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Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Mesopotamia

 

 

 

MapFeatures for Ancient MesopotamiaAssyria

The Assyrians were descended from Semitics who had lived in the northern regions of Mesopotamia from at least 5000 BC. Their original home at Ninevah is at least that old, while the other two great Assyrian cities, Ashur and Arbel, were founded soon afterwards. All three were located near a mountainous region which extends along the Tigris as far as the high Gordiaean or Carduchian mountain range of Armenia, which is sometimes known as the 'Mountains of Ashur'. With the rise of Sumerian civilisation in southern Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium BC, the Assyrians benefited as satellite peoples and began to advance their own civilisation.

Early Period

By around 2500-2400 BC the three cities were well established and thriving metropoli, with Arbel being one of the earliest permanent agricultural settlements. Little is known of the early history of these individual city states.

The dates for the earliest listed Assyrians are also unknown, as the document called the Assyrian King List (which was composed by 722 BC) does not show specific dates for each ruler, even though it shows the length of their reign. In fact, incomplete Assyrian king lists have been discovered in every one of the three later capitals. The texts of these copies are more or less consistent and all refer back to one original, which was based on the list of yearly limmu-officials, who were appointed by the king and had to preside over the celebration of the New Year festival.

There is mention in this period (and later) of a polity called Subartu (Šubarri in Assyrian or Subar in Sumerian). It is generally regarded as being an early Assyrian society, one which was situated around the upper Tigris. Subartu was mentioned in the Egyptian Armana letters as Subari and by Ugarit as Šbr.

Kings Who Lived in Tents

It appears that the author of the Assyrian King List wanted to create the impression that these rulers, with their rhyming, invented names, were nomad kings, whereas the Assyrian city states were already well established, including Ashur, Arbel, and Ninevah.

Ikunum

Not on many of the lists. A confusion with son of Erishum I?

fl c.2350? BC

Tudiya / Tudia

King of Ashur.

c.2350 BC

Sumerian king Sargon of Akkad unites all of Mesopotamia, including the Assyrian cities.

Ninevite 5 pottery
Ninevite 5 pottery belonged to a distinctive culture that dates from 2800-2400 BC and immediately predates the era of the kings who lived in tents

c.2330? BC

The king of Ebla concludes a treaty with Tudia which offers him the use of an official trading post over which Ebla would maintain control.

Adamu

Yangi

Suhlamu / Kitlamu

Harharu

Mandaru

Imsu

Harsu

Didanu

c.2193 BC

The Akkadian empire is destroyed by the invading Gutians.

Hana / Hanu

Zuabu

Nuabu

c.2110 BC

The Third Dynasty of the Sumerian city state of Ur rises to dominate Mesopotamia.

Abazu

Belu

c.2047 BC

Ur achieves complete dominance over the Assyrian city states.

Azarah

c.2020 BC

Ushpia

c.2010 BC

King Nurahum of Eshnunna receives help from Isin to win a battle against Subartu, generally regarded to be the early Assyrians.

Kings Who Were Ancestors

It is not clear what is meant by the term 'ancestors' for this section of the list. The kings are listed in reverse order and this is also a mystery. Possibly ancestors should be read as 'my predecessors', but this raises the question of who their descendants might be. As at least two of the early houses were related to them, perhaps it simply means that they were the forefathers of all later Assyrian royal houses.

The author of the list places Apiashal son of Ushpia here, even though he has already been mentioned among the seventeen kings who lived in tents. The timeline in this section seems to be very compressed, so perhaps not all of the names here are direct descendants, but are siblings instead, which fits well with the theory that they were the ancestors of all later royal houses.

Apiashal

Son of Ushpia.

c.2004 BC

Sumerian civilisation in Ur collapses and a period of chaos follows in southern Mesopotamia.

Hale

Son. Chief of an Amorite tribe.

Samani

Son.

Hayani

Son.

Ilu-Mer

Son.

Yakmesi

Son.

Yakmeni

Son.

Yazkur-el

Son.

Ila-Kabkaba / Bel-kap-kapu / Belkabi

Son.

c.1840? BC

Ila-Kabkaba is the Amorite king of the small city state of Ekallatum, whose house is also related to the kings of Babylon. He is also the ancestor (and many sources say father) of Shamshi-Adad (c.1809-1776 BC), founder of the kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia, and of the Adasi Dynasty Assyrian king Shalmaneser I (1274-1244 BC).

