THE REIGN OF ESARHADDON
WE do not know the exact circumstances which led to the assassination of Sennacherib, but we shall not be far astray, in all probability, if we ascribe it to jealousy on the part of his sons. While he yet lived Sennacherib had made his son, Esarhaddon (Asshur Akh Iddin), a sort of regent over Babylonia. He had also by decree made him the legal heir to the throne, though he was almost certainly not the eldest son.
During his residence in Babylonia in these early years of his life Esarhaddon (680-668) was smitten with a great love for the ancient land with all its honored customs. His whole life shows plainly how deeply he was influenced by the glory of Babylon's past, and how eager he was to see undone the ruin which his father had wrought. As soon as the news of his father's death reached his ears he caused himself to be proclaimed as shakkanak of Babylon. In this he was going back to the goodly example of his grandfather Sargon. Sennacherib had ceased altogether to wear a Babylonian title. Babylonia was to him not a separate land united with his own, but a subject territory inhabited by slaves whom he despised. Esarhaddon did not even take the name of king, which in Babylonian eyes would have been unlawful without taking the hands of Marduk, now exiled to Assyria. Immediately after his proclamation in Babylonia Esarhaddon hastened to Nineveh, where the rebellion collapsed at once, and he was received as the legitimate king. According to the Babylonian Chronicle it had lasted only a month and a half—from the twentieth day of Tebet to the second day of Mar. The biblical story represents the two murderers as fleeing to Armenia, and there is no reason to doubt that this was the case. Esarhaddon's inscriptions say that he left Nineveh in the month of Shabat; and this was probably in pursuit of his brothers. He fought a battle with the rebels and their followers at Khanigalbat, near Melid, and readily overcame them. They had probably been hoping for some assistance from Armenia, and now accepted it. The campaign had lasted only eight months, and in the month of Kislev, 680, Esarhaddon was crowned king of Assyria. It is very difficult to follow closely the order of events in the reign which was now begun. Unlike Sargon or Sennacherib, Esarhaddon has left us scarcely a fragment in which the chronological order of events is followed. He was more concerned in setting forth the deeds themselves than the order and relation of them—such at least must be our judgment unless at some time a text of his in true annalistic style should be found.
In the very first year of his reign (680) Esarhaddon gave clear indications of his reversal of his father's policy. Babylon had been destroyed; he would rebuild it. No Assyrian king before him had ever set himself so great a task. He did not live to see it brought to the final and glorious consummation which he had planned, but he did see and rejoice in a large part of the work. With much religious solemnity, with the anointing of oil and the pouring out of wine, was the foundation laying begun. From the swamps which Sennacherib had wantonly made, slowly began to rise the renewed temple of E-Sagila, the temple of the great gods, while around it and the newly growing city the king erected from the foundations upward the great walls of Imgur Bel and Nimitti Bel. All these, as the king boasts, were enlarged and beautified beyond that which they had been in their former glory. Slowly through the reign along with the wars which must now be told went on these works of peace and utility, to find their entire completion in the reign of Esarhaddon's like-minded son.
The first work of war to which Esarhaddon must direct his energies was a new castigation of the Chaldeans. While he was busy in securing his throne a fresh outbreak had occurred in the old district of the Sea Lands. Nabu Ziru Kinish Lishir, a son of Merodach Baladan, had gained some of his family's power in Bit-Yakin, and with this as a base of operations had possessed himself of the country as far north as Ur. When Esarhaddon dispatched an army against him he fled to Elam, whither his father before him had more than once gone for refuge. There was now, however, a new regime in Elam, and the king, Ummanaldash II, seized him and slew him. His brother, Naid Marduk, fled to Assyria and delivered himself up to Esarhaddon, who, with a mercy that honors his heart and his judgment, sent him back to Bit Yakin to rule the country under Assyrian over-lordship. This sudden desertion on the part of Elam of its traditional friendship for Merodach Baladan and the Chaldeans in general is very difficult to understand. Up to this time the Elamites had always aided every movement of the Chaldeans against the Assyrians. There happened also a little later, in 674, another strange manifestation of a new policy among these same Elamites. While Esarhaddon was elsewhere engaged the Elamites surged down into Babylonia, and, murdering and plundering as they went, reached as far as the city of Sippar. The Babylonian Chronicle records this raid, but does not utter a word concerning any retaliation on the part of the Assyrians.
While Esarhaddon was carrying on the rebuilding of Babylon, and the population was returning which had been scattered, he found occasion for a small passage at arms with the Chaldean tribe of Bit-Dakkuri, which had gained sudden wealth through the destruction wrought by Sennacherib. When the Babylonians had been driven away by Sennacherib from the territory about Babylon and Borsippa these Chaldeans had promptly taken possession. As the selfsame people were now returning whom Sennacherib had thus dispossessed, Esarhaddon determined to drive out the settlers. He deposed their king, Shamash Ibni, and set over them Nabu Usallim, a son of a certain Balasu mentioned by Tiglath Pileser III. When they had been dislodged the lands were restored to their former owners. At about the same time Esarhaddon undertook to bring into subjection the tribe of Gambuli, perhaps a mixed race of Aramaeans who were settled in the border country between Elam and Babylonia near the mouth of the Tigris. They had given aid to Ummanaldash in his raid in 674, and must now be humbled. Their prince, Bel- Iqisha, did not dare a battle, and so surrendered and gave pledge to hold his fortress, Shapi Bel, as a sort of outpost against Elamite invasions; it was then strengthened by the Assyrians for this purpose. Esarhaddon was too prudent to attack Elam; and there was shortly less need for it. Ummanaldash II died in the same year, and his successor, Urtaku, was of very different mind as regards the Assyrians. He appears to have used every effort to maintain peace and friendship between the two peoples. As an evidence of this temper of mind stands his action of 673 in sending back to Agade the gods who at some previous time had been carried away by the Elamites.
All these operations of war were child's play compared with the drama in the west, in which Esarhaddon played the chief role. We have already seen that Sennacherib had signally failed in Syria. He had been absolutely unable to conquer Tyre, chiefly because it had the sea on the western side, forming a defense which the Assyrian could not burn nor pull down, and of which he was probably well afraid, as a landsman from the east might well be. His efforts in Judah, we have also seen, ended in a calamity for which his superstition or faith could find only disquieting causes. Furthermore, the only effort at setting up a new government and of making a center for Assyrian influence had no abiding power. He had planned to set up Sidon as a rival of Tyre, and to gather about it in an artificial manner several cities which were better adapted to be rivals than friends. His rearrangement of the city dominion had no element of stability in it, and soon dissolved. Ethobal, whom he had made king, was probably loyal enough, and his personal influence maintained the status quo, for it was in the end a personal rather than a national plan. As soon as he was dead and his son, Abd Milkot, reigned in his place the people of Sidon quietly dropped the Assyrian allegiance and went on with their dispatching of ships on the Mediterranean and with the piling up of treasure, none of which was paid over to Assyria as tribute. Here, then, in the Phoenician territory were entirely independent states, Tyre and Sidon, each with its own territory. We are clearly instructed concerning the territory of Sidon, and, though Sennacherib had stripped Tyre of her possessions, there is reason to believe that some of them had been regained. The wealth alone of these two states might well tempt a king who was spending upon new and old building operations such regal sums. Former kings had secured vast sums for the non interference with Phoenician commerce; he might certainly hope to gain at least this boon, not to be despised, and he might also really conquer Phoenicia and make a loyal province of it.
With such hopes and dreams Esarhaddon led his first westward campaign. The way had been well prepared by the Assyrian conquerors who had devastated before him, and none would view the onset of his troops with equanimity. Before he could reach the sea a rebellion was genuinely on foot. Abd Milkot had found an ally in Sanduarri, king of Kundu and Sizu, two cities, the latter located in a mountainous, almost impassable, country in northern Cilicia. Sidon had the protection of the sea, while Kundu and Sizu had the wild and trackless mountains about them. The Assyrians had often before crept among the mountains and attacked enemies hidden like birds among the clefts, as the Assyrian annalist loves to portray them. But their success by sea had been inconsiderable. The new confederation seemed to have elements of strength beyond many which had preceded it. On the approach of the Assyrians the courage of Abd Milkot forsook him and he fled to sea. Esarhaddon besieged Sidon, and the city held out well—we do not know exactly how long—but the campaign against the two rebels lasted three years. It is certainly highly probable that the greater part of this long period was devoted to the maritime city rather than to the mountain hamlets. When Sidon fell the city was devoted to destruction. The walls which had been a defense for ages were tumbled into the sea; the houses in which wealthy merchants had lived were torn from their foundations and utterly ruined. The whole city was leveled to the plain and blotted out of existence. All this is after the models of ancient days, and shows to what a pitch of wrath Esarhaddon had been wrought by the long and tedious siege. But at once he turns from this custom and exemplifies the other and better side. Upon the same site another city is built and named Kar Asshur Akh Iddin (Esarhaddon’s burg), that in it the old commerce might live again. The new city thus built was peopled by inhabitants of the mountains conquered in war, and also and more reasonably by others drawn from the coasts of the Persian Gulf. Abd Milkot was captured, perhaps in Cyprus, and beheaded. Kundu and Sizu were also taken, and the unfortunate Sanduarri was treated in the same way.
When Esarhaddon returned from the campaign he brought with him substantial evidences of his victory. Kundu and Sizu had probably enriched him but little, but with Sidon the case was entirely different. Here was a commercial city through which had passed a goodly share of the commerce between east and west. As through Gaza passed the trade of Arabia to the western nations now coveting the luxuries and refinements of the east, so through Sidon, and especially through Tyre, passed all that luxurious Asia had to contribute to the sybarites who lived in Greece and Italy. These things could not pass year by year through Sidon without leaving a share of the choicest of them in the hands of those who trafficked. Esarhaddon enumerates in one bald list the treasure which he carried away. It was of gold, silver, precious stones, ivory, costly woods, tapestries, and dress stuffs. The color and the richness of the east were in this mass of wealth. Esarhaddon had not reckoned too highly upon the gains of his conquest, even if three years had fled away before it was taken. To these were added the cattle, the sheep, and the asses which were driven away to render service hereafter in Assyria. The end of this campaign is a record of return to the most wretched barbarism of Assyria's darkest days. When he came up to his city gates Esarhaddon made a triumphal entry to the sound of loud music. In his train marched his captives, and among them were the chief men of Sidon, and bound round their necks was the ghastly head of Abd Milkot, while the principal men of Kundu and Sizu bore in like manner the head of Sanduarri. It is a strange sight, this entry into Nineveh, when it is remembered that the king who made it was Esarhaddon, who had been merciful to a son of Merodach Baladan and had restored to the Babylonians the lands which his father had wasted. The natural Assyrian temper had revealed itself in this latest of Assyrian monarchs.
The attack on Tyre probably began while Sidon was still in a state of siege. It was an entirely different problem, and much more difficult. Tyre was better defended by the sea than Sidon. It was larger, richer, more determined. There is little doubt that if the Tyrians had believed that the payment of a heavy gift, or even the promise to give a large annual tribute, would have freed them from all further Assyrian disturbance of trade, they would have gladly met either or both conditions. They had done so before. But there was a determination about Esarhaddon's actions that could hardly be satisfied with anything short of absolute control. The people of Tyre wanted to save some sort of autonomy, in order to the greater freedom of their commerce, and the only hope for this now was to fight and not to pay for it. Esarhaddon began his siege in earnest. He walled in the city entirely upon its landward side, and began a wearisome effort to conquer it by famine. But of one entrance to their city, and that the most important, he could not rob the Tyrians. The sea remained open, and by the sea might readily enter all that Tyre needed for the life of its citizens. He could deprive the city of its commerce by land, and that naturally must soon destroy its commerce by sea, but if the Tyrians had the heart to hold out, they certainly could not be starved into submission. Baal was now king of Tyre and he was clearly of different stuff from his less courageous predecessors. Year by year the siege dragged on, while other and greater efforts occupied the attention of Esarhaddon, and in the end there was no result. The siege had to be lifted, and Esarhaddon must confess defeat. It is true that upon one of his largest and most impressive monuments he pictures Baal of Tyre kneeling before his august majesty, who holds him with a ring through his lips. On the inscription, however, there is not one word about the fall of Tyre, nor elsewhere in any of Esarhaddon's records is there any claim that Tyre had been taken. We are forced to the conclusion that Esarhaddon is here glorying without justification, and that Baal of Tyre during his entire reign maintained his independence. The failure to take Tyre was a loss, in that great treasure would undoubtedly have been secured, but in no way was the continued existence of the city a menace to Assyria or an interference with the progress of Assyrian power anywhere in the west. There was no danger of any attack by Tyre upon the Assyrian flank if Esarhaddon should decide to move southward with his forces. Tyre would go on with her commerce and leave the rest of mankind to fight its own battles.
Esarhaddon had administered a salutary lesson to Sidon and its ally; he would now press on to discourage any further alliances or confederations in Palestine against himself and his rule. Again and again the oft-recurring rebellions in Palestine had been brought about by Egyptian agents who stirred up the small states and hoped to gain power when Assyria had been driven off. No Assyrian king had hitherto done more than snuff out the little flame of patriotism and punish the offenders. None had been so bold as to execute a move against Egypt herself, prime cause of all the trouble. It is proof of the power of an ancient name that this had not been done, for opportunities there had certainly been in plenty. Egypt had been so weak that she would probably have fallen an easy prey to armies such as Assyria had long had in the field. But the Assyrians had in their thought the Egypt of Thutmosis III and Ramses II, and did not rightly estimate the Egypt of their own day. Esarhaddon, however, had learned otherwise in some way, and now laid careful and wise plans for the overthrow of Egypt. The Assyrians had broken down the great culture-loving race of the Euphrates and had scattered its treasures; they would now proceed to do in like manner unto the great people who had conserved literature and art and science during the march of the centuries and had survived the wreck which had come to others less fortunate. The freebooters of Asia, who had sacked and burned and made howling wastes where once had been beautiful cities, must seek a wider field and enter Africa.
In 673 Esarhaddon makes his first attack upon Tirhaqa, the Ethiopian king of Egypt. The campaign was absolutely without tangible results. The Assyrian army, indeed, reached the Egyptian border, but did not cross it. The way was stubbornly contested, and Esarhaddon at length withdrew temporarily without abandoning his designs. In 670 he again moved forward, and probably with greatly increased forces. He was soon over the border upon this campaign, and at the first battle at Iskhupri gained a decisive victory over the Egyptians. Two more battles followed, and in these also was he victorious. After a march of fifteen days from Iskhupri he appeared before the walls of Memphis and laid siege to an ancient and magnificent city. Memphis was unprepared, and soon fell into his hands. The family of Tirhaqa was taken, but the Pharaoh himself made good his escape into Nubia, paralyzed with fear and hopeless of the very idea of resistance. Memphis was plundered and destroyed. Esarhaddon had tasted the joys of plunder and the satisfaction of revenge at Sidon, and was glad to drink them again to the full. The fall of Memphis filled the whole land with dismay. Such an event had probably never seemed to the proud people a possibility. There were no further resources in the country, the king had fled and left all, and only surrender was possible. As far as the confines of Nubia the country surrendered to the Assyrians. In two brief campaigns, with apparently little loss, an Assyrian army had undone the work of centuries and humbled in the dust the world's proudest people. What was lost to the world in the destruction of Memphis can never be known. How much else of works of art, of historical memorials, of beautiful buildings, perished may only be surmised. Esarhaddon admits that he carried away from the temples fifty-five royal statues. It was a complete overthrow, but the resistance had been slight and brief, and the land was happily not devoted to destruction.
