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TIGLATH PILESER I (about 1120 BC) was the grand monarch of western Asia in his day, and the glory of his achievements was held in memory in Assyria for ages after. It is fitting that one who wrought such marvels in peace and war should have caused his deeds to be written down with care and preserved in more than one copy. To his gods he ascribed the credit of his works. Their names, a formidable number, stand at the very head of the chief written memorials of his reign.

Here are Asshur, the ancient patron deity of his land, "the great lord, the director of the hosts of the gods," and Bel also, and Sin, the moon god; Shamash, the sun god; Adad, the god of the air, of storms, of thunder, and rain; Ninib, "the hero"; and, last of all, the goddess Ishtar, "the firstborn of the gods", whose name was ever to resound and be hallowed in the later history of Nineveh. With so great a pantheon had the people of Assyria already enriched themselves.

The annals of the king show that he planned his campaigns well and had a definite aim in each struggle against his enemies. When he ascended the throne Babylonia was too weak to interfere with his labor of building up anew the Assyrian empire, and no immediate campaign southward was therefore necessary. On the other hand, there was a threatening situation in the north and west. The nomadic tribes, established in the hill country above the Mesopotamian valley, northward of Harran, had never been really subdued, and some fresh effort had to be made to hold them in check or the integrity of the kingdom might be endangered. The tribe that was now most threatening was the Mushke. This people was settled in the territory north of Milid, the modern Malatiyeh, on both sides of the upper waters of the Euphrates. In later times they became famous as the Moschi of the Greeks, and the Meshech of the Old Testament, being in both cases associated with the Tubal or Tibareni, who at this period lived toward the south and west, inhabiting a portion of the territory later known as Cappadocia. The Mushke had crossed the Euphrates southward and possessed themselves of the districts of Alzi and Purukhumzi about fifty years before, in the period of Assyria's weakness. The Assyrians had once overrun this very territory and claimed presents for the god Asshur from its inhabitants, but it was now fully in the control of the Mushke, and had for these fifty years been paying tribute to them, and not to the Assyrians. Feeling their strength, and unopposed by any other king, the Mushke, to the number of about twenty thousand, in five bands, invaded the land of Kummukh. Here was indeed a dangerous situation for Assyria, for if these people were unchecked, they would not long be satisfied with the possession of this northern part of Kummukh, but would seize it all, and perhaps invade the land of Assyria itself. Trusting in Asshur, his lord, Tiglath Pileser hastily assembled an army and marched against them. He must cross the rough and wild Mount Masius and descend upon his enemies among the head waters of the Tigris. How large a force of men he led in this venture we do not know, but his victory was overwhelming. Of the twenty thousand men who opposed him but six thousand remained alive to surrender and accept Assyrian rule. The others were savagely butchered, their heads cut off, and their blood scattered over the "ditches and heights of the mountains". This savagery, so clearly met here for the first time, blackens the whole record of Assyrian history to the end. It was usual in far less degree among the Babylonians, so that the ascendancy of Assyria over Babylonia is, in this light, the triumph of brute force over civilization.

Having thus overwhelmed the advance guard of the Mushke, Tiglath Pileser returns to reestablish, by conquest, the Assyrian supremacy over the southern portions of the land of Kummukh. This country was also quickly subdued and its cities wasted with fire, perhaps as centers of possible rebellion. The fleeing inhabitants crossed an arm of the Tigris toward the west and made a stand in the city of Sherishé, which they fortified for defense. The Assyrian king pursued across mountain and river, and carried by assault their stronghold, butchering the fighting men as before. The men of Kummukh had some forces from the land of Qurkhe as allies, but these profited little, and the united forces were overwhelmed. Again the Tigris was crossed and the stronghold of Urrakhinash laid waste. Rightly appreciating the terrible danger that threatened them, the inhabitants gathered together their possessions, together with their gods, and fled "like birds" into the mountain fastnesses that surrounded them. Their king realizing the hopelessness of his state, came forth to meet his conqueror and to seek some mercy at his hand. Tiglath Pileser took the members of his family as hostages, and received a rich gift of bronze plates, copper bowls, and trays, and a hundred and twenty slaves, with oxen and sheep. Strangely enough he spared his life, adding complacently to the record the words: "I had compassion on him, (and) granted his life", which hereafter was to be lived under Assyrian suzerainty. By these movements the "broad land of Kummukh" was conquered, and the Assyrian ruled at least as far as, if not beyond, Mount Masius. Great achievements these for the first year of a reign, and the next year was equally successful. It began with an invasion of the land of Shubari, which had been conquered before by Adad Nirari I, and had again rebelled, thence the king marched into the countries of Alzi and Purukhunizi, of which we heard in his first campaign, in order to lay upon them anew the old annual tribute so long unpaid to Assyria. The cities of Shubari surrendered without battle on the appearance of Tiglath Pileser, and the district north of Mount Masius was all a tribute-paying land. On the return from this campaign the land of Kummukh is again devastated. The exaggeration of the king's annals appears strongly here, for if, in the campaign of the first year, Kummukh had been so thoroughly wasted as the king's words declare, there would certainly have been little left to destroy in the next year. This time there is added at the conclusion one sentence which did not appear before. "The land of Kummukh, in its whole extent, I subjugated and added to the territory of my land". Well may such a conqueror continue in the words which immediately follow: "Tiglath Pileser, the powerful king, overwhelmer of the disobedient, he who overcomes the opposition of the wicked". The control of the great Mesopotamian valley in its northern portion between the Tigris and the Euphrates is safely lodged in Assyrian hands.

