Friday, August 15, 2014

Assyrian Wars (c. 1032–c. 746 B.C.E.)

Assyrian Wars (c. 1032–c. 746 B.C.E.)

PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Assyria vs. Aramaean city-states,
Armenia, Babylonia, Chaldea, and other kingdoms

PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Present-day Middle East

DECLARATION: None recorded

MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: After a period of decline,
the Assyrian Empire began to assert itself once more in a
series of wars of conquest.

OUTCOME: Assyria came to dominate the Middle East, its
kingdom stretching from the Mediterranean to the
Persian Gulf.




The history of the Assyrians began around 3000 B.C.E.,
when a Semitic tribe settled at Ashur on the northern
Tigris, but it was not until the 11th century, during the
reign of Tiglath-pileser I (r. c. 1115–c. 1077), that Assyria
truly became the dominant power in the Middle East (see
ASSYRIAN WARS [1200–1032 B.C.E.]). Following Tiglathpileser’s
death the Assyrian Empire diminished under the
successive reigns of his three sons and his grandson,
Ashurnasirpal I (c. 1050–c. 1032). At the close of the 10th
century a rebirth of the Assyrian Empire occurred when a
new generation of strong tyrants emerged. The wars that
followed between around 1000 to around 746 were largely
offensive and succeeded in expanding the ancient kingdom
from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf.
The greatest threat to the Assyrians in the 10th century
was the periodic invasions of the Aramaeans, whose
nomadic disposition and strong rural ties kept the Assyrian
leadership from maintaining control of its own borders.
Around 934, after about 100 years of Assyrian decline,
Ashur-dan II (934–912) ascended to the throne. Under his
leadership the Assyrian borders were secured and the Aramaean
encroachment halted. Ashur-dan’s successor, Adadnirari
II (c. 911–891), continued Assyria’s aggressions
against the nomads by leading six offensives along the
borders of Arabia. Adad-nirari II used his superior forces
to subdue Babylonia during two campaigns around
930–04. Relative peace followed Ada-niriari II’s death in
891, until the rise of the great Assyrian military leader
Ashurnasirpal II (c. 882–859).
Under Ashurnasirpal II the Assyrian forces became the
most feared of invaders. Brutal and deliberate, they incited
terror by impaling or skinning alive their enemies. Thanks
to their connections with the Hittites, the Assyrians were
the first Middle Eastern state to incorporate iron into their
arsenal. With archers, sophisticated battering-rams—a
priceless weapon in attacking fortified cities—and chariots,
their highly efficient armies were unstoppable.
In 883 Ashurnasirpal led his first campaign along the
northern Tigris and destroyed the city of Nishtun, in modern
day Kurdistan. He then suppressed a Syrian-backed
revolt in the city of Suru in 882 and followed that with a
victory over the Aramaeans in the north. The Assyrians
then pushed into Babylonia and captured Suhu in 878. As
the empire expanded, Ashurnasirpal consolidated his
command and developed a highly trained force capable of
responding to revolts throughout the kingdom. In 875 he
crossed the Orontes River and penetrated Phoenicia,
where the Phoenician leaders wisely agreed to pay him
tribute. In Ashurnasirpal’s last battle he quelled a revolt of
the Kashiari Hill tribes in northwest Assyria in 866.
Ashurnasirpal’s son Shalmaneser III (858–824) succeeded
him and continued the Assyrian expansion. First
he struck out against Syria, where he added the northern
territory to the empire. He was less successful in his siege
of Damascus in 841. In southern Mesopotamia Ashurnasirpal
also managed to extract tribute from the king of
Israel, Jehu, in 841. His armies plundered Phoenicia and
fought with mixed results against the Armenians, Cilicians,
and Chaldeans.
Ashurnasirpal’s successor, Shamsi-Adad V (823–811),
rekindled the Assyrian feud with Babylonia from 818 to
812, a traditional rivalry that would last until the Assyrians
completely destroyed Babylon in 693 (see BABYLON, FALL
OF). Shamsi-Adad also engaged Armenia with little success
and conquered Chaldea, an area south of Babylonia.
The reign of Adad-nirari III (810–783) marked the
last years of Assyrian expansion for a time. In 804 Adadnirari’s
armies marched to Gaza, but he could not penetrate
Damascus. Border wars in the north and a rebellion
in Babylonia were quelled, but it was evident Assyria was
suffering from its tremendous expansion. Of the three successive
kings, Shalmaneser IV (783–773), Ashur-dan III
(722–55), and Ashur-hirari V (754–746), only Shalmaneser
IV was able to conquer territory (around Ararat). Yet he
was defeated by the Syrians in 773, which sent Assyria
into another period of decline.

See also ASSYRIAN WARS (c. 746–609 B.C.E.).

Further reading: John Oates, Babylon (London:
Thames and Hudson, 1967); Robert W. Rogers, A History
of Babylonia and Assyria (Santa Clarita, Calif.: Books for
Libraries, 1971); Nigel Tallis, Assyria at War, 1000–610 B.C.
(London: Osprey, 2002).

No comments:

Post a Comment