemies of Babylon, and the power struggle continued for decades.

Assyria reduced to vassal states

Hammurabi eventually prevailed over Ishme-Dagan, and conquered Ashur for Babylon. With Hammurabi, the various karum in Anatolia ceased trade activity — probably because the goods of Assyria were now being traded with the Babylonians' partners. Assyria was ruled by vassal kings dependent on the Babylonians for a century. After Babylon fell to the Kassites, the Hurrians dominated the northern region, including Assur.

There are dozens of Mesopotamian cuneiform texts from this period, with precise observations of solar and lunar eclipses, that have been used as 'anchors' in the various attempts to define the chronology of Babylonia and Assyria for the early second millennium, i.e., the "high", "middle", and "low" chronologies.

Middle Assyrian period

Map of the Ancient Near East during the Amarna Period, showing the great powers of the day: Egypt (green), Hatti (yellow), the Kassite kingdom of Babylon (purple), Assyria (grey), and Mitanni (red). Lighter areas show direct control, darker areas represent spheres of influence. The extent of the Achaean/Mycenaean civilization is shown in orange.

(Scholars variously date the beginning of the "Middle Assyrian period" to either the fall of the Old Assyrian kingdom of Shamshi-Adad I, or to the ascension of Ashur-uballit I to the throne of Assyria.)

Ashur-uballit I

In the 15th century BC, Saushtatar, king of Hanilgalbat (Hurrians of Mitanni), sacked Ashur and made Assyria a vassal. Assyria paid tribute to Hanilgalbat until Mitanni power collapsed from Hittite pressure from the north-west and Assyrian pressure from the east, enabling Ashur-uballit I (1365 BC – 1330 BC) to again make Assyria an independent and conquering power at the expense of Babylonia; and a time came when the Kassite king in Babylon was glad to marry the daughter of Ashur-uballit, whose letters to Akhenaten of Egypt form part of the Amarna letters. This marriage led to disastrous results, as the Kassite faction at court murdered the Babylonian king and placed a pretender on the throne. Assur-uballit promptly marched into Babylonia and avenged his son-in-law, making Kurigalzu of the royal line king there.

Assyrian expansion

Hanilgalbat was finally conquered under Adad-nirari I, who described himself as a "Great-King" (Sharru rabû) in letters to the Hittite rulers. The successor of Adad-nirari I, Shalmaneser I (c. 1300 BC), threw off the pretense of Babylonian suzerainty, made Kalhu his capital, and continued expansion to the northwest, mainly at the expense of the Hittites, reaching Carchemish and beyond.

Shalmaneser's son and successor, Tukulti-Ninurta I, deposed Kadashman-Buriash of Babylon and ruled there himself as king for seven years, taking on the old title "King of Sumer and Akkad". Another weak period for Assyria followed when Babylon revolted against Tukulti-Ninurta, and later even made Assyria tributary during the reigns of the Babylonian kings Melishipak II and Marduk-apal-iddin I.

The correct chronology of these Assyrian kings is still is much debated. There are four crucial solar eclipse records. For example, the Assyrian eclipse associated with June 15 763 BC is widely accepted by the defenders of a middle chronology, but three ignored solar eclipses from the reign of Esarhaddon would affect the calculation drastically.

Tiglath-Pileser I reaches the Mediterranean Sea

As the Hittite empire collapsed from onslaught of the Phrygians (called Mushki in Assyrian annals), Babylon and Assyria began to vie for Amorite regions, formerly under firm Hittite control. When their forces encountered one another in this region, the Assyrian king Ashur-resh-ishi I met and defeated Nebuchadnezzar I of Babylon.

The son of Ashur-resh-ishi's, Tiglath-Pileser I, may be regarded as the founder of the first Assyrian empire. In 1120 BC, he crossed the Euphrates, capturing Carchemish, and defeated the Phrygians and the remnants of the Hittites — even claiming to reach the Black Sea. He advanced to the Mediterranean, subjugating Aramea and Phoenicia, where he hunted wild bulls. He also marched into Babylon twice, assuming the old title "King of Sumer and Akkad", although he was unable to depose the actual king in Babylonia, where the old Kassite dynasty had now succumbed to an Elamite one.

