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(885-860 BC)


ASSYRIA was the first to reappear on the scene of action. Less hampered by an ancient past than Egypt and Chaldea, she was the sooner able to recover her strength after any disastrous crisis, and to assume again the offensive along the whole of her frontier line. During the years immediately following the ephemeral victories and reverses of Assur-Irba (1010-970 BC), both the country and its rulers are plunged in the obscurity of oblivion. Two figures at length, though at what date is uncertain, emerge from the darkness—a certain Irba-Ramman and an Assur-Nadinakhe II, whom we find engaged in building palaces and making a necropolis.

They were followed towards 950 by a Tiglath-Pileser II (966-935 BC), of whom nothing is known but his name. He in his turn was succeeded about the year 935 by one Assurdan II (934-912 BC), who appears to have concentrated his energies upon public works, for we hear of him digging a canal to supply his capital with water, restoring the temples and fortifying towns. Ramman-Nirari III (=Adad-Nirari II, 911-891 BC), who followed him in 912, stands out more distinctly from the mists which envelop the history of this period; he repaired the gate of the Tigris and the adjoining wall at Assur, he enlarged its principal sanctuary, reduced several rebellious provinces to obedience, and waged a successful warfare against the neighboring inhabitants of Karduniash.

Since the extinction of the race of Nebuchadnezzar I (1125-1103 BC), Babylon had been a prey to civil discord and foreign invasion (Nebuchadnezzar I, "Nabu, protect my eldest son" or "Nabu, protect the border", is considered to be the greatest king of the Dynasty of Pashe -also known as the second Isin dynasty-, a line which held the Babylonian throne through 12th century BC. His greatest success was re-establishing the Babylonian lands by driving out the Elamite invaders who had taken over much of the territory. He then proceeded to push out and solidify his borders, locking Babylon into a conflict with the Assyrians). The Aramaean tribes mingled with, or contiguous to the remnants of the Cosseans (the Kissians in Elam) bordering on the Persian gulf, constituted possibly, even at this period, the powerful nation of the Kalda.

It has been supposed, not without probability, that a certain Simashshikhu (Simbar-shipak, 1025–1008 BC), Prince of the Country of the Sea, who immediately followed the last scion of the line of Pashe, was one of their chiefs. He endeavored to establish order in the city, and rebuilt the temple of the Sun destroyed by the nomads at Sippar, but at the end of eighteen years he was assassinated. His son Ea-Mukin-Shumi remained at the head of affairs some three to six months (1008 BC); Kashshu-Nadinakke (1008–1004 BC) ruled three or six years, at the expiration of which a man of the house of Bazi, Eulma-Shakin-Shumi by name (1004–987 BC), seized upon the crown. His dynasty consisted of three members, himself included, and it was overthrown after a duration of twenty years by an Elamite, who held authority for another seven (Mar-Biti-Apla-Usur, 985–979 BC).




It was a period of calamity and distress, during which the Arabs or the Aramaeans ravaged the country, and pillaged without compunction not only the property of the inhabitants, but also that of the gods. The Elamite usurper having died about the year 1030, a Babylonian of noble extraction (Nabu-Mukin-Apli) expelled the intruders, and succeeded in bringing the larger part of the kingdom under his rule (979–943 BC). Five or six of his descendants had passed away, and a certain Shamash-Mudammiq (920–900 BC) was feebly holding the reins of government, when the expeditions of Ramman-Nirari III (Adad Nirari II) provoked war afresh between Assyria and Babylon.

The two armies encountered each other once again on their former battle-field between the Lower Zab and the Turnat. Shamash-Mudammiq, after being totally routed near the Yalman mountains, did not long survive, and Nabosh-Umishkun (Nabu-Shuma-Ukin, 900–888 BC), who succeeded him, showed neither more ability nor energy than his predecessor. The Assyrians wrested from him the fortresses of Bambala and Bagdad, dislodged him from the positions where he had entrenched himself, and at length took him prisoner while in flight, and condemned him to perpetual captivity. His successor (Nabu-Apla-Iddina, 888–855 BC) abandoned to the Assyrians most of the districts situated on the left bank of the Lower Zab between the Zagros mountains and the Tigris, and peace, which was speedily secured by a double marriage, remained unbroken for nearly half a century.

Tukulti-Ninip (Ninurta) II (890-884) was fond of fighting; “he overthrew his adversaries and exposed their heads upon stakes”, but, unlike his predecessor, he directed his efforts against Nairi and the northern and western tribes. We possess no details of his campaigns; we can only surmise that in six years, from 890 to 885, he brought into subjection the valley of the Upper Tigris and the mountain provinces which separate it from the Assyrian plain. Having reached the source of the river, he carved, beside the image of Tiglath-pileser I, the following inscription, which may still be read upon the rock. “With the help of Assur, Shamash, and Itamman, the gods of his religion, he reached this spot. The lofty mountains he subjugated from the sun-rising to its down-setting; victorious, irresistible, he came hither, and like unto the lightning he crossed the raging rivers”.




He did not live long to enjoy his triumphs, but his death made no impression on the impulse given to the fortunes of his country. The kingdom which he left to Assur-Nazir-Pal, the eldest of his sons, embraced scarcely any of the countries which had paid tribute to former sovereigns. Besides Assyria proper, it comprised merely those districts of Nairi which had been annexed within his own generation; the remainder had gradually regained their liberty: first the outlying dependencies—Cilicia, Melitene, Northern Syria, and then the provinces nearer the capital, the valleys of the Masios and the Zagros, the steppes of the Khabur, and even some districts such as Lubdi and Shupria, which had been allotted to Assyrian colonists at various times after successful campaigns. Nearly the whole empire had to be reconquered under much the   same conditions as in the first instance. Assyria itself, it is true, had recovered the vitality and elasticity of its earlier days. The people were a robust and energetic race, devoted to their rulers, and ready to follow them blindly and trustingly wherever they might lead. The army, while composed chiefly of the same classes of troops as in the time of Tiglath-Pileser I,—spearmen, archers, sappers, and slingers,—now possessed a new element, whose appearance on the field of battle was to revolutionize the whole method of warfare; this was the cavalry, properly so called, introduced as an adjunct to the chariotry.

The number of horsemen forming this contingent was as yet small; like the infantry, they wore casques and cuirasses, but were clothed with a tight-fitting loin-cloth in place of the long kilt, the folds of which would have embarrassed their movements. One-half of the men carried sword and lance, the other half sword and bow, the latter of a smaller kind than that used by the infantry. Their horses were bridled, and bore trappings on the forehead, but had no saddles; their riders rode bareback without stirrups; they sat far back with the chest thrown forward, their knees drawn up to grip the shoulder of the animal. Each horseman was attended by a groom, who rode abreast of him, and held his reins during an action, so that he might be free to make use of his weapons. This body of cavalry, having little confidence in its own powers, kept in close contact with the main body of the army, and was not used in independent manoeuvres; it was associated with and formed an escort to the chariotry in expeditions where speed was essential, and where the ordinary foot soldier would have hampered the movements of the charioteers.

The army thus reinforced was at all events more efficient, if not actually more powerful, than formerly; the discipline maintained was as severe, the military spirit as keen, the equipment as perfect, and the tactics as skilful as in former times. A knowledge of engineering had improved upon the former methods of taking towns by sapping and scaling, and though the number of military engines was as yet limited, the besiegers were well able, when occasion demanded, to improvise and make use of machines capable of demolishing even the strongest walls. The Assyrians were familiar with all the different kinds of battering-ram; the hand variety, which was merely a beam tipped with iron, worked by some score of men; the fixed ram, in which the beam was suspended from a scaffold and moved by means of ropes; and lastly, the movable ram, running on four or six wheels, which enabled it to be advanced or withdrawn at will.