Early Dynasty I cylinder seal
A burnt steatite cylinder seal of the Early Dynastic I period in Mesopotamia (around 2800 BC) bearing a design very similar to examples found at Ninevah

Aminu

Son.

Kings Whose Eponyms Are Destroyed
c.2000 - 1906 BC

Sumerian civilisation collapsed in circa 2004 BC and a period of chaos lasting approximately a century engulfed Mesopotamia. During this period the Assyrians city states and small Semitic kingdoms in northern Mesopotamia began to develop and expand. The first inscriptions appear after 2000 BC during which time Assyria remained a minor power, but it established trading colonies at Hattusa and Kanesh in Anatolia, both probably within the territory of the Hatti. The first station on that trading route was Sadduwatum, which was ceded by the Yamutbal to Ekallatum. The probable second and fourth stations were Razama and Qattara respectively.

Sulili / ZuliluI

Son of Aminu? Traditional founder of the Assyrian monarchy.

c.2000 - 1985 BC

Kikkia

c.1985 - 1970 BC

Akiya

c.1970 - 1960 BC

Puzur-Ashur I

Possibly Akkadian.

c.1960 - 1945 BC

Shallim-ahhe / Shalim-Ahu

c.1945 - 1906 BC

Ilushuma / Ilu-Shuma

c.1940 BC

The Assyrians begin making raids into central and southern Mesopotamia, attacking Amorite city states including Isin and Babylon. Illushuma is the first Assyrian king to have the power to take a hand in Sumerian and Akkadian affairs.

MapOld Kingdom Period

The initial attempt by the Assyrians to create an empire was short-lived. However, the Amorite Shamshi-Adad did found a ruling dynasty which managed to unite the three main Assyrian cities into one political unit, also bringing Arraphka into the Assyrian sphere. Southern Mesopotamia was emerging from the collapse of Sumerian civilisation, with Amorite rulers replacing them in many cases, although the cities in general were reduced from their previous levels of splendour.

Early Dynasty
c.1906 - 1813 BC

The early kings of Assyria (or priest-princes, as they were often termed) were based at Ashur, which was already the dominant of the three main Assyrian city states. Even during the time of the Kings Whose Eponyms are Destroyed, Ashur had become the capital of a ruling elite. The first three kings especially are also mentioned on texts found in the trading colonies of Hattusa and Kanesh in Anatolia, dealing with a dynastic trading family.

c.1906 - 1867 BC

Erishum I

Son. of Ilushuma.

Assyria has trading centres in Hatti city states Anatolia, at least one of which, Kanesh, is conquered by the newly-arriving Hittites, but trade appears to continue between Assyria and Anatolia (although there is no documentary evidence to support this it seems likely that new sources in the region would be found). The city of Apum is also part of the Assyrian trade routes at this time. Erishum leaves inscriptions mentioning the building of temples to Ashur, Ishtar, and Adad.

c.1867 - 1860 BC

Ikunum

Son.

c.1860 - 1850 BC

Sargon I / Sharru-Kin

Son. Not to be confused with Sargon I of Akkad.

c.1850 - 1830 BC

Puzur-Ashur II

Son.

c.1830 - 1815 BC

Naram-Sin / Suen

Not to be confused with Naram-Sin of Akkad.

Naram-Sin is also king of Eshnunna, indicating that it and Assyria are united at this time. The suggestion is that unification was achieved through the conquest of Assyria.

c.1815 - 1809 BC

Erishum II

c.1809 - 1776 BC

The dynasty is overthrown by Shamshi-Adad's kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia. After his death, his son is unable to hold onto most of the conquests, but Ashur is retained, controlled from Ekallatum.

c.1761 - 1741 BC

Ekallatum is conquered by Elam in c.1765 BC, so the Assyrians gain temporary new masters who lead them in an attempted conquest of Babylon. A little under four years later, the Assyrians are crushed by the Babylonians. Assyria becomes part of the empire (ruled through Ekallatum until 1741 BC) and vassal kings reign in Assyria for a century or so.

Trade with Anatolia ceases at the same time as the early Hittites are conquering the Hatti in that region. Trade ties are agreed with the city of Apum at about the same time.

c.1760 - 1740 BC

During this period, Assyrian groups settle alongside Babylonians in the remnants of the city state of Mari.

