The Assyrian Empire
All boundaries, and borders of countries, are approximate
The territory controlled by a king or people varied from time to time, and was often disputed by other peoples. Even the coast-line has varied over the years, particularly in the Gulf of Persia. An approximation to the modern coast-line is generally used in the maps
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Ashurnasirpal II ruled 883-859 BC. He started military campaigns to build the Assyrian empire.
Shalmaneser III, a son of Ashurnasirpal II, came to the throne in 858 BC.
Shalmaneser III ruled from 858 to 824 BC. He carried out a series of military campaigns which greatly extended Assyrian territory.
In 853 BC he fought the Battle of Qarqar against "The Kings of the Coast", including Syria, Lebanon, and Ahab of Israel (1 Kings 22)
To commemorate his campaigns he caused stelae to be erected at various places in his empire, extolling his victories.
One such stela, known as the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser, commemorates an occasion (probably in 841 BC, the year after Shalmanezer's defeat of Hazael of Damascus - 2 Kings chapters 9-10) when Jehu of Israel paid tribute, and knelt on the ground in front of Shalmaneser.
The period following the Shalmaneser's death was disturbed by revolts, palace revolutions, civil wars and a series of weaker kings.
Shamshi-Adad V, ruled 824-811 BC, was a son of Shalmaneser III
Adad-nirari III, ruled 811-783 BC, was a son of Shamshi-Adad and Queen Shammuramat. His mother acted as Regent for the first five years of his reign.
In 796 BC he led a campaign and besieged Ben-Hadad III of Damascus.
Shalmaneser IV, ruled 783-773 BC, was a son of Adad-nirari III
Ashur-dan III, ruled 773-755, was a son of Adad-nirari III, and a brother of Shalmaneser IV. During his reign the kingdom was weakened by several epidemics of Plague.
Ashur-nirari V, ruled 755-745 BC, was another son of Adad-nirari III and a brother of Shalmaneser IV. His reign ended when Tiglath-Pileser III seized the throne.
Tiglath-Pileser III, ruled 745-727 BC. He may have been a son or brother of Ashur-nirari V, but it is more likely that he was a military commander who usurped the throne.
He was called "Pul" by the Israelites. He extended his control as far as the Sinai, extorting tribute from Menahem of Israel (Assyrian records show payments by Menahem in 740 and 738 BC) (2 Kings 15:19). However, in 734 BC Israel joined a rebellion with Tyre and Damascus. The rebellion was crushed in 732 BC.
Tiglath-Pileser deported the population of Galilee and Gilead, and turned the region into an Assrian province (2 Kings 15:29, 1 Chron. 5:26). He appointed Hosea as a vassal king of the northern kingdom of Israel.
Ahaz of Judah also became a vassal of Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 16:5-10, 17-18). Ahaz is mentioned in Assyrian records dated to 734 BC; he attended Tiglath-Pileser's court in Damascus in 732 BC. (2 Kings 16:10)
Tiglath-Pileser built a royal palace at Calah (also called Nimrud).
Shalmaneser V, son of Tiglath-Pileser III, ruled 727-722 BC. In 726 BC Hosea of Israel paid tribute to him (2 Kings 17:3), but rebelled and was imprisoned in 724 BC.
In 722 BC, shortly before he died (maybe due to court intrigues), Shalmaneser captured Samaria. (2 Kings 17:6; also recorded in the Babylonian Chronicle).
The sudden death of Shalmaneser V led to revolts and rebellions throughout the Assyrina Empire, lasting about two years.
Sargon II, commander of the army (Turtanu, called in Hebrew "Tartan"), and probably a brother of Shalmaneser V, ruled 722-705 BC. He reconquered Samaria in 720 BC, sent the population of the region into exile, and re-populated the region with a mixture of other conquered peoples. (2 Kings 17:6)
Most of Sargon II's reign was spent in fighting to maintain his control of the Empire.
In 710 BC he attacked Babylonia, and took Babylon in 707 BC.
In 706 BC he completed building his new capital city Dur-Sharrukin, ("Sargon-Town", now Khorsabad), but it only lasted a year, as Sargon II died in battle the next year, and his successors abandoned the city.
Sennacherib, a son of Sargon II, ruled 705-681 BC. The first two years of his reign were spent in regaining Assyrian control of the southern parts of the Empire.
In 701 BC he turned to the western regions, regained Samaria and much of Judah, including the city of Lachish. Sennacherib besieged Jerusalem, but the city had its own water-supply, thanks to the foresight of King Hezekiah, who had had a tunnel built or enlarged to carry the waters of the Siloam Spring underground beneath the city walls. Hezekiah eventually paid a heavy tribute to Sennacherib. (2 Kings, chapters 18-20. 2 Chron. 32:3-4)
Sennacherib moved his capital to Nineveh.
After pacifying the West, Sennacherib turned to Babylon again. After military compaigns against Babylonia in 700 BC, 694-693 BC, and 691-689 BC, Sennacherib decided to destroy Babylon. He broke the canals outside the city, causing a flood which turned the region into a swamp so that the inhabitants had to flee.
Sennacherib appointed his son Esarhaddon as his heir. As a result, two of his other sons, Adramelech and Sarezer, murdered Sennacherib and started a palace revolt (2 Kings 19:37). They were unsuccessful, and Esarhaddon became king.
Esarhaddon, ruled 681-669 BC, was a son of Sennacherib. He re-built Babylon, and made it the capital of his Empire.
He started to expand his empire eastwards, captured Sidon in 677 BC, and went on to take King Manasseh of Judah as a priconer to Babylon (2 Chron. 33:110).
In 671 BC he defeated Pharaoh Tirhhakah and conquered Egypt. However, Egypt was rebellious, and in 669 BC Esarhaddon was leading another Egyptian campaign when he became ill and died.
The Empire was divided between two of Esarhaddon's sons - Shamah-shuma-ukin became King of Babylon, and Ashurbanipal became king of Assyria.
Ashurbanipal, ruled 669-627 BC, was a son of Esarhaddon. Egypt was still hard to control, so in 664 BC Ashurbanipal made Psammetichus a client king of Egypt. However, in 652 BC Ashubanipal's older brother Shamah-shuma-ukin headed a rebellion in Babylon, and Psammetichus took the opportunity to rebel also and make Egypt independent.
In 648 BC Ashurbanipal defeated his brother, who set fire to the palace at Babylon and died in the flames.
In 646 and 640 BC Ashurbanipal campaigned against Elam and destroyed the city of Susa.
Ashur-etil-ilani became king of Assyria when Ashurbanoipal died in 627 BC, and the empire began to crumble. Constant fighting had depleted the population and the treasury, and there were insufficient soldiers to keep the conquered peoples subjugated; also, the empire came under attack by Scythians and Medes in the East, and Cimmerians in the West
The king of Babylon, Nabopolassar, and Cyaxares the Mede joined with the Scythians and Cimmerians, rose against Assyria, and destroyed Ninevah in 612 BC.
Ashur-uballit II, one of the surviving Assyrian generals, helped by the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II, set himself up as King of Assyria, with a court at Harran, until the Babylonians defeated him in battle in 609 BC.
Assyria ceased to exist as an independent nation, and became part of the Babylonian Empire, then went under Achaemenid Persian control, followed by Alexander the Great, then the Seleucid dynasty.
Go here for the History of the period.
Copyright © 1999 Shirley J. Rollinson, all Rights Reserved
Portales, NM 88130
Last Updated: July 19, 2010