At once Esarhaddon reorganized the government of the country. It was already divided into twenty-two divisions, called nomes. Over each of these a native prince was set up, who was really only a puppet in the hands of the Assyrian officials and assistants by whom he was surrounded. Even the names of the cities were changed into Assyrian forms, so that, for example, Sais became Kar Bel Matati (fortress of the lord of lands), and Athribis was to be Limir Ishakku Asshur, though the inhabitants of the country would certainly never adopt such ill-sounding combinations in the room of that to which their ears for many generations had been accustomed. But that many Egyptians quickly acquiesced in the new order of affairs is perfectly plain. Over the twenty-two princes Esarhaddon set Necho of Sais as chief king, subject, of course, to himself as the real overlord. Necho went so far in devotion to his Assyrian masters as even to give his son an Assyrian name. It is no wonder that the heart of Esarhaddon swelled with pride when he contemplated this conquest. That the youngest power in the Orient had been able to conquer and now to administer the affairs of a people who had been famous and powerful centuries before the first Babylonian colonists had settled in Asshur was indeed cause sufficient for boasting.
Though the greatest by far, this conquest of Egypt was not Esarhaddon's only victory in the west besides Sidon. Various Arabian tribes had given trouble to Sargon and to Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon was not free from the same difficulties. Before his first Egyptian campaign in 674 he had been compelled to attack Melukhkha. Melukhkha had indeed no political organization coterminous with its geographical boundaries. Sennacherib mentions a king of Melukhkha, but he could hardly have reigned over a country so extensive as that which the word covers in the Assyrian inscriptions. Esarhaddon began his raid, for it was little else, from Palestine. The deserts were a sore trial to his troops, unused to any such campaigning, and would have been destruction to them but for the help given by the people of the little kingdom of Aribi. Esarhaddon penetrated into the land as far probably as Mount Shamar. The king of Melukhkha, was taken captive, a matter of moment only in this, that he might have become an ally of Egypt. The entire campaign was only undertaken to set the people in dread of Assyria and so make them careful to give no aid or comfort to Assyria's enemies.
In this same connection it is interesting to observe Esarhaddon's treatment of the small land of Aribi, the part of northern Arabia which comes up between Palestine and the Euphrates valley. The Assyrian kings had already had dealings with two queens of this country. Tiglath Pileser, Sargon, and Sennacherib had also ravaged in Aribi, and the land had been brought in a considerable measure under the influence of Assyria. Hazael, a king of Aribi, had suffered much from Sennacherib, and had been especially bereaved in the loss of his gods, which had been carried away. Emboldened, perhaps, by the knowledge that Esarhaddon had reversed his father's policy in Babylonia, he besought the king for the return of his gods. The prayer was granted, and a friendly feeling thus reestablished. And now followed a very strange act. Esarhaddon set up a new queen in Aribi, who appears not to have disturbed the established order at all. Her name was Tabua, and she had been reared at the Assyrian court. How she could have reigned as queen while Hazael continued as king is somewhat difficult of explanation. It appears probable that we have here an instance of a sort of double rule. Perhaps the situation is like that which existed in the Nabataeans kingdom at a very much later date. These kings mention their queens in their inscriptions and stamp their heads along with their own upon coins, which would seem to indicate that they exercised some influence in the state. Hazael died during the reign of Esarhaddon, and was succeeded by his son, variously called Yalu and Yata.
In the reign of Esarhaddon there was felt for the first time in all its keenness the danger of an overflow of the land by great Indo-European immigrations. Long before this time these peoples, living in what is now southern Russia, had begun to spread southward. The Medes formed one great wave of their migration. They had, however, turned eastward, had settled in the mountains northeast of Assyria, and beyond Elam, and had not disturbed the Assyrian empire. Greater migrations than that of the Medes were now becoming severely threatening. One wave swept down from the northern shores of the Black Sea, and met with the first Asiatic power in Armenia. Armenia was not now the power it once had been, but it was, nevertheless, strong enough to separate the Indo-European horde as by a wedge. One great mass moved westward into Asia Minor. The other and much less formidable went westward and southward into the outlying Assyrian provinces. The name of a leader in this second stream of migration has come down to us in the form of Ishpakai, who is called an Ashguzman, which may be the same as the biblical Ashkenaz. This man, leading his horde of Indo-European barbarians, came as far as Lake Urumiyeh. Here he found the people of Man, who had felt the Assyrian power and had paid their annual tribute like their neighbors. They had, however, been entirely undisturbed for a long time, as Sennacherib had not invaded their territory at all during his reign. In the migration of the Indo-Europeans they saw a hope of securing aid by which all allegiance to Assyria might perhaps be thrown off. It was a plan of folly, for the new lords which they would thus secure were not likely to be any better than the old ones whom they put off. Esarhaddon, learning of this alliance, invaded the country and conquered Ishpakai, apparently without much trouble. It was the easy victory of discipline over disorder. Esarhaddon may have satisfied his own mind with the thought that he had removed a great danger, but in reality his victory was of very slight consequence. He had indeed broken down this alliance, but he had not disposed of the hordes of men who formed the migration. Their leaders were ever seeking some new method of harassing his outposts and plundering his tributary states. Some, like Kashtariti, even threatened the very existence of the commonwealth, for he attempted to form a great coalition of the Mannai, the Cimmerians, and the Chaldeans. It fell to pieces from mutual jealousies, but not without sending Esarhaddon in dread to consult still further the oracles of the sun god.
