Central Assyrian Period

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The old Orient
The city gate of Nimrud
Timeline based on calibrated C 14 data
Epipalaeolithic 12000-9500 BC Chr.
Pre-ceramic Neolithic 9500-6400 BC Chr.
PPNA 9500-8800 BC Chr.
PPNB 8800-7000 BC Chr.
PPNC 7000-6400 BC Chr.
Ceramic Neolithic 6400-5800 BC Chr.
Umm Dabaghiyah culture 6000-5800 BC Chr.
Hassuna culture 5800-5260 BC Chr.
Samarra culture 5500-5000 BC Chr.
Transition to the Chalcolithic 5800-4500 BC Chr.
Halaf culture 5500-5000 BC Chr.
Chalcolithic 4500-3600 BC Chr.
Obed time 5000-4000 BC Chr.
Uruk time 4000-3100 / 3000 BC Chr.
Early Bronze Age 3000-2000 BC Chr.
Jemdet Nasr time 3000-2800 BC Chr.
Early dynasty 2900 / 2800-2340 BC Chr.
Battery life 2340-2200 BC Chr.
New Sumerian / Ur-III period 2340-2000 BC Chr.
Middle Bronze Age 2000-1550 BC Chr.
Isin Larsa Period / Ancient Assyrian Period 2000–1800 BC Chr.
Old Babylonian time 1800–1595 BC Chr.
Late Bronze Age 1550-1150 BC Chr.
Checkout time 1580-1200 BC Chr.
Central Assyrian Period 1400-1000 BC Chr.
Iron age 1150-600 BC Chr.
Isin II time 1160-1026 BC Chr.
Neo-Assyrian time 1000-600 BC Chr.
Neo-Babylonian Period 1025-627 BC Chr.
Late Babylonian Period 626-539 BC Chr.
Achaemenid period 539-330 BC Chr.
Years according to the middle chronology (rounded)

The Middle Assyrian period is a period in ancient oriental history . The liberation of the city of Aššur from the Mittani by Eriba-Adad I in 1380 BC started as the beginning . The section ends in 912 BC. This is followed by the Neo-Assyrian period. The term is only used for the northern part of Mesopotamia ; the roughly corresponding epochs in southern Mesopotamia are called the Kassite period (1580–1200 BC) and the Isin II period (1160–1026 BC).

historical development

Separation from the Mittani and first foreign policy measures

After the conquest of Aššur by the Mittani , Assyria was a vassal state. This did not change until the beginning of the 14th century BC. BC came to disputes over the succession to the throne within the ruling house of Mittani between two branches of the royal family. After Eriba-Adad I. in 1380 BC BCE was able to break away from the yoke of Mittani rule, his son Aššur-uballi ging I went even further by creating a sideline of the Mittani royal family against the legitimate successor of the murdered king, supported by a new great power in the Middle East, the Hittites Tušratta , supported. However, after the line supported by the Hittites prevailed, the Mittani Empire became a Hittite puppet state to act as a buffer zone against the westward expanding Aššur. Aššur-uballiṭ I did not only appear in relation to the Hittites in terms of foreign policy. So he sought contacts to the Egyptian royal court under the Egyptian kings Amenophis III. and Amenophis IV./Echnaton , as can be seen from two letters found in Tell el-Amarna , as well as to the Babylonian king Burna-buriaš II , with whom Aššur-uballiṭ I married his daughter Muballiat-Šerua. In addition, he changed the ruler title to "King of the land of Aššur", which all Assyrian kings were to wear from now on.

Creation of an Assyrian territorial state

At the beginning of the 13th century BC The Assyrians under Adad-nirari I (approx. 1307–1275 BC) increased the military pressure on the remnants of the Mittani empire. So he moved against Šattura I (approx. 1320-1300 BC) and imposed an annual tribute on him until his son Wašašasatta (approx. 1300-1280 BC) turned against the Assyrians, but this also could be defeated by Adad-nirari I. Its capital Taidu was then plundered by the Assyrians and their population deported to Aššur . With that, Mittani's fate was finally sealed. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that from this time the reporting of the Assyrians changed significantly. Previously, only short building and dedicatory inscriptions were common, but now they went over to sharply refining the campaign reports and significantly increasing their scope and adding relief cycles to them.

In the second half of the 13th century BC The Assyrian Empire reached its greatest expansion to date. Under the kings Salmānu-ašarēd I and his son Tukulti-Ninurta I , further areas in the north and east were incorporated into the empire. Tukulti-Ninurta I himself then went against the king of Babylon , Kaštiliaš IV. , Defeated his army and conquered in 1215 BC. Finally Babylon itself. Although he had large quantities of luxury goods removed from Babylon, he failed to make himself king of Babylon, in contrast to his successors in the 1st millennium, but instead let governors rule the city. Particularly noteworthy is the establishment of a new city three kilometers upstream from Aššur under the rule of Tukulti-Ninurta I, named Kar-Tukulti-Ninurta as a cult city for the god Aššur . However, he himself could not oversee the construction of his new city for long. Murdered by one of his sons (and probably with the approval of influential circles in Aššur). However, this plunged the Assyrian Empire into an internal political crisis. Within a few years his three sons Aššur-nadin-apli (1196–1193 BC), Aššur-nirari III. (1186–1182 BC) and Enlil-kudurrī-uṣur (1186–1182 BC) as successors, and with the death of the last son a novelty occurred in Central Assyrian history: after centuries of the royal dignity of Passed on from generation to generation, there was for the first time no legitimate successor from the royal family. Now Ninurta-apil-ekur , a prince from the sidelines of the royal family and long-time Grand Vizier of Salmānu-ašarēd I , succeeded him as "King of the Land of Aššur".

Tukulti-apil-Ešarra I and the expansion of the Assyrian Empire

In the early 12th century BC A power vacuum, which came about through the final collapse of the Hittite Empire , fundamentally changed the political situation in the northern Levant. The new king of Assyria Tukulti-apil-Ešarra I (1114-1076 BC) used his reign to fill this brief power vacuum and, after defeating the tribes in the northern mountains, pushed both in the west to the Mediterranean and in the southeast to Babylon. Tukulti-apil-Ešarra I was one of the first Assyrian kings to shape the expansion policy, which is seen today as a characteristic practice of the Assyrians: the systematic deportation and resettlement of the subject peoples. Tukulti-apil-Ešarra I is considered to be the most successful king of the late Central Assyrian period, both then and now. Characteristic of this period is the practice of Assyrian domination, turning subjugated peoples into tribute vassals and thus drawing a ring of largely autonomous states around their own empire. There were repeated revolts within these states, which, however, in every known case resulted in the complete subjugation of the respective region, addition of it to the Assyrian Empire and deportation of parts of the local population.

The Assyrian Empire had now finally risen to become a world power and was at the temporary peak of its power, which only the Egyptian Empire could still oppose.

End of the Central Assyrian period

But his successors could not hold this vast empire together. A new power in Syria, the Aramaeans , conquered large parts of northern Syria, and the Assyrians were essentially pushed back into their core territory in northern Mesopotamia.

Only Adad-nirari II. (911-891 BC) was able to prevail again against the Arameans and conclude a peace treaty with Nabû-šuma-ukīn I of Babylon, with which the Neo-Assyrian era begins.



  1. in the Levant
  2. a b c d in southern Mesopotamia
  3. a b c in northern Mesopotamia