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7 facts of Assyrian definition in World history

Assyrian image

Assyria was the region that occupied what is now northern Iraq.

In other words, it referred to the northern part of Mesopotamia, while the southern part of Mesopotamia was called Babylonia.

Ultimately, Assyria established a world empire that included Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt, and influenced kingship and society.

There were times in its history when Assyria expanded its hegemony over its surroundings, and other times when it succumbed under the hegemony of a great power.

However, it maintained a centralized state system, which was unusual among them.

The history of Assyria can be divided into four periods based on language changes.

  • Early Assyrian Period
  • Old Assyrian Period
  • Middle Assyrian Period
  • Neo-Assyrian Period

The Old Assyrian period used the Old Assyrian language.

This is the period when we can get a concrete picture of the political history of Assyria, since many written historical documents survived from this period.

The Middle Assyrian period used the Middle Assyrian language.

This was the period when Assyria emerged as a major power.

By this Middle Assyrian period, Babylonian rule had been won.

During the Iron Age, the "Neo-Assyrian Empire," as it was called, became a great empire that conquered the entire Orient, which today is the Middle East and Egypt.

Even after the fall of this great empire,

People image

Assyria's centralized system of governance was a marvelous technology...!

and were passed on to other empires.

How did the Assyrian Empire fall?

The Early Assyrian period

The history of Early Assyria is not well known because there are almost no written historical records.

Around this time, several cities that played a central role in Assyria began to form the basis of society.

At that time, Assyria was under the hegemony of the powerful Akkadian Empire and the Third Dynasty of Ur.

But the Assyrian city of Ashkel was a stable region with a growing theocracy.

During this period,

People image

There is Ashur God in the city of Assur!

It was believed that the city itself was a god.

The Old Assyrian Period

From the Old Assyrian period, Assyrian history begins to take shape.

In this period, Ashur was still only one of the city-states.

However, the deification of the city of Asher was complete and took on great significance in terms of the state system.

In this period, there was a famous king.

Image of a king of Mesopotamia (Babylonia)

I am the king of the world!

He said he was such the king by himself.

However, his successors after him could not maintain his huge kingdom.

From there, no one called the king of the world appeared throughout the Old Assyrian period.

In addition, no historical documents have been found since this king, and the history up to the beginning of the Middle Assyrian Period is hardly clear.

It is believed that the commercial centers were destroyed by the rise of the Hittites.

To learn more about the history of the Hittites,

Please read this article.

The role of the Assyrian king

The Assyrian kings of this period were known as

Image of a king of Mesopotamia (Babylonia)

Vice King of Asher

Since the land of Assur itself was deified, it had the following relationships.

  • Ashur (land) = King (leader)
  • King (human) = Deputy King (Deputy Leader)

Such kings held festivals to mediate between humans and gods.

This was to ensure the prosperity of the city.

Other, the king was the head of the merchants and exercised judicial authority to rule over commercial troubles.

Centralization and Bureaucracy

One of the advantages of Assyria's national system is that there was a civic association called "Arum" (now called the Diet).

It seems that they were discussing and making decisions about state management here.

Decisions made here were even communicated to colonies and commercial centers far from the mother country.

There is a public office (now called a bureaucrat) called "Limmu" as the position that chairs this Arum (citizen's association).

Every year, Limmu was selected from among the leading figures in the city of Assur.

It seems that the authority of Limmu (bureaucrat) was quite high in this Arum (parliament).

For example, the power of King Assyria was limited by the bureaucrats called Limmu,

Image of a king of Mesopotamia (Babylonia)

Let's do Limmu too!

After the king began to hold the public office, King Assyria began to wield great power.

In other words, the authority of the bureaucrats has  become ruined.

However, this system itself was properly maintained until the destruction of Assyria.

The Role of the Assyrian Merchant

Assyrian merchants made a profit by buying and selling the following from Babylonia:

  • Sheep's wool
  • Tin

The rapid spread of bronzes, in particular, increased the demand for the tin needed for their manufacture.

Scholarly image

This may have been one of the reasons for the rapid rise of Assyrian merchants.

It is thought like this.

In addition, the division of labor of merchants was progressing.

Assyrian merchants paid attention to exchange rate information (exchange rates of gold, silver, tin, etc.) through information collectors in each city, and even managed capital in the form of consignment from individual investors.

There are even written records of long-term capital management contracts.

With foreigners and other merchants,

People image

Well, this is a contract. This completes the contract!

Like this, they were extremely good at making commercial contracts to secure profits.

So it is no exaggeration to say that the expansion of commercial activities gave Assyria a lot of wealth.

Writing spread rapidly because of commercial activities,

  • Royal inscriptions
  • Commercial contract documents
  • Memorandum

The number of such historical documents has increased dramatically.

The Middle Assyrian Period

From this period, Assyria, which was only a small power, emerged as a powerful nation.

The kings of this period were very powerful.

They fought and won against the Babylonians and Hittites in the Orient world.

The achievements of these battles also helped to establish a solid position in the Orient world.

However, after the big social change that shakes the world (there are various theories such as climate change), the power declined due to political turmoil.

Even if the power recovers temporarily, there is domestic turmoil, and it is not clear what kind of politics Assyria was doing at that time.

On the other hand, the land of Assur, which had been deified,

  • Here and there countries: dedication (to the god Ashur)
  • Further outside of the mainland: client state

Like this, it expanded the territory to the outside.

Influence on Assyrian culture

Political intervention and conquest of Babylonia brought Babylonian culture to Assyria.

Babylonian titles were added to the royal titles, and the spoils of war from Babylonia, such as artifacts and scribes, had a marked influence on Assyrian culture.

To learn more about the history of Babylonia,

Please read this article.

