SHAMSHI ADAD V
His first three campaigns were directed against the north-eastern and eastern provinces. He began by attempting to collect the tribute from Nairi, the payment of which had been suspended since the outbreak of the revolution, and he re-established the dominion of Assyria from the district of Paddir to the township of Kar-Shulmanasharid, which his father had founded at the fords of the Euphrates opposite to Carchemish (821 BC). In the following campaign he did not personally take part, but the Rabshakeh Mutarriz-Assur pillaged the shores of Lake Urumiah, and then made his way towards Urartu, where he destroyed three hundred towns (820). The third expedition was directed against Misi and Gizilbunda beyond the Upper Zab and Mount Zilar. The inhabitants of Misi entrenched themselves on a wooded ridge commanded by three peaks, but were defeated in spite of the advantages which their position secured for them; the people of Gizilbunda were not more fortunate than their neighbors, and six thousand of them perished at the assault of Urash, their capital. Mutarriz-Assur at once turned upon the Medes, vanquished them, and drove them at the point of the sword into their remote valleys, returning to the district of Araziash, which he laid waste. A score of chiefs with barbarous names, alarmed by this example, hastened to prostrate themselves at his feet, and submitted to the tribute which he imposed on them. Assyria thus regained in these regions the ascendency which the victories of Shalmaneser III in their time had won for her.
Babylon, which had endured the suzerainty of its rival for a quarter of a century, seems to have taken advantage of the events occurring in Assyria to throw off the yoke, by espousing the cause of Assur-Dain-Pal. Samsi-Ramman, therefore, as soon as he was free to turn his attention from Media (818), directed his forces against Babylonia. Meturnat, as usual, was the first city attacked; it capitulated at once, and its inhabitants were exiled to Assyria. Karni to the south of the Turnat, and Dibina on Mount Yalman, suffered the same fate, but Gananate held out for a time; its garrison, however, although reinforced by troops from the surrounding country, was utterly routed before its walls, and the survivors, who fled for refuge to the citadel in the centre of the town, were soon dislodged. The Babylonians, who had apparently been taken by surprise at the first attack, at length made preparations to resist the invaders. The Prince of Dur-Papsukal, who owned allegiance to Marduk-Balatsu-Ikbi, King of Babylon, had disposed his troops so as to guard the fords of the Tigris, in order to prevent the enemy from reaching his capital. But Samsi-Ramman dispersed this advanced force, killing thirteen thousand, besides taking three thousand prisoners, and finally reduced Dur-Papsukal to ashes.
The respite thus obtained gave Marduk-Balatsu-Ikbi sufficient time to collect the main body of his troops: the army was recruited from Kalda and Elamites, soldiers from Namri, and Aramean contingents, and the united force awaited the enemy behind the ruins of Dur-Papsukal, along the banks of the Daban canal. Five thousand footmen, two hundred horsemen, one hundred chariots, besides the king’s tent and all his stores, fell into the hands of the Assyrians. The victory was complete; Babylon, Kuta, and Borsippa capitulated one after the other, and the invaders penetrated as far as the land of the Kalda, and actually reached the Persian Gulf.
Samsi-Adad offered sacrifices to the gods, as his father had done before him, and concluded a treaty with Marduk-Balatsu-Ikbi, the terms of which included rectification of boundaries, payment of a subsidy, and the other clauses usual in such circumstances; the peace was probably ratified by a matrimonial alliance, concluded between the Babylonian princess Sammuramat and Bamman-Nirari, son of the conqueror. In this manner the hegemony of Assyria over Karduniash was established even more firmly than before the insurrection; but all available resources had been utilized in the effort necessary to secure it. Samsi-Adad had no leisure to reconquer Syria or Asia Minor, and the Euphrates remained the western frontier of his kingdom, as it had been in the early days of Shalmaneser III.
The peace with Babylon, moreover, did not last long; Bau-Akhiddin, who had succeeded Marduk-Balatsu-Ikbi, refused to observe the terms of the treaty, and hostilities again broke out on the Turnat and the Tigris, as they had done six years previously. This war was prolonged from 813 to 812 BC, and was still proceeding when Samsi-Adad. His son Adad-Nirari III quickly brought it to a successful issue. He carried Bau-akhiddin captive to Assyria, with his family and the nobles of his court, and placed on the vacant throne one of his own partisans, while he celebrated festivals in honor of his own supremacy at Babylon, Kuta, and Borsippa.