The third year of the reign of Tiglath Pileser contained no less than three campaigns. The first, against Kharia and Qurkhi, we cannot follow in its geographical details, and are therefore unable fully to realize its meaning and importance. It was a mountain campaign, full of toilsome ascents, and carried on with the usual savage accompaniments. In quite a different direction lay the course of the second campaign of this year. Instead of the north, it was the south that now claimed attention. The king crosses the Lower Zab River, which discharges its waters into the Tigris not far south of the ancient capital, Asshur, and conquers an inaccessible region amid the mountains of its upper courses. A third campaign again carries him to the north against Sugi, in Qurkhi, and results also in a victory, from which no less than twenty-five gods were brought back to Assyria in triumphal subjection to Anu, Adad, and Ishtar.

The great undertaking of the fourth year of the king's reign was a campaign into the lands of the Nairi. By this the annals of Tiglath Pileser clearly mean the lands about the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates, lying north, west, and south of Lake Van. In this territory there was as yet no Chaldian kingdom, but no less than twenty-three native kings or princes united their forces to oppose the Assyrian. There was more mountain climbing to reach them, and then they were severely punished. The kings were taken alive, and after swearing oaths of fealty to the gods of Assyria were liberated. Chariots and troops of horses, with much treasure of every kind, were taken, and a yearly tribute of twelve hundred horses and two thousand oxen was put upon the inhabitants, who were not removed from their land. One only of these twenty-three kings - Sini, the king of Daiyaöni - refusing to surrender as the others, resisted to the last. He was therefore carried in chains to Assyria, where he probably saw reasons for submission, for he was suffered to depart alive. This episode in the king's conquests is concluded with the claim that the whole of the lands of Nairi were subdued, but later history shows clearly that further conquest was necessary. It was a great move forward in Assyria's growth into a world power to have accomplished this much. As a part of the same campaign tribute was collected from the territory about Milid, and another year of activity was ended.

By comparison with the previous four years the fifth seems a year of less result. Aramean peoples inhabiting the Syrian wastes, west of the upper waters of the Euphrates and south of the city of Carchemish, had crossed the river into Mesopotamia. Tiglath Pileser expelled them, and so again strengthened Assyrian supremacy in northern Mesopotamia as far as Carchemish. Following up his easily won victory, the king crossed the Euphrates in pursuit and laid waste six Arameans cities at the foot of Mount Bishri.

The campaign of the next year was directed against the land of Musri, which had already felt the arm of Assyria in the reign of Shalmaneser I. The people of Musri were aided by allies from the land of Qumani, and both lands were subjugated and a yearly tribute put upon them, after they had suffered all the horrors of the savage Assyrian method of warfare. In the language of the annals, their heads were cut off "like sheep."

The king thus records the results of his five years of campaigns: "In all, forty-two centuries and their kings from beyond the Lower Zab (and) the border of the distant mountains to beyond the Euphrates, to the land of the Hittites and the Upper Sea of the setting sun, from the beginning of my sovereignty until my fifth year my hand has conquered. Of one mind I made them all; their hostages I took; tribute and taxes I imposed upon them." With this notice in the annals of Tiglath Pileser ends all account of his campaigns. No other word concerning any further raids or ravages is spoken. Were it not for the Synchronistic History we should know nothing more of his prowess. The information which thus comes to us is not so full as are the notes which we have already passed in review, but it supplies what was needful to round out the circle of his marching and conquering. It was improbable that a king who had conquered north, west, and east should not also find cause for attacking the coveted land of Babylonia. From the Synchronistic History we learn that he twice invaded the territory of Marduk Nadin Akhe and marched even to Babylon itself, where he was styled king of the Four Quarters of the World. So ends the story of the wars of Tiglath Pileser I. He had not only restored the kingdom of Assyria to the position which it held in the days of Shalmaneser and Tukulti Ninib; he had made it still more great. Never had so many peoples paid tribute to the Assyrians, and never was so large a territory actually ruled from the Assyrian capital.