The military engineers of the day allowed full rein to their fancy in the many curious shapes they gave to this latter engine; for example, they gave to the mass of bronze at its point the form of the head of an animal, and the whole engine took at times the form of a sow ready to root up with its snout the foundations of the enemy’s defences. The scaffolding of the machine was usually protected by a carapace of green leather or some coarse woolen material stretched over it, which broke the force of blows from projectiles; at times it had an additional arrangement in the shape of a cupola or turret in which archers were stationed to sweep the face of the wall opposite to the point of attack. The battering-rams were set up and placed in line at a short distance from the ramparts of the besieged town; the ground in front of them was then leveled and a regular causeway constructed, which was paved with bricks wherever the soil appeared to be lacking in firmness. These preliminaries accomplished, the engines were pushed forward by relays of troops till they reached the required range. The effort needed to set the ram in motion severely taxed the strength of those engaged in the work; for the size of the beam was enormous, and its iron point, or the square mass of metal at the end, was of no light weight. The besieged did their best to cripple or, if possible, destroy the engine as it approached them. Torches, lighted tow, burning pitch, and stink-pots were hurled down upon its roofing; attempts were made to seize the head of the ram by means of chains or hooks, so as to prevent it from moving, or in order to drag it on to the battlements; in some cases the garrison succeeded in crushing the machinery with a mass of rock. The Assyrians, however, did not allow themselves to be discouraged by such trifling accidents; they would at once extinguish the fire, release, by sheer force of muscle, the beams which the enemy had secured, and if, notwithstanding all their efforts, one of the machines became injured, they had others ready to take its place, and the ram would be again at work after only a few minutes’ delay. Walls, even when of burnt brick or faced with small stones, stood no chance against such an attack. The first blow of the ram sufficed to shake them, and an opening was rapidly made, so that in a few days, often in a few hours, they became a heap of ruins; the foot soldiers could then enter by the breach which the pioneers had effected.




It must, however, be remembered that the strength and discipline which the Assyrian troops possessed in such a high degree, were common to the military forces of all the great states—Elam, Damascus, Nairi, the Hittites, and Chaldea. It was owing to this, and also to the fact that the armies of all these Powers were, as a rule, both in strength and numbers, much on a par, that no single state was able to inflict on any of the rest such a defeat as would end in its destruction. What decisive results had the terrible struggles produced, which stained almost periodically the valleys of the Tigris and the Zab with blood? After endless loss of life and property, they had nearly always issued in the establishment of the belligerents in their respective possessions, with possibly the cession of some few small towns or fortresses to the stronger party, most of which, however, were destined to come back to its former possessor in the very next campaign. The fall of the capital itself was not decisive, for it left the vanquished foe chafing under his losses, while the victory cost his rival so dear that he was unable to maintain the ascendency for more than a few years. Twice at least in three centuries a king of Assyria had entered Babylon, and twice the Babylonians had expelled the intruder of the hour, and had forced him back with a blare of trumpets to the frontier. Although the Ninevite dynasties had persisted in their pretensions to a suzerainty which they had generally been unable to enforce, the tradition of which, unsupported by any definite decree, had been handed on from one generation to another; yet in practice their kings had not succeeded in “taking the hands of Bel”, and in reigning personally in Babylon, nor in extorting from the native sovereign an official acknowledgment of his vassalage.

Profiting doubtless by past experience, Assur-Nazir-Pal resolutely avoided those direct conflicts in which so many of his predecessors had wasted their lives. If he did not actually renounce his hereditary pretensions, he was content to let them lie dormant. He preferred to accommodate himself to the terms of the treaty signed a few years previously by Adad-Nirari, even when Babylon neglected to observe them; he closed his eyes to the many ill-disguised acts of hostility to which he was exposed, and devoted all his energies to dealing with less dangerous enemies. Even if his frontier touched Karduniash to the south, elsewhere he was separated from the few states strong enough to menace his kingdom by a strip of varying width, comprising several less important tribes and cities;—to the east and north-east by the barbarians of obscure race whose villages and strongholds were scattered along the upper affluents of the Tigris or on the lower terraces of the Iranian plateau; to the west and north­west by the principalities and nomad tribes, mostly of Aramaean extraction, who now for a century had peopled the mountains of the Tigris and the steppes of Mesopotamia. They were high-spirited, warlike, hardy populations, proud of their independence and quick to take up arms in its defense or for its recovery, but none of them possessed more than a restricted domain, or had more than a handful of soldiers at its disposal. At times, it is true, the nature of their locality befriended them, and the advantages of position helped to compensate for their paucity of numbers. Sometimes they were entrenched behind one of those rapid watercourses like the Radanu, the Zab, or the Turnat, which are winter torrents rather than streams, and are overhung by steep banks, precipitous as a wall above a moat; sometimes they took refuge upon some wooded height and awaited attack amid its rocks and pine woods. Assyria was superior to all of them, if not in the valor of its troops, at least numerically, and, towering in the midst of them, she could single out at will whichever tribe offered the easiest prey, and falling on it suddenly, would crush it by sheer force of weight. In such a case the surrounding tribes, usually only too well pleased to witness in safety the fall of a dangerous rival, would not attempt to interfere; but their turn was ere long sure to come, and the pity which they had declined to show   to their neighbors was in like manner refused to them. The Assyrians ravaged their country, held their chiefs to ransom, razed their strongholds, or, when they did not demolish them, garrisoned them with their own troops who held sway over the country. The revenues gleaned from these conquests would swell the treasury at Nineveh, the native soldiers would be incorporated into the Assyrian army, and when the smaller tribes had all in turn been subdued, their conqueror would, at length, find himself confronted with one of the great states from which he had been separated by these buffer communities; then it was that the men and money he had appropriated in his conquests would embolden him to provoke or accept battle with some tolerable certainty of victory.





The Assyrians used the term “People of the Nairi” to describe the alliace of tribes around Lake Van, which together with the Ararat Valley has the most fertile land in Western Asia, as well as the largest mineral deposits in Asia Minor and Mesopotamia. The territory and people both were called Nairi. The Assyrian accounts describe about 60 different tribes and small kingdoms and about 100 cities included in this land.  The “people” in this description were an alliance of tribes led by a dominant tribe, the Nairi. They are by now more than tribes; they are city-states in a common alliance.  The Nairi were considered a force strong enough to tackle both the Assyrians and Hittites. They were attacked by King Tukulti-Ninurta I, and inscriptions at the Assyrian palace at Assur tell how 43 kings of the lands of Nairi rose up against the Assyrians, were defeated and brought to Assur in chains. The lands offered ransom to the king, tribute was extracted from them, and a new honor was added to the official style of the Assyrian king, “king of the lands of Nairi”. The Nairi continued to resist Assyrian domination, and a second campaign by the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser I (1126-1090 BC) invaded the whole of the western part of the Armenian Plateau from North to South. The Assyrians penetrated into enemy territory to a depth of more than 300 miles. Assyrian annals describe the campaign in part, “…Sixty kings of the lands of Nairi, together with those who came to their aid, did I drive with my spear as far as the upper seas (the Black Sea). I captured their great cities, I carried off their riches and their spoils, I gave their dwellings to flames…All the kings of Nairi did I capture alive. But to all these kings I showed mercy…freeing them from their bonds of captivity…” There is no mention in the campaign of the areas around Lake Van, suggesting the Assyrians deliberately avoided the area occupied by the most powerful alliance of tribes. The Assyrians never succeeded in completely subjugating the people of Nairi, but within 200 years its influence waned through the rise of a related tribe, the Urartu)


Immediately on his accession, Assur-Nazir-Pal (883 BC) turned his attention to the parts of his frontier where the population was most scattered, and therefore less able to offer any resistance to his projects. He marched towards the north-western point of his territory, suddenly invaded Nunmi, and in an incredibly short time took Gubbe, its capital, and some half-dozen lesser places, among them Surra, Abuku, Arura, and Arubi. The inhabitants assembled upon a mountain ridge which they believed to be inaccessible, its peak being likened to “the point of an iron dagger”, and the steepness of its sides such that “no winged bird of the heavens dare venture on them”. In the short space of three days Assur-Nazir-Pal succeeded in climbing its precipices and forcing the entrenchments which had been thrown up on its summit: two hundred of its defenders perished sword in hand, the remainder were taken prisoners.