ADAD NIRARI III
(811 BC-783 BC)
Samiram held regency five years, 811-806, during the minority of Adad Nirari, his brother
Karduniash made no attempt to rebel against Assyria during the next half-century. Ramman-Nirari proved himself an energetic and capable sovereign, and the thirty years of his reign were by no means inglorious. We learn from the eponym lists what he accomplished during that time, and against which countries he waged war; but we have not yet recovered any inscription to enable us to fill in this outline, and put together a detailed account of his reign. His first expeditions were directed against Media (810), Gozan (809), and the Mannai (808-807); he then crossed the Euphrates, and in four successive years conducted as many vigorous campaigns against Arpad (806), Kkazaiu (808), the town of Baali (804), and the cities of the Phoenician sea-board (803). The plague interfering with his advance in the latter direction, he again turned his attention eastward and attacked Khubushkia in 802, 792, and 784; Media in 801-800, 794-793, and 790-787; Lushia in 799; Namri in 798; Diri in 796-795 and 785; Itua in 791, 783-782; Kishki in 785. This bare enumeration conjures up a vision of an enterprising and victorious monarch of the type of Assur-Nazir-Pal or Shalmaneser III, one who perhaps succeeded even where his redoubtable ancestors had failed. The panoramic survey of his empire, as unfolded to us in one of his inscriptions, includes the mountain ranges of Illipi as far as Mount Sihina, Kharkhar, Araziash, Misu, Media, the whole of Gizilbunda, Man, Parsua, Allabria, Abdadana, the extensive territory of Istairi, far-off Andiu, and, westwards beyond the Euphrates, the Khati, the entire country of the Amorites, Tyre, Sidon, Israel, Edom, and the Philistines. Never before had the Assyrian empire extended so far east in the direction of the centre of the Iranian tableland, nor so far to the south-west towards the frontiers of Egypt.
In two only of these regions, namely, Syria and Armenia, do native documents add any information to the meager summary contained in the Annals, and give us glimpses of contemporary rulers. The retreat of Shalmaneser, after his partial success in 839, had practically left the ancient allies of Ben-Hadad II at the mercy of Hazael, the new King of Damascus, but he did not apparently attempt to assert his supremacy over the whole of Coele-Syria, and before long several of its cities acquired considerable importance, first Mansuate, and then Hadrach, both of which, casting Hamath into the shade, succeeded in holding their own against Hazael and his successors. He renewed hostilities, however, against the Hebrews, and did not relax his efforts till he had thoroughly brought them into subjection. Jehu suffered loss on all his frontiers, “from Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, the Keubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the valley of Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan”, Israel became thus once more entirely dependent on Damascus, but the sister kingdom of Judah still escaped its yoke through the energy of her rulers.
ISRAEL AND JUDAH VASSALS OF HAZAEL.
Athaliah reigned seven years, not ingloriously; but she belonged to the house of Ahab, and the adherents of the prophets, whose party had planned Jehu’s revolution, could no longer witness with equanimity one of the accursed race thus prospering and ostentatiously practicing the rites of Baal-worship within sight of the great temple of Jahveh. On seizing the throne, Athaliah had sought out and put to death all the members of the house of David who had any claim to the succession; but Jehosheba, half-sister of Ahaziah, had with difficulty succeeded in rescuing Joash, one of the king’s sons. Her husband was the high priest Jehoiada, and he secreted his nephew for six years in the precincts of the temple; at the end of that time, he won over the captains of the royal guard, bribed a section of the troops, and caused them to swear fealty to the child as their legitimate sovereign. Athaliah, hastening to discover the cause of the uproar, was assassinated. Mattan, chief priest of Baal, shared her fate; and Jehoiada at once restored to Jahveh the preeminence which the gods of the alien had for a time usurped (837). At first his influence over his pupil was supreme, but before long the memory of his services faded away, and the king sought only how to rid himself of a tutelage which had grown irksome. The temple had suffered during the late wars, and repairs were much needed. Joash ordained that for the future all moneys put into the sacred treasury—which of right belonged to the king—should be placed unreservedly at the disposal of the priests on condition that they should apply them to the maintenance of the services and fabric of the temple: the priests accepted the gift, but failed in the faithful observance of the conditions, so that in 814 BC the king was obliged to take stringent measures to compel them to repair the breaches in the sanctuary walls: he therefore withdrew the privilege which they had abused, and henceforth undertook the administration of the Temple Fund in person. The beginning of the new order of things was not very successful. Jehu had died in 815, after a disastrous reign, and both he and his son Jehoahaz had been obliged to acknowledge the supremacy of Hazael: not only was he in the position of an inferior vassal, but, in order to preclude any idea of a revolt, he was forbidden to maintain a greater army than the small force necessary for purposes of defence, namely, ten thousand foot-soldiers, fifty horsemen, and ten chariots.
