February 25 2013
The Assyrians were a sematic tribes in the area of Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) that lived between the late 25th century and 605 B.C. Due to the extensive period of their existence, they passed through many kings. They are also considered an extremely brutal race of warriors who conquered much of the near east which affected their trading and allies over the many centuries of their existence. The majority of this essay will be focused on the hierarchy, government and trade of the Assyrian kingdom from 950 B.C to 609 B.C. The social structure of Assyria was similar to most of the structures of the nations that existed at the time. The classes were ranked as follows: Kings, scribes, merchants, artisans, poets and musicians, farmers and slaves. Kings were expects to protect the nations citizens from invaders by maintaining a powerful military. He was also in charge of setting all the laws for the kingdom. Scribes were second to the king because they were the scholars of the time. “They were responsible for writing documents, books and maintaining the judicial, historical and business records in the kingdom.” Merchants were in charge of acquiring materials that could not be provided by the Assyrian Kingdom. They bartered with neighboring countries in order to provide supplies that were not attainable via Assyria’s natural resources. The Assyrian culture knew how to appreciate fine materials such as clothing and pottery; this is why they held their artisans in high esteem. Next in the rankings were the poets and musicians because of their talent to entertain by using their harps, lutes, lyres and other instruments. The farmers are second to last in the rankings mainly because of their financial situation was usually only better than the slaves. Nonetheless, their work was as important as any; the empire could not survive on empty stomachs the military would not have been able to dominate without food either. Slaves were the lowest in Assyrian society. Most slaves were often from conquered nations or people who sold themselves into slavery in order to pay off their debts. They typically worked on farms or in high ranking officials homes. Kings ruled the Assyrian empire from their massive palaces that were often filled with the merchandise of the surrounding nations that they had conquered. The king’s palace was the common location for meetings held between the king, his advisors, and the local provincial governors. The capital of Assyria was Assur for most of its existence but as kings changed so did the location of the kings palace which, consequently, changed the capital to Ninevah, Arbela, Nimrud, and Khorsabad. Although there were many kings from many different dynasties, the best, or at least most popular kings came toward the end of empire. Tiglath-pileser III (Pul) (747-727 B.C.) stole the Assyrian throne during a civil war after killing all of the royal family and its descendants. He restored Assyria to the power that it once was by starting a military conquest. He began the destruction of Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, which was completed during the reign of Shalmaneser V. He was infamous for taking many captives and forcing them to fight in his military. Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) is the most famous of the Assyrian kings. His army was defeated in Jerusalem because of the intervention of the “Angel of the Lord”. After his defeat, Sennacherib returned back to Nineveh where he was murdered by his own son. The main reason for his fame is because he is credited for conquering the Babylonians. He was a merciless king who did not show an ounce of compassion to his enemies and often bragged about his ruthless victories. Esar-haddon (681-668 B.C.) succeeded Sennacherib and rebuilt Babylon. He is also considered one of the greatest kings for displaying astounding courage in his invading and conquering of Egypt. He ordered his military to...
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