The Kirruri, terrified by this example, submitted unreservedly to the conqueror, yielded him their horses, mules, oxen, sheep, wine, and brazen vessels, and accepted the Assyrian prefects appointed to collect the tribute.

The neighboring districts, Adaush, Gilzan, and Khubushkia, followed their example; they sent the king considerable presents of gold, silver, lead, and copper, and their alacrity in buying off their conqueror saved them from the ruinous infliction of a garrison. The Assyrian army defiling through the pass of Khulun next fell upon the Kirkhi, dislodged the troops stationed in the fortress of Nishtun, and pillaged the cities of Khatu, Khatara, Irbidi, Arzania, Tela, and Khalua; Bubu, the Chief of Nishtun, was sent to Arbela, flayed alive, and his skin nailed to the city wall. In a small town near one of the sources of the Tigris, Assur-Nazir-Pal founded a colony on which he imposed his name; he left there a statue of himself, with an inscription celebrating his exploits carved on its base, and having done this, he returned to Nineveh laden with booty. A few weeks had sufficed for him to complete, on this side, the work bequeathed to him by his father, and to open up the neighborhood of the north-east provinces; he was not long in setting out afresh, this time to the north-west, in the direction of the Taurus. He rapidly skirted the left bank of the Tigris, burned some score of scattered hamlets at the foot of Nipur and Pazatu, crossed to the right bank, above Amidi, and, as he approached the Euphrates, received the voluntary homage of Kummukh and the Mushku. But while he was complacently engaged in recording the amount of vessels of bronze, oxen, sheep, and jars of wine which represented their tribute, a messenger of bad tidings appeared before him.




Assyria was bounded on the east by a line of small states, comprising the Katna and   the Bit-Khalupi, whose towns, placed alternately like sentries on each side the Khabur, protected her from the incursions of the Bedawin. They were virtually Chaldean cities, having been, like most of those which flourished in the Mesopotamia plains, thoroughly impregnated with Babylonian civilization. Shadikanni, the most important of them, commanded the right bank of the Khabur, and also the ford where the road from Nineveh crossed the river on the route to Harran and Carchemish. The palaces of its rulers were decorated with winged bulls, lions, stelas, and bas-reliefs carved in marble brought from the hills of Singar. The people seem to have been of a capricious temperament, and, notwithstanding the supervision to which they were subjected, few reigns elapsed in which it was not necessary to put down a rebellion among them.

Bit-Khalupi and its capital Suru had thrown off the Assyrian yoke after the death of Tukulti-Ninurta; the populace, stirred up no doubt by Aramaean emissaries, had assassinated the Hamathite who governed them, and had sent for a certain Akhiababa, a man of base extraction from Bit-Adini, whom they had proclaimed king. This defection, if not promptly dealt with, was likely to entail serious consequences, since it left an important point on the frontier exposed; and there now remained nothing to prevent the people of Adini or their allies from spreading over the country between the Khabur and the Tigris, and even pushing forward their marauding bands as far as the very walls of Singar and Assur.

Without losing a moment, Assur-Nazir-Pal marched down the course of the Khabur, hastily collecting the tribute of the cities through which he passed. The defenders of Suru were disconcerted by his sudden appearance before their town, and their rulers came out and prostrated themselves at the king’s feet: “Do you desire it? it is life for us;—do you desire it? it is death;—do you desire it? what your heart choose, that do to us!" But the appeal to his clemency was in vain; the alarm had been so great and the danger so pressing, that Assur-Nazir-Pal was pitiless. The town was handed over to the soldiery, all the treasure it contained was confiscated, and the women and children of the best families were made slaves; some of the ringleaders paid the penalty of their revolt on the spot; the rest, with Akhiababa, were carried away and flayed alive, some at Nineveh, some elsewhere. An Assyrian garrison was installed in the citadel, and an ordinary governor, Azilu by name, replaced the dynasty of native princes

The report of this terrible retribution induced the Laqi to tender their submission, and their example was followed by Khaian, king of Khindanu on the Euphrates. He bought off the Assyrians with gold, silver, lead, precious stones, deep-hued purple, and dromedaries; he erected a statue of Assur-Nazir-Pal in the centre of his palace as a sign of his vassalage, and built into the wall near the gates of his town an inscription dedicated to the gods of the conqueror. Six, or at the most eight, months had sufficed to achieve these rapid successes over various foes, in twenty different directions—the expeditions in Nummu and Kirruri, the occupation of Kummukh, the flying marches across the mountains and plains of Mesopotamia—during all of which the new sovereign had given ample proof of his genius. He had, in fine, shown himself to be a thorough soldier, a conqueror of the type of Tiglath-Pileser, aud Assyria by these victories had recovered her rightful rank among the nations of Western Asia.

The second year of his reign was no less fully occupied, nor did it prove less successful than the first. At its very beginning, and even before the return of the favorable season, the Sukhi on the Euphrates made a public act of submission, and their chief, Ilubani, brought to Nineveh on their behalf a large sum of gold and silver. He had scarcely left the capital when the news of an untoward event effaced the good impression he had made. The descendants of the colonists, planted in by-gone times by Shalmaneser I on the western slope of the Masios, in the district of Khalzidipkha, had thrown off their allegiance, and their leader, Khulai, was besieging the royal fortress of Damdamusa. Assur-Nazir-Pal marched direct to the sources of the Tigris, and the mere fact of his presence sufficed to prevent any rising in that quarter. Ho took advantage of the occasion to set up a stele beside those of his father Tukulti-Ninurta and his ancestor Tiglath-Pileser, and then having halted to receive the tribute of Izalla, he turned southwards, and took up a position on the slopes of the Kashiari.




At the first news of his approach, Khulai had raised the blockade of Damdamusa and had entrenched himself in Kinabu; the Assyrians, however, carried the place by storm, and six hundred soldiers of the garrison were killed in the attack. The survivors, to the number of three thousand, together with many women and children, were thrown into the flames. The people of Mariru hastened to the rescue; the Assyrians took three hundred of them prisoners and burnt them alive; fifty others were ripped up, but the victors did not stop to reduce their town. The district of Nirbu was next subjected to systematic ravaging, and half of its inhabitants fled into the Mesopotamian desert, while the remainder sought refuge in Tela at the foot of the Ukhira. The latter place was a strong one, being surrounded by three enclosing walls, and it offered an obstinate resistance. Notwithstanding this, it at length fell, after having lost three thousand of its defenders:—some of its garrison were condemned to the stake, some had their hands, noses, or ears cut off, others were deprived of sight, flayed alive, or impaled amid the smoking ruins. This being deemed insufficient punishment, the conqueror degraded the place from its rank of chief town, transferring this, together with its other privileges, to a neighboring city, Tushkkau, which had belonged to the Assyrians from the beginning of their conquests. The king enlarged the place, added to it a strong enclosing wall, and installed within it the survivors of the older colonists who had been dispersed by the war, the majority of whom bad taken refuge in Shupria. He constructed a palace there, built storehouses for the reception of the grain of the province; and, in short, transformed the town into a stronghold of the first order, capable of serving as a base of operations for his armies.

The surrounding princes, in the meanwhile, rallied round him, including Ammibaal of Bit-Zamani, and the rulers of Shupria, Nairi, and Urumi; the chiefs of Eastern Nirbu alone held aloof, emboldened by the rugged nature of their mountains and the density of their forests. Assur-Nazir-Pal attacked them on his return journey, dislodged them from the fortress of Ishpilibria where they were entrenched, gained the pass of Buliani, and emerged into the valley of Luqia. At Ardupa a brief halt was made to receive the ambassadors of one of the Hittite sovereigns and others from the kings of Khanigalbat, after which he returned to Nineveh, where he spent the winter. As a matter of fact, these were but petty wars, and their immediate results appear at the first glance quite inadequate to account for the contemporary enthusiasm they excited. The sincerity of it can be better understood when we consider the miserable state of the country twenty years previously. Assyria then comprised two territories, one in the plains of the middle, the other in the districts of the upper, Tigris, both of considerable extent, but almost without regular intercommunication. Caravans or isolated messengers might pass with tolerable safety from Assur and Nineveh to Singar, or even to Nisibis; but beyond these places they had to brave the narrow defiles and steep paths in the forests of the Masios, through which it was rash to venture without keeping eye and ear ever on the alert. The mountaineers and their chiefs recognized the nominal suzerainty of Assyria, but refused to act upon this recognition unless constrained by a strong hand; if this control were relaxed they levied contributions on, or massacred, all who came within their reach, and the king himself never travelled from his own city of Nineveh to his own town of Amidi unless accompanied by an army. In less than the short space of three years, Assur-Nazir-Pal had remedied this evil. By the slaughter of some two hundred men in one place, three hundred in another, two or three thousand in a third, by dint of impaling and flaying refractory sheikhs, burning villages and dismantling strongholds, he forced the marauders of Nairi and Kirkhi to respect his frontiers and desist from pillaging his country. The two divisions of his kingdom, strengthened by the military colonies in Nirbu, were united, and became welded together into a compact whole from the banks of the Lower Zab to the sources of the Khabur and the Supnat.




