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Ancient Assyria


Tribute Bearers: Palaces of Assyria (The British Museum) ..........

Selected Excerpts on Assyria

(1) Might That Was Assyria (2) The Advent of the Era of Townships in Northern Mesopotamia
(3) Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times

The continuous history of the geographical region (not the political state) of Assyria -- in the earliest period known as Subartu -- goes back at least to the period of the Halaf Culture of which it was the centre and probably the cradle ...

Assyria --- The name of three different empires dating from about 2000-600 BC, the city-state of Assur and the people inhabiting this northeastern area of Mesopotamia. Originally Semitic nomads in northern Mesopotamia, they finally settled around Assur and accepted its tutelary god as their own. After the fall of the 3rd Dynasty of Ur (2004 BC) Assyria seems to have become an independent city-state and important as middleman in international trade (1).

Middle Assyrian: A period in the history of the Assyrian empire extending from the 14th-12th centuries BC. In the Late Bronze Age Assyria was dominated by the Mitanni state but in the 14th century BC Assyria became dominant. Ashur-uballit I (reigned 1365 -- 1330 BC) created the first Assyrian empire and initiated the Middle Assyrian period. With the help of the Hittites he destroyed the dominion of the Aryan Mitanni (a non-Semitic people from upper Iran and Syria) and ravaged Nineveh. Later, allied with the Kassite successors in Babylonia, Ashur-uballit ended Hittite and Hurrian rule. By intermarriage he then influenced the Kassite dynasty and eventually dominated all of Babylonia, thus paving the way for the Neo-Assyrian mastery during the Sargonid dynasty. The succeeding Assyrian kings expanded the empire through northern Mesopotamia and the mountains to the north and briefly occupied Babylonia. Several kings weakened Assyria but then others brought back its dominion. Middle Assyrian is also the name of a form of cuneiform that was used extensively in writing law code and other documents.

Neo-Assyrian: A political period of the Assyrian empire in the Iron Age, an extension of the Middle Assyrian. It lasted from Assurnasirpal II (883-859 BC) till Sargon II -- Sennacherib -- Esarhaddon and finally Assurbanipal (668-627 BC). The Assyrian empire was destroyed by the Neo-Babylonians (Chaldeans) and Medes in 612 BC.

Language: One of the two main dialects of ancient Mesopotamia, this one used in the north. A Semitic language very close to Babylonian from which it is thought to have diverged at the end of the 2nd millennium. Assyrian probably disappeared with the destruction of Assyria in 7th century BC. Old Assyrian cuneiform is attested mostly in the records of Assyrian trading colonists in central Asia Minor (circa 1950 BC; the so-called Cappadocian tablets) and Middle Assyrian in an extensive Law Code and other documents. The Neo-Assyrian period was the great era of Assyrian power and the writing culminated in the extensive records from the library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (circa 650 BC).

(1) Assyria --- 2002-2018 Archaeology Wordsmith

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium