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Kings of Assyria
 
In the Middle Bronze Age Assyria was a region on the Upper Tigris river, named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur. Later, as a nation and empire that came to control all of the Fertile Crescent, Egypt and much of Anatolia, the term "Assyria proper" referred to roughly the northern half of Mesopotamia (the southern half being Babylonia), with Nineveh as its capital.

The Assyrian kings controlled a large kingdom at three different times in history. These are called the Old (2000 to 1500 BC), Middle (1500 to 1000 BC), and Neo-Assyrian (911–612 BC) kingdoms, or periods, of which the last is the most well known and best documented. The Assyrian homeland was located near a mountainous region, extending along the Tigris as far as the high Gordiaean or Carduchian mountain range of Armenia, sometimes known as the "Mountains of Ashur".

Assyrians invented excavation to undermine city walls, battering rams to knock down walls and gates, concept of a corps of engineers, who bridged rivers with pontoons or provided soldiers with inflatable skins for swimming.

The most neolithic site in Assyria is at Tell Hassuna, the center of the Hassuna culture. Of the early history of the kingdom of Assyria, little is positively known. According to some Judeo-Christian traditions, the city of Ashur (also spelled Assur or Aššur) was founded by Ashur the son of Shem, who was deified by later generations as the city's patron god. The upper Tigris River valley seems to have been ruled by Sumer, Akkad, and northern Babylonia in its earliest stages; once a part of Sargon the Great's empire, it was destroyed by barbarians in the Gutian period, then rebuilt, and ended up being governed as part of the Empire of the 3rd dynasty of Ur.

Assyrian art preserved to the present day predominantly dates to the Neo-Assyrian period. Art depicting battle scenes, and occasionally the impaling of whole villages in gory detail, was intended to show the power of the emperor, and was generally made for propaganda purposes. These stone reliefs lined the walls in the royal palaces where foreigners were received by the king. Other stone reliefs depict the king with different deities and conducting religious ceremonies. A lot of stone reliefs were discovered in the royal palaces at Nimrud (Kalhu) and Khorsabad (Dur-Sharrukin). A rare discovery of metal plates belonging to wooden doors was made at Balawat (Imgur-Enlil).

Assyrian sculpture reached a high level of refinement in the Neo-Assyrian period. One prominent example is the winged bull Lamassu, or shedu that guard the entrances to the king's court. These were apotropaic meaning they were intended to ward off evil. C. W. Ceram states in The March of Archaeology that Lamassi were typically sculpted with five legs so that four legs were always visible, whether the image were viewed frontally or in profile.

The dates for the early Assyrian period are unknown. While the list is in the right order, the specific years reigned by the kings are not certain. Listed in reverse order by the Assyrian King List.

Old Assyrian Period
King name Conventional dates
Erishum I 1906 - 1867 BC
Ikunum 1867 - 1860 BC
Sargon I 1860 - 1850 BC
Puzur-Ashur II 1850 - 1830 BC
Naram-Suen 1830 - 1815 BC
Erishum II 1815 - 1809 BC
Shamshi-Adad I 1809 - 1781 BC overthrew Erishum II
Ishme-Dagan I 1780 - 1741 BC
Mut-Ashkur 1730 - 1720 BC
Rimush 1720 - 1710 BC
Asinum 1710 - 1706 BC
Seven Usurpers
  • Assur-dugul
  • Assur-apla-idi
  • Nasir-Sin
  • Sin-namir
  • Ibqi-Ishtar
  • Adad-salulu
  • Adasi
1706-1700 BC
Belu-bani 1700 - 1691 BC
Libaia 1690 - 1674 BC
Sharma-Adad I 1673 - 1662 BC
Iptar-Sin 1661 - 1650 BC
Bazaia 1649 - 1622 BC
Lullaia 1621 - 1618 BC
Shu-Ninua 1615 - 1602 BC
Sharma-Adad II 1601 - 1598 BC
Erishum III 1598 - 1586 BC
Shamshi-Adad II 1567 - 1561 BC
Ishme-Dagan II 1561 - 1545 BC
Shamshi-Adad III 1545 - 1529 BC
Ashur-nirari I 1529 - 1503 BC
Puzur-Ashur III 1503 - 1479 BC
Enlil-nasir I 1479 - 1466 BC
Nur-ili 1466 - 1454 BC
Ashur-shaduni 1454 BC
Ashur-rabi I 1453 - 1435 BC son of Enlil-nasir I
Ashur-nadin-ahhe I 1435 - 1420 BC
Enlil-nasir II 1420 - 1414 BC
Ashur-nirari II 1414 - 1407 BC son of Enlil-nasir II
Ashur-bel-nisheshu 1407 - 1398 BC son of Ashur-nirari II
Ashur-rim-nisheshu 1398 - 1390 BC son of Ashur-bel-nisheshu
Ashur-nadin-ahhe II 1390 - 1380 BC
Middle Assyrian Period
Eriba-Adad I 1380 - 1353 BC
Ashur-uballit I 1365 – 1330 BC - Amarna Tablets - contemporary of Akhenaten and Suppiluliumas I of the Hittite
Enlil-nirari 1329 – 1320 BC
Arik-den-ili 1319 – 1308 BC
Adad-nirari I 1307 – 1275 BC
Shalmaneser I 1274 – 1245 BC
Tukulti-Ninurta I 1244 – 1208 BC
Ashur-nadin-apli 1207 – 1204 BC
Ashur-nirari III 1203 – 1198 BC
Enlil-kudurri-usur 1197 – 1193 BC
Ninurta-apal-Ekur 1192 – 1180 BC