Society in the Middle Assyrian period

Assyria had difficulties with keeping the trade routes open. Unlike the situation in the Old Assyrian period, the Anatolian metal trade was effectively dominated by the Hittites and the Hurrians. These peoples now controlled the Mediterranean ports, while the Kassites controlled the river route south to the Persian Gulf.

The Middle Assyrian kingdom was well organized, and in the firm control of the king, who also functioned as the High Priest of Ashur, the state god. He had certain obligations to fulfill in the cult, and had to provide resources for the temples. The priesthood became a major power in Assyrian society. Conflicts with the priesthood are thought to have been behind the murder of king Tukulti-Ninurta I.

The main Assyrian cities of the middle period were Ashur, Kalhu (Nimrud) and Nineveh, all situated in the Tigris River valley. At the end of the Bronze Age, Nineveh was much smaller than Babylon, but still one of the world's major cities (population ca. 33,000). By the end of the Neo-Assyrian period, it had grown to a population of some 120,000, and was possibly the largest city of that time.[2] All free male citizens were obliged to serve in the army for a time, a system which was called the ilku-service. The Assyrian law code, notable for its repressive attitude towards women in their society, was compiled during this period.

Neo-Assyrian Empire

Map of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and its expansions.

The Neo-Assyrian Empire is usually considered to have begun with the accession of Adad-nirari II, in 911 BC, lasting until the fall of Nineveh at the hands of the Babylonians, Medes, Scythians and Cimmerians in 612 BC.[3]

In the Middle Assyrian period, Assyria had been a stable but small kingdom of northern Mesopotamia, competing for dominance with Babylonia to the south. Beginning with the campaigns of Adad-nirari II, Assyria became a great power, growing to be a serious threat to 25th dynasty Egypt. It began reaching the peak of its power with the reforms of Tiglath-Pileser III (ruled 745 – 727 BC).[4][5] This period, which included the Sargonic dynasty, is well-referenced in several sources, including the Assyro-Babylonian Chronicles and the Hebrew Bible. At its height Assyria conquered Egypt (and expelled its Nubian dynasty), Babylonia, Chaldea, Elam, Media, Persia, Urartu, Phoenicia, Aramea, the Neo-Hittites, Hurrians, northern Arabia, Gutium, Palestine, Israel, Judah, Moab, Edom, Corduene, Mannea and parts of Ancient Greece, and defeated Scythia, Cimmeria, Lydia, Nubia and others. Assyria finally succumbed with the sack of Nineveh in 612 BC by a coalition of Babylonians, Medes, Scythians and Cimmerians. An Assyrian king Ashur-uballit II held out at Harran until 608 BC, but was presumed killed when it was besieged. Final resistance seems to have ended in 605 BC with the failure of an Egyptian relief force.

Assyria after the Empire

Assyria came to be ruled by Babylon until 539 BC. Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon was Assyrian, originating from Harran, as was his son Belshazzar.

After this it was ruled by Achaemenid Persia (as Athura) from 539 BC to 330 BC (Assyria revolted against Persia in 520 BC). Assyria flourished during this period, being a major agricultural centre of the Achaemenid Empire, and it's soldiers were a mainstay of the Persian Army [1]. In 330 BC it fell to Alexander the Great and after his death by Seleucid Greece. By 150 BC, it was under the control of the Parthian Empire, and in 116 AD, under Trajan, it was taken over by Rome as the Roman Province of Assyria. Romans and Parthians fought over Assyria and the rest of Mesopotamia until 226 AD, when it was taken over by the Sassanid Empire. It was known as Asuristan during this period. In the 7th Century AD the Arab-Muslim conquest occurred.

Assyrians survived the Arab-Islamic conquest, and today's Assyrians are the descendants of those that resisted the pressure to convert to Islam and be Arabized after the Arab-Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia.