Vassal Kings Under Babylonia
c.1740 - 1701 BC

The Babylonian empire of Hammurabi and his descendants ruled all of Mesopotamia from circa 1760 until its fall in circa 1595. Under Babylonian overlordship, Assyrian kings still exercised a certain level of independent action in their governing of the city states, even to the point of having their own period of internecine strife.

c.1740 - 1730 BC

Mut-Ashkur

c.1730 - 1727 BC

Rimu-[rest of name unknown]

c.1726 BC

Asinum

c.1726 BC

A period of anarchy engulfs Assyria as usurper after usurper grabs the throne. None of them come from the royal house, hence the term, 'son of a nobody'.

c.1726 - 1707 BC

Puzur-Sin

Usurper.

c.1706 - ? BC

Ashur-dugal

Usurper. 'Son of a nobody.' All the usurpers classed this way.

Ashur-apla-idi

Usurper.

Nasir-Sin

Usurper.

Sin-Namir

Usurper.

Ipqi-Ishtar

Usurper.

? - 1701 BC

Adad-salulu

Usurper.

c.1701 BC

The final usurper replaces Adad-salulu and proves to have more staying power than the rest. Adasi founds a new dynasty, still under Babylonian overlordship.

Adasi Vassal Kings Under Babylonia
c.1701 - c.1475 BC

Adasi came to power in an Assyria which was still being dominated by the Amorite Babylonian empire in southern Mesopotamia. However, his descendants would continue to rule Assyria until 722 BC.

c.1701 BC

Adasi

Last of the usurpers.

c.1700 - 1691 BC

Belu-bani

Son.

1690 - 1673 BC

Libaia

Son.

1673 - 1661 BC

Sharma-Adad I

Son.

1661 - 1649 BC

Iptar-Sin

Son.

1649 - 1621 BC

Bazaia

Son.

1621 - 1615 BC

Lullaia

'Son of a nobody.'

1615 - 1601 BC

Kidin-Ninua / Shu-Ninua

Son of Bazaia.

1601 - 1598 BC

Sharma-Adad II

Son.

1598 - 1585 BC

Erishum III

Son.

c.1595 BC

Babylon's power collapses and the Assyrians probably enjoy a period of independence.

Assyrian kings
The ability of Assyria's kings to maintain political independence from Babylon during this period was limited

1585 - 1579 BC

Shamshi-Adad II

Son.

1579 - 1563 BC

Ishme-Dagan II

Son.

1563 - 1547 BC

Shamshi-Adad III

Son.

1547 - 1521 BC

Ashur-Nirari I

Brother.

1521 - 1497 BC

Puzur-Ashur III

Son.

1497 - 1483 BC

Enlil-Nasir I

Son.

1483 - c.1475 BC

Nur-Ili

Son.

c.1475 BC

The Assyrians are annexed by the Hurrian empire of Mitanni. The kings of the Adasi dynasty again become vassal kings.

Adasi Vassal Kings Under Mitanni
c.1475 - c.1392 BC

The Hurrian empire of Mitanni was situated on Assyria's western border, and it apparently dominated the region at this time, subjugating the Assyrians and ending the Old Kingdom Period. A minor Hurrian state also existed in formerly Assyrian Arrapkha. The early Assyrians at this time may have been part of a polity known as Subartu, which seems already to have existed on the upper Tigris for a millennium, since the Kings in Tents period.

1475 - 1472 BC

Ashur-Shaduni

Son.

1472 - 1452 BC

Ashur-Rabi I

Son of Enlil-Nasir I.

1452 - 1432 BC

Ashur-Nadin-Ahhe I

Son.

1432 - 1426 BC

Enlil-Nasir II

Brother. Usurped the throne.

1426 - 1419 BC

Ashur-Nirari II

Son.

c.1415 BC

The king of Mitanni, Saushtatar, reduces Assyria, and humiliates its inhabitants by sending the doors of the famous temple of Ashur back to Washukkanni. Records of Assyrian rulers becomes confused.

1419 - 1410 BC

Ashur-Bel-Nisheshu

Son.

1410 - 1402 BC

Ashur-Rim-Nisheshu

Son.

1402 - 1392 BC

Ashur-Nadin-Ahhe II

Son.

c.1392 BC

The Hittites in Asia Minor wrest control of the Assyrians from Mitanni, and the period of vassal kings ends as the Assyrians gain more freedom under their new overlords.

Middle Kingdom Period

After domination by Mitanni, northern Mesopotamia was dominated by the Hittites. They did not directly annexe Assyrian cities, so the Assyrians had more freedom than before, and after a century of building up their resources, the Assyrians finally rose to become a major power and a leading player in regional affairs from circa 1300 BC.

Dates for rulers between 1420 and 1179 BC are uncertain because there are several lists which don't always agree with each other. The dates used here are the traditional ones from King List A, as opposed to Lists B and C. Dates from 1179 BC are not completely certain but are generally agreed. Some scholars begin the Middle Period from the fall of the kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia.

Adasi Dynasty
1392 - 1014 BC

The core of the Assyrian empire was centred on the capital, which was still Assur (or Asshur). It encompassed what is now northern Iraq (the Ninevah Plains), south-eastern Turkey (from Van southwards), north-eastern Syria, and areas of Iran on the Iraqi/Turkey border. From the reign of Assur-Uballit, the ruler's title was 'king of Assur' in place of the previous 'vice regent (of the god Assur)'.

1392 - 1365 BC

Eriba-Adad I

Son of Ashur-Bel-Nisheshu.

1365 - 1329 BC

Assur-Uballit I

Laid the foundations of the new empire.

c.1360 - 1307 BC

The resurgent Assyrians throw off their overlords, the Hittites. Assur-Uballit establishes firm control over the heartland of Assyria - the Tigris Valley and the plains to the east and from Assur to the Taurus Mountains in the north. In the process, Assyria regains Arrapkha from the Hurrians. The king also exchanges correspondence with Akhenaten of Egypt during his reign (the Armana letters), claiming a status at least equal to that of the king of Mitanni.

1345 BC

The king of Babylonia is happy to marry the daughter of the powerful Assyrian king, but the marriage leads to the Kassite faction at court murdering their ruler and replacing him with a pretender. Assur-Uballit marches into Babylonia to avenge his son-in-law and raises a new king to the throne.

1329 - 1319 BC

Enlil-Nirari

Son.

Assyria's power temporarily declines after the death of Assur-Uballit I. His immediate successors are unable to exert international influence. A period of instability follows after invaders from the Taurus mountains, north of Assyria, occupy Arik-den-ili for a number of years, but are then successfully repelled.

1319 - 1307 BC

Arik-Den-Ili

Son.

1307 - 1274 BC

Adad-Narari I

Son. First of three successive strong rulers.

c.1300 BC

The tables are turned on their previous overlords and Assyria becomes the overlord to Mitanni. Adad-Narari I firmly establishes the Assyrian empire.

1274 - 1244 BC

Shalmaneser I

Son.

c.1270 BC

Mitanni rebels against Assyrian rule, but their revolt is totally crushed and the Hurrians fall completely under Assyrian control, ending their own distinctive civilisation.

1244 - 1207 BC

Tukulti-Ninurta I

Son. Possibly the Bible's Nimrod of Babylon. Assassinated.

c.1240? BC

A second rebellion against Assyrian overlordship in the northern and western areas of Hangilbat (Mitanni) leads Tukulti-Ninurta I to annexe the entirety of northern Syria east of the Euphrates. His forces are left facing the Hittites, but only minor battles are fought between them.

1235 - 1227 BC

Tukulti-Ninurta begins Assyria's series of regional conquests by capturing Babylonia. After a period of direct rule, puppet rulers are placed on the throne until the Assyrians are thrown out in 1217 BC. Assyrian armies also campaign to the north, in eastern Anatolia, where they first encounter peoples called the Nairi and Uruatri. Tukulti-Ninurta's reign is followed by dynastic struggles within the empire which allows Aramaeans to infiltrate into eastern Anatolia and northern Syria, following years of them being kept at bay.

Cult pedestal of the god Nuska
Cult pedestal of the god Nuska from the Temple of Ishtar during Tukulti-Ninurta's reign

1207 - 1203 BC

Ashur-Nadin-Apli

Son. Seized the throne from his father.

1203 - 1197 BC

Ashur-Nirari III

Son.

1197 - 1192 BC

Enlil-Kudurri-Usur

Son of Tukulti-Ninurta.

