1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Babylonia and Assyria/Second Assyrian Empire

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Second Assyrian Empire.—Under Tiglath-pileser III. arose the Tiglath-pileser III. second Assyrian empire, which differed from the first in its greater consolidation. For the first time in history the idea of centralization was introduced into politics; the conquered provinces were organized under an elaborate bureaucracy at the head of which was the king, each district paying a fixed tribute and providing a military contingent. The Assyrian forces became a standing army, which, by successive improvements and careful discipline, was moulded into an irresistible fighting machine, and Assyrian policy was directed towards the definite object of reducing the whole civilized world into a single empire and thereby throwing its trade and wealth into Assyrian hands. With this object, after terrorizing Armenia and the Medes and breaking the power of the Hittites, Tiglath-pileser III. secured the high-roads of commerce to the Mediterranean together with the Phoenician seaports and then made himself master of Babylonia. In 729 B.C. the summit of his ambition was attained, and he was invested with the sovereignty of Asia in the holy city of Babylon. Two years later, in Tebet 727 B.C., he died, but his successor Ululā, who took the name of Shalmaneser IV., continued the policy he had begun. Shalmaneser died suddenly in Tebet 722 B.C., while pressing the siege of Samaria, and the seizure of the throne by another general, Sargon, on the 12th of the month, gave the Babylonians an opportunity to revolt. Merodach-baladan. In Nisan the Kaldā prince, Merodach (Marduk)-baladan, entered Babylon and was there crowned legitimate king. For twelve years he successfully resisted the Assyrians; but the failure of his allies in the west to act in concert with him, and the overthrow of the Elamites, eventually compelled him to fly to his ancestral domains in the marshes of southern Babylonia. Sargon, who meanwhile had crushed the confederacy of the northern nations, had taken (717 B.C.) the Hittite stronghold of Carchemish and Sennacherib. had annexed the future kingdom of Ecbatana, was now accepted as king by the Babylonian priests and his claim to be the successor of Sargon of Akkad acknowledged up to the time of his murder in 705 B.C. His son Sennacherib, who succeeded him on the 12th of Ab, did not possess the military or administrative abilities of his father, and the success of his reign was not commensurate with the vanity of the ruler. He was never crowned at Babylon, which was in a perpetual state of revolt until, in 691 B.C., he shocked the religious and political conscience of Asia by razing the holy city of Babylon to the ground. His campaign against Hezekiah of Judah was as much a failure as his policy in Babylonia, and in his murder by his sons on the 20th of Tebet 681 B.C. both Babylonians and Jews saw the judgment of heaven.

Esar-haddon, who succeeded him, was of different calibre from Esar-haddon. his father. He was commanding the army in a campaign against Ararat at the time of the murder; forty-two days later the murderers fled from Nineveh and took refuge at the court of Ararat. But the Armenian army was utterly defeated near Malatia on the 12th of Iyyar, and at the end of the day Esar-haddon was saluted by his soldiers as king. He thereupon returned to Nineveh and on the 8th of Sivan formally ascended the throne.

One of his first acts was to restore Babylon, to send back the image of Bel-Merodach (Bel-Marduk) to its old home, and to re-people the city with such of the priests and the former population as had survived massacre. Then he was solemnly declared king in the temple of Bel-Merodach, which had again risen from its ruins, and Babylon became the second capital of the empire. Esar-haddon's policy was successful and Babylonia remained contentedly quiet throughout his reign. In February (674 B.C.) the Assyrians entered upon their invasion of Egypt (see also Egypt: History), and in Nisan (or March) 670 B.C. an expedition on an unusually large scale set out from Nineveh. The Egyptian frontier was crossed on the 3rd of Tammuz (June), and Tirhaka, at the head of the Egyptian forces, was driven to Memphis after fifteen days of continuous fighting, during which the Egyptians were thrice defeated with heavy loss and Tirhaka himself was wounded. On the 22nd of the month Memphis was entered by the victorious army and Tirhaka fled to the south. A stele, commemorating the victory and representing Tirhaka with the features of a negro, was set up at Sinjirli (north of the Gulf of Antioch) and is now in the Berlin Museum. Two years later Assur-bani-pal. (668 B.C.) Egypt revolted, and while on the march to reduce it, Esar-haddon fell ill and died (on the 10th of Marchesvan or October). Assur-bani-pal succeeded him as king of Assyria and its empire, while his brother, Samas-sum-yukin, was made viceroy of Babylonia. The arrangement was evidently intended to flatter the Babylonians by giving them once more the semblance of independence. But it failed to work. Samas-sum-yukin became more Babylonian than his subjects; the viceroy claimed to be the successor of the monarchs whose empire had once stretched to the Mediterranean; even the Sumerian language was revived as the official tongue, and a revolt broke out which shook the Assyrian empire to its foundations. After several years of struggle, during which Egypt recovered its independence, Babylon was starved into surrender, and the rebel viceroy and his supporters were put to death.

