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Stele with Asarhaddon in the Pergamon Museum

Asarhaddon (also Aššur-aḫḫe-iddina or Ashshur-achche-iddina , called Aššur-etil-ilani-apli ; † October 26, 669 BC) was from March 14, 680 to October 26, 669 BC. Chr. Assyrian king. His name Aššur-aḫḫe-iddina means: Aššur gave me a brother . At the beginning of his reign, Asarhaddon used the name Aššur-etil-ilani-mukīn-apli ( Aššur, the prince of the gods, is the one who establishes a heir ), only to change it back to his previous name Aššur-aḫḫe-iddina later. The reasons for this are unclear.


The sources of the history of Azarhaddon's government are the royal inscriptions, the lists of eponyms , parts of the Assyrian state archive that have been preserved in Nineveh , chronicles, state treaties, the so-called " letters of God ", oracle texts (especially towards the end of his reign) and administrative documents.

Seven letters from Crown Prince Assurbanipal to his father have survived, as well as four from his brother Šamaš-šuma-ukin and three from his brother Šamaš-metu-uballit and one from Princess Šerua-eterat, who did not get along particularly well with her future stepmother Libbali-šarrat seems to have understood well.

The Nimrud prism reports on the conditions on Iadnata (Cyprus) and names the names of ten kings who are tributary to the Assyrians.

Steles and inscriptions of Azarhaddon are known from:

  • Til Barsip (Tell Ahmar) A and B, respectively 3.80 and 3.30 m high.
  • Zincirli , 3.2 m high dolerite stele. A second, heavily damaged limestone stele 1.90 m high was found in the Northwest Palace.
  • Estuary of the Nahr el-Kelb , 10 km north of Beirut , 1.9 m high relief.
  • Qaqun (6 km northwest of Tul Karm , Israel), preserved in fragments.


Asarhaddon was the youngest son of Sennacherib . His mother was the Aramaic queen Naqia . Its scribe was Issar-duri. The half-brother Arda-Mulissu was a rebel leader and fled after his defeat in 680 BC. First to Urartu , then to Subria . His younger half-brother Aššur-nadin-šumi was from Sennacherib 700 BC. Was installed as king of Babylonia , but was handed over to the Elamites by his subjects at the instigation of some astrologers . His sister Saddītu lived in the palace.

His wife and mother of Assurbanipal and Šamaš-šuma-ukin , who probably bore the name Ešar-ḫamat , died in February 672 BC. It was titled Mi.É.GAL. Other known children are:

  • Šamaš-metuš-uballit, the third son
  • Princess Serua-eṭerat
  • Aššur-mukin-paleja
  • Aššur-etel-šame-erseti-mubalissu
  • two other daughters were married to foreign rulers, one perhaps to Scheschonq. In an oracle inquiry, Asarhaddon asks whether he should marry off his daughter (name unknown) to the Scythian ruler Bartatua .

In addition to the queen, the king apparently also had a harem of female slaves. It is reported that after the conquest of Memphis, virgins from Cush were housed in the royal palace. However, equating the queen's palace with the harem seems inappropriate. When the eldest son of Azarhaddon died, Ashurbanipal was ruled from 672 to 669 BC. Chr. Crown Prince. He was married to Libali-šarrat and succeeded his father on the throne.


As crown prince, Asarhaddon took part in battles in Bit Hamban against the Kimmerers . King Sennacherib was born in 681 BC. Murdered BC; whether Azarhaddon was behind the act is unclear; in fact, he had to enforce his claim against Arda-Mulissu and his brothers in a six-week civil war by force.