1192 BC

Ninurta-Apil-Ekur follows the route taken by Shamshi-Adad I, seven hundred years before, and seizes the throne.

1192 - 1180 BC

Ninurta-Apil-Ekur I

Son of Ila-Hadda, descendent of Eriba-adad (1392 BC).

c.1185 BC

With the fall of Emar in the west, and the internal problems faced by the Assyrians themselves, the border outposts are reduced in size and scribal activity is stopped. The countryside is controlled by Aramaeans, who become prominent in military and political terms.

1180 - 1134 BC

Ashur-Dan I

Son of Ashur-Nadin-Apli.

c.1150 BC

Assyria gains power over Syria and Philistia from a weakened Egypt.

1134 BC

The death of the king brings a short period of instability to Assyria as his sons contest the throne. Elam appears to raid Assyria and Babylonia at will, while the reigns of the sons of Ashur-Dan are very short and peace is only restored by Ashur-Rech-Ishi.

1134 BC

Ninurta-Tukulti-Ashur

Son. Contested crown with younger brother.

1134 BC

Mutakkil-Nusku

Brother. Held the throne briefly before he died.

1133 - 1115 BC

Ashur-Resh-Ishi I

Son. Stabilised Assyria internally.

1115 - 1077 BC

Tiglath-Pileser I / Tikulti-apal-Esharra

Son.

Tiglath-Pileser campaigns aggressively in all directions, fighting Aramaeans and Mushku in the Syrian west, and preventing the latter from invading Assyria itself, conquering cities such as Amrit, raiding Babylonia in the south, and reaching the shores of Lake Van in the territories of Nairi and Urartu in the north, forcing the state of Kummuhu to pay tribute. Babylonia responds, however, by capturing Ekallatum, near Assur, and all the conquests prove to be short-lived.

1076 - 1075 BC

Ashared-apil-Ekur

Son.

1074 - 1057 BC

Ashur-bel-kala

Brother.

1076 - 934 BC

Recent Aramaean migrations into Mesopotamia increase to the point where Assyria is seriously weakened and begins a decline and a century of total obscurity, reduced to its heartland.

1056 - 1055 BC

Eriba-Adad II

Son.

1054 - 1051 BC

Shamshi-Adad IV

Son of Tiglath-Pileser. Ousted Eriba-Adad II.

1050 - 1032 BC

Ashurnasirpal I

Son.

1031 - 1020 BC

Shalmaneser II

Son.

1019 - 1014 BC

Ashur-Nirari IV

Son.

Neo-Assyrian Empire Period

The whole region, from the Hittites in Anatolia, Egypt, Syria and the Levant, through Assyria and into Babylonia, was at this time in the grip of a dark age resulting from the general instability of circa 1200 BC, and a new people, the Aramaeans, were migrating into the surrounding countryside, exacerbating the situation. A major regional drought made the situation even worse. The Aramaean migrations effectively destroyed the Assyrian Middle Empire, and it was 140 years before the situation settled down with the Aramaeans founding small states of their own, mostly in Syria. Then Assyria was rebuilt by Ashur-Dan II and extended once more by his successors.

Ashur-Rabi Dynasty
1014 BC - 722 BC

The Neo-Assyrian Empire Period starts from 911 BC, and is the best documented of the three periods. From this point dates are certain.

1013 - 973 BC

Ashur-rabi II

Son of Ashurnasirpal.

972 - 968 BC

Ashur-resha-ishi II

Son.

967 - 935 BC

Tiglath-Pileser II

Son.

935 - 911 BC

Ashur-Dan II

Son. Rebuilt Assyria within its natural borders.

911 - 889 BC

Adad-Nirari II

Son.

Adad-Nirari solves the Aramaean problem by conquering them at Nisbin and then marching down the Khabur Valley to obtain submission from a series of Aramaean-controlled cities in Mesopotamia and Syria, including Alep (Lukhuti), Aram-Nahara'im, and Bit-Bahiani.

889 - 884 BC

Tukulti-Ninurta II

Son.

c.880s? BC

First in Ctesias' unreliable list of nine kings, Arbaces of the Amadai is said to destroy the Assyrian city of Ninevah at this time. The Assyrians are becoming a dominant force in their region, so this attack may be an attempt to subjugate then and halt their expansion.

