The Assyrians

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The Assyrians

There are different periods of the Assyrian empire. The first was called the
Old Assyrian period which lasted from 2000-1550 BC. Then there was the Middle
Assyrian period which lasted from 1550-1200 BC. The last was the Neo-Assyrian period which lasted from 1200-600 BC. The final phase of the Neo-Assyrian period is called the Assyrian Empire.

The Old and Middle Assyrian periods ( 2000 - 1200 BC )

The name Ashur was used by the Assyrians to designate not only their country, but also their most ancient city and their national god. The cities of Ashur
(near modern al-Sharqat), Nineveh, and Irbil formed a triangle that defined the original territory of Assyria. Assyria's early history was marked by frequent episodes of foreign rule. Assyria finally gained its independence around 2000
BC. About this time the Assyrians established a number of trading colonies in
Cappadocia (central Anatolia), protected by treaties with local Hattic rulers.
The most important of these was at Kultepe (Kanesh), north of present-day
Kayseri, Turkey. Political developments Brought this enterprise to an end in
1750 BC. Assyria lost its independence to a dynasty of Amorite. Then Hammurabi of Babylon took over and established himself ruler of Assyria. The collapse of
Hammurabi's Old Babylonian dynasty gave Assyria only temporary relief. It soon fell under the control of the Mitanni, until that state was destroyed by the
Hittites c.1350 BC.

The Early Neo-Assyrian Period (c.1200-600 BC)

After the collapse of Mittanni, Assyria regained its independence and was able to hold it thanks to the weakness of its neighbors. The most important event in
Assyrian history during the 13 century BC, was the capture of Babylon by King
Tukulti-Ninurta (r.1244-1208 BC). Although the conquest was short-lived the memory of it remained strong. In the following centuries the chief adversaries of the Assyrians were the Aramaeans, who settled in Syria and along the upper
Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, where they founded a number of states. In the
9th century BC, under Ashurnasirpal II (r.883-859 BC) and Shalmaneser III (859-
824 BC), the Assyrians finally managed to conquer Bit-Adini (Beth-Eden), the most powerful Aramaen state on the upper Euphrates. Shalmaneser then tried to invade the Syrian heartland, where he met with serious resistance from a coalition of kings that included Ahab of Israel. They successfully opposed him at the battle karkar in 853 BC. Internal disagreements marked the end of
Shalmaneser's reign, and many of his conquests were lost.

Assyrian power began with Tiglath-Peleser III (r. 745-727 BC) taking over the throne. He began on administrative reforms aimed at strengthening royal authority over the provinces. Districts were reduced in size and placed under
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