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~HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, AND CULTURE OF THE ASSYRIANS~

By: Ellen, Jessica, and Melissa

I. History


A. Beginning of the Assyrian Empire (5000 B.C. - 850 B.C.)

According to archaelogical research, the lands of Assyria were occupied by the year of 5000 B.C. Ashur, Arbel, and Ninevah were the two oldest cities of Assyria- Ashur, being the oldest, and located along the northern parts of the Tigris River. In 2371 B.C., Sargon of Akkadia united the whole region of Mesopotamia into one empire which included the three cities, Ninevah, Ashur, and Arbel. In 1813 B.C., the first Assyrian ruler, Shamshi-Adad I united the three cities plus Arrapkha and Nimrod to form the "core of Assyria."

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During the next thousand years, the cities were ruled by a series of Assyrian rulers. For 70 years, Assyria was part of the Mittanian Empire, however, Ashuruballit, who established the first Assyrian empire, fought off the Mittanians. Gradually, the Assyrians developed conflict with the Arameans who persistently migrated into Assyrian territories. This caused a decline in the Assyrian empire which lasted about a hundred years. Adad-nerari, an Assyrian king, finally defeated the Arameans and regained control of Assyria. [melissa]

~Assyrian King in Battle~

B. Assyria's Golden Age to the Fall of the Assyrian Empire (850 B.C. - 612 B.C)

After the defeat of the Arameans, the Assyrian empire started to expand. Another king, Ashur-nasir-pal II, expanded the kingdom to include the areas of south Lebanon to the Zagros mountains. In 745 B.C., Tiglath-Pileser III conquered parts of Egypt, Anatolia, and parts of the Caspian Sea. The great Assyrian army also managed to defeat Syria, Palestine, and Babylonia. With such a powerful army, the Assyrians became a very huge nation. Between the years 850 and 650 B.C., Assyria experienced its nation at its height. [melissa]

Sargon II had developed an efficient governing system at this time despite having to rule over many different nations at once. During this time period, Assyrian culture began to take its roots. Learning, under King Ashurbanipal, especially reading and writing, thrived. However, after King Ashurbanipal (the last great Assyrian king) died, the Assyrian nation began to fall apart. [melissa]

In 612 BC, the Babylonians and Medes ended the Assyrian Empire. King Nabopolassar lead the Babylonian troops along with king Cyaxeres from Media to attack the Assyrians at Nineveh. Nineveh was known as the oldest and most popular city of the Assyrian empire. Nineveh had about 1,800 acres of land, 15 gates that was in the walls, and 18 canals. After the death of Ashurbanipal, Nineveh was defeated by the Babylonians, Scythians, and Medes. After looking at the ruins, there was information about the important Assyrian city. The city wall was about 7.5 miles long and 148 feet wide. ~Jessicaexternal image battleninevehc.gif

After being defeated by the Babylonians and Medes, Nineveh never got its former importance back. The Babylonians sacked the city and left, letting it burn up in blames. That marked the end of the Assyrian empire. ~Jessica

C. The Chaldeans (612 B.C. - 539 B..C.)

The Chaldeans started after
Assyria fell. To go along with the Assyrian practices, the Chaldeans were also known as “New Babylonians”. They caused a large number of Jewish groups to move.
King Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon that helped rebuild the city with splendor and magnificent decoration.

In 555 BC, King Nabonidus of the Chaldeans took over Babylon. He attacked the religion of Babylon. He removed the Babylonian’s main god, who represented the faith, city, and people of Babylon; with the Assyrian moon-god.

They stayed there in that place for almost 2 and a half centuries. It eventually became an early civilization in the Middle East which would be the Indo-Europeans. ~Jessica

II. Geography



A. Assyria is located mostly in Southwest Asia and the northern parts of Mesopotamia. Assyria started out in 1800 B.C. as a tiny region on the northern parts of the Tigris River where Ashur, (on the map) as its oldest city, is located. Later on Assyria, with its advanced military, was able to concquer most of the lands in the Fertile Crescent, including Babylon, Ur, Tyre, and Jerusalem. Assyria also stretched out into Egypt. -melissa

B. Because Assyria was made up of flat land with no natural barriers, they were easier to become victims. However, the Assyrians developed into stronger fighters possibly from the many experiences of invasions. - ellen

Map of the Assyrian Empire-ellen
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III. Culture



A. Government [http://www.aina.org/aol/peter/brief.htm]
1. The Assyrian Empire consisted of many concquered civilizations (see map above.) The Assyrians were the first group of people to split the empire into territories in which a governor ruled. King Sargon II split Assyria into 70 provincees. However, the territories were not separate city-states; all the territories reported back to external image sargon_senacherib_s.JPGthe king of Assyria. This is called an "imperial administration."