884 - 859 BC

Ashurnasirpal II

Son. Extended Assyria to the Mediterranean.

884 - 870 BC

Assyria completes its conquest of much of Syria during this period. Assyria also takes areas of Philistia and Urartu, and Carchemish pays tribute in 882 BC, apparently becoming a vassal in 870 BC.

859 - 824 BC

Shalmaneser III

Son. Killed Ahab of Israel in battle in 840s.

857 - 856 BC

Fresh tribute is received from Carchemish and is exacted from Sam'al. In the following year, Bit Adini is conquered. Also likely to occur in this century (although a precise date is unknown), the neo-Hittite state of Hiyawa becomes an Assyrian client state.

853 BC

Assyria fights the battle of Qarqar against twelve Syrian and Canaanite kings, including those of Ammon, Arvad, Byblos, Damascus, Edom, Egypt, Hamath, Kedar, and Israel, which consists of the largest known number of combatants to date, and is the first historical mention of the Arabs from the southern deserts. In the same year, Babylonia and the rich area of southern Mesopotamia is taken, as is Gan Dunias.

848 BC

The king of Samaria is killed. The following year, the city of Hamath is conquered and local governors or vassal kings are installed there.

837 - 836 BC

Shalmaneser III records that he receives gifts from the twenty-four kings of Tabal. The following year the Medes and Mannaeans are mentioned for the first time in historical records when the king receives tribute from the 'Amadai' after fighting wars against the tribes of the Zagros Mountains. At this time Assyria is relatively weak, and the rise of Urartu to the north threatens Assyria when the new enemy also conquers the Zagros Mountains to the east.

832 - 827 BC

Shalmaneser III organises a series of five campaigns against Urartu in a concerted attempt to halt its expansion. Rather than lead the campaigns himself, as is the custom, he places his general, Dayyan-Assur, in command. This causes a growing sense of discontent among princes in Assyria that leads to rebellion in 827 BC. Fighting for the right of succession, the confusion in the heart of the empire lasts for seven years, including the first three of the reign of Shamshi-Adad V, who gains the throne with the help of Babylonia.

823 - 811 BC

Shamshi-Adad V

Son.

820 BC

Although the rebellion in Assyria has ended, the new king finds that his country's dominance over Syria has entirely disappeared. Even the city of Mari is being ruled by Assyrian governors who claim royal descent for themselves. Worse still, an attack against the Urartuans is repulsed, making this northern enemy even stronger.

 Shamshi-Adad V stela
A stela of Shamshi-Adad V of Assyria

811 - 783 BC

Adad-Nirari III

Son.

811 - 805 BC

Shammu-ramat / Semiramis

Regent.

c.796 BC

Damascus is attacked and tribute is forced from its weak king, Ben-Hadad III. The Assyrian commander-in-chief, Shamshi-ilu, is perhaps the most powerful man of his time. He is active under four kings in the first half of the century. Making Kar-Shulmanu-Ashared his base, he campaigns west of the Euphrates on his own behalf without reference to the king.

783 - 773 BC

Shalmaneser IV

Son of Adad-nirari II.

773 - 755 BC

Ashur-Dan III

Son.

755 - 745 BC

Ashur-nirari V

Son of Adad-nirari II.

752 BC

The Aramaeans had brought a new method of writing with them, on parchment, leather, or papyrus, and its success now sees their language, Aramaic, supplant ancient Assyrian, although in a heavily Akkadian-influenced manner. Aramaic is made the second official language of the Assyrian empire.

745 - 727 BC

Tiglath-Pileser III

Son. Ruled Babylonia direct (729-727 BC).

743 - 740 BC

Tiglath-Pileser III besieges Arpad for three years as it is an ally of Urartu. Once captured, the city is destroyed and its inhabitants are massacred. Arpad is never repopulated. Additionally, Ammon is made a vassal around this time and Tabal is attacked. Tabal is still divided into several independent principalities, but all of them are sizeable enough to merit the use of the title 'king' for their rulers even though Assyrian vocabulary has now extended beyond using it for every ruler they meet.

738 BC

The city of Byblos pays tribute to Assyria, and Tiglath-Pileser campaigns in Sam'al against a rebellion there.

c.730s BC

Midas of Phrygia conquers several fortresses in the west of the state of Hiyawa (Que). The act seems to go unpunished by the Assyrians who are the overlords of Hiyawa, possibly because Tiglath-Pileser III is heavily involved in campaigns in Syria. This may be one of the earliest incidents to involve Midas as a significant nuisance factor for Assyria.