The power of Israel had so declined that Hazael was allowed to march through its territory unhindered on his way to wage war in the country of the Philistines; which he did, doubtless, in order to get possession of the main route of Egyptian commerce. The Syrians destroyed Gath, reduced Pentapolis to subjection, enforced tribute from Edom, and then marched against Jerusalem. Joash took from the treasury of Jahveh the reserve funds which his ancestors, Jehoshaphat, Joram, and Ahaziah, had accumulated, and sent them to the invader, together with all the gold which was found in the king’s house.
From this time forward Judah became, like Israel, Edom, the Philistines and Ammonites, a mere vassal of Hazael; with the possible exception of Moab, all the peoples of Southern Syria were now subject to Damascus, and formed a league as strong as that which had successfully resisted the power of Shalmaneser. Ramman-Nirari, therefore, did not venture to attack Syria during the lifetime of Hazael; but a change of sovereign is always a critical moment in the history of an Eastern empire, and he took advantage of the confusion caused by the death of the aged king to attack his successor Mari (803 BC). Mari essayed the tactics which his father had found so successful; he avoided a pitched battle, and shut himself up in Damascus. But he was soon closely blockaded, and forced to submit to terms; Ramman-Nirari demanded as the price of withdrawal, 23,000 talents of silver, 20 talents of gold, 3000 of copper, 5000 of iron, besides embroidered and dyed stuffs, an ivory couch, and a litter inlaid with ivory,—in all a considerable part of the treasures amassed at the expense of the Hebrews and their neighbors. It is doubtful whether Ramman-Nirari pushed further south, and penetrated in person as far as the deserts of Arabia Petra—a suggestion which the mention of the Philistines and Edomites among the list of his tributary states might induce us to accept. Probably it was not the case, and he really went no further than Damascus. But the submission of that city included, in theory at least, the submission of all states subject to her sway, and these dependencies may have sent some presents to testify their desire to conciliate his favor; their names appear in the inscriptions in order to swell the number of direct or indirect vassals of the empire, since they were subject to a state which had been effectually conquered.
THE GROWTH AND POWER OF URARTU.
Adad-Nirari did not meet with such good fortune in the North; not only did he fail to obtain the brilliant successes which elsewhere attended his arms, but he ended by sustaining considerable reverses. The Ninevite historians reckoned the two expeditions of 808 and 807 BC against the Mannai as victories, doubtless because the king returned with a train of prisoners and loaded with spoil; but the Vannic inscriptions reveal that Urartu, which had been rising into prominence during the reign of Shalmaneser, had now grown still more powerful, and had begun to reconquer those provinces on the Tigris and Euphrates of which the Assyrians thought themselves the undoubted lords. Sharduris II had been succeeded, about 828, by his son Ishpuinis, who had perhaps measured his strength against Samsi-Adad V.
Ishpuinis appears to have conquered and reduced to the condition of a province the neighboring principality of Biainas, which up to that time had been governed by a semi-independent dynasty; at all events, he transferred thence his seat of govern and made Dhuspas his favorite residence. Towards the end of his reign he associated with him on the throne his son Menuas, and made him commander-in-chief of the army. Menuas proved a bold and successful general, and in a few years had doubled the extent of his dominions. He first delivered from the Assyrian yoke, and plundered on his father’s account, the tribes on the borders of Lake Urumiah, Muzazir, Gilzan, and Kirruri; then, crossing the Gordygean mountains, he burnt the towns in the valley of the Upper Zab, which bore the uncouth names of Teraîs, Ardis, Khanalis, Bikuras, Khatqanas, Inuas, and Nibur, laid waste the more fertile part of Khubushkia, and carved triumphal stelas in the Assyrian and Vannic scripts upon the rocks in the pass of Rowandiz.
It was probably to recover this territory that Adad-Nirari waged war three times in Khubushkia, in 802, 792, and 785, in a district which had formerly been ruled by a prefect from Nineveh, but had now fallen into the hands of the enemy.
THE CONQUESTS OF MENUAS.
Everywhere along the frontier, from the Lower Zab to the Euphrates, Menuas overpowered and drove back the Assyrian outposts. He took from them Aidus and Erinuis on the southern shores of Lake Van, compelled Dayaini to abandon its allegiance, and forced its king, Udhupursis, to surrender his treasure and his chariots; then gradually descending the valley of the Arzania, he crushed Seseti, Kulme, and Ekarzu. In one year he pillaged the Mannai in the east, and attacked the Khati in the west, seizing their fortresses of Surisilis, Tarkhigamas, and Sarduras; in the province of Alzu he left 2113 soldiers dead on the field after one engagement; Gupas yielded to his sway, followed by the towns of Khuzanas and Puteria, whereupon he even crossed the Euphrates and levied tribute from Melitene. But the struggle against Assyria absorbed only a portion of his energy; we do not know what he accomplished in the east, in the plains sloping towards the Caspian Sea, but several monuments, discovered near Armavir and Erzerum, testify that he pushed his arms a considerable distance towards the north and north-west. He obliged Etius to acknowledge his supremacy, sending a colony to its capital, Lununis, whose name he changed to Menua-Lietzilinis. Towards the end of his reign he partly subjugated the Mannai, planting colonies throughout their territory to strengthen his hold on the country.
By these campaigns he had formed a kingdom, which, stretching from the south side of the Araxes to the upper reaches of the Zab and the Tigris, was quite equal to Assyria in size, and probably surpassed it in density of population, for it contained no barren steppes such as stretched across Mesopotamia, affording support merely to a few wretched Bedawin. As their dominions increased, the sovereigns of Biainas began to consider themselves on an equality with the kings of Nineveh, and endeavored still more to imitate them in the luxury and display of their domestic life, as well as in the energy of their actions and the continuity of their victories. They engraved everywhere on the rocks triumphal inscriptions, destined to show to posterity their own exploits and the splendor of their gods. Having made this concession to their vanity, they took effective measures to assure possession of their conquests. They selected in the various provinces sites difficult of access, commanding some defile in the mountains, or ford over a river, or at the junction of two roads, or the approach to a plain; on such spots they would build a fortress or a town, or, finding a citadel already existing, they would repair it and remodel its fortifications so as to render it impregnable. At Kalajik, Ashrut-Darga, and the older Mukhrapert may still be seen the ruins of ramparts built by Ishpuinis. Menuas finished the buildings his father had begun, erected others in all the districts where he sojourned, in time of peace or war, at Shushanz, Sirka, Anzaff, Arzwapert, Geuzak, Zolakert, Tashtepe, and in the country of the Mannai, and it is possible that the fortified village of Melasgerd still bears his name.
His wars furnished him with the men and materials necessary for the rapid completion of these works, while the statues, valuable articles of furniture, and costly fabrics, vessels of silver, gold, and copper carried off from Assyrian or Asiatic cities, provided him with surroundings as luxurious as those enjoyed by the kings of Nineveh. His favorite residence was amid the valleys and hills of the south-western shore of Lake Van, the sea of the rising sun. His father, Ishpuinis, had already done much to embellish the site of Dhuspas, or Khaldinas as it was called, from the god Khaldis; he had surrounded it with strong walls, and within them had laid the foundations of a magnificent palace. Menuas carried on the work, brought water to the cisterns by subterranean aqueducts, planted gardens, and turned the whole place into an impregnable fortress, where a small but faithful garrison could defy a large army for several years. Dhuspas, thus completed, formed the capital and defence of the kingdom during the succeeding century.