During the following season the course of events diverted the king’s efforts into quite an opposite direction (BC 882). Under the name of Zamua there existed a number of small states scattered along the western slope of the Iranian Plateau north of the Cossaeans. Many of them—as, for instance, the Lullume—had been civilized by the Chaldeans almost from time immemorial; the most southern among them were perpetually oscillating between the respective areas of influence of Babylon and Nineveh, according as one or other of these cities was in the ascendant, but at this particular moment they acknowledged Assyrian sway. Were they excited to rebellion against the latter power by the emissaries of its rival, or did they merely think that Assur-Nazir-Pal was too fully absorbed in the affairs of Nairi to be able to carry his arms effectively elsewhere? At all events they coalesced under Nurramman, the sheikh of Dagara, blocked the pass of Babiti which led to their own territory, and there massed their contingents behind the shelter of hastily erected ramparts.

Assur-Nazir-Pal concentrated his army at Kakzi, a little to the south of Arbela, and promptly marched against them; he swept all obstacles before him, killed fourteen hundred and sixty men at the first onslaught, put Dagara to fire and sword, and soon defeated Nurramman, but without effecting his capture. As the campaign threatened to be prolonged, he formed an entrenched camp  in a favorable position, and stationed in it some of his troops to guard the booty, while he dispersed the rest to pillage the country on all sides. One expedition led him to the mountain group of Nizir, at the end of the chain known to the people of Lullume as the Kinipa. He there reduced to ruins seven towns whose inhabitants had barricaded themselves in urgent haste, collected the few herds of cattle he could find, and driving them back to the camp, set out afresh towards a part of Nizir as yet unsubdued by any conqueror. The stronghold of Larbusa fell before the battering-ram, to be followed shortly by the capture of Bara. Thereupon the chiefs of Zamua, convinced of their helplessness, purchased the king's departure by presents of horses, gold, silver, and corn. Nurramman alone remained impregnable in his retreat at Nishpi, and an attempt to oust him resulted solely in the surrender of the fortress of Birutu.

The campaign, far from having been decisive, had to be continued during the winter in another direction where revolts had taken place,—in Khudun, in Kissirtu, and in the fief of Arashtua, all three of which extended over the upper valleys of the lesser Zab, the Radanu, the Turnat, and their affluents. The king once more set out from Kakzi, crossed the Zab and the Radanu, through the gorges of Babiti, and halting on the ridges of Mount Simaki, peremptorily demanded tribute from Dagara. This was, however, merely a ruse to deceive the enemy, for taking one evening the lightest of his chariots and the   best of his horsemen he galloped all night without drawing rein, crossed the Turnat at dawn and pushing straight forward, arrived in the afternoon of the same day before the walls of Ammali, in the very heart of the fief of Arashtua. The town vainly attempted a defense; the whole population was reduced to slavery or dispersed in the forests, the ramparts were demolished, and the houses reduced to ashes.

Khudun with twenty, and Kissirtu with ten of its villages, Bara, Kirtiara,  Dur-Lullume, and Bunisa, offered no further resistance, and the invading host halted within sight of the defiles of Khashmar.

One kinglet, however, Amika of Zamru, showed no intention of capitulating. Entrenched behind a screen of forests and frowning mountain ridges, he fearlessly awaited the attack. The only access to the remote villages over which he ruled, was by a few rough roads hemmed in between steep cliffs and beds of torrents; difficult and dangerous at ordinary times, they were blocked in war by temporary barricades, and dominated at every turn by some fortress perched at a dizzy height above them. After his return to the camp, where his soldiers were allowed a short respite, Assur-Nazir-Pal set out against Zamru, though he was careful not to approach it directly and attack it at its most formidable point. Between two peaks of the Lara and Bidirgi ranges he discovered a path which had been deemed impracticable for horses, or even for heavily armed men. By this route, the king, unsuspected by the enemy, made his way through the mountains, and descended so unexpectedly upon Zamru, that Amika had barely time to make his escape, abandoning everything in his alarm: palace, treasures, harem, and even his chariot. A body of Assyrians pursued him hotly beyond the fords of the Lallu, chasing him as far as Mount Itini; then, retracing their steps to headquarters, they at once set out on a fresh track, crossed the Idir and proceeded to lay waste the plains of Ilaniu and Suani. Despairing of taking Amika prisoner, Assur-Nazir-Pal allowed him to lie hidden among the brushwood of Mount Sabua, while he himself called a halt at Parsindu, and set to work to organize the fruits of his conquest. He placed garrisons in the principal towns—at Parsindu, Zamru, and at Arakdi in Lullume, which one of his predecessors had renamed Tukulti-Ashshur-Azbat,—“I have taken the help of Assur”. He next imposed on the surrounding country an annual tribute of gold, silver, lead, copper, dyed stuffs, oxen, sheep, and wine. Envoys from neighboring kings poured in—from Khudun, Khubushkia, and Gilzan, and the whole of Northern Zamua bowed “before the splendour of his arms”; it now needed only a few raids resolutely directed against Mounts Azira and Simaki, as far as the Turnat, to achieve the final pacification of the South.

While in this neighborhood, his attention was directed to the old town of Atlila, built by Sibir, an ancient king of Karduniash, but which had been half ruined by the barbarians. He renamed it Dur-Assur, “the fortress of Assur”, and built himself within it a palace and storehouses, in which he accumulated large quantities of corn, making the town the strongest bulwark of his power on the Cossaean border. The two campaigns of BC 882 and 881 had cost Assur-Nazir-Pal great efforts, and their results had been inadequate to the energy expended. His two principal adversaries, Nurramman and Amika, had eluded him, and still preserved their independence at the eastern extremities of their former states. Most of the mountain tribes had acknowledged the king’s supremacy merely provisionally, in order to rid themselves of his presence; they had been vanquished scores of times, but were in no sense subjugated, and the moment pressure was withdrawn, they again took up arms. The districts of Zamua alone, which bordered on the Assyrian plain, and had been occupied by a military force, formed a province, a kind of buffer state between the mountain tribes and the plains of the Zab, protecting the latter from incursions.




Assur-Nazir-Pal, feeling himself tolerably safe on that side, made no further demands, and withdrew his battalions to the westward part of his northern frontier. He hoped, no doubt, to complete the subjugation of the tribes who still contested the possession of various parts of the Kashiari, and then to push forward his main guard as far as the Euphrates and the Arzania, so as to form around the plain of Amidi a zone of vassals or tutelary subjects like those of Zamua. With this end in view, he crossed the Tigris near its source at the traditional fords, and made his way unmolested in the bend of the Euphrates from the palace of Tilluli, where the accustomed tribute of Kummukh was brought to him, to the fortress of Ishtarati, and from thence to Kibaki. The town of Matiate, having closed its gates against him, was at once sacked, and this example so stimulated the loyalty of the Kurkhi chiefs, that they hastened to welcome him at the neighboring military station of Zazabukha. The king’s progress continued thence as before, broken by frequent halts at the most favorable points  for levying contributions on the inhabitants. Assur-Nazir-Pal encountered no serious difficulty except on the northern slopes of the Kashiari, but there again fortune smiled on him; all the contested positions were soon ceded to him, including even Madara, whose fourfold circuit of walls did not avail to save it from the conqueror.