734 - 732 BC

Tiglath-Pileser III marches an army into Syria and the Levant and over the next two years he re-conquers all the rebellious states there. The Samarian city of Hazor is captured in 733 BC, as is the kingdom of Judah, and Damascus is captured and destroyed in 732 BC. Around two years later, Moab is made a vassal.

727 - 722 BC

Shalmaneser V

Son. Ruled Babylonia direct.

c.726 - 720 BC

The last king of Hiyawa is Warikas (known in Assyrian as Urikki). Previously a loyal servant of the empire, he throws off the shackles of Assyrian domination. The result is Assyrian invasion, the defeat of Hiyawa and the removal of its king, and its incorporation into the empire as a province named Que. The date of this event is uncertain, and it may be that several years elapse from the rebellion of Warikas to the fateful invasion. The events take place either during the poorly documented reign of Shalmaneser V or at the very start of the reign of Sargon II.

724 - 722 BC

Two years after conquering Edom, Shalmaneser V is the last name on the Assyrian King List, which is composed around this time. He is dethroned by a coup d'etat headed by Sargon II.

Sargonid Dynasty
722 - 609 BC

The usurping Sargonids formed the last great dynasty of Assyrian rulers. They extended the empire to its greatest extent; from the Caspian Sea to Cyprus, and from Anatolia to Egypt. Dating from 649 BC is more uncertain, as increasing discord and chaos hit the empire.

(Additional information from External Link: Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA.)

722 - 705 BC

Sargon II / Sharru-kîn II

(Sargon I being the king of Akkad.) Killed trying to regain Tabal.

722 - 720 BC

Sargon destroys and subsumes Israel (Samaria), Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and the Meunites (south-west of Judah), conquers Alashiya, and suppresses a rebellion in Hamath. He also continues the Assyrian policy of mass relocations of subjugated people by forcing the Hebrews out of Israel.

720 BC

While attempting to attack Elam, Sargon is defeated by the Elamites and Babylonians near Der. It seems likely that another attack is mounted in 713 BC, as Sargon is surprised by a rebellion in Tabal while his attention is focussed on Elamite lands.

c.717 BC

Assyria places one of its own people on the throne of Carchemish.

715 BC

Despite sharing culinary and aesthetic tastes, Assyria and Phrygia are on bad terms. Although there are no relevant sources prior to Sargon's reign, his own inscriptions describe Midas of Phrygia as having long been a thorn in the empire's side, having never submitted to Sargon's predecessors and refusing diplomatic contacts. Now, Sargon's army conquers some fortresses in western Que that Midas of Phrygia had taken 'very long ago', indicating that Midas must have been in power for some time. This campaign results in an Assyrian foray deep into Phrygia but does not stop Midas from his continuing intervention in Que and Tabal.

713 BC

Much to Sargon's shock, while the main Assyrian army is occupied in the east, probably in Elamite lands, Ambaris of Tabal allies himself with Midas of Phrygia and Rusa of Urartu as well as the local Tabalean rulers in an attempt to invade Que. Sargon reacts quickly, invading Tabal and capturing Ambaris, his family and the nobles of his country, all of whom are taken to Assyria. Tabal is annexed as an Assyrian province.

712 BC

The capital city of the neo-Hittite state of Kummuhu is sacked by Sargon, ending that state's prosperity.

711 BC

The creation of the province of Tabal has only further escalated the situation and Assyria now finds itself at war with assorted Tabalean principalities and Phrygia, and moreover increasingly on the losing side. Despite huge investments in the protection of the new border, including the fortification of Til-Garimmu (modern Gürün) and the construction of the so-called Cappadocian Wall, the province of Tabal is now lost, never to be retaken.

710 - 705 BC

Thwarted in Anatolia, Sargon rules Babylonia direct, dispensing with the sub-kings there. Assyria also conquers Cyprus (thanks to a request by the king of Tyre) and Moab, Assyrian governors replace local dynasties in Carchemish and Damascus, and Gamgum is conquered at some point in Sargon's reign. Sargon dies on the battlefield while attempting to reconquer Tabal. Not only does the attempt fail but Sargon's body cannot be recovered for burial.