The succession in the rule was regulated among other things through contracts with the vassals . So Asarhaddon concluded a treaty with the kings of the Medes that they should recognize his son Ashurbanipal "the crown prince of the successor house" as king in his place, and Šamaš-šuma-ukin as king of Babylon . They should:

  • protect him in the field and within the city
  • give him good advice with all your heart
  • prepare a good path for his feet
  • not support his brothers against him
  • carry all bad words against him, both from the mouths of his family, officials and eunuchs, as well as the people (the black-headed)
  • do not make contracts with his enemies
  • also be devoted to his sons
  • do not change the text of this contract table or attempt to destroy it

The contract is reinforced with curses from contract breakers. Who should violate it (among other things):

  • do not reach old age
  • May Anu strike her with insomnia, tribulation and illness
  • May Sin hit her with leprosy
  • Shamash may dazzle them
  • May Ninurta strike them down with his arrows, let their blood fill the steppes
  • May a stranger own their wives' wombs; they may not inherit their sons
  • Adad , may the dikemaster of heaven flood your land
  • etc.

The oath is affirmed with the sacrifice of a ewe, and the fate of the sheep is magically (and in great detail) equated with that of the oathbreaker.


Usually the Assyrian kings went out on campaigns every year. Years in which the king “stayed in the country” are usually regarded as a sign of internal unrest. However, the rab-sarri or other high officials, such as the head eunuch, could lead campaigns.

The king used to lead the battle from a hill while his nobles ( rabiu ) led the troops into battle. From a letter to Azarhaddon (83-1-18,861) it emerges, however, that Azarhaddon led some of his troops personally. The (unknown) author of the letter advises against such a procedure. Asarhaddon's campaigns:

Government year Eponym officer Calendar year opponent opponent
1 Dananu 680/79 Dakkuri Gambulu
2 Issi-Adad-anenu 679/78 Arza
3 Nergal-šarru-uṣur 678/77 Dakkuri
4th Abi-ramu 677/76 Sidon
5 Banba 676/75 Bazza Sidon
6th Nabu-ahhe-iddin 675/74 Mugallu of Melid under the chief eunuch Dakkuri
7th Sarru-nuri 674/73 Defeat in Egypt
8th Atar-ilu 673/72 Subria
9 Nabu-belu-uṣur 672/71 no military campaigns of the king are reported
10 Kanunaju 671/70 Tire Taharqa of Egypt (25th Dynasty)
11 Sulmu-beli-lašme 670/69 Egypt Execution of officers
12 Šamaš-kašid-ajabi 669/68 Egypt, rebellion of the Taharqa

Initially he was successful in disputes against Bit Dakkuri and Gambulu . Around 680 BC Then King Asarhaddon defeated the Cimmerians who had invaded the country , a nomadic horsemen, near Hubušna . They then conquered Phrygia and wreaked havoc in Lydia . 677 BC The king of Sidon , who had revolted against the Assyrian rule, was defeated and beheaded in the 3rd century BC . His city was devastated and rebuilt as the "Port of Azarhaddon" while the Phoenician population was deported to Assyria. 676 BC A successful campaign in the Taurus Mountains followed . Meanwhile, Assyria had also Mannaeans ward on the northern border, as the Medes under their king Khschathrita the east. Assyrian advances apparently reached as far as what is now Tehran . The Zagros Mountains were secured by a series of fortresses. Melitene (Assyrian: Meliddu) was founded in 675 BC. BC (unsuccessfully) besieged. In the same year, an Elamite incursion directed against the city of Sippar was thrown back in southern Mesopotamia . This was followed by an Assyrian advance into the land of Bazu, which, according to the sources, was a dry landscape. In the 10th year of the reign ( palû ), Asarhaddon again advanced into Egypt and defeated King Taharqa . Memphis was captured and Taharqa had to flee to Upper Egypt. Asarhaddon now took on the title "King of Musur , Patros and Kush " as well as King of Egypt, victor over the King of Meluhha (Kalach D). He organized the administration of the new province and returned home with rich booty. He captured Ušanahuru, the king's son and the king's wives, and deported doctors, fortune tellers, dream interpreters, snake charmers and metal workers to Assyria, as well as people whose skin was as black as pitch. But as soon as he left Egypt, the land rose against the invaders. So Asarhaddon marched against Egypt again, but died on the way from his long-standing illness on October 27, 669 BC. In Harran .


