The Assyrians

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INTRODUCTION
As was mentioned in the introductory lecture on Mesopotamian civilization, the Sumerians were just one of many groups that lived in the Fertile Crescent that was the heart land of Mesopotamia. The Sumerians were conquered and dominated by a number of groups who sought for ascendancy on the region and who ruled at different periods of time.

The Babylonians who dominated the region after the conquering of the Sumerians were themselves overthrown by the Hittites and the Kassites. The Hurrians and Kassites were new groups which entered the Fertile Crescent while the Hittites had been quietly living there from about 2700 BCE. The Hurrians created the Kingdom of Mitanni on the upper end of the Tigris and Euphrates.

THE HITTITES

❖ The Hittites had settled in the region from around 2700 BCE. They did not dominate the region in an aggressive way burning, looting and invading like the Assyrians who would dominate after them. Their arrival appears to have been peaceful accompanied by intermarriage and alliances with the native people.

❖ They integrated so well with the groups around them that they even adopted the worship of several of the deities of those around them. The era of Hittite greatness was from about 1475 to about 1200 BEC.

❖ The Hittites extended their arms and extinguished the dynasty of Hammurabi.

ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE HITTITES

❖ Probably the most outstanding achievements of the Hittites was their mastery of Iron technology. Although it is not conclusive whether they were the first to discover the possibilities of iron they were the first group in the Near East to master the technology.

❖ Their technology allowed them to craft superior weapons compared to their neighbours.

❖ This gave them an additional advantage in both war and commerce.

❖ When the Hittites were untied under a strong King they were a power to be reckoned with.

❖ The Hittites also exercised remarkable political wisdom and flexibility in the administration of their kingdom.

❖ Although the Hittites were often at war owing to the number of enemies around them, they sought diplomatic and political solutions to their problems as opposed to war.

THE ASSYRIANS

Like the Sumerians before them, the Assyrians also occupied the Mesopotamian region. They were one of the groups that succeeded the Sumerians in the Mesopotamian region. They were a Semitic – speaking people who were heavily influenced by Mesopotamian culture of the Babylonians to the south of them. The Assyrians established Nineveh as their capital. The Assyrians formed the last great culture of Mesopotamia. They entered the region at about 900 BCE and dominated Mesopotamia from 900-600 BCE.

When they captured the Tigris/Euphrates valley and were locked in combat with the Babylonians. It would take them approximately 100 years before they conquered the Tigris, Euphrates region.

For two centuries they attempted to dominate the Near East region. The Jews and the Syrians were constantly fighting with them to regain their independence. The Assyrians were known for their militancy which stemmed from the recurring need to defend themselves from the aggressive inhabitants of the mountains to the north of them. Their need for such defense was in large part owing to the fact that they lived in open exposed land and were themselves constantly under attack from the tribes that lived to the north and east of them as well as the Babylonians to the South. As a result the three centuries that the Assyrians reigned were marked by great aggression.

Throughout the 9th century (900 BCE) they carried out raids against their neighbours including the Hittites, Phoenicians, Syrians and Israelites.

The main personality who spread Assyrian domination/imperialism was Tiglath – Pileser III. He ruled during what was considered the zenith (highest point) of Assyrian rule from...
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