705 - 681 BC

Sennacherib / Sin-ahhe-eriba

Killed by sons for sacking Babylon in 689 BC.

704 - 701 BC

With the death of Sargon, many of the former subject states rebel. With the recapture of Babylon a priority, it takes the Assyrians until 701 BC to get around to quelling Judah and the Phoenician states.

689 - 669 BC

Two years after fighting an indecisive battle against Elam and devastating Babylon, Assyria takes direct control of Babylonia in 689 BC. In 676 BC all of Phoenicia is also conquered, including the major cities of Arvad, Biruta, Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre.

681 - 669 BC

Esarhaddon / Ashur-aha-iddin

Son.

669 BC

Upon the death of Esarhaddon, the Assyrian empire goes to his son, Ashurbanipal, while his other son, Shamash-shumi-ukin, rules Babylon as a semi-independent kingdom for his lifetime.

Mesopotamian tablet containing names in Akkadian
Ancient Mesopotamian names were always meaningful, such as that of Esarhaddon, 'The- god-Ashur-has-given-a-brother', and were therefore translatable into other languages, as with this tablet, which records many exotic, non-Akkadian names in Akkadian

669 - 627 BC

Ashurbanipal / Ashur-ban-aplu

Son. Died 627 BC.

664 - 663 BC

With the sacking of Thebes, the Assyrians complete their conquest of Egypt, making it a vassal state with subject pharaohs.

649 BC

After his brother rebels, Ashurbanipal besieges Babylon, bringing it back into the empire. He has already proved himself to be not only a hunter, but also a warrior, taking great pride in being able to read and write at a time when usually only scribes mastered the intricacies of cuneiform writing. He has amassed a huge library of clay tablets, which his agents have collected from throughout the empire to store in the great library in Babylonia.

644 - c.620 BC

After conquering Kedar, the Assyrians devastate Elam, to all intents and purposes ending one of the longest-surviving kingdoms. By around 620 BC, with Assyria rapidly weakening, Media takes control of the region.

631 - 627 BC

Ashurbanipal has twin sons, and he appoints Ashur-etil-ilani as his successor. The other twin, Sin-shar-ishkun, does not recognise this and so begins a civil war that lasts until he gains the throne. This proves divisive for Assyria, and its control over the Levant slips by 630 BC, while the vassal ruler in Babylonia disappears in 627 BC.

631 - 627 BC

Ashur-etil-ilani

Twin son. Forced to withdraw to west in 626. Died 621?

627 - 612 BC

Sin-shar-ishkun

Twin brother. Did not recognise his brother's rule.

627 - 626 BC

The Babylonians revolt against Assyrian control, something which spirals out of all control and threatens the very heartland of Assyria. The empire also loses control of Amrit, on the Mediterranean coast.

626 BC

Sin-shumu-lishir

Rival in Babylonia.

616 - 614 BC

Assyria is invaded by the Babylonia in 616 BC, and two years later, Ashur falls to the Medes. The Egyptians also begin a two year battle to free themselves from Assyrian rule.

612 BC

The empire collapses with the fall of Kalakh and Ninevah to Media and Babylonia, supported by Egypt and groups such as the Scythians, who divide the spoils between them. Sin-shar-ishkun dies in his burning palace in Babylonia, where Ashurbanipal's great library crashes into the room below, with many of the baked clay tablets surviving to be discovered by later archaeologists.

The commander of the Assyrian western army, based in the northern Syrian city of Harran, claims the crown and names himself after the founder of the empire.

612 - 609 BC

Ashur-uballit II

Last king.

610 BC

Harran is conquered, but not completely destroyed.

609 BC

The remaining Assyrians surrender. The former empire's heartland loses its urban characteristics and the population reside in small settlements on top of massive mounds. The king of Babylonia is acknowledged as the new master.

350 BC

There is an attempt to re-establish Assyria which ends in failure and the castration of 400 Assyrian leaders as punishment by its Persian rulers.

334 - 330 BC

Persia, and the Persian capital at Babylon, is conquered by the Greek empire under Alexander the Great. Following Alexander's death, between 320-305 BC Babylonia is governed as a satrapy, before being taken by Seleucus to form the capital of the Seleucid empire.

AD 284

Sassanid Persia makes a treaty with Rome that hands over Mesopotamia as a Roman province.