The name Assyria survived in many forms (Athura, Asuristan, Roman Province of Assyria etc) and the land was recognised as such by the Persians, Greeks, Romans and Byzantines.

Assyrian culture survived, Assyrio-Babylonian gods were worshipped well into Christian times particularly at Assur and Harran[2][3], and there were a number of kingdoms that were at least in part Neo Assyrian such as Hatra, Adiabene and Osroene[4].

The Assyrian people survive to this day (sometimes known as Chaldo-Assyrian), they began to convert to Christianity as early as the 1st Century AD, and remain so today[5][6][7]. Assyria was a major center of the Church of the East from the 1st and 2nd centuries and Nestorian Christianity from the 5th century, and many Assyrians today still follow the former. Assyrian and Akkadian personal names are still given, and the Assyrians still speak dialects of eastern Aramaic, modern evolutions of the Aramaic that replaced Akkadian.

A few early historians disputed the continued existance of Assyrians to the present day, but this view has now been largely discounted by modern Assyriologists like H.W.F. Saggs, Robert D. Biggs and Simo Parpola,and Iranologists like [[Richard Nelson Frye][]]http://www.jaas.org/edocs/v18n2/Parpola-identity_Article%20-Final.pdf, not to mention the Assyrian people themselves.

Language

The ancient people of Assyria spoke an Assyrian dialect of the Akkadian language, a branch of the Semitic languages. The first inscriptions, called Old Assyrian (OA), were made in the Old Assyrian period. In the Neo-Assyrian period the Aramaic language became increasingly common, more so than Akkadian — this was thought to be largely due to the mass deportations undertaken by Assyrian kings, in which large Aramaic-speaking populations, conquered by the Assyrians, were relocated to other parts of the empire. The ancient Assyrians also used the Sumerian language in their literature and liturgy, although to a more limited extent in the Middle- and Neo-Assyrian periods, when Akkadian became the main literary language.

The utter and complete destruction of the Assyrian capitals of Nineveh and Assur by the Babylonians and Medes ensured that the bilingual elite, perhaps the few remaining still competent in Akkadian, were wiped out. By the 6th century B.C., much of the Assyrian population that survived used Aramaic and not the cuneiform Akkadian. In time, Akkadian would no longer be used by the Assyrians, although many aspects of the culture associated, such as naming with Ashur, giving children Akkadian personal names etc continued, and do so to this very day among Assyrians..

Arts and sciences

Relief from Assyrian capital of Dur Sharrukin, showing transport of Lebanese cedar (8th century BC)

Assyrian art preserved to the present day predominantly dates to the Neo-Assyrian period. Art depicting battle scenes, and occasionally the impaling of whole villages in gory detail, was intended to show the power of the emperor, and was generally made for propaganda purposes. These stone reliefs lined the walls in the royal palaces where foreigners were received by the king. Other stone reliefs depict the king with different deities and conducting religious ceremonies. Many stone reliefs were discovered in the royal palaces at Nimrud (Kalhu) and Khorsabad (Dur-Sharrukin). A rare discovery of metal plates belonging to wooden doors was made at Balawat (Imgur-Enlil).

Assyrian sculpture reached a high level of refinement in the Neo-Assyrian period. One prominent example is the winged bull Lamassu, or shedu that guard the entrances to the king's court. These were apotropaic meaning they were intended to ward off evil. C. W. Ceram states in The March of Archaeology that lamassi were typically sculpted with five legs so that four legs were always visible, whether the image were viewed frontally or in profile.

Since works of precious gems and metals usually do not survive the ravages of time, we are lucky to have some fine pieces of Assyrian jewelry. These were found in royal tombs at Nimrud.

