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Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Assyrians

The age of weaponry development led to the emergence of organized armies. The mightiest of the late bronze age armies was built by the Assyrians. They prospered into the iron age from 934 to 609BC. Scholars say this was the first Empire, made up of what is modern day Northern Iraq. The capital city was Nineveh.

This empire is mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. When you hear of the Lost Tribes of Israel, it is the Assyrians who scattered them.

The land has no natural frontiers, making it hard to defend, so the people had to be tough. With superior weapons came a superior army, but over time, mercenaries infiltrated the Assyrian army.
Babylona, to the south, became Assyria's biggest enemy, but the Assyrians gained wealth by pillaging neighboring city states and taking them over.
The kings were relentless and cruel, bragging about the conquest of their enemies and how they brutalized those they conquered. Enemy heads were placed on pillars; prisoners were skinned alive, or barracaded behind castle walls. The Assyrian kings bragged about their cruelty, and carved depictions of these barbarous acts on the walls of the castle.

The Assyrian army, consisting of 300,000 soldiers, were better trained and drilled than those of Alexander, considered to be the best infantry the middle east ever had. The Assyrians had spear and archery units that worked together, aided by four-horse chariots loaded with fighting men.
They subdued Babylona and then attacked Egypt, but rebellions sprung up and it wasn't long before city states began to ally themselves against the Assyrians.

In 640 B.C. the Assyrian capital fell, and sons of the previous leaders vied for power, but by now the army was weakened and enemies were ready to strike. Facing defeat, the leader of the Assyrian army burned himself alive to avoid capture. When the entire city burned, the destruction was complete.

No one mourned the lost empire.


Mary Ricksen said...

What a way to go, burned alive, he couldn't think of an easier way.
Great post, thanks!

Jen Childers said...

It makes today's society look less crazy when you see what was done in the past.
I am glad you are enjoying the posts Mary. History has so many stories!
take care,