<--- King Sargon II

2. Each conquered territory was forced to pay tribute and taxes to the king of Assyria. If the territory did not pay the tribute, then the king of Assyria forced the territory into exile. This is how the government was able to keep all the conquered regions in control. [melissa]

B. Economy
1. Farming thrived in Assyria because most of Assyria is located along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and along the Mediterranean and Nile. The Assyrians had much access to water sources. Also, the Assyrians built irrigation systems; the soil was fertile; agriculture played an important part in Assyrian economy.

external image i_06.jpg2. Most of Assyria consisted of small villages. However, in the larger cities, traders and craftsmen were more common. The craftsmen excelled at sculpting and wall carving.

3. The Assyrians traded throughout its enormous region. The Assyrians traded copper, silver, gold, tin, and textiles. [melissa]

Assyrian Irrigation System=>

C. Religion
1. Assyrian religion was very similar to the Babylonian religion and many of the other Mesopotamian ones. Although Assyria's main god was Ashur, they still honored the Babylonians' and the Hittites' gods. Ashur was known as the god of war, and also as an all-knowing god of the pantheon. The Assyrians were so dedicated to their god, Ashur, that they named the nation's capital after him. They probably worshiped him because they were a very militaric country and thought that he would keep them a powerful nation.
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<< Assyrian god, Ashur.


2. The two most important associations in Assyria were the temple of their god, and the palace of the king. The kings also had to take care of the temple because he was considered the high priest of their god, Ashur.

3. Temples for the important gods/goddesses were located in every major city. These temples were believed to be their home where the Assyrians could talk to them. The outside area of a temple was filled with fountains for cleansing the people's bodies and alters where people could sacrifice the the god/goddess of that temple. Inside the temple, there was a sculpture of the god/goddess of the temple. Usually the priests were the only ones to enter this part of the building. - ellen

D. Society
1. Assyrian society was mostly based on warfare. It was a society that honored strong military power. Therefore, the soldiers had many advanced weapons and armor such as metal armor, copper or iron helments, iron swords, iron-pointed spears, and gigantic shields.
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Assyrian soldier >>

2. People such as farmers, merchants, and craftsmen who lived in the city outside the temple, did not have many social class differences. Everyone was pretty much ranked equally in status except for priests, scribes, prophets, and exorcists because they were more difficult professions and needed better education. However, education was offered only to members of the upper class. -ellen

3. In the Assyrians' social lives, many people spent their time going to "beer houses" and "brothels". Beer houses were basically bars filled with many various kinds of beers and wines which caused drunkenness very often. Brothels were "places of pleasure" where people paid fees to brothel prostitutes. Brothels were set up because prostitution occured frequently. Another kind of prostitute was a street harlot. They were located in the street and public areas of the city. - ellen

E. Thoughts & Learning

1. One of the greatest things that Assyrians achieved was their literature. It was cuneiform from the Babylonians. The Assyrians used cuneiform as well as all the rest of Mesopotamia and Babylonians. In Assyria, there was a scribe that was in charge of writing for the king. Assyria and Babylonia changed the Sumerian works a little to their own languages slightly different. Most of the history of Mesopotamia came from Assyria’s political leadership.external image 3f865c90.jpg Assyrian Cuneiform Picture ~Jessica

2. The Assyrian king, Arik-den-ili, developed a new type of literature called the annals. It was a document that the kings write down his campaigns and conquests from his reign. This idea spread into different places. ~Jessica

3. Their cuneiform letters to and from Babylonian kings to Assyrian kings became a series of events of important glimpses that was part of the history of Mesopotamia.
They translated Greek knowledge into Assyrian. That consisted of religion, science, philosophy, and medicine. ~Jessica

4. After Christ died on the cross, the Assyrians began to make churches and become Christians. With that, they converted the Middle East into Christianity. ~Jessica

