The rise and fall of the Assyrian Empire
History of the Assyrian Empire
The rise of the Assyrian Empire began in the Late Bronze Age, in a city called Ashur. The name Ashur comes from a god who was thought to be an embodiment of the city. It was a tin and textiles trading center and was located along the Tigris River in Northern Iraq.
Transformation of Assyria from a city-state to a territorial state
Ashur-uballit I was the first king of the Middle Assyrian Empire, reigned from 1353-1318 BC. He initiated military campaigns and effectively transformed Assyria from a city-state to a territorial state, making it an administrative entity that looked over many places, cultures, and people.
Sudden loss of territory
For 150 years, Assyria thrived until a mysterious catastrophe in the 12th century BCE caused Assyrians to lose much of their territory.
A new round of conquests
A few hundred years later, the kings shaped their administrative system into an empire.
The Military of Assyria
The Assyrian Military were innovators and merciless conquerors who gave cruel punishments to those who opposed them.
The growth strategy was to deport local populations and shifting them to fulfill different needs making them lose bonds with their homelands and severed loyalty among the local group.
When areas were conquered they built cities connected by royal roads, with each new conquer, new palaces and temples were erected.
The power behind the influence of affairs
Although the maximal power resided on the king; courtiers, provincial officials, and scholars influenced affairs.
Representation of power
The rulers celebrated their power by carving into the walls of their newly built palaces. Despite their ruthless ruling record, the kings were also interested in the cultural traditions of the region, and Assyria saw itself as the protector of traditions.
The rulers supported scholars with specialties ranging from medicine to magic. Its wonders included a vast library, a large botanical park, and a zoological park.
The last ruler
Ashurbanipal who reigned from 668-67 BC, was the last ruler of Assyria. He set up a library that contained ancient literary works of Babylonia. The Library was unfortunately lost during the fall of Ninevah.
Much ancient literature was revived from archaeological excavation in the 19th century.
The end of the Assyrian Empire
Between 612-609 BCE, the Assyrian Empire fell to Babylonians and Medes. But the innovations, effective administration, and exceptional infrastructure still live on even today.