Menuas was gathered to his fathers shortly before the death of Adad-Nirari, perhaps in 784 BC. He was engaged up to the last in a quarrel with the princes who occupied the mountainous country to the north of the Araxes, and his son Argistis spent the first few years of his reign in completing his conquests in this region. He crushed with ease an attempted revolt in Dayaini, and then invaded Etius, systematically devastating it, its king, Uduris, being powerless to prevent his ravages. All the principal towns succumbed one after another before the vigor of his assault, and, from the numbers killed and taken prisoners, we may surmise the importance of his victories in these barbarous districts, to which belonged the names of Seriazis, Silius, Zabakhas, Zirimutaras, Babanis, and Urmias, though we cannot definitely locate the places indicated. On a single occasion, the assault on Ureyus, for instance, Argistis took prisoners 19,255 children, 10,140 men fit to bear arms, 23,280 women, and the survivors of a garrison which numbered 12,675 soldiers at the opening of the siege, besides 1104 horses, 35,016 cattle, and more than 10,000 sheep. Two expeditions into the heart of the country, conducted between 784 and 782 BC, had greatly advanced the work of conquest, when the accession of a new sovereign in Assyria made Argistis decide to risk a change of front and to concentrate the main part of his forces on the southern boundary of his empire.
Ramman-Nirari, after his last contest in Khubushkia in 784, had fought two consecutive campaigns against the Aramean tribes of Itua, near the frontiers of Babylon, and he was still in conflict with them when he died in 782 BC.
His son, Shalmaneser IV, may have wished to signalize the commencement of his reign by delivering from the power of Urartu the provinces which the kings of that country had wrested from his ancestors; or, perhaps, Argistis thought that a change of ruler offered him an excellent opportunity for renewing the struggle at the point where Menuas had left it, and for conquering yet more of the territory which still remained to his rival. Whatever the cause, the Assyrian annals show us the two adversaries ranged against each other, in a struggle which lasted from 781 to 778 BC. Argistis had certainly the upper hand, and though his advance was not rapid, it was never completely checked. The first engagement took place at Nirbu, near the sources of the Supnat and the Tigris: Nirbu capitulated, and the enemy pitilessly ravaged the Hittite states, which were subject to Assyria, penetrating as far as the heart of Melitene (781).
The next year the armies encountered each other nearer to Nineveh, in the basin of the Bitlis-Tchai, at Khakhias; and, in 779, Argistis expressly thanks his gods, the Khaldises, for having graciously bestowed upon him as a gift the armies and cities of Assur. The scene of the war had shifted, and the contest was now carried on in the countries bordering on Lake Urumiah, Bustus and Parsua. The natives gained nothing by the change of invader, and were as hardly used by the King of Urartu as they had been by Shalmaneser III or by Samsi-Ramman: as was invariably the case, their towns were given over to the flames, their fields ravaged, their cattle and their families carried into captivity. Their resistance, however, was so determined that a second campaign was required to complete the conquest: and this time the Assyrians suffered a serious defeat at Surisidas (778), and a year at least was needed for their recovery from the disaster. During this respite, Argistis hastened to complete the pacification of Bustus, Parsua, and the small portion of Man which had not been reduced to subjection by Menuas. When the Assyrians returned to the conflict, he defeated them again (776), and while they withdrew to the Amanus, where a rebellion had broken out (775), he reduced one by one the small states which clustered round the eastern and southern shores of Lake Urumiah. He was conducting a campaign in Namri, when Shalmaneser IV made a last effort to check his advance; but he was again victorious (774), and from henceforth these troubled regions, in which Nineveh had so persistently endeavored for more than a century to establish her own supremacy, became part of the empire of Urartu. Argistis’s hold of them proved, however, to be a precarious and uncertain one, and before long the same difficulties assailed him which had restricted the power of his rivals.