* Dates as appearing in A. Kuhrt, The Ancient Near East volume I, 2006, p. 351

Middle Assyrian Period

Ashur-Dan I

1179 - 1133 BC
Ninurta-tukulti-Ashur 1133 BC
Mutakkil-nusku 1133 BC
Ashur-resh-ishi I 1133 - 1115 BC
Tiglath-Pileser I 1115 - 1076 BC
Asharid-apal-Ekur 1076 - 1074 BC
Ashur-bel-kala 1074 - 1056 BC
Eriba-Adad II 1056 - 1054 BC
Shamshi-Adad IV 1054 - 1050 BC
Ashur-nasir-pal I 1050 - 1031 BC
Shalmaneser II 1031 - 1019 BC
Ashur-nirari IV 1019 - 1013 BC

Ashur-rabi II

1013 - 972 BC
Ashur-resh-ishi II 972 - 967 BC
Tiglath-Pileser II 967 - 935 BC
Ashur-Dan II 935 - 912 BC
Neo-Assyrian Period
Adad-nirari II 912 - 891 BC - contemporary of Tudhaliya IV (Hittite King) thorough the Battle of Nihriya
Tukulti-Ninurta II 891 - 884 BC
Ashur-nasir-pal II 884 - 859 BC
Shalmaneser III 859 - 824 BC
Shamshi-Adad V 822 - 811 BC
Shammu-ramat, regent, 811 - 808 BC
Adad-nirari III 811 - 783 BC
Shalmaneser IV 783 - 773 BC
Ashur-Dan III 773 - 755 BC
Ashur-nirari V 755 - 745 BC
Tiglath-Pileser III 745 - 727 BC
Shalmaneser V 727 - 709 BC
End of the document known as Assyrian King List; the following kings reigned after the list had been composed.
Sargon II 722 - 705 BC (Co-regency with Shalmaneser V from 722 - 709 BC)
Sennacherib 705 - 681 BC
Esarhaddon 681 - 669 BC
The dates of the last kings are not certain
Ashurbanipal 669 - between 631 BC and 627 BC
Ashur-etil-ilani c.631 BC - 627 BC
Sin-shumu-lishir 626 BC
Sin-shar-ishkun c.627 - 612 BC
In 612 BC, Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, fell to the Medes and Babylonians; supported by the Egyptians, an Assyrian general continued to rule for a few years from Harran.
Ashur-uballit II 612 - c.609 BC
 
Time-lines for contemporary Civilizations
 
Babylonians and Assyrians
During the period when they were competing for dominance in Mesopotamia, the neighbouring sister-states of Babylonia and Assyria differed essentially in character. Babylonia was a land of merchants and agriculturists; Assyria became an organized military camp. The Assyrian dynasties were founded by successful generals; in Babylonia it was the priests whom a revolution raised to the throne. The Babylonian king remained a priest to the last, under the control of a powerful hierarchy; the Assyrian king was the autocratic general of an army, at whose side stood in early days a feudal nobility, aided from the reign of Tiglath-Pileser III onwards by an elaborate bureaucracy. His palace was more sumptuous than the temples of the gods, from which it was quite separate. The people were soldiers and little else; even the sailor belonged to the state. Hence the sudden collapse of Assyria when drained of its fighting population in the age of Ashurbanipal (ruled 669 to between 631 and 627 BC).
 