After a brief respite at Tushkhan, he set out again one evening with his lightest chariots and the pick of his horse­men, crossed the Tigris on rafts, rode all night, and arrived unexpectedly the next morning before Pitura, the chief town of the Dirraeans. It was surrounded by a strong double enceinte, through which he broke after forty-eight hours of continuous assault: 800 of its men perished in the breach, and 700 others were impaled before the gates. Arbaki, at the extreme limits of Kirkhi, was the next to succumb, after which the Assyrians, having pillaged Dirra, carried the passes of Matni after a bloody combat, spread themselves over Nairi, burning 250 of its towns and villages, and returned with immense booty to Tushkhan. They had been there merely a few days when the news arrived that the people of Bit-Zamani, always impatient of the yoke, had murdered their prince Ammibaal, and had proclaimed a certain Burramman in his place. Assur-Nazir-Pal marched upon Sinabu and repressed the insurrection, reaping a rich harvest of spoil—chariots fully equipped, 600 draught-horses, 130 pounds of silver and as much of gold, 6000 pounds of lead and the same of copper, 19,800 pounds of iron, stuffs, furniture in gold and ivory, 2000 bulls, 500 sheep, the entire harem of Ammibaal, besides a number of maidens of noble family together with their dresses. Burramman was by the king’s order flayed alive, and Arteanu his brother chosen as his successor.

Siuabu and the surrounding towns formed part of that network of colonies which in times past Shalmaneser I had organized as a protection from the incursions of the inhabitants of Nairi; Assur-Nazir-Pal now used it as a rallying-place for the remaining Assyrian families, to whom he distributed lands and confided the guardianship of the neighboring strongholds. The results of this measure were not long in making themselves felt: Shupria, Ulliba, and Nirbu, besides other districts, paid their dues to the king, and Shura in Khamanu, which had for some time held out against the general movement, was at length constrained to submit (880 BC). However high we may rate the value of this campaign, it was eclipsed by the following one.




The Aramaeans on the Khabur and the middle Euphrates had not witnessed without anxiety the revival of Ninevite activity, and had begged for assistance against it from its rival. Two of their principal tribes, the Sukhi and the Laqi, had addressed themselves to the sovereign then reigning at Babylon. He was a restless, ambitious prince, named Nabu-Baliddin, who asked nothing better than to excite a hostile feeling against his neighbor, provided he ran no risk by his interference of being drawn into open warfare. He accordingly dispatched to the Prince of Sukhi the best of his Cossaean troops, commanded by his brother Zabdanu and one of the great officers of the crown, Bel-Baliddin.

In the spring of 879 BC, Assur-Nazir-Pal determined once for all to put an end to these intrigues. He began by inspecting the citadels flanking the line of the Kharmish and the Khabur,—Tahiti, Magarisi, Shadikanni, Shuru in Bit-Khalupi, and Sirki. Between the embouchures of the Khabur and the Balikh, the Euphrates winds across a vast tableland, ridged with marly hills; the left bank is dry and sterile, shaded at rare intervals by sparse woods of poplars or groups of palms. The right bank, on the contrary, is seamed with fertile valleys, sufficiently well watered to permit the growth of cereals and the raising of cattle. The river-bed is almost everywhere wide, but strewn with dangerous rocks and sandbanks which render navigation perilous. On nearing the ruins of Halebiyeh, the river narrows as it enters the Arabian hills, and cuts for itself a regular defile of three or four hundred paces in length, which is approached by the pilots with caution.

Assur-Nazir-Pal, on leaving Sirki, made his way along the left bank, levying toll on Supri, Naqarabani, and several other villages in his course. Here and there he called a halt facing some town on the opposite bank, but the boats which could have put him across had been removed, and the fords were too well guarded to permit of his hazarding an attack. One town, however, Khindanu, made him a voluntary offering which he affected to regard as a tribute, but Kharidi and Anat appeared not even to suspect his presence in their vicinity, and he continued on his way without having obtained from them anything which could be construed into a mark of vassalage. At length, on reaching Shuru, Shadadu, the Prince of Sukhi, trusting in his Cossaeans, offered him battle; but he was defeated by Assur-Nazir-Pal, who captured the King of Babylon’s brother, forced his way into the town after an assault lasting two days, and returned to Assyria laden with spoil. This might almost be considered as a repulse; for no sooner had the king quitted the country than the Aramaeans in their turn crossed the Euphrates and ravaged the plains of the Khabur.

Assur-Nazir-Pal resolved not to return until he was in a position to carry his arms into the heart of the enemy’s country. He built a flotilla at Shuru in Bit-Khalupi on which he embarked his troops. Wherever the navigation of the Euphrates proved to be difficult, the boats were drawn up out of the water and dragged along the banks over rollers until they could again be safely launched; thus, partly afloat and partly on land, they passed through the gorge of Halebiyeh, landed at Kharidi, and inflicted a salutary punishment on the cities which had defied the king’s wrath on his last expedition. Khindann, Kharidi, and Kipina were reduced to ruins, and the Sukhi and the Laqi defeated, the Assyrians pursuing them for two days in the Bisuru mountains as far as the frontiers of Bit-Adini. A complete submission was brought about, and its permanency secured by the erection of two strongholds, one of which, Kar, Assur-Nazir-Pal, commanded the left, and the other, Nibarti-Assur, the right bank of the Euphrates.




This last expedition had brought the king into contact with the most important of the numerous Aramaean states congregated in the western region of Mesopotamia. This was Bit-Adini, which lay on both sides of the middle course of the Euphrates. It included, on the right bank, to the north of Carchemish, between the hills on the Sajur and Araban-Su, a mountainous but fertile district, dotted over with towns and fortresses, the names of some of which have been preserved—Pakarrukhbuni, Sursunu, Paripa, Dabigu, and Shitamrat. Tul-Barsip, the capital, was situated on the left bank, commanding the fords of the modern Birejik, and the whole of the territory between this latter and the Balikh acknowledged the rule of its princes, whose authority also extended eastwards as far as the basaltic plateau of Tul-Aba, in the Mesopotamian desert. To the south-east, Bit-Adini bordered upon the country of the Sukhi and the Laqi, lying to the east of Assyria; other principalities, mainly of Aramaean origin, formed its boundary to the north and north-west—Shugab in the bend of the Euphrates, from Birejik to Samosata, Tul-Abni around Edessa, the district of Harran, Bit-Zamani, Izalla in the Tektek-dagh and on the Upper Khabur,and Bit-Bakhiani in the plain extending from the Khabur to the Kliarmish. Bit-Zamani had belonged to Assyria by right of conquest ever since the death of Ammibaal; Izalla and Bit-Bakhiani had fulfilled their duties as vassals whenever Assur-nazir-pal had appeared in their neighbourhood; Bit-Adini alone had remained independent, though its strength was more apparent than real. The districts which it included had never been able to form a basis for a powerful state. If by chance some small kingdom arose within it, uniting under one authority the tribes scattered over the burning plain or along the river banks, the first conquering dynasty which sprang up in the neighborhood would be sure to effect its downfall, and absorb it under its own leadership. As Mitani, saved by its remote position from bondage to Egypt, had not been able to escape from acknowledging the supremacy of the Khati, so Bit-Adini was destined to fall almost without a struggle under the yoke of the Assyrians. It was protected from their advance by the volcanic groups of the Uraa and Tul-Aba, which lay directly in the way of the main road from the marshes of the Khabur to the outskirts of Tul-Barsip. Assur-nazir-pal, who might have worked round this line of natural defense to the north through Nirbu, or to the south through his recently acquired province of Laqi, preferred to approach it in front; he faced the desert, and, in spite of the drought, he invested the strongest citadel of Tul-Aba in the month of June, 877 BC. The name of the place was Kaprabi, and its inhabitants believed it impregnable, clinging as it did to the mountain-side “like a cloud in the sky”. The king, however, soon demolished its walls by sapping and by the use of the ram, killed 800 of its garrison, burned its houses, and carried off 2100 men with their families, whom he installed in one of the suburbs of Calah.