While there were shrewd men like Kashtariti among these immigrants, who needed to be treated with consideration and firmness, the greater mass were like dumb, driven cattle. The Indo-Europeans, indeed, were not an organized body aiming at a definite conquest of Assyrian territory. They were rather hordes of semi-barbaric and hungry men pushed from old homes and seeking new ones. Many of them settled in Man, and cared not if they did have to join in the annual payment of an Assyrian tribute. The great bulk of the migration moved on into the Assyrian province of Parsua, which was quietly and irresistibly overflowed and filled with a new population. Then spreading yet farther, they went on into Media. Here was already settled a population of closely related stock who had migrated thither at an earlier day, and had, as we have seen, offered but a feeble resistance to the Assyrian kings who were engaged in plundering raids. They were unable to keep out the newcomers who quietly settled among them. Some of the Median princes appealed to Esarhaddon for aid in keeping out the unwelcome immigrants. The Medes had formed as yet no central government. They had not been genuinely engrafted into the Assyrian empire, and they were unable in any united way to oppose the new migration. If there had been less centralized government in Assyria and no standing army, the very soil of the ancient Assyria would undoubtedly have been overrun. Only the disciplined forces which were ready to oppose them wherever they appeared diverted the barbarians who had passed eastward from Urartu into Media.
Among the Median princes who begged Esarhaddon for help against the engulfing wave were Uppis of Partakka, Sanasana of Partukka, and Ramateya of Urakazabarna. Esarhaddon was probably glad of the invitation to interfere. He had reason to be, for he was threatened in a twofold manner by this migration on his eastern borders. In the very beginning he was being deprived of control in provinces from which much tribute had been brought, and without the payment of tribute the standing army which had made Assyria powerful could not be kept up. Assyrian merchants would never pay taxes for its maintenance. He was further in fear lest these new Indo-Europeans engrafted on the old stock might make a new state with a government of its own, central in position, ample in authority, and strong enough to threaten its neighbors no less than to maintain its own integrity. When that came to pass Assyria would have on the east an enemy more dangerous than Chaldea had been on the north. Esarhaddon's campaign to help these Median princes amounted to nothing in its results, and we are, of course, not told how much the army suffered in losses before it was withdrawn.
Another expedition with similar purposes was directed against the country of Patusharra, which Esarhaddon carefully locates between the Bikni mountains (Demavend) and the desert, which must be the salt desert of northern Persia. Here he took prisoners two Medo-Persian princes named Shitir Parna and Eparna. There was no valuable result from this expedition also, or we had had it set forth with much earnestness and enthusiasm by Esarhaddon. That he was alarmed by these easterly migrations is beyond doubt.