There is ongoing discussion among academics over the nature of the Nimrud lens, a piece of Quartz unearthed by Austen Henry Layard in 1850, in the Nimrud palace complex in northern Iraq. A small minority believe that it is evidence for the existence of ancient Assyrian telescopes, which could explain the great accuracy of Assyrian astronomy. Other suggestions include its use as a magnifying glass for jewellers, or as a decorative furniture inlay. The Nimrud Lens is held in the British Museum.[6]

Legacy and rediscovery

Achaemenid Assyria (539 BC - 330 BC) retained a separate identity (Athura), official correspondence being in Imperial Aramaic, and there was even an attempted revolt of the two Assyrian provinces of Mada and Athura in 520 BC. Under Seleucid rule (330 BC - Approx 150 BC), however, Aramaic gave way to Greek as the official language. Aramaic was marginalised as an official language, but remained spoken in Assyria by the general populace, as well as in Judea (Biblical Aramaic), the Syrian Desert (Nabataeans) and Khuzestan (Mandaic), it also remained the spoken tongue of the Assyrian/Babylonian citizens of all Mesopotamia under Persian, Greek and Roman rule. Ancient Assyrio-Babylonian gods were still worshipped and the Assyrian people continued to exist, being Christianised in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.

Between 150 BC and 226 AD Assyria changed hands between the Parthians and Romans Roman Province of Assyria until coming under the rule of Sassanid Persia in 226 AD - 651 AD, where it was known as Asuristan.

A number of largely neo-Assyrian kingdoms existed between in the late classical and early Christian period also; Adiabene, Hatra and Osroene[8].

Classical historiographers had only retained a very dim picture of Assyria. It was remembered that there had been an Assyrian empire predating the Persian one, but all particulars were lost. Thus Jerome's Chronicon lists 36 kings of the Assyrians, beginning with Ninus, son of Belus, down to Sardanapalus, the last king of the Assyrians before the empire fell to Arbaces the Median. Almost none of these have been substantiated as historical, with the exception of the Neo-Assyrian and Babylonian rulers listed in Ptolemy's Canon, beginning with Nabonassar.

With the rise of Assyrian and Syriac Christianity, Aramaic enjoyed a renaissance as a classical language in the 2nd to 8th centuries AD, and the Assyrian people continue to speak Neo-Aramaic dialects to this day.

The modern discovery of Babylonia and Assyria begins with excavations in Nineveh in 1845, which revealed the Library of Ashurbanipal. Decipherment of cuneiform was a formidable task that took more than a decade, but by 1857, the Royal Asiatic Society was convinced that reliable reading of cuneiform texts was possible. Assyriology has since pieced together the formerly forgotten history of Mesopotamia. In the wake of the archaeological and philological rediscovery of ancient Assyria, Assyrian nationalism has come to strongly identify with ancient Assyria.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Larsen, Mogens Trolle (2000): The old Assyrian city-state. In Hansen, Mogens Herman, A comparative study of thirty city-state cultures : an investigation / conducted by the Copenhagen Polis Centre. P.77-89
  2. ^ see historical urban community sizes. Estimates are those of Chandler (1987).
  3. ^ Chart of World Kingdoms, Nations and Empires — All Empires
  4. ^ Assyrian Eponym List
  5. ^ Tadmor, H. (1994). The Inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III, King of Assyria.pp.29
  6. ^ Lens, Britiſh Muſeum.

This article incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), a publication now in the public domain.

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1911 encyclopedia

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Wiktionary

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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Etymology

From Assur, its original capital city

Proper noun

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Singular
Assyria

Plural
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Assyria

  1. An ancient region on the Upper Tigris river, with capital city of Assur.
  2. An ancient nation and empire, including the northern half of Mesopotamia, with capital city of Nineveh.

Derived terms

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

The name derived from the city Asshur on the Tigris, the original capital of the country, was originally a colony from Babylonia, and was ruled by viceroys from that kingdom. It was a mountainous region lying to the north of Babylonia, extending along the Tigris as far as to the high mountain range of Armenia, the Gordiaean or Carduchian mountains. It was founded in B.C. 1700 under Bel-kap-kapu, and became an independent and a conquering power, and shook off the yoke of its Babylonian masters. It subdued the whole of Northern Asia. The Assyrians were Semites (Gen 10:22), but in process of time non-Semite tribes mingled with the inhabitants. They were a military people, the "Romans of the East."

