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ASSYRIA


11


ASSYRIA


Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah". Till quite recently the most commonly accepted interpretation of this passage was that ^\ssur left Babylonia, where Nemrod (Ximrod) the terrible was reigning, and settled in AssjTia, where he built the cities of Nineveh, Rehoboth, Chale (Calah), and Resen. Nowadaj's, however, this interpretation, which is mainly based on the Vulgate version, is abandoned in favour of the more probable one. accord- ing to which Nemrod himself, the beginning of whose kingdom was Babylon (Babel), Arach (Erech), Achad (Accad), and Chalanne (Calneh), in Southern Babylonia (Gen., x, 10), went up to Assyria (Assur in this case being a geographical name, i. e. .\ss\Tia, and not ethnographical or personal), and there he built the four above-mentioned cities and founded the .\ssyrian colony. Whichever of these two interpretations be held as correct, one thing is certain: that the .Assyrians are not only Semites, but in all probability an offshoot of the Semitic Babylonians, or a Babylonian colony; although, on account of their apparently purer Semitic blood, they have been looked upon by some scholars as an independent Semitic offshoot, which, at the time of the great Semitic migration from Arabia (c. 3000-2500 B. c), migrated and settled in Assyria. The first AssjTian rulers known to us bore the title of Ish^hakxi (probably "priest-prince", or "governor") and were certainly subject to some outside power, pre- sumably that of Babylonia. Some of the earliest of these Islishaki known to us are Ishmi-Dagan and his son Shamshi-Adad I (or Shamshi-Ramman). The exact date of these two princes is uncertain, although we may with reasonable certainty place them about 1840-1800 B. c. Other Ishshaki are Igur-Kapkapu, Shamshi-Adad II, Khallu, and Irishum. The two cities of Nineveh and Assur were certainly in existence at the time of Hammurabi (c. 2250 B. c), for in one of his letters he makes mention of them. It is significant, however, that in the long inscription (300 lines) of Agumkakrime, one of the Kassite rulers of Babylonia (c. 1650 B. c), in which he enumerates the various countries over which his rule extended, no mention is made of AssjTia. Hence, it is probable that the beginning of an independent AssjTian kingdom may be placed towards the seventeenth centurj^ B. c. According to an inscription of King Esarhaddon (681-668 B. c), the first Assyrian Islishaku to assume the title of King was a certain Bel-bani, an inscription of whom, written in archaic Babylonian, was found by Father Scheil. His date, however, cannot be deter- mined.

Towards the fifteenth century B. c. we find Egyp- tian supremacy extended over Syria and the Mesopo- tamian valley; and in one of the royal inscriptions of Thothmes III of Egj-pt (1480-27 B. c). we find Assyria among his tributary nations. From the Tel-el-Amarna letters also we know that diplomatic negotiations and correspondences were frequent among the rulers of AssjTia, Babylonia, SjTia, Mitanni, and the Egj-ptian Pharaohs, especially Amenhotep IV. Towards this same period we find also the Kings of As.5jTia standing on an equal footing with those of Babylonia, and successfully contesting \vith the latter for the boundarj'-lines of their kingdom. About 1450 b. c. A.sshur-bel-nishe- shu was King of AssjTia. He settled the boundarj'- lines of his kingdom with his contemporarj' Kara- indash, Iving of Babj'lonia. The same treaty was concluded again between his successor, Puzur- As.shur, and Bumaburiash I, King of Babj'lon. Puzur-Asshur was succeeded bj' Asshur-nadin-Ahhe, who is mentioned bj' his successor, Asshur-uballit, in one of his letters to Amenhotep IV, King of Egypt, as his father and predecessor. During most ot the long reign of Asshur-uballit, the relations


between .Assyria and Babylonia contin\ied friendly, but towards the end of that reign the first open confiict between the two sister-countries broke out. The cause of the conflict was as follows: Asshur- uballit, in sign of friendship, had given his daughter, Muballitat-sherua, for wife to the Kng of Babj'lonia. The son born of this roj'al uruon, Kadashman- Charbe bj' name, succeeded his father on the throne, but was soon slain by a certain Nazi-bugash (or Suzigash), the head of the discontented Kassite party, who ascended the throne in his stead. To avenge the death of his grandson the aged and valiant monarch, Asshur-uballit, invaded Babj'lonia, slew Nazi-bugash, and set the son of Kadashman- Charbe, who was still verj' j'oung, on the throne of Babylonia, as Kurigalzu II. However, towards the latter part of his reign (c. 1380 B. c), Kurigalzu 11 became hostile to Assjfria; in consequence of which, Belnirari, Asshur-ubaUit's successor on the throne of AssjTia, made war against him and defeated him at the city of Sugagu, annexing the northern part of Babylonia to Assyria. Belnirari was succeeded by his son, Pudi-ilu (c. 1360 b. c), v.ho undertook several successful miUtarj' expeditions to the east and south-east of Assj'ria and built various temples, and of whom we possess few, but important, inscrip- tions. His successor was Rannnan-nirari, who not only strengthened the newlj'-conquered territories of his two predecessors, but also made war and defeated Nazi-Maruttash, King of Babylonia, the successor of Kurigalzu II, adding a considerable Babj'lonian territorj' to the newly arisen, but power- ful, Assjrian Empire.

Towards the end of the fourteenth centurj- b. c. (about 1330-20 b. c.) Ramman-nirari was succeeded bj' his son Shalmaneser I. During, or about the time of this ruler, the once powerful Egj'ptian su- premacj' over SjTia and Mesopotamia, thanks to the brilliant militarj' raids and resistance of the Hittites, a powerful horde of tribes in Northern SjTia and Asia Minor, was successfullj' withstood and confined to the Nile Vallej'. With the Egj'ptian pressure thus removed from Mesopotamia, and the accession of Shalmjneser I, an ambitious and energetic monarch, to the throne of AssjTia, the Assjrian Empire began to extend its power westwards. Following the course of the Tigris, Shalmaneser I marched north- wards and subjugated manj' northern tribes; then, turning westwards, invaded part of north-eastern SjTia and conquered the Arami, or Aramaeans, of Western Mesopotamia. From there he marched against the land of Mu.sri. in Northern Arabia, adding a considerable territorj' to his empire. For strategic reasons he transferred the seat of his kingdom from the city of Asshur to that of Kalklii (the Chale, or Calah, of Genesis), fortj' miles to the north, on the eastern bank of the Tigris, and eighteen miles south of Nineveh. Shalmaneser I was succeeded by his son Tukulti-Ninib (c. 1290 b. c), whose records and inscriptions have been collected and edited by L. W. King of the British Museum. He was a valiant warrior and conqueror, for he not onlj' preserved the integrity of the empire but also extended it towards the north and north-west. He invaded and conquered Babj'lonia, where he established the seat of his government for fuUj' seven j'ears, during which he became obnoxious to the Babj'lonians, who plotted and rebelled against him, proclaiming a certain Ramman-shur-usur king in his stead. The Assj'rians themselves also became dissatisfied on account of his long absence from Assj'ria, and he was slain by his own nobles, wlio proclaimed his son, .Asshur-nasir-pal, king in his stead. After the death of this prince, two kings, Asshur-narrara and Nabu- daj'an by name, reigned over -\ssjTia, of whom, however, we know nothing. Towards 1210-1200 B. c. we find Bel-Kudur-usvu- and his successor.