 Akhuni, who was then reigning in Bit-Adini, had not anticipated that the invasion would reach his neighborhood: he at once sent hostages and purchased peace by a tribute; the Lord of Tul-Abni followed his example, and the dominion of Assyria was carried at a blow to the very frontier of the Khati. It was about two centuries before this that Assurirba had crossed these frontiers with his vanquished army, but the remembrance of his defeat had still remained fresh in the memory of the people, as a warning to the sovereign who should attempt the old hazardous enterprise, and repeat the exploits of Sargon of Agade or of Tiglath-Pileser I. Assur-Nazir-Pal made careful preparations for this campaign, so decisive a one for his own prestige and for the future of the empire. He took with him not only all the Assyrian troops at his disposal, but requisitioned by the way the armies of his most recently acquired vassals, incorporating them with his own, not so much for the purpose of augmenting his power of action, as to leave no force in his rear when once he was engaged hand to hand with the Syrian legions. He left Calah in the latter days of April, 876 BC, receiving the customary taxes from Bit-Bakhiani, Izalla, and Bit-Adini, which comprised horses, silver, gold, copper, lead, precious stuffs, vessels of copper and furniture of ivory; having reached Tul-Barsip, he accepted the gifts offered by Tul-Abni, and crossing the Euphrates upon rafts of inflated skins, he marched his columns against Carchemish.




The political organization of Northern Syria had remained entirely unaltered since the days when Tiglath-Pileser made his first victorious inroad into the country. The Cilician empire which succeeded to the Assyrian—if indeed it ever extended as far as some suppose—did not last long enough to disturb the balance of power among the various races occupying Syria: it had subjugated them for a time, but had not been able to break them up and reconstitute them. At the downfall of the Cilician Empire the small states were still intact, and occupied, as of old, the territory comprising the ancient Naharaim of the Egyptians, the plateau between the Orontes and the Euphrates, the forests and marshy lowlands of the Amanos, the southern slopes of Taurus, and the plains of Cilicia. Of these states, the most famous, though not then the most redoubtable, was that with which the name of the Khati is indissolubly connected, and which had Carchemish as its capital. This ancient city, seated on the banks of the Euphrates, still maintained its supremacy there, but though its wealth and religious ascendency were undiminished, its territory had been curtailed. The people of Bit-Adini had intruded themselves between this state and Kummukh, Arazik hemmed it in on the south, Khazazu and Khalman confined it on the west, so that its sway was only freely exercised in the basin of the Sajur.

On the north-west frontier of the Khati lay Gurgum, whose princes resided at Marqasi and ruled over the central valley of the Pyramos together with the entire basin of the Aksu. Mikkri, Iaudi, and Samalla lay on the banks of the Saluara, and in the forests of the Amanos to the south of Gurgum. Kui maintained its uneventful existence amid the pastures of Cilicia, near the marshes at the mouth of the Pyramos. To the south of the Sajur, Bit-Agusi barred the way to the Orontes; and from their lofty fastness of Arpad, its chiefs kept watch over the caravan road, and closed or opened it at their will. They held the key of Syria, and though their territory was small in extent, their position was so strong that for more than a century and a half the majority of the Assyrian generals preferred to avoid this stronghold by making a detour to the west, rather than pass beneath its walls. Scattered over the plateau on the borders of Agusi, or hidden in the valleys of Amanos, were several less important principalities, most of them owing allegiance to Lubarna, at that time king of the Patina and the most powerful sovereign of the district.




The Patina had apparently replaced the Alasia of Egyptian times, as Bit-Adini had superseded Mitani; the fertile meadow-lands to the south of Samalla on the Afrin and the Lower Orontes, together with the mountainous district between the Orontes and the sea as far as the neighborhood of Eleutheros, also belonged to the Patina. On the southern frontier of the Patina lay the important Phoenician cities, Arvad, Arka, and Sina: and on the south-east, the fortresses belonging to Hamath and Damascus. The characteristics of the country remained unchanged. Fortified towns abounded on all sides, as well as large walled villages of conical huts, like those whose strange outlines on the horizon are familiar to the traveler at the present day. The manners and civilization of Chaldea pervaded even more than formerly the petty courts, but the artists clung persistently to Asianic tradition, and the bas-reliefs which adorned the palaces and temples were similar in character to those we find scattered throughout Asia Minor; there is the same inaccurate drawing, the same rough execution, the same tentative and awkward composition. The scribes from force of custom still employed the cuneiform syllabary in certain official religious or royal inscriptions, but, as it was difficult to manipulate and limited in application, the speech of the Aramasau immigrants and the Phoenician alphabet gradually superseded the ancient language and mode of writing. Thus these Northern Syrians became by degrees assimilated to the people of Babylon and Nineveh, much as the inhabitants of a remote province nowadays adapt their dress, their architecture, their implements of husbandry and handicraft, their military equipment and organization, to the fashions of the capital. Their armies were modeled on similar lines, and consisted of archers, pikemen, slingers, and those troops of horsemen which accompanied the chariotry on flying raids; the chariots, moreover, closely followed the Assyrian type, even down to the padded bar with embroidered hangings which connected the body of the chariot with the end of the pole.

The Syrian princes did not adopt the tiara, but they wore the long fringed robe, confined by a girdle at the waist, and their mode of life, with its ceremonies, duties, and recreations, differed little from that prevailing in the palaces of Calah or Babylon. They hunted big game, including the lion, according to the laws of the chase recognized at Nineveh, priding themselves as much on their exploits in hunting, as on their triumphs in war. Their religion was derived from the common source which underlay all Semitic religions, but a considerable number of Babylonian deities were also worshipped; these had been introduced in some cases without any modification, whilst in others they had been assimilated to more ancient gods bearing similar characteristics: at Nerab, among the Patina, Nusku and his female companion Nikal, both of Chaldean origin, claimed the homage of the faithful, to the disparagement of Shahr the moon and Shamash the sun. Local cults often centered round obscure deities held in little account by the dominant races; thus Samalla reverenced Uru the light, Rekubel the wind, the chariot of El, not to mention El himself, Resheph, Hadad, and the Cabiri, the servants of Resheph. These deities were mostly of the Assyrian type, and if one may draw any conclusion from the few representations of them already discovered, their rites must have been celebrated in a manner similar to that followed in the cities on the Lower Euphrates. Scarcely any signs of Egyptian influence survived, though here and there a trace of it might be seen in the figures of calf or bull, the vulture of Mut or the sparrow-hawk of Horus. Assur-Nazir-Pal, marching from the banks of the Khabur to Bit-Adini, and from Bit-Adini passing on to Northern Syria, might almost have imagined himself still in his own dominions, so gradual and imperceptible were the changes in language and civilization in the country traversed between Nineveh and Assur, Tul-Barsip and Samalla.




His expedition was unattended by danger or bloodshed. Lubarna, the reigning prince of the Patina, was possibly at that juncture meditating the formation of a Syrian empire under his rule. Unki, in which lay his capital of Kunulua, was one of the richest countries of Asia, being well watered by the Afrin, Orontes, and Saluara; no fields produced such rich harvests as his, no meadows pastured such cattle or were better suited to the breeding of war-horses. His mountain provinces yielded him wood and minerals, and provided a reserve of semi-savage woodcutters and herdsmen from which to recruit his numerous   battalions. The neighboring princes, filled with uneasiness or jealousy by his good fortune, saw in the Assyrian monarch a friend and a liberator rather than an enemy. Carchemish opened its gates and laid at his feet the best of its treasures—twenty talents of silver, ingots, rings and daggers of gold, a hundred talents of copper, two hundred talents of iron, bronze bulls, cups decorated with scenes in relief or outline, ivory in the tusk or curiously wrought, purple and   embroidered stuffs, and the state chariot of its King Shangara.   