The nomads could not pierce the ancient land nor approach to Nineveh itself; the armies were too strong and the fortified outposts too numerous for that. They were, however, quickly over-spreading a rich and valuable country which the Assyrians had tried to conquer, and had partially succeeded in conquering, and had undoubtedly hoped to fit fully into the empire. But the nomads were making this forever impossible. The Assyrians armies might conquer them here and there, but it was only along the edges of the slow-moving current. The great volume pressed behind, and the tide advanced again. Esarhaddon was at last compelled to accept the inevitable, and watched fearfully while the people who had been nomads as it seemed but yesterday were settled in the valleys, engaged in agriculture, and making the first steps toward the organization of a new state. In these days the provinces which had been first overrun and plundered by the Assyrians, and then organized and colonized, were taken from Assyria forever. Herein was enacted the same drama which centuries later took place in Italy, as the northern barbarians came southward over the mountains and seized the plains of Lombardy. Rome could make only a feeble resistance, and a little later even the capital went down before them. The parallel goes even that far also, for Nineveh likewise was done to destruction through the help of these same barbarians who now settled in her outlying provinces.
We have traced from its first diversion in Urartu the eastern branch of the Indo-European migration until its settlement in the northeastern Assyrian provinces and in Media. The western branch was vastly more formidable in numbers and power. While the eastern branch has no distinctive general name applied to the entire body, the western is known under the name of the Cimmerians. From Urartu they went westward, passing through the provinces of Assyria which had formed the kingdom of Urartu. Assyria was undoubtedly fearful of the issue. If the head of the stream should be diverted southward ever so little, it would be pressed by the following masses into Mesopotamia, and no man was farsighted enough to know the result of a situation like that. The end of the Assyrian empire might even now be at hand. Esarhaddon must strike the moving body a blow strong enough to sweep it farther northward and make certain its diversion into the land of Asia Minor, and not into Syria. He did deliver his stroke against the Cimmerians at a place called Khubushna, in northern Cilicia. He boasts that he conquered Teuspa, a Cimmerian, a Manda—that is, a nomad or Scythian. There is very little to be said of the victory, and the probability is that Esarhaddon had not assaulted the main body at all, which was moving rather northwesterly, but only one portion which had turned southward.
However that may be, the chief object of Esarhaddon's concern was achieved. The Cimmerians moved on into Cappadocia, entering Asia Minor rather than Mesopotamia. The little kingdoms of Meshech and Tabal fell before the tide of migration. Assyria lost by it some fine provinces in the northwest, as we have seen that it did in the northeast, through the invasion of the other branch of emigrants. With the exception of these losses Assyria suffered little. It is, however, not to be doubted that no such danger had ever before assailed the Assyrian empire. Esarhaddon had saved it. A weak king at this juncture would have lost all, and Assyria, a barbarism in the robes of civilization, would have been engulfed. It is idle to speculate on the possibilities had such been the end of the invasion. The passing of the headship of the Semitic races from Assyria must have had momentous consequences. The passing of the leadership in western Asia from Semitic to Indo-European hands was clearly impending, but it was now postponed through the energy, the foresight, and ability of Esarhaddon. Even if his name had not been enrolled among the greatest of Assyrian kings by the conquest and annexation of Egypt, he would have deserved the position by the deliverance from the Cimmerians and their eastern fellows in these very threatening days.
The ill arrangement and the fragmentary character of the Esarhaddon texts leave us much in doubt concerning the latest events of his reign.
He took the city of Arzania, in the Syrian desert, in one of his later campaigns, though we do not know just what led to the attack.
In 669 a rebellion of some kind broke out in Assyria. We have no knowledge of its cause or purpose, but it was put down with a strong hand, Esarhaddon promptly causing the death of the chief men concerned in it. A man of his temperament was not likely to be lenient in such matters.
In 668 he undertook a campaign into Egypt. We are not well informed as to the cause of this, for our knowledge of it rests not on any of Esarhaddon's own inscriptions, but only on the brief mention of the Babylonian Chronicle: It is probable that there had already begun in Egypt the situation which demanded the strenuous efforts of Esarhaddon's successor.