Assur and Babylon
The chronology of Babylon and Assur can be aligned by the list of wars and treaties between the two cities from the time of king Ashurbanipal. Hittite chronology is dependent on Assyria and Egypt. For times earlier than 1500 BC, various systems based on the Venus tablets of Ammisaduqa have been proposed. The death of Shamshi-Adad I of Assur in the 17th year of the reign of Hammurabi (1712 BC) is another synchronism which is helpful. The Palace at Acemhöyük burned to the ground, allowing for Dendochronological dating of the seal impression of Shamshi-Adad I found in the ruins. While the stratigraphy of the connection between the burnt beams and the seal impression is not 100% clear, it does support the short chronology.
 
The entries of the Synchronistic Chronicle, mentioned above, record which Assyrian king was ruling during which Babylonian king's reign, and vice versa.

Mesopotamia and Egypt
It is possible that mutual influences existed between the Nile Valley and Mesopotamia since very early times. Some authorities believed that Mesopotamian influence affected predynastic Upper Egypt (also known as the Mesopotamian Stimulation) between 3400–3100 BC. As of this date, the evidence is not conclusive. On the other hand Iron age Hama (Hamath) shows strong Egyptian influence.
 
The Amarna letters provide the earliest known synchronisms between ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. They provide clear evidence that the New Kingdom kings Amenhotep III and Akhenaten were contemporaries of Kadashman-Enlil I and Burnaburiash II of Babylon, Ashur-uballit I of Assyria, and Suppiluliumas I of the Hittite empire.
 
Other synchronisms between Mesopotamia and Egypt are indirect, depending on synchronisms between Egypt and the Hittite empire. For example, because Ramesses II signed a peace treaty with Hattusili III in Ramesses' 21st regnal year, and letters from Hattusili III to Kadashman-Turgu and Adad-nirari I of Assyria exist, one can argue that the reign of Ramesses overlapped the reigns of Kadashman-Turgu and Adad-nirari I. Direct synchronisms between Egypt and Assyria return in the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt (Dynasty 25), when Assyrian armies attacked and conquered Egypt.

Mesopotamia and the Hittite Empire
The sack of Babylon by the Hittite King Mursilis I, which ended the reign of Samsu-Ditana, provides an anchor for the earliest dates in Hittite history. The Battle of Nihriya links Tudhaliya IV and Adad-nirari I as contemporaries. The correspondence of the Hittite kings Hattusili III and Tudhaliya IV with the Assyrian chancellor Babu-ahu-iddina conclusively proves that they were the contemporaries of Adad-nirari I, Shalmaneser I and Tukulti-Ninurta I, not their later namesakes.
 
City of Ur
Ur was an ancient city in southern Mesopotamia, located near the mouth (at the time) of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers on the Persian Gulf and close to Eridu. It is considered to be one of the earliest known civilizations in world history. Because of marine regression, the remains are now well inland in present-day Iraq, south of the Euphrates on its right bank, and named Tell el-Mukayyar, near the city of Nasiriyah south of Baghdad.

The site is marked by the ruins of a ziggurat, still largely intact, and by a settlement mound. The ziggurat is a temple of Nanna, the moon deity in Sumerian mythology, and has two stages constructed from brick: in the lower stage the bricks are joined together with bitumen, in the upper stage they are joined with mortar. The Sumerian name for this city was Urim.

Ur was inhabited in the earliest stage of village settlement in southern Mesopotamia, the Ubaid period. However, it later appears to have been abandoned for a time. Scholars believe that, as the climate changed from relatively moist to drought in the early 3rd millennium BC, the small farming villages of the Ubaid culture consolidated into larger settlements, arising from the need for large-scale, centralized irrigation works to survive the dry spell. Ur became one such centre, and by around 2600 BC, in the Sumerian Early Dynastic Period III, the city was again thriving. Ur by this time was considered sacred to Nanna.