The Ashur and Sumerian Gods

In the religion, the god Ashur has merged with the Sumerian gods and reorganized them to position Ashur as the supreme god.

To learn more about these Sumerian gods,

What is Sumerian Mythology? A synopsis of its contents and how it relates to the Bible!

Please read this article.

The Middle Assyrian Code

It was during this period that the legal document known as the "Middle Assyrian Code" was created.

This content is known to have many provisions regarding women.

For example, the following things are stipulated.

  • Manners to be taken by men toward women
  • Restrictions on women's clothing, such as covering the head with a veil

The wearing of the veil depended on the class to which the woman belonged.

  • Upper class women: required to wear the veil
  • Female slaves and prostitutes: prohibited from wearing the veil

The veil was determined according to the status of the woman.

It can be said that women were discriminated according to whether they were under the protection of a man or not.

One of the evidences of this is the ritual of covering the bride with a veil by the groom at the time of marriage.

The Neo-Assyrian Period

Of all the Assyrian periods, the Neo-Assyrian period is the richest in recorded history.

In addition, astrological and other records are abundant, making it possible to determine very precise dates from an astronomical standpoint.

From here, it is a detailed summary of the characteristics of the Neo-Assyria as we know it.

Assyria's policy of mass captivity

After the turmoil of the Middle Assyrian period was contained,

Mesopotamian (Babylonian) king image

All right, I'll go on and on with my expeditions!

The kings of Assyria expanded their territories one after another.

In order to maintain their empire, they adopted a policy of mass captivity, which involved the forced migration of their people.

The policy of forced migration itself was common in the Orient.

However, the Assyrian policy was different in scale.

Assyrian rule was not only strong military rule, but also ruled with a firm understanding of the culture, language, religion, and political system of the conquered lands.

This governance policy appeared after Assyria

It was inherited by the empire that ruled a large area such as.

The Babylonian Captivity is a typical example of this policy.

To learn more about the history of the Babylonian Captivity, which also led to the birth of Judaism,

Please read this article.

Assyrian-Babylonian Relations

Of all these imperial dominions, Babylonia was different.

There were cases in which the king of Assyria doubled as king of Babylonia, and there were cases in which Babylonia had a proxy king.

This flexibility in governing policy was made possible by the highly developed Assyrian bureaucracy.

But there were problems, too, for even after the complete conquest of Babylonia,

People image

Why should we listen to you Assyrians?

The Babylonians rebelled at every turn.

Mesopotamian (Babylonian) king image

Babylonians are too powerful...! Oh no!

The Assyrian kings were troubled by the Babylonian rebellion.

Summary of Income Sources

The economy of the Neo-Assyrian era is biased toward those related to kings and high-ranking bureaucrats, and the private economy seems to have many mysterious parts.

However, the main sources of income known to the Assyrian Empire are:

  • Tax revenue and customs duties (on agricultural products, straw, etc.)
  • Tribute from the tributary states
  • Loot from plundering expeditions
  • Labor obligations for a certain period of time (including military service)

The labor obligation became the most basic source of taxation.

It seems that the labor force was not only labor force, but also the existence of slaves acquired as loot.

For example, many of the slaves were used as labor for the numerous large-scale construction projects undertaken by successive Assyrian kings.

Summary of the Military Situation

The characteristics of the Assyrian military are summarized below.

  • It was divided into central armies (directly under the king) and local armies
  • The central army sometimes took command in place of the king
  • Composition of troops (especially heavy use of archers)
  • Shield soldiers (troops with large shields) and archers were a set
  • Cavalry with iron weapons and war horses (without harness)

The number of troops is said to be 200,000 or 50,000, and the exact number is unknown.

However, considering that the armies of Syrian nations are recorded on the scale of about 10 to 100 people,

Scholarly image

The number of soldiers was overwhelming at that time.

We can say that.

From "Battle of Nineveh" to destruction

The time of Assyria's destruction.

The cause of the decline is still unknown.

It may be due to the infighting among the kings, or it may be a problem with the ruling system.

However, due to the cause, it became impossible to suppress the rebellion that occurred one after another.

The rebellions gained even more momentum when Neo-Babylonian Empire became independent.

Finally, Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, fell under the attack of Neo-Babylonian Empire and others.

This is called the "Battle of Nineveh".

After that, Assyria continued to fight against the Neo-Babylonian Empire in alliance with the king of Egypt, but this final battle led to the destruction of Assyria.

To learn more about the history of Neo-Babylonian Empire,

Please read the article here.

After the Fall of the Assyrian Empire

After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, the Assyrians continued to survive.

The Assyrians themselves never again became rulers, but they were active as officials.

The evidence records the name of the person with the name of God, which the Assyrians preferred to use as their name.

Also, Christians in the Middle East often talk about the people of the Ancient Orient.

This is because the history of Assyria was only slightly handed down to later generations through the Old Testament and the records of the Greeks.

People image

We are the descendants of Assyria!

Some people even claim to be Assyrians.

However, there is a real ambiguity as to how to distinguish the modern Assyrians from the truly surviving Assyrians.

Assyria and the Old Testament

In the Old Testament, one of the few documents that tell us about Assyria,

Priest image

A foreign enemy to Israel

Assyria is written so.

The reason why it is written so is that it is written in the Old Testament as follows.

  • Israel and King Judah gave tribute to King Assyria to escape disaster
  • The Israelites were forced to relocate to various places
  • Israelis were relocated to Babylonia and elsewhere

Against Assyria depicted as such an enemy,

God's image

Punish Assyria. Do not be afraid of them.

In Isaiah, it is written that God will punish Assyria.

It also seems to have prophesied about the destruction of Assyria.

There are many more histories of Mesopotamian civilization.

To learn more about the history of Mesopotamian civilization,

Please also read this article.