History of Iraq 3 – the Assyriens
A Semitic tribe which emigrated from the Arabian Peninsula and settled in the north of Iraq around 3000 B.C. On every possible occasion their rulers had tried to break away from the rule of the states in the south of Iraq. Then in the first millenium B.C. they became a force to be reckoned with when king Adad-Nirari subjugated his neighbours and made a treaty with Babel. It was at this time that he began the series of conquests which became the greatest Eastern empire known to ancient history.
Under king Nirari, written records of their history began to be kept, known as ‘lemmi’, in which the important events of the year were recorded under the name of the chief minister, appointed annually by the king.
One of their famous kings was Assur-Nasirpal ii (884-858 B.C.), a stern ruler whose conquests extended as far as the northern and eastern mountains. He fought against the Arameans and captured Damascus using chariots for the first time in man’s history for taking cities by storm.
The kingdom was divided up into provinces for each of which he appointed a governor. He rebuilt the city of Calah (Nimrud) and constructed a dam in dressed stone on the Tigris. In his large palace were carved marble scenes depicting incidents in his life; hunting and battle scenes and vassal princes bringing him gifts and tribute. This was one of the greatest achievements of Assyrian architecture.
Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.)
Although military genius, his reputation is based on his civil engineering achievements. He enlarged and extended the irrigation system and constructed a large number of reservoirs. He brought water to Nineveh through a stone aqueduct from the spnngs of the river Kumel in the Bafian mountains.
Ashurbanipal (669-629 B.C.)
Famous for his achievements in the artistic and literary fields, he built up an immense library which included translations of Sumerian, Akkadian and Babylonian texts. He collected and indexed scientific works and scholars from every country were welcomed at his court.
More than 24,000 clay tablets have been found in the palace library at Nineveh covering all kinds of literary and scientific subjects.