Egypt had already recovered its independence (660 B.C.) with the help of mercenaries sent by Gyges of Lydia, who had vainly solicited aid from Assyria against his Cimmerian enemies. Next followed the contest with Elam, in spite of the efforts of Assur-bani-pal to ward it off. Assyria, however, was aided by civil war in Elam itself; the country was wasted with fire and sword, and its capital Susa or Shushan levelled with the ground. But the long struggle left Assyria maimed and exhausted. It had been drained of both wealth and fighting population; the devastated provinces of Elam and Babylonia could yield nothing with which to supply the needs of the imperial exchequer, and it was difficult to find sufficient troops even to garrison the conquered populations. Assyria, therefore, was ill prepared to face the hordes of Scythians—or Manda, as they were called by the Babylonians—who now began to harass the frontiers. A Scythian power had grown up in the old kingdom of Ellip, to the east of Assyria, where Ecbatana was built by a "Manda" prince; Asia Minor was infested by the Scythian tribe of Cimmerians, and the death of the Scythian leader Dugdammē (the Lygdamis of Strabo i. 3. 16) was regarded by Assur-bani-pal as a special mark of divine favour.

When Assur-bani-pal died, his empire was fast breaking up. Scythian influence. Under his successor, Assur-etil-ilani, the Scythians penetrated into Assyria and made their way as far as the borders of Egypt. Calah was burned, though the strong walls of Nineveh protected the relics of the Assyrian army which had taken refuge behind them; and when the raiders had passed on to other fields of booty, a new palace was erected among the ruins of the neighbouring city. But its architectural poverty and small size show that the resources of Assyria were at a low ebb. A contract has been found at Sippara, dated in the fourth year of Assur-etil-ilani, though it is possible that his rule in Babylonia was disputed by his Rab-shakeh (vizier), Assur-sum-lisir, whose accession year as king of Assyria occurs on a contract from Nippur (Niffer). The last king of Assyria was probably the brother of Assur-etil-ilani, Sin-sar-iskun (Sin-sarra-uzur), who seems to have been the Sarakos (Saracus) of Berossus. He was still reigning in Babylonia in his seventh year, as a contract dated in that year has been discovered at Erech, and an inscription of his, in which he speaks of restoring the ruined temples and their priests, couples Merodach of Babylon with Assur of Nineveh. Babylonia, however, was Nabopolassar. again restless. After the over throw of Samas-sum-yukin, Kandalanu, the Chineladanos of Ptolemy's canon, had been appointed viceroy. His successor was Nabopolassar, between whom and the last king of Assyria war broke out. The Scythian king of Ecbatana, the Cyaxares of the Greeks, came to the help of the Babylonians. Nineveh was captured and destroyed by the Scythian army, along with those cities of northern Babylonia which had sided with Babylonia, and the Assyrian empire was at an end.