Before he set out on this expedition he must have felt some premonitory symptoms which made him doubt the long continuance of his life, for he took steps to provide for his successor. In this he may have been influenced by a desire to spare the people, if possible, such a chapter of difficulties as confronted him in the beginning of his own reign. In the month of Iyyar, 668, at the great festival of Gula, he caused to be published a proclamation commanding all the inhabitants of Assyria, both great and small, from the upper to the lower sea, to honor and acknowledge his son Ashurbanipal as the crown prince and future king. This was the deed of a wise and prudent man. Unhappily he coupled with it another provision, which was fraught with the most awful consequences, and can only be characterized as an act of folly. In, Babylon at the same time he caused his son Shamash Shum Ukin to be proclaimed as king of Babylon. If Ashurbanipal was to rule as king in Assyria, and another brother was to be king in Babylon, no matter what regulations of power or agreements of authority were arranged between them, there was inevitably a reopening of the old difficulty, the old jealousy and strife, between Assyria and Babylonia. Sennacherib had felt this so severely that he had tried to terminate all disputes by the destruction of Babylon. Esarhaddon had undone that wrong by rebuilding the city—a colossal enterprise now nearly finished—and from the very beginning of that great work until this proclamation of Shamash Shum Ukin he had secured peace and at least a measure of contentment in Babylonia. There was now strong reason to hope that by rapid and easy intercourse between the two great sections of the Semitic race all ancient animosities and jealousies might die out and the countries really become one. This could only be brought about by the possession of power in the hands of one king, by centralization, in which, while Assyria held chief place, Babylonia should yet receive the honor due her, because of her venerable antiquity and her great culture. Instead of a wise provision for the continuance of the order by which Esarhaddon was king of Assyria and shakkanak of Babylon—an order that for now twelve long years had produced and maintained peace—Esarhaddon had provided for the return of an old order, often tried and always a failure. Babylonia would get a taste of semi-independence and would at once yearn for something more. The ruler set over her, be he never so faithful to his father and to Assyria, would be forced inevitably into rebellion or lose his head and his throne altogether. In this decision Esarhaddon was following old oriental precedents, which have also often been imitated since his day. He was dividing his kingdom, and there would be shedding of blood ere the reuniting, if, indeed, it were possible ever to achieve it.
The forebodings of Esarhaddon had been well founded. On his way to Egypt he fell sick, and on the tenth day of Marcheshwan, in the year 668, he died.
He had had sore trials and great difficulties. He had endured grievous defeats and sustained severe losses, but he had, nevertheless, had a glorious reign. That the provinces which once paid great tribute were lost to the Indo-Europeans upon the northeast and northwest was less his fault than his misfortune. No king could well have done more than he, and it is to the credit of his ability that he did not lose much more, even the whole of Mesopotamia or even Assyria, for no army, however well led, was of permanent value against a moving mass of men with unknowing and unthinking thousands pressing from the rear. These losses were far more than compensated by the gaining of the fertile and beautiful valley of the Nile. With this added, even though much was lost, Esarhaddon left the Assyrian empire larger and greater than it had ever been before. In battle and in siege, in war against the most highly civilized peoples and in war upon barbarians, Esarhaddon had been so successful that he must rank with Sargon and Tiglath Pileser III, and must be placed far in advance of his father, Sennacherib. In him, in spite of mercy shown a number of times, there raged a fierceness and a thirst for blood and revenge that remind us forcefully of Asshurnazirpal. His racial inheritance had overcome his personal mildness.
In works of peace no less than in war he was great and successful. In the city of Nineveh he restored and entirely rebuilt a great arsenal and treasure-house which had already been restored by Sennacherib. At Tarbis he began the erection, probably somewhat late in his reign, of a great palace intended for the occupation of his son Ashurbanipal. At Calah he also began an immense palace, which remained unfinished when he died. The excavated ruins reveal a ground plan of vast extent, and the fragmentary sculptures show that the building was richly decorated and beautified.
All these constructions, though they were numerous enough and great enough to have lent distinction to the reign of almost any of the kings who had reigned before him, were comparatively insignificant by the side of the rebuilding of Babylon. In spite of the inscriptions and the fragments which are devoted to the celebration of this work it is impossible to form any adequate idea of so colossal an undertaking. He saw the city re-inhabited and beginning again a glorious career, where, at the beginning of his reign, there had been a swamp and a desert.
The last reign of great achievements in both war and peace was over in Assyria. The morrow would bring change and confusion. A man who had mingled mildness and severity in unusual degree had gone out from among men, and his sons would never be able to exhibit such qualities in union.