 The Hittite troops, assembled in haste, joined forces with the Aramaean auxiliaries, and the united host advanced on Coele-Syria. The scribe commissioned to record the history of this expedition has taken a delight in inserting the most minute details. Leaving Carchemish, the army followed the great caravan route, and, winding its way between the hills of Munzigani and Khamurga, skirting Bit-Agusi, at length arrived under the walls of Khazazu among the Patina. The town having purchased immunity by a present of gold and of finely woven stuffs, the army proceeded to cross the Aprie, on the bank of which an entrenched camp was formed for the storage of the spoil. Lubarna offered no resistance, but  nevertheless refused to acknowledge his inferiority; after some delay, it was decided to make a direct attack on his capital, Kunulua, whither he had retired. The appearance of the Assyrian vanguard put a speedy end to his ideas of resistance: prostrating himself before his powerful adversary, he offered hostages, and emptied his palaces and stables to provide a ransom. This comprised twenty talents of silver, one talent of gold, a hundred talents of lead, a hundred talents of iron, a thousand bulls, ten thousand sheep, daughters of his nobles with befitting changes of garments, and all the paraphernalia of vessels, jewels, and costly stuffs which formed the necessary furniture of a princely household. The effect of his submission on his own vassals and the neighboring tribes was shown in different ways. Bit-Agusi at once sent messengers to congratulate the conqueror, but the mountain provinces awaited the invaders nearer approach before following its example. Assur-Nazir-Pal, seeing that they did not take the initiative, crossed the Orontes, probably at the spot where the iron bridge now stands, and making his way through the country between Iaraku and Iaturi, reached the banks of the Sangura without encountering any difficulty. After a brief halt there in camp, he turned his back on the sea, and passing between Saratini and Duppani, took by assault the fortress of Aribua. This stronghold commanded all the surrounding country, and was the seat of a palace which Lubarna at times used as a summer residence. Here Assur-Nazir-Pal took up his quarters, and deposited within its walls the corn and spoils of Lukhuti; he established here an Assyrian colony, and, besides being the scene of royal festivities, it became henceforth the centre of operations against the mountain tribes.   The forts of the latter were destroyed, their houses burned, and prisoners were impaled outside the gates of their cities.  




Having achieved this noble exploit, the king crossed the intervening spurs of Lebanon and marched down to the shores of the Mediterranean. Here he bathed his weapons in the waters, and offered the customary sacrifices to the gods of the sea, while the Phoenicians, with their wonted prudence, hastened to anticipate his demands—Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, Mahallat, Maiza, Kaiza, the Amorites and Arvad, all sending tribute. One point strikes us forcibly as we trace on the map the march of this victorious hero, namely, the care with which he confined himself to the left bank of the Orontes, and the restraint he exercised in leaving untouched the fertile fields of its valley, whose wealth was so calculated to excite his cupidity. This discretion would be inexplicable, did we not know that there existed in that region a formidable power which he may have thought it imprudent to provoke. It was Damascus which held sway over those territories whose frontiers he respected, and its kings, also suzerains of Hamath and masters of half Israel, were powerful enough to resist, if not conquer, any enemy who might present himself. The fear inspired by Damascus naturally explains the attitude adopted by the Hittite states towards the invader, and the precautions taken by the latter to restrict his operations within somewhat narrow limits. Having accepted the complimentary presents of the Phoenicians, the king again took his way northwards—making a slight detour in order to ascend the Amanos for the purpose of erecting there a stele commemorating his exploits, and of cutting pines, cedars, and larches for his buildings—and then returned to Nineveh amid the acclamations of his people.

In reading the history of this campaign, its plan and the principal events which took place in it appear at times to be the echo of what had happened some centuries before. The recapitulation of the halting-places near the sources of the Tigris and on the banks of the Upper Euphrates, the marches through the valleys of the Zagros or on the slopes of Kashiari, the crushing one by one of the Mesopotamian races, ending in a triumphal progress through Northern Syria, is almost a repetition, both as to the names and order of the places mentioned, of the expedition made by Tiglath-Pileser in the first five years of his reign. The question may well arise in passing whether Assur-Nazir-Pal consciously modeled his campaign on that of his ancestor, as, in Egypt, Ramses III imitated Ramses II, or whether, in similar circumstances, he instinctively and naturally followed the same line of march. In either case, he certainly showed on all sides greater wisdom than his predecessor, and having attained the object of his ambition, avoided compromising his success by injudiciously attacking Damascus or Babylon, the two powers who alone could have offered effective resistance.

The victory he had gained, in 879, over the brother of Nabu-Baliddin had immensely flattered his vanity. His panegyrists vied with each other in depicting Karduniash bewildered by the terror of his majesty, and the Chaldeans overwhelmed by the fear of his arms; but he did not allow himself to be carried away by their extravagant flatteries, and continued to the end of his reign to observe the treaties concluded between the two courts in the time of his grandfather Ramman-nirari. He had, however, sufficiently enlarged his dominions, in less than ten years, to justify some display of pride. He himself described his empire as extending, on the west of Assyria proper, from the banks of the Tigris near Nineveh to Lebanon and the Mediterranean; besides which, Sukhi was subject to him, and this included the province of Rapiku on the frontiers of Babylonia. He had added to his older provinces of Amidi, Masios and Singar, the whole strip of Armenian territory at the foot of the Taurus range, from the sources of the Supnat to those of the Bitlis-tchai, and he held the passes leading to the banks of the Arzania, in Kirruri and Gilzan, while the extensive country of Nairi had sworn him allegiance. Towards the south-east the wavering tribes, which alternately gave their adherence to Assur or Babylon according to circumstances, had ranged themselves on his side, and formed a large frontier province beyond the borders of his hereditary kingdom, between the Lesser Zab and the Turnat.




But, despite repeated blows inflicted on them, he had not succeeded in welding these various factors into a compact and homogeneous whole; some small proportion of them were assimilated to Assyria, and were governed directly by royal officials, but the greater number were merely dependencies, more or less insecurely held by the obligations of vassalage or servitude. In some provinces the native chiefs were under the surveillance of Assyrian residents; these districts paid an annual tribute proportionate to the resources and products of their country: thus Kirruri and the neighboring states contributed horses, mules, bulls, sheep, wine, and copper vessels; the Aramaeans gold, silver, lead, copper, both wrought and in the ore, purple, and colored or embroidered stuffs; while Izalla, Nirbu, Nirdun, and Bit-Zamani had to furnish horses, chariots, metals, and cattle. The less civilized and more distant tribes were not, like these, subject to regular tribute, but each time the sovereign traversed their territory or approached within reasonable distance, their chiefs sent or brought to him valuable presents as fresh pledges of their loyalty. Royal outposts, built at regular intervals and carefully fortified, secured the fulfillment of these obligations, and served as depots for storing the commodities collected by the royal officials; such outposts were, Damdamusa on the north-west of the Kashiari range, Tushkhan on the Tigris, Tilluli between the Supnat and the Euphrates, Aribua among the Patina, and others scattered irregularly between the Greater and Lesser Zab, on the Khabur, and also in Nairi. These strongholds served as places of refuge for the residents and their guards in case of a revolt, and as food-depots for the armies in the event of war bringing them into their neighborhood. In addition to these, Assur-Nazir-Pal also strengthened the defences of Assyria proper by building fortresses at the points most open to attack; he repaired or completed the defenses of Kaksi, to command the plain between the Greater and Lesser Zab and the Tigris; he rebuilt the castles or towers which guarded the river-fords and the entrances to the valleys of the Gebel Makhlub and erected at Calah the fortified palace which his successors continued to inhabit for the ensuing five hundred years.




Assur-Nazir-Pal had resided at Nineveh from the time of his accession to the throne; from thence he had set out on four successive campaigns, and thither he had returned at the head of his triumphant troops; there he had received the kings who came to pay him homage and the governors who implored his help against foreign attacks; thither he had sent rebel chiefs, and there, after they had marched in ignominy through the streets, he had put them to torture and to death before the eves of the crowd, and their skins were perchance still hanging nailed to the battlements when he decided to change the seat of his capital. The ancient palace no longer suited his present state as a conqueror; the accommodation was too restricted, the decoration too poor, and probably the number of apartments was insufficient to house the troops of women and slaves brought back from his wars by its royal master. Built on the very bank of the Tebilti, one of the tributaries of the Khusur, and hemmed in by three temples, there was no possibility of its enlargement—a difficulty which often occurs in ancient cities. The necessary space for new buildings could only have been obtained by altering the course of the stream, and sacrificing a large part of the adjoining quarters of the city: Assur-Nazir-Pal therefore preferred to abandon the place and to select a new site where he would have ample space at his disposal.