The seat of empire was now transferred to Babylonia. Nabopolassar Nabonidus. was followed by his son Nebuchadrezzar II., whose reign of 43 years made Babylon once more the mistress of the civilized world. Only a small fragment of his annals has been discovered relating to his invasion of Egypt in 567 B.C., and referring to "Phut of the Ionians." Of the reign of the last Babylonian king, Nabonidus, however, and the conquest of Babylonia by Cyrus, we now have a fair amount of information.[1] This is chiefly derived from a chronological tablet containing the annals of Nabonidus, which is supplemented by an inscription of Nabonidus, in which he recounts his restoration of the temple of the Moon-god at Harran, as well as by a proclamation of Cyrus issued shortly after his formal recognition as king of Babylonia. It was in the sixth year of Nabonidus (549 B.C.)—or perhaps in 553—that Cyrus, "king of Anshan" in Elam, revolted against his suzerain Astyages, king of "the Manda" or Scythians, at Ecbatana. The army of Astyages betrayed him to his enemy, and Cyrus (q.v.) established himself at Ecbatana, thus putting an end to the empire of the Scythians, Invasion by Cyrus. which the Greek writers called that of the Medes, through a confusion of Madā or "Medes" with Manda. Three years later we find that Cyrus has become king of Persia and is engaged in a campaign in the north of Mesopotamia. Meanwhile Nabonidus has established a camp at Sippara, near the northern frontier of his kingdom, his son—probably the Belshazzar of other inscriptions—being in command of the army. In 538 B.C. Cyrus invaded Babylonia. A battle was fought at Opis in the month of June, in which the Babylonians were defeated, and immediately afterwards Sippara surrendered to the invader. Nabonidus fled to Babylon, whither he was pursued by Gobryas, the governor of Kurdistan, and on the 16th of Tammuz, two days after the capture of Sippara, "the soldiers of Cyrus entered Babylon without fighting." Nabonidus was dragged out of his hiding-place, and Kurdish guards were placed at the gates of the great temple of Bel, where the services continued without intermission. Cyrus did not arrive till the 3rd of Marchesvan (October), Gobryas having acted for him in his absence. Gobryas was now made governor of the province of Babylon, and a few days afterwards the son of Nabonidus, according to the most probable reading, died. A public mourning followed, which lasted six days, and Cambyses accompanied the corpse to the tomb. Cyrus now claimed to be the legitimate successor of the ancient Babylonian kings and the avenger of Bel-Merodach, who was wrathful at the impiety of Nabonidus in removing the images of the local gods from their ancestral shrines to his capital Babylon. Nabonidus, in fact, had excited a strong feeling against himself by attempting to centralize the religion of Babylonia in the temple of Merodach (Marduk) at Babylon, and while he had thus alienated the local priesthoods the military party despised him on account of his antiquarian tastes. He seems to have left the defence of his kingdom to others, occupying himself with the more congenial work of excavating the foundation records of the temples and determining the dates of their builders. The invasion of Babylonia by Cyrus was doubtless facilitated by the existence of a disaffected party in the state, as well as by the presence of foreign exiles like the Jews, who had been planted in the midst of the country. One of the first acts of Cyrus accordingly was to allow these exiles to return to their own homes, carrying with them the images of their gods and their sacred vessels. The permission to do so was embodied in a proclamation, in which the conqueror endeavoured to justify his claim to the Babylonian throne. The feeling was still strong that none had a right to rule over western Asia until he had been consecrated to the office by Bel and his priests; and from henceforth, accordingly, Cyrus assumed the imperial title of "king of Babylon." A year before his death, in 529 B.C., he associated his son Cambyses (q.v.) in the government, making him king of Babylon, while he reserved for himself the fuller title of "king of the (other) provinces" of the empire. It was only when Darius Hystaspis, the representative of the Aryan race and the Zoroastrian religion, had re-conquered the empire of Cyrus, that the old tradition was broken and the claim of Babylon to confer legitimacy on the rulers of western Asia ceased to be acknowledged (see Darius). Darius, in fact, entered Babylon as a conqueror; after the murder of the Magian it had recovered its independence under Nidinta-Bel, who took the name of Nebuchadrezzar III., and reigned from October 521 B.C. to August 520 B.C., when the Persians took it by storm. A few years later, probably 514 B.C., Babylon again revolted under the Armenian Arakha; on this occasion, after its capture by the Persians, the walls were partly destroyed. E-Saggila, the great temple of Bel, however, still continued to be kept in repair and to be a centre of Babylonian patriotism, until at last the foundation of Seleucia diverted the population to the new capital of Babylonia and the ruins of the old city became a quarry for the builders of the new seat of government.[2]


1 ^  For the events leading up to the conquests of Cyrus, see Persia: Ancient History, § v. The chronology is not absolutely certain.