But Tiglath Pileser was no less great in peace than in war. He brought back the capital of Assyria from Calah to Asshur and almost rebuilt the city, which had thus again become important. The temples of Ishtar, Adad, and Bel were rebuilt. The palaces which had fallen into ruin during the absence of the court were again restored and beautified. And then into this city thus renewed, and into this land enlarged by conquest, the king brought the wealth of the world as he had gathered it. Goats, fallow deer, and wild sheep were herded into the land. Horses in large numbers taken from conquered lands or received in yearly tribute were added to the peaceful service of agriculture. But not even here did the king rest. He caused trees also to be brought from great distances and planted in the land he loved. It is a marvelous story of peaceful achievement, worthy of a place by the side of his overpowering success in war.

In addition to the serious work of war and peace the king found time to cultivate the wiles of a sportsman, and great are his boasts of the birds and the cattle and even the lions which he slew. This passion for sport is commemorated long afterward in an inscription of Asshur Nazirpal, in which we are told that Tiglath Pileser sailed in ships of Arvad upon the Mediterranean. It follows from this that after the six campaigns, enumerated above, the king must have made another which carried him out to the Phoenician coast, where his successors were later to fight great battles and win great triumphs.

Of the conclusion of the reign of Tiglath Pileser we know nothing. He probably died in peace, for he was succeeded by his son, Asshur Bel Kala (about 1090 BC), and the latter was followed after a short reign by another son of Tiglath Pileser, Shamshi Adad I (about 1080 B.C.). So easy and unbroken a succession makes it a fair presumption that the times were peaceful. The sons were not able to hear the burden which came to them, so that there is speedily a falling off in the power and dignity of the kingdom. When we look back on the reign of Tiglath Pileser and ask what of permanent value for Assyria was achieved by all his wars the answer is disappointing. He might boast that he had conquered from east to west, from the Lower Zab to the Mediterranean, and from the south to the north, from Babylonia to Lake Van, but what were these conquests, for the most part, but raids of intimidation and of plunder? He did not really extend the government of Assyria to such limits, even though in Kummukh he actually appointed Assyrian governors. Over this great territory, however, he made the name of Assyria feared, so that the lesser peoples surrendered at times without striking a blow for freedom, while the greater peoples dared not think of invading Assyrian territory. This insurance against invasion was the great gain which he brought to his country. By carrying savage war to other nations he secured for his own a peace which gave opportunity for progress in the arts. These great temples and palaces required time for their erection and time for the training of men who were skilled in the making of bricks and the working of wood. The very inscription from which we have learned the facts of his reign, a beautiful clay prism with eight hundred and nine lines of writing, bears impressive witness to a high state of civilization and an era of peace.

Of the reigns of the two sons we know almost nothing. Asshur Bel kala maintained terms of peace with Marduk Shapik Zer Mati (about 1094-1083 BC), king of Babylonia, who thereby seemed to be considered an independent monarch and not subject to the Assyrians, as his predecessor had been. In this reign the capital appears to have been transferred to Nineveh, and a word in the only inscription of the king which has come down to us hints at the king's control in the west. After a short reign Asshur Bel Kala was succeeded by his brother, Shamshi Adad, whose only work known to us was the rebuilding of the temple of Ishtar in Nineveh—another proof that the capital was now located at this city and not at Asshur.

After this reign there is another long period of silence in Assyrian history, of which we have no native monumental witnesses; a period of immense importance in the history of mankind, for it was a time not only of silence but of actual decay in the Assyrian commonwealth. As the fortunes of Assyria were at so low an ebb, the time was favorable for the growth and development of peoples elsewhere who were for a time free from the threatening of Assyrian arms. When once more we come upon a period of historical writing and of great deeds in Assyria we shall find the Assyrian conquerors confronting a changed condition of affairs in the world. To the growth of new conditions elsewhere we must now address our thought for a better understanding of Assyrian movements after the silent period.