The location of Ur was favourable for trade, by both sea and land routes, into Arabia. Many elaborate tombs, including that of Queen Puabi, were constructed. In this cemetery were also found artifacts bearing the names of kings Meskalamdug and Akalamdug. Eventually, the kings of Ur became the effective rulers of Sumer, in the first dynasty of Ur established by the king Mesannepada (or Mesanepada, Mes-Anni-Padda), who is on the king-list and is named as a son of Meskalamdug on one artefact.

The first dynasty was ended by an attack of Sargon of Akkad around 2340 BC. Not much is known about the following second dynasty, when the city was in eclipse.

The third dynasty was established when the king Ur-Nammu (or Urnammu) came to power, ruling between c.2112-2094 BC. During his rule, temples, including the ziggurat, were built, and agriculture was improved through irrigation. His code of laws, the Code of Ur-Nammu (a fragment was identified in Istanbul in 1952) is one of the oldest such documents known, preceding the code of Hammurabi by 300 years. He and his successor Shulgi were both deified during their reigns, and after his death, he continued as a hero-figure: one of the surviving works of Sumerian literature describes the death of Ur-Nammu and his journey to the underworld. According to one estimate, Ur was the largest city in the world from c. 2030 to 1980 BC. Its population was approximately 65,000. The third dynasty fell around 1950 BC to the Elamites; the Lament for Ur commemorates this event. Later, Babylon captured the city.

In the 6th century BC there was new construction in Ur under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. The last Babylonian king, Nabonidus, improved the ziggurat. However the city started to decline from around 550 BC and was no longer inhabited after about 500 BC, perhaps owing to drought, changing river patterns, and the silting of the outlet to the Persian Gulf.

Archaeology
Ziggurat and the Ruins of Ur, Southern Iraq. In the mid-17th century BC, the site was visited by Pietro della Valle, who recorded the presence of ancient bricks stamped with strange symbols, cemented together with bitumen, as well as inscribed pieces of black marble that appeared to be seals.

The first excavation was made by British consul J. E. Taylor, who partly uncovered the ziggurat. Clay cylinders found in the four corners of the top stage of the ziggurat bore an inscription of Nabonidus (Nabuna`id), the last king of Babylon (539 BC), closing with a prayer for his son Belshar-uzur (Bel-ŝarra-Uzur), the Belshazzar of the Book of Daniel. Evidence was found of prior restorations of the ziggurat by Ishme-Dagan of Isin and Gimil-Sin of Ur, and by Kuri-galzu, a Kassite king of Babylon in the 14th century BC. Nebuchadnezzar also claims to have rebuilt the temple. Taylor further excavated an interesting Babylonian building, not far from the temple, part of an ancient Babylonian necropolis. All about the city he found abundant remains of burials of later periods. Apparently, in later times, owing to its sanctity, Ur became a favourite place of sepulchres, so that even after it had ceased to be inhabited, it continued to be used as a necropolis. After Taylor's time the site was visited by numerous travellers, almost all of whom have found ancient Babylonian remains, inscribed stones and the like, lying upon the surface. The site was considered rich in remains, and relatively easy to explore.

Excavations from 1922 to 1934 were funded by the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania and led by Sir Charles Leonard Woolley. A total of about 1,850 burials were uncovered, including 16 that were described as "royal tombs" containing many valuable artifacts, including the Standard of Ur. Most of the royal tombs were dated to about 2600 BC. The finds included the un-looted tomb of a queen thought to be Queen Puabi – the name is known from a cylinder seal found in the tomb, although there were two other different and unnamed seals found in the tomb. Many other people had been buried with her, in a form of human sacrifice. Near the ziggurat were uncovered the temple E-nun-mah and buildings E-dub-lal-mah (built for a king), E-gi-par (residence of the high priestess) and E-hur-sag (a temple building). Outside the temple area, many houses used in everyday life were found. Excavations were also made below the royal tombs layer: a 3.5 meters thick layer of alluvial clay covered the remains of earlier habitation, including pottery from the Ubaid period, the first stage of settlement in southern Mesopotamia. Woolley later wrote many articles and books about the discoveries.

Most of the treasures excavated at Ur are in the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Archaeological names of periods of habitation include:
    Ubaid period
    Sumerian Early Dynastic period III
    Ur-III, c. 2100 BC–2000 BC

Source: Wikipedia


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