2 ^  The following is a list of the later dynasties and kings of Babylonia and Assyria so far as they are known at present. For the views of other writers on the chronology, see § viii., Chronological Systems.

The Babylonian Dynasties from cir. 2500 B.C.

Dynasty of Ur.
Gungunu, cir. 2500 B.C.
Dungi, more than 51 years.
Bur-Sin, more than 12 years.
Gimil-Sin, more than 9 years.

First Dynasty of Babylon. 2350 B.C.
Sumu-abi, 14 years.
Sumu-la-ilu, 36 years.
Zabium, 14 years.
Abil-Sin, 18 years.
Sin-muballidh, 20 years.
Khammurabi, 43 years.
Samsu-iluna, 38 years.
Abesukh, 25 years.
Ammi-ditana, 25 years.
Ammi-zadoq, 21 years.
Samsu-ditana, 31 years.

Dynasty of Sisku (?) for 368 years. 2160 B.C.
Anman, 60 years.
Ki-Nigas, 56 years.
Damki-ilisu, 26 years.
Iskipal, 15 years.
Sussi, 27 years.
Gul-ki[sar], 55 years.
Kirgal-daramas, 50 years.
Ā-dara-kalama, 28 years.
Akur-duana, 26 years.
Melamma-kurkura, 8 years.
Ea-ga(mil), 9 years.

Kassite Dynasty of 36 kings for 576 years 9 months. 1780 B.C.
Gandis, 16 years.
Agum-sipak, 22 years.
Bitilyasu I., 22 years.
Ussi (?), 9 years.
        .        .        .        .
Kadasman-Bel, his son, corresponded with
Amon-hotep (Amenophis) III. of Egypt, 1400 B.C.
Kuri-galzu II.
Burna-buryas, his son, 22 years.
Kuri-galzu III., his son, 26 years.
Nazi-Maruttas, his son, 17 years.
Kadasman-Turgu, his son, 13 years.
Kudur-bel, 6 years.
Sagarakti-suryas, his son, 13 years.
Bitilyasu II., 8 years.
Tukulti-In-aristi of Assyria (1272 B.C.)
for 7 years, native vassal kings being—
Bel-sum-iddin, 1½ years.
Kadasman-Bel II., 1½ years.
Hadad-sum-iddin, 6 years.
Hadad-sum-uzur, 30 years.
Meli-sipak, 15 years.
Merodach-baladan I., his son, 13 years.
Zamama-sum-iddin, 1 year.
Bel-sum-iddin, 3 years.

Dynasty of Isin of 11 kings for 132½ years. 1203 B.C.
Merodach-... 18 years.
        .        .        .        .
Nebuchadrezzar I.
Merodach-nadin-akhi, 22 years.
Merodach-... 1½ years.
Hadad-baladan, an usurper.
Merodach-sapik-zer-mati, 12 years.
Nabu-nadin, 8 years.

Dynasty of the Sea-coast. 1070 B.C.
Simbar-sipak, 18 years.
Ea-mukin-zeri, 5 months.
Kassu-nadin-akhi, 3 years.

Dynasty of Bit-Bazi. 1050 B.C.
Ē-Ulmas-sakin-sumi, 17 years.
Ninip-kudur-uzur I., 3 years.
Silanim-Suqamuna, 3 months.

Dynasty of Elam. 1030 B.C.
An Elamite, 6 years.