He was forced to return again and again to these districts, destroying fortresses and pursuing the inhabitants over plain and mountain: in 773 we find him in Urmes, the territory of Bikhuras, and Bam, in the very heart of Namri; in 772, in Dhuaras, and Gurqus, among the Mannai, and at the city of Uikhis, in Bustus. Meanwhile, to the north of the Araxes, several chiefs had taken advantage of his being thus engaged in warfare in distant regions, to break the very feeble bond which held them vassals to Urartu. Etius was the fountain-head and main support of the rebellion; the rugged mountain range in its rear provided its chiefs with secure retreats among its woods and lakes and valleys, through which flowed rapid torrents. Argistis inflicted a final defeat on the Mannai in 771, and then turned his forces against Etius. He took by storm the citadel of Ardinis which defended the entrance to the country, ravaged Ishqigulus, and seized Amegu, the capital of Uidharus: our knowledge of his wars comes to an end in the following year with an expedition into the land of Tarius.
The monuments do not tell us what he accomplished on the borders of Asia Minor; he certainly won some considerable advantages there, and the influence which Assyria had exercised over states scattered to the north of the Taurus, such as Melitene, and possibly Tabal and Kummukh, which had formed the original nucleus of the Hittite empire, must have now passed into his hands. The form of Argistis looms before us as that of a great conqueror, worthy to bear comparison with the most indefatigable and triumphant of the Pharaohs of Egypt or the lords of Chaldea. The inscriptions which are constantly being discovered within the limits of his kingdom prove that, following the example of all Oriental sovereigns, he delighted as much in building as in battle: perhaps we shall some day recover a sufficient number of records to enable us to restore to their rightful place in history this great king, and the people whose power he developed more than any other sovereign.
Assyria had thus lost all her possessions in the northern and eastern parts of her empire; turning to the west, how much still remained faithful to her? After the expedition of 775 BC to the land of Cedars, two consecutive campaigns are mentioned against Damascus (773) and Hadrach (772); it was during this latter expedition, or immediately after it, that Shalmaneser IV died. Northern Syria seems to have been disturbed by revolutions which seriously altered the balance of power within her borders. The ancient states, whose growth had been arrested by the deadly blows inflicted on them in the ninth century by Assur-Nazir-Pal and Shalmaneser III, had become reduced to the condition of second-rate powers, and their dominions had been split up. The Patina was divided into four small states—the Patina proper, Unki, Iaudi, and Samalla, the latter falling under the rule of an Aramaean family; perhaps the accession of Qaral, the founder of this dynasty, had been accompanied by convulsions, which might explain the presence of Shalmaneser IV in the Amanos in 775.
ASSURDAN III (772-755) AND ASSUR NIRARI III (754-745)
All these principalities, whether of ancient or recent standing, ranged themselves under one of two kingdoms—either Hadrach or Arpad, whose names henceforth during the following half-century appear in the front rank whenever a coalition is formed against Assyria. Carchemish, whose independence was still respected by the fortresses erected in its neighbourhood, could make no move without exposing itself to an immediate catastrophe: Arpad, occupying a prominent position a little in front of the Afrin, on the main route leading to the Orontes, had assumed the rôle which Carchemish was no longer in a position to fill. Agusi became the principal centre of resistance; all battles were fought under the walls of its fortresses, and its fall involved the submission of all the country between the Euphrates and the sea, as in former times had been the case with Kinalua and Khazazu.
Similar to the ascendency of Arpad over the plateau of Aleppo was that of Hadrach in the valley of the Orontes. This city had taken the position formerly occupied by Hamath, which was now possibly one of its dependencies; it owed no allegiance to Damascus, and rallied around it all the tribes of Coele-Syria, whose assistance Hadadezer, but a short while before, had claimed in his war with the foreigner. Neither Arpad, Hadrach, nor Damascus ever neglected to send the customary presents to any sovereign who had the temerity to cross the Euphrates and advance into their neighborhood, but the necessity for this act of homage became more and more infrequent.