Asarhaddon carried the title of great king ( Sarru rabû šarru ) , like all the kings of the Middle East who ruled over other kings , and he also called himself:

  • King: of Assyria
  • King of the Empire ( šar-kiššati )
  • King of the Four Shores of the World ( šar kibrât erbetti )
  • First of all kings,
  • King of Sumer and Akkad ( mât Sumeri u Akkadi ki ),
  • King of Babel ( Bâbìli ki ),
  • King of Karduniaš ,
  • King of egypt ,
  • King of Kuš ,
  • King of Patros ,
  • King of Subartu ,
  • King of Amurru ,
  • King of the Kings of Tilmun , Makan and Meluhha .

Other titles he carried: governor of Enlil , priest of Aššur, faithful shepherd, darling of the great gods, son of Sennacherib, son of Sargon II , dear scion of Baltil (= Aššur) and royal descendant of Bêl-bani .

In his inscriptions, Asarhaddon especially mentioned the gods Aššur, Ninlil (who, like Aššur, spread his umbrella over him), Šamaš , Marduk (the chief judge of the gods), Bêl and Nabû (the scribe of the universe), furthermore Nudimmud (the wisest among the gods), Sin (the lord of the crown), the Ištar of Arbela , the Ištar of Niniveh , Nergal , Sarpânîtu (especially in Babylon, Eru'a), Ninurta , Gušea, Bêltiia, Šarur and Šargaz, Aa, Irnini , Agušea, the Šebeti , and Enlil .


As crown prince, Asarhaddon had a palace in Guzana or lived in the palace of the succession ( bît ridûti ). As king he used the royal palaces in Nineveh and Kalach . Access to the royal palace was precisely regulated. In the texts of the Nineveh State Archives there is a list of 14 authorized persons, including the royal scribe and members of his family and the chief scribe, Zer-Issar, the chief of public works ( rab pilkāni ) and the courtiers Musuraju and Arbaju. His chief scribe was Nabû-zehr-lešir , who came from a famous family of scribes, from 672 BC. His son Ištar-šumu-ereš , who was also the chief clerk of Assurbanipal. His deputy was Kanunaju. The clerk not only handled the correspondence, but also served as finance minister. Majordomus ( rab bēti ) was also a high court office. Both the king and the queen and the crown princes had a rab bēti . The chief eunuch was also an important court office. Milki-nuri, the queen's chief eunuch, is known by name. The office of the royal umbrella bearer does not seem distinguished at first, but the holder always had the king's ear.

The king and queen had separate courts. As a letter from the State Archives shows, even a servant from the queen's palace could not easily gain access to the royal palace. It is unclear whether the Queen Mother kept her own household; however, there are texts that mention a bet ummi šarri . The queen also had a palace in Kilizi .


The most important cities of the empire, in Assyria itself as in the subjugated countries, were administered by governors. Some of them are known by name:

  • Governor of Nippur : Illil-bani
  • Governor of Uruk : Nabû-ušabši
  • Governors of Guzana : Šamaš-emuranni and his deputy Palti-Ia'u and the accountant Niri-Ia'u
  • Governor of Gambulu : Bel-iqisha, who was supposed to rebel under Ashurbanipal in 664
  • Governor of Ur : Ningal-idina
  • Governor of the sea ​​country : Nabû-zêr-kitti-lîšir, son of Marduk-Apla-Iddina I , after him his brother Na'id-Marduk, later mentioned Bel-ibni as the military commander of the Zealand
  • King of Borsippa : Nabû-šallim, son of Balasu (appointed by Asarhaddon after he had expelled the king of Bit Dakkuri from Borsippa)