5. The Assyrians were also great mathematicians and scientists. The developed the idea of a 360 degree circle and the concept of latitude and longitude. Because of this, the Assyrians developed better ways of navigation. -melissa

F. Arts & Crafts ~Jessica
[[http://academics.stonehill.edu/Fine-Arts/SlideArchive/Ishtar%20Gate.jpg|]]
1. On their doorways (picture shown below), they had walls covered in pictures such as winged bulls or human heads that act as guardians for Assurnasirpal, who is the first Assyrian king that first started this art. ~Jessicaexternal image Ishtar%20Gate.jpg

2. They also had designs on their armors that they wore. (See picture in Society) ~Jessica

3. Their architecture consisted of mud bricks, stones, wall carvings, patterns and shapes. They created their art format on a carved stone monument that was mainly hunting, war, or royal affair. They also drew about humans, battles, triumphs, combats, lions, or winged beasts. They were usually found along gateways. ~Jessica

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4. They also decorated bowls, which were usually made of copper or bronze with pictures. ~Jessica








5. The wall of Nineveh (below) that stood along the Tigris river was also an accomplishment for the Assyrians. The wall, created under King Sennacherib, stretched approximately 45 feet high and went 13 kilometers around the city of Nineveh. It had 15 gates that were once guarded by statues of bulls. [melissa]

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Bibliography:
BetBasoo, Peter. "Brief History of Assyrians." http://www.aina.org/aol/peter/brief.htm
Kjeilen, Tore. "Assyria." http://lexicorient.com/e.o/assyria.htm
"Assyria." http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761564347/Assyria.html#s1
“People Of Ancient Assyria”, Jorgen Laessoe. http://www.aina.org/books/poaa/poaa.htm
“Assyria” http://lexicorient.com/e.o/assyria.htm
“Assyrian Art and Artist”, Ann-Margaret Yonan. http://www.betnahrain.org/Glossary/Art/assyrian_art_and_artist.htm
“Assyrian Art”. http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/ent/A0805096.html
"Assyrian Social Structure", Rusty Russell. http://www.bible-history.com/assyrian-social-structure/assyrian-social-structure_introduction.html
"The Fall of Nineveh"- http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nineveh/nineveh01.html)
"The Fall of Ninevah"- http://joseph_berrigan.tripod.com/id16.html
"Babylonian and Assyrian Religion"-http://www.lexicorient.com/e.o/bab-ass_rl.htm
Beck, B. Roger, World History: Patterns of Interaction, McDougal Littel. Evanston, Illinois.

Pictures:
Title- "Assyrian Topics"- http://home.netcom.com/%7Ealdawood/Assyrian%20Topics.jpg
"Assyrian Kings"- http://www.utexas.edu/courses/cc302k/NE/NE_images/0201190600.jpg
"Assyrian Irrigation System"- http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/history/lecture32/i_06.html
"Assyrian Arts and Crafts"-http://image.guardian.co.uk/sysimages/Guardian/Pix/arts/2004/07/23/turner_bmtreasures3.jpg
"Assyrian Wall"-http://academics.stonehill.edu/Fine-Arts/SlideArchive/Ishtar%20Gate.jpg
"Map"- http://images.encarta.msn.com/xrefmedia/aencmed/targets/maps/mhi/T012802A.gif
"King Sargon II"- http://www.livius.org/a/1/mesopotamia/sargon_senacherib.JPG
"Ninevah Attacked" -http://members.tripod.com/joseph_berrigan/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/battleninevehc.gif
"Wall of Nineveh"-
http://images.google.com/imgresimgurl=http://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/IS/SANDERS/PHOTOS/MESO/NINEVEH/nineveh21.jpg&imgrefurl=http://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/IS/SANDERS/PHOTOS/MESO/NINEVEH/nineveh21.html&h=576&w=870&sz=158&hl=en&start=2&tbnid=K8F6_NedgKkFCM:&tbnh=96&tbnw=145&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dwall%2Bof%2Bnineveh%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26sa%3DN
"Assyrian Armor"- http://www.jhendor.de/images/reviews/assyrian.jpg
"Ashur"- [[http://www.v-a.com/ashurai/ashur.jpg|]]http://www.v-a.com/ashurai/ashur.jpg