Of the early history of the kingdom of Assyria little is positively known. In B.C. 1120 Tiglath-pileser I., the greatest of the Assyrian kings, "crossed the Euphrates, defeated the kings of the Hittites, captured the city of Carchemish, and advanced as far as the shores of the Mediterranean." He may be regarded as the founder of the first Assyrian empire. After this the Assyrians gradually extended their power, subjugating the states of Northern Syria. In the reign of Ahab, king of Israel, Shalmaneser II. marched an army against the Syrian states, whose allied army he encountered and vanquished at Karkar. This led to Ahab's casting off the yoke of Damascus and allying himself with Judah. Some years after this the Assyrian king marched an army against Hazael, king of Damascus. He besieged and took that city. He also brought under tribute Jehu, and the cities of Tyre and Sidon.

About a hundred years after this (B.C. 745) the crown was seized by a military adventurer called Pul, who assumed the name of Tiglath-pileser III. He directed his armies into Syria, which had by this time regained its independence, and took (B.C. 740) Arpad, near Aleppo, after a siege of three years, and reduced Hamath. Azariah (Uzziah) was an ally of the king of Hamath, and thus was compelled by Tiglath-pileser to do him homage and pay a yearly tribute.

In B.C. 738, in the reign of Menahem, king of Israel, Pul invaded Israel, and imposed on it a heavy tribute (2Kg 15:19). Ahaz, the king of Judah, when engaged in a war against Israel and Syria, appealed for help to this Assyrian king by means of a present of gold and silver (2Kg 16:8); who accordingly "marched against Damascus, defeated and put Rezin to death, and besieged the city itself." Leaving a portion of his army to continue the siege, "he advanced through the province east of Jordan, spreading fire and sword," and became master of Philistia, and took Samaria and Damascus. He died B.C. 727, and was succeeded by Shalmanezer IV., who ruled till B.C. 722. He also invaded Syria (2Kg 17:5), but was deposed in favour of Sargon (q.v.) the Tartan, or commander-in-chief of the army, who took Samaria (q.v.) after a siege of three years, and so put an end to the kingdom of Israel, carrying the people away into captivity, B.C. 722 (2Kg 17:1-6, 24; 18:7, 9). He also overran the land of Judah, and took the city of Jerusalem (Isa 10:6, 12, 22, 24, 34). Mention is next made of Sennacherib (B.C. 705), the son and successor of Sargon (2Kg 18:13; 19:37; Isa 7:17, 18); and then of Esar-haddon, his son and successor, who took Manasseh, king of Judah, captive, and kept him for some time a prisoner at Babylon, which he alone of all the Assyrian kings made the seat of his government (2Kg 19:37; Isa 37:38).

Assur-bani-pal, the son of Esarhaddon, became king, and in Ez 4:10 is referred to as Asnapper. From an early period Assyria had entered on a conquering career, and having absorbed Babylon, the kingdoms of Hamath, Damascus, and Samaria, it conquered Phoenicia, and made Judea feudatory, and subjected Philistia and Idumea. At length, however, its power declined. In B.C. 727 the Babylonians threw off the rule of the Assyrians, under the leadership of the powerful Chaldean prince Merodach-baladan (2Kg 20:12), who, after twelve years, was subdued by Sargon, who now reunited the kingdom, and ruled over a vast empire. But on his death the smouldering flames of rebellion again burst forth, and the Babylonians and Medes successfully asserted their independence (B.C. 625), and Assyria fell according to the prophecies of Isaiah (10:5-19), Nahum (3:19), and Zephaniah (3:13), and the many separate kingdoms of which it was composed ceased to recognize the "great king" (2Kg 18:19; Isa 36:4). Ezekiel (31) attests (about B.C. 586) how completely Assyria was overthrown. It ceases to be a nation. (See NINEVEH �T0002735; BABYLON.)

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

.]] In the Middle Bronze Age Assyria was a city state on the Upper Tigris river, named after its capital, the ancient city of Assur.

The Assyrians were just to the north of their rivals, the Babylonians. All the kingdoms of ancient Mesopotamia used the cuneiform writing system invented by the Sumerians.


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