Assyrian Wars (c. 1244–1200 B.C.E.)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Assyria vs. Babylonia and
various other kingdoms
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Present-day Middle East
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: The Assyrian Old
Kingdom embarked on wars of conquest following the
decline of Egypt and the Hittites.
OUTCOME: The Old Kingdom conquered Babylonia and
other powers in the region, only to fall itself to Babylon
after being weakened by internal coups.
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
The emergence of the Assyrian Old Kingdom in the 13th
century B.C.E. was the result of a decline of the once-powerful
Egyptian and Hittite kingdoms in the Middle East.
The Egyptian Ramses II’s (fl. 1292–1225) wars with the
Hittite leader Hattushilish III (r. 1275–1250)—and subsequent
treaty in 1271—weakened the areas of Syria and
Palestine, allowing the Assyrians under the brutal Shalmaneser
I (fl. c. 1274–c. 1245) to take control of the Babylonian-
Hittite–backed Mitanni kingdom and set their
sights on Armenia and southern Mesopotamia. The period
from c. 1244 to c. 1200 was dominated by Shalmaneser’s
son Tukulti-ninurta (fl. c. 1244–c. 1208), whose wars of
conquest defeated both the Hittites and the powerful Kassite
dynasties in the region. He became known in Greek
legend as Ninos and also established the Assyrian fourth
capital city at Kar-Tukulti-Ninurta, or Nineveh.
Upon his father’s death Tukulti-ninurta resumed the
elder’s northwest campaigns in Na’iri and Rapiku. In Na’iri
the Assyrian army fought and defeated a coalition of 43
kings. In eastern Anatolia Tukulti-ninurta forced a migration
of more than 20,000 residents across the Euphrates
River. Tukulti-ninurta’s most impressive campaigns
occurred in Babylonia, where he defeated a succession of
Babylonian kings culminating around 1240 with the capture
and execution of King Kashtiliash (IV) and the subsequent
Assyrian destruction of Babylon. For seven years
Assyria incorporated Babylonia as a province until an
internal revolt began in Assyria. The coup, led by Tukultininurta’s
son Ashur-nadin (r. 1207–1203) and nobles from
the hinterland, deposed the Assyrian leader and subsequently
After murdering his father, Ashur-nadin ascended to
the throne. His rule marked a period of decline in Assyria.
The Elamites forced him out of Babylon, and his successors,
Ashur-nirari III (fl. 1203–1197) and Enlil-kudurusur
(fl. 1197–1192) participated in a dual reign that was
crushed by the Babylonians around 1200. The Assyrian
Old Kingdom had come to an end.
See also ASSYRIAN WARS (c. 1200–1032 B.C.E.).
Further reading: Robert W. Rogers, A History of Babylonia
and Assyria (Santa Clarita, Calif.: Books for Libraries,