Asarhaddon encouraged his subjects to contact him directly in the event of a betrayal of Assyrian interests or a conspiracy against the king, and indeed numerous letters have been received warning the king of conspiracies or reporting transgressions by incumbents, including several anonymous letters . In addition, he had special agents ( qēpu ) in the most important cities , who reported to him personally about the activities of the locals as well as the Assyrian governors:

  • In Babylon his royal agent was the learned Mar-Issar (671–669 BC)
  • Itti-Šamaš-balatu was in charge of the northern Mediterranean coast. He reports on the disloyal activities of Ikkilû, the king of Arwad , but also that some Assyrians systematically tried to intimidate him. Ikkilû, King of Arwad had tried to prevent ships from calling at Assyrian ports and favored traders who deal with him directly. He is also believed to have killed traders who entered Assyrian ports, confiscated their boats and sent spies to Assyria.
  • The supervision of relations with Elam had been since 675 BC. In the hands of Nabû-ra'im-nišešu and Salamanu, who presumably resided in Der or the nearby Dunni-Šamash. Some of her letters to the ruler have survived.
  • The Crown Prince Assurnasipal was entrusted with monitoring relations with Urartu , so the country was perceived as a serious threat. In addition, Assurbanipal was entrusted with the care of defectors from Mannai , the media and Hubuškia, i.e. with the collection and coordination of news from the northern front.


Asarhaddon rebuilt the city of Babylon, which had been destroyed under Sennacherib (or by a flood, as Asarhaddon claimed). In particular, the Marduk temple Esagila and the ziggurat Etemenanki have been restored, as numerous building inscriptions show. Asarhaddon, following a very old tradition that goes back at least to New Sumerian times, was portrayed as a basket bearer, as did his sons Assurnasirpal and Šamaš-šhum-ukin later on. At the same time Asarhaddon took care of the expansion of Assur , where he had the Ešarra temple built.

Venus observations

Venus transit on June 8, 2004

In Esarhaddon 11th year of reign was on May 22 jul 670 v. BC ( 11th Ajaru ) a very rare Venus transit took place. In Babylonia , the astronomical event could be observed from 1:02 p.m. until shortly after the maximum phase (5:03 p.m.). The rest of the course could no longer be followed because of the sunset (6:47 pm). The Venus transit ended around 9:05 p.m. local time (12th Ajaru).

See also


  • Rykle Borger : Assyrian State Treaties . Freudenstadt 1982, 755-745.
  • Rykle Borger: The inscriptions of Asarhaddon, King of Assyria. AfO supplement 9. Graz 1956.
  • JA Brinkman: The Babylonian Chronicle revisited. In: T. Abusch; J. Huehnergard; P. Steinkeller (Ed.): Lingering over Words: Studies in Ancient Near Eastern Literature in Honor of WL Moran. Atlanta: Scholars Press 1990, 91-94.
  • Israel Ephʿal: Esarhaddon, Egypt and Shubria: Politics and propaganda. In: Journal of Cuneiform Studies 57 (2005), 99–111.
  • G. Fecht: On the names of Egyptian princes and cities in the annals of Ashurbanipal and the chronicle of Asarhaddon. Announcements of the German Archaeological Institute, Cairo Department 16 (1958), 16–19.
  • AKGrayson: Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles. Locust Valley: JJ Augustin 1975.
  • Mikko Luukko; Greta van Buylaere: The political correspondence of Essarhaddon. State Archives of Assyria 16. Helsinki 2002.
  • Alder Leichty: Esarhaddon's Letter to the Gods. In: Mordechai Cogan; Israel Eph'al (Ed.): Ah, Assyria…: Studies in Assyrian History and Ancient Near Eastern Historiography presented to Hayim Tadmor. Jerusalem: Magnes Press 1991, 52-57.
  • Alder Leichty: The Royal Inscriptions of Esarhaddon, King of Assyria (680-669 BC). (= Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian Period 4) Winona Lake, Ind .: Eisenbrauns 2011.
  • PA Miglus: The steles of King Azarhaddon of Assyria: Victory monuments or a political legacy? Baghdader Mitteilungen 31 (2000), 195-209.
  • A. Spalinger: Esarhaddon and Egypt: An Analysis of the First Invasion of Egypt. Or. NS 43: 300-301 (1974).
  • Barbara Nevling Porter: "To the astonishment of all enemies": Assyrian propaganda and its audiences in the reigns of Ashur-Nasirpal II. And Esarhaddon. Bulletin of the Canadian Society for Mesopotamian Studies 35 (2000), 7-18.
  • Barbara Nevling Porter: Assyrian Propaganda for the West: Esarhaddon's stelae for Til Barsip and Sam'al. In: G. Bunnens (Ed.): Essays on Syria in the Iron Age. Leuven: Peeters 2000, 143-176.
  • Barbara Nevling Porter: Images, Power, and Politics: Figurative Aspects of Esarhaddon's Babylonian Policy. Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society 208 (1993).
  • RC Steiner; C. E Nims: Ashurbanipal and Shamash-shum-ukin: A Tale of Two Brothers from the Aramaic Text in Demotic Script, Part I. Revue Biblique 92 (1985), 60-81.