During his reign of eighteen years Assurdan III, son and successor of Shalmaneser IV, appeared only three times beneath their walls—at Hadrach in 766 and 755, at Arpad in 750, a few months only before his death. Assyria was gradually becoming involved in difficulties, and the means necessary to the preservation of its empire were less available than formerly. Assurdan had frankly renounced all idea of attacking Urartu, but he had at least endeavored to defend himself against his enemies on the southern and eastern frontiers; he had led his armies against Gananate (771,767), against Itua (769), and against the Medes (766), before risking an attack on Hadrach (765), but more than this he had not attempted. On two occasions in eight years (768, 764) he had preferred to abstain from offensive action, and had remained inactive in his own country. Assyria found herself in one of those crises of exhaustion which periodically laid her low after each outbreak of ambitious enterprise; she might well be compared to a man worn out by fatigue and loss of blood, who becomes breathless and needs repose as soon as he attempts the least exertion. Before long, too, the scourges of disease and civil strife combined with exhaustion in hastening her ruin. The plague had broken out in the very year of the last expedition against Hadrach (765), perhaps under the walls of that city. An eclipse of the sun occurred in 763, in the month of Sivân, and this harbinger of woe was the signal for an outbreak of revolt in the city of Assur.
From Assur the movement spread to Arrapkha, and wrought havoc there from 761 to 760; it then passed on to Gozan, where it was not finally extinguished till 758. The last remains of Assyrian authority in Syria vanished during this period: Assurdan, after two years’ respite, endeavored to re-establish it, and attacked successively Hadrach (755) and Arpad (754). This was his last exploit. His son Assur-Nirari III spent his short reign of eight years in helpless inaction; he lost Syria, he carried on hostilities in Namri from 749 to 748—whether against the Aramaeans or Urartians is uncertain—then relapsed into inactivity, and a popular sedition drove him finally from Calah in 746. He died some months later, without having repressed the revolt; none of his sons succeeded him, and the dynasty, having fallen into disrepute through the misfortunes of its last kings, thus came to an end; for, on the 12th of Iyyar, 742 BC, a usurper, perhaps, the leader of the revolt at Calah, proclaimed himself king under the name of Tiglath-Pileser. The second Assyrian empire had lasted rather less than a century and a half, from Tukulti-Ninip II to Assur-Nirari III.
In the manner in which it had accomplished its work, it resembled the Egyptian empire of eight hundred years before. The Egyptians, setting forth from the Nile valley, had overrun Syria and had at first brought it under their suzerainty, though without actually subduing it. They had invaded Amurru and Zahi, Naharaim and Mitanni, where they had pillaged, burnt, and massacred at will for years, without obtaining from these countries, which were too remote to fall naturally within their sphere of influence, more than a temporary and apparent submission; the regions in the neighborhood of the isthmus alone had been regularly administered by the officers of Pharaoh, and when the country between Mount Seir and Lebanon seemed on the point of being organized into a real empire the invasion of the Peoples of the Sea had overthrown and brought to nought the work of three centuries. The Assyrians, under the leadership of ambitious kings, had in their turn carried their arms over the countries of the Euphrates and the Mediterranean, but, like those of the Egyptians before them, their expeditions resembled rather the destructive raids of a horde in search of booty than the gradual and orderly advance of a civilized people aiming at establishing a permanent empire. Their campaigns in Cole-Syria and Palestine had enriched their own cities and spread the terror of their name throughout the Eastern world, but their supremacy had only taken firm root in the plains bordering on Mesopotamia, and just when they were preparing to extend their rule, a power had sprung up beside them, over which they had been unable to triumph: they had been obliged to withdraw behind the Euphrates, and they might reasonably have asked themselves whether, by weakening the peoples of Syria at the price of the best blood of their own nation, they had not merely laboured for the benefit of a rival power, and facilitated the rise of Urartu. Egypt, after her victory over the Peoples of the Sea, had seemed likely, for the moment, to make a fresh start on a career of conquest under the energetic influence of Ramses III, but her forces proved unequal to the task, and as soon as the master's hand ceased to urge her on, she shrank back, without a struggle, within her ancient limits, and ere long nothing remained to her of the Asiatic empire carved out by the warlike Pharaohs of the Theban dynasties. If Tiglath-pileser could show the same courage and capacity as Ramses III, he might well be equally successful, and raise his nation again to power; but time alone could prove whether Nineveh, on his death, would be able to maintain a continuous effort, or whether her new display of energy would prove merely ephemeral, and her empire be doomed to sink into irremediable weakness under the successors of her deliverer, as Egypt had done under the later Ramessides.