He found what he required close at hand in the half-ruined city of Calah, where many of his most illustrious predecessors had in times past sought refuge from the heat of Assur. It was now merely an obscure and sleepy town about twelve miles south of Nineveh, on the right bank of the Tigris, and almost at the angle made by the junction of this river with the Greater Zab. The place contained a palace built by Shalmaneser I, which, owing to many years’ neglect, had become uninhabitable. Assur-Nazir-Pal not only razed to the ground the palaces and temples, but also leveled the mound on which they had been built; he then cleared away the soil down to the water-level, and threw up an immense and almost rectangular terrace on which to lay out his new buildings. The king chose Ninip, the god of war, as the patron of the city, and dedicated to him, at the north-west corner of the terrace, a ziggurat with its usual temple precincts. Here the god was represented as a bull with a man’s head and bust, in gilded alabaster, and two yearly feasts were instituted in his honor, one in the month Sebat, the other in the month Ulul. The ziggurat was a little over two hundred feet high, and was probably built in seven stages, of which only one now remains intact: around it are found several independent series of chambers and passages, which may have been parts of other temples, but it is now impossible to say which belonged to the local Belit, which to Sin, to Gula, to Kaminan, or to the ancient deity Ea.

At the entrance to the largest chamber, on a rectangular pedestal, stood a stele with rounded top, after the Egyptian fashion. On it is depicted a figure of the king, standing erect and facing to the left of the spectator; he holds his mace at his side, his right hand is raised in the attitude of adoration, and above him, on the left upper edge of the stele, are grouped the five signs of the planets; at the base of the stele stands an altar with a triangular pedestal and circular slab ready for the offerings to be presented to the royal founder by priests or people. The palace extended along the south side of the terrace facing the town, and with the river in its rear; it covered a space one hundred and thirty-one yards in length and a hundred and nine in breadth. In the centre was a large court, surrounded by seven or eight spacious halls, appropriated to state functions; between these and the court were many rooms of different sizes, forming the offices and private apartments of the royal house.

The whole palace was built of brick faced with stone. Three gate­ways, flanked by winged, human-headed bulls, afforded access to the largest apartment, the hall of audience, where the king received his subjects or the envoys of foreign powers. The doorways and walls of some of the rooms were decorated with glazed tiles, but the majority of them were covered with bands of coloured bas-reliefs which portrayed various episodes in the life of the king—his state-councils, his lion-hunts, the reception of tribute, marches over mountains and rivers, chariot-skirmishes, sieges, and the torture and carrying away of captives. Incised in bands across these pictures are inscriptions extolling the omnipotence of Assur, while at intervals genii with eagles’ beaks, or deities in human form, imperious and fierce, appear with hands full of offerings, or in the act of brandishing thunderbolts against evil spirits.




The architect who designed this imposing decoration, and the sculptors who executed it, closely followed the traditions of ancient Chaldea in the drawing and composition of their designs, and in the use of color or chisel; but the qualities and defects peculiar to their own race gave a certain character of originality to this borrowed art. They exaggerated the stern and athletic aspect of their models, making the figures thick-set, the muscles extraordinarily enlarged, and the features ludicrously accentuated. Their pictures produce an impression of awkwardness, confusion and heaviness, but the detail is so minute and the animation so great that the attention of the spectator is forcibly arrested; these uncouth beings impress us with the sense of their self-reliance and their confidence in their master, as we watch them brandishing their weapons or hurrying to the attack, and see the shock of battle and the death-blows given and received.

The human-headed bulls, standing on guard at the gates, exhibit the calm and pensive dignity befitting creatures conscious of their strength, while the lions passant who sometimes replace them, snarl and show their teeth with an almost alarming ferocity. The statues of men and gods, as a rule, are lacking in originality. The heavy robes which drape them from head to foot give them the appearance of cylinders tied in at the centre and slightly flattened towards the top. The head surmounting this shapeless bundle is the only life-like part, and even the lower half of this is rendered heavy by the hair and beard, whose tightly curled tresses lie in stiff rows one above the other. The upper part of the face which alone is visible is correctly drawn; the expression is of rather a commonplace type of nobility—respectable but self-sufficient. The features—eyes, forehead, nose, mouth—are all those of Assur-Nazir-Pal; the hair is arranged in the fashion he affected, and the robe is embroidered with his jewels; but amid all this we miss the keen intelligence always present in Egyptian sculpture, whether under the royal head-dress of Cheops or in the expectant eyes of the sitting scribe: the Assyrian sculptor could copy the general outline of his model fairly well, but could not infuse soul into the face of the conqueror, whose “countenance beamed above the destruction around him”.




The water of the Tigris being muddy, and unpleasant to the taste, and the wells at Calah so charged with lime and bitumen as to render them unwhole­some, Assur-Nazir-Pal supplied the city with water from the neighboring Zab. An abundant stream was diverted from this river at the spot now called Negub, and conveyed at first by a tunnel excavated in the rock, and thence by an open canal to the foot of the great terrace: at this point the flow of the water was regulated by dams, and the surplus was utilized for irrigation purposes by means of openings cut in the banks. The aqueduct was named Babilat-khigal—the bringer of plenty—and, to justify the epithet, date-palms, vines, and many kinds of fruit trees were planted along its course, so that both banks soon assumed the appearance of a shady orchard interspersed with small towns and villas. The population rapidly increased, partly through the spontaneous influx of Assyrians themselves, but still more through the repeated introduction of bands of foreign prisoners: forts, established at the fords of the Zab, or commanding the roads which cross the Gebel Makhlub, kept the country in subjection and formed an inner line of defense at a short distance from the capital.

Assur-Nazir-Pal kept up a palace, garden, and small temple, near the fort of Imgur-Bel, the modern Balawat: thither he repaired for intervals of repose from state affairs, to enjoy the pleasures of the chase and cool air in the hot season. He did not entirely abandon his other capitals, Nineveh and Assur, visiting them occasionally, but Calah was his favorite seat, and on its adornment he spent the greater part of his wealth and most of his leisure hours. Only once again did he abandon his peaceful pursuits and take the field, about the year 897 BC during the eponymy of Shamashnuri. The tribes on the northern boundary of the empire had apparently forgotten the lessons they had learnt at the cost of so much bloodshed at the beginning of his reign: many had omitted to pay the tribute due, one chief had seized the royal cities of Amidi and Damdamusa, and the rebellion threatened to spread to Assyria itself.




Assur-Nazir-Pal girded on his armor and led his troops to battle as vigorously as in the days of his youth. He hastily collected, as he passed through their lands, the tribute due from Kipani, Izalla, and Kummukh, gained the banks of the Euphrates, traversed Gubbu burning everything on his way, made a detour through Dirria and Kirkhi, and finally halted before the walls of Damdamusa. Six hundred soldiers of the garrison perished in the assault and four hundred were taken prisoners: these he carried to Amidi and impaled as an object-lesson round its walls; but, the defenders of the town remaining undaunted, he raised the siege and plunged into the gorges of the Kashiari. Having there reduced to submission Uda, the capital of Lapturi, son of Tubusi, he returned to Calah, taking with him six thousand prisoners whom he settled as colonists around his favorite residence. This was his last exploit: he never subsequently quitted his hereditary domain, but there passed the remaining seven years of his life in peace, if not in idleness. He died in 860 BC, after a reign of twenty-five years.

His portraits represent him as a vigorous man, with a brawny neck and broad shoulders, capable of bearing the weight of his armor for many hours at a time. He is short in the head, with a somewhat flattened skull and low forehead; his eyes are large and deep-set beneath bushy eyebrows, his cheek­bones high, and his nose aquiline, with a fleshy tip and wide nostrils, while his mouth and chin are hidden by moustache