Second Dynasty of Babylon. 1025 B.C.
Nebo-kin-abli, 36 years.
Ninip-kudur-uzur II. (?) 8 months 12 days.
Probably 5 names missing. B.C.
Samas-mudammiq cir. 920
Nebo-sum-iskun cir. 900
Nebo-baladan cir. 880
Merodach-nadin-sumi cir. 860
Merodach-baladhsu-iqbi cir. 830
Bau-akhi-iddin cir. 810
Probably 2 names missing.
Nebo-sum-iskun, son of Dakuri cir. 760
Nabonassar, 14 years 747
Nebo-nadin-suma, his son, 2 years 733
Nebo-sum-yukin, his son, 1 month 12 days 731
          End of "the 22nd dynasty."

Dynasty of Sape.
Yukin-zera or Chinziros, 3 years. 730
Pulu (Pul or Poros), called
    Tiglath-pileser III. in Assyria, 2 years 727
Ululā, called Shalmaneser IV. in Assyria     725
Merodach-baladan II. the Chaldaean 721
Sargon of Assyria 709
Sennacherib, his son 705
Merodach-zakir-sumi, 1 month 702
Merodach-baladan III., 6 months 702
Bel-ebus of Babylon 702
Assur-nadin-sumi, son of Sennacherib 700
Nergal-yusezib 694
Musezib-Merodach 693
Sennacherib destroys Babylon 689
Esar-haddon, his son 681
Samas-sum-yukin, his son 668
Kandalanu (Kineladanos) 648
Nabopolassar 626
Nabu-kudur-uzur (Nebuchadrezzar II.) 605
Amil-Marduk (Evil-Merodach), his son 562
Nergal-sarra-uzur (Nergal-sharezer) 560
Labasi-Marduk, his son, 3 months 556
Nabu-nahid (Nabonidus) 556
Cyrus conquers Babylon 538
Cambyses, his son 529
Gomates, the Magian, 7 months 521
Nebuchadrezzar III., native king 521
Darius, son of Hystaspes 520
Nebuchadrezzar IV., rebel king 514
Darius restored 513

Kings of Assyria.
Zulilu "founder of the monarchy."
        .        .        .        .
Assur-nirari, his son.
Assur-rim-nisesu, his son.
        .        .        .        .
Assur-nadin-akhi I., his son.
Assur-yuballidh I., his son.
Assur-bil-nisi-su cir. 1450
Buzur-Assur 1440
Assur-nadin-akhi II. 1410
Assur-yuballidh, his son 1390
Bel-nirari, his son 1370
Arik-den-ilu, his son 1350
Hadad-nirari I., his son 1330
Shalmaneser I., his son (built Calah) 1310
Tiglath-In-aristi I., his son, 1280
    conquers Babylon cir. 1270
Assur-nazir-pal I., his son 1260
Assur-narara and his son Nebo-dan 1250
Assur-sum-lisir 1235
In-aristi-tukulti-Assur 1225
Bel-kudur-uzur 1215
In-aristi-pileser, descendant of Erba-Hadad 1200
Assur-dan I., his son 1185
Mutaggil-Nebo, his son 1160
Assur-ris-isi, his son 1140
Tiglath-pileser I., his son 1120
Assur-bil-kala, his son 1090
Samsi-Hadad I., his brother 1070
Assur-nazir-pal II., his son 1060
Hadad-nirari II. cir. 960
Tiglath-pileser II., his son 950
Assur-dan II., his son 930
Hadad-nirari III., his son 911
Tukulti-In-aristi, his son 889
Assur-nazir-pal III., his son 883
Shalmaneser II., his son 858
Assur-danin-pal (Sardanapallos), rebel king 825
Samsi-Hadad II., his brother 823
Hadad-nirari IV., his son 810
Shalmaneser III. 781
Assur-dan III. 771
Assur-nirari 753
Pulu, usurper, takes the name of Tiglath-pileser III. 745
Ululā, usurper, takes the name of Shalmaneser IV. 727
Sargon, usurper 722
Sennacherib, his son 705
Esar-haddon, his son 681
Assur-bani-pal, his son 668
Assur-etil-ilani-yukin, his son ?  
Assur-sum-lisir ?  
Sin-sarra-uzur (Sarakos) ?  
Destruction of Nineveh 606