10 Things to Know About the Assyrian Empire

Biblical Archaeology Society | 5/31/2019 | Staff
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Who were the Assyrians?

The Assyrians referenced in the Hebrew Bible were a mighty force that exerted power over much of the Near East, including Israel and Judah, in the ninth through seventh centuries B.C.E. In “Biblical Archaeology 101: Who Were the Assyrians?” in the May/June 2019 issue of BAR, ancient Near Eastern studies professor Christopher B. Hays describes the Assyrians’ beginnings more than a millennium before they appeared in the Bible and how they expanded their empire from Urartu to Egypt. Below, learn 10 fascinating facts about the Assyrians.

Babylon - Baghdad - Ancient - Iraq - Modern

From Babylon to Baghdad: Ancient Iraq and the Modern West examines the relationship between ancient Iraq and the origins of modern Western society. This free eBook details the ways in which ancient Near Eastern civilizations have impressed themselves on Western culture.

1. The Assyrian population grew around the region known as Mesopotamia in modern-day Iraq.

Tigris - Euphrates - Rivers - Cities - Mesopotamia—Greek

Nourished by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the cities of Mesopotamia—Greek for “the land between two rivers”—flourished from the 20th century to the end of the seventh century B.C.E. As the Assyrians created and expanded their empire, their political reach came to encompass—at its zenith around 680 B.C.E.—the Fertile Crescent, Egypt, central Anatolia, and western Iran.

2. Akkadian was the lingua franca of the ancient Near East.

Language - Assyrian - Dialects - Name - Akkadian

The earliest known Semitic language, Akkadian comprises both the Assyrian and Babylonian dialects. The name Akkadian comes from the capital city of Akkad, established by King Sargon around 2300 B.C.E. Hundreds of thousands of inscriptions dating from the 26th century B.C.E. to the first century C.E. attest to the pervasiveness of the cuneiform-based writing system.

3. The Assyrians of the Bible were part of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

Hebrew - Bible - Assyrians - Conflict - Israel

Throughout the Hebrew Bible, the Assyrians who again and again came into conflict with Israel and Judah were part of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (c. 1000–609 B.C.E.). Detailed inscriptions and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Biblical Archaeology Society
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