Web links

Commons : Asarhaddon  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Porter / Radner 1998 (= The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Part 1 Vol 1), p. 149.
  2. F. Thureau-Dangin / M. Dunand, Til-Barsib (Paris, Paul Geuthner 1936), 151-155
  3. ^ E. Schrader, Inscription Asarhaddon, King of Assyria. In: Felix von Luschan , excavations in Sendschirli I. Introduction and inscriptions (Berlin, W. Spemann 1893), 30-43
  4. F. H. Weissbach, The monuments and inscriptions at the mouth of the Nahr El-Kelb (Berlin / Leipzig: W. de Gruyter 1922)
  5. Real Lexicon of Assyriology and Near Eastern Archeology: Nab-Nuzi; edited by Erich Ebeling, Bruno Meissner, Ernst Friedrich Weidner, Dietz Otto Edzard, p. 105 online
  6. ^ M. Liverani, The Medes at Esarhaddons Court, Journal of Cuneiform Studies 47, 1995, 57-62
  7. ^ Israel Ephʿal: Esarhaddon, Egypt and Shubria: Politics and propaganda . In: Journal of Cuneiform Studies . 57, 2005, p. 102; JM Russell: The writing on the wall: Studies in the architectural context of Late Assyrian palace inscriptions . Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake 1999, pp. 93f
  8. ^ Zincirli stele, line 43, Nahr el-Kelb inscription, line 12
  9. ^ Israel Ephʿal: Esarhaddon, Egypt and Shubria: Politics and propaganda . In: Journal of Cuneiform Studies . 57, 2005, p. 100
  10. ^ WG Lambert: Booty from Egypt? In: Journal of Semitic Studies . 33, 1982, pp. 61-70.
  11. The beginning of the 10th  Arahsamna fell in 669 BC. On the evening of November 2nd and the beginning of spring on March 28th in the proleptic Julian calendar. The time difference to the Gregorian calendar is 7 days, which must be deducted from November 2nd. Calculations according to Jean Meeus: Astronomical Algorithms - Applications for Ephemeris Tool 4,5 - , Barth, Leipzig 2000 and Ephemeris Tool 4,5 conversion program
  12. ^ JA Brinkman, Through a Glass Darkly Esarhaddon's Retrospects on the Downfall of Babylon. Journal of the American Oriental Society 103/1, 1983, 35-42 (Studies in Literature from the Ancient Near East, Dedicated to Samuel Noah Kramer)
  13. Barbara Nevling Porter, Ritual and Politics in Assyria: Neo-Assyrian Kanephoric stelai for Babylonia. Hesperia Supplements 33, 2004 (ΧΑΡΙΣ: Essays in Honor of Sara A. Immerwahr), 259-274
predecessor Office successor
Assyrian king
680–669 BC Chr.
King of Babylonia
680–669 BC Chr.