Assyrian Empire

The grand city of Ashur built during The Assyrian Empire, beside the Tigris river in northern Mesopotamia (Present–day Iraq), developed as an important trading centre; by 2000 BC, it had become the capital of great Assyrian Empire. From 1400 BC, Assyrian armies were marching north and west to secure trade and obtain booty and tribute. Feared for their military strength, they soon came to dominate the near East. Assyrian kings built several Capital cities after Ashur, of which Nimrud and Nineveh were the most magnificent. Assyrian civilization and culture, however, were heavily influenced by Babylonia to the south and it was the Babylonians who eventually absorbed the Assyrians into their empire.

Extent of the Empire:

The greatest extent of the empire was reached in the 7th century, when the well – equipped solider of King Ashurbanipal conquered and held lands from Egypt to Iran. Assyrian governors controlled the provinces. They were expected to send taxes back to the Assyrian capital and recruit soldiers for the army.


The Assyrian army was the most efficient fighting machine of its time and its reputation alone was often enough to frighten rebellious states into surrender. At first, the army consisted of native Assyrians, but Tiglath – Pileser III (745 – 727 BC) recruited men from other areas of the empire. They were armed with iron helmets, amour, spears, swords and shields. The Assyrians also used chariots and siege engines battering rams on wheels), the most advanced weapons of the time.

Nimrud and Nineveh:

By 900 BC, the city of Ashur was overcrowded. Nimrud was built in the 9th century BC. Nineveh was constructed in the 7th century BC. These cities were famous for their splendid places and temples.


At his coronation, the Assyrian king swore to expand the empire. The Assyrians believed their god Ashur (After whom the first city was named) chose each king so he had absolute power. He appointed all the governors of the various parts of his empire, led the army and was responsible for all the temples. The king demonstrated his power and wealth by many ambitious building projects. A network of spies reported to the king on all matters within the empire.

Queens of Assyria:

Some Queens of Assyrian Empire were so powerful that they became legendary. On such Sammurammat (Semiramis), Dominated court for 42 year in the 9th century BC. Some royal jewellery has been found in tombs at Nimrud.

Art and literature:

Brightly painted, stone - relief carvings, the most spectacular of all Assyrian art form, decorated palace walls from 900 BC. Artists decorated royal furniture with carvings of real or mythical animals such as sphinxes.


Seenacherib (r.704 – 681 BC) a strong king, spent many years building Nineveh. He established control over the coast of the Mediterranean and destroyed Babylon, but he was murdered by his jealous sons.


2400 BC: The city of Ashur dominates trade routes
1900 BC: Assyrians establish trading colonies in Anatolia (Modern Turkey)
1250 BC: king of Assyria campaign as far as the Mediterranean and Babylon.
879 BC: Ashurbanipal II builds a new capital at Kalhu (Nimrud)
744 – 727 BC: King Tiglath – Pileser III creates an empire.
721 – 705 BC: Sargon II builds capital at Khorsabad (Dur Sharrokin)
701 BC Sennacherib leads his army to Jerusalem from his new capital at Nineveh.
689 BC: Seenacherib destroys Babylon.
664 BC: Ashurbanipal attacks and conquers Egypt.
612 BC: Median and Babylonian Armies destroy Nineveh.
609 BC: Crown prince Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon finally defeats The Assyrians
606 BC: The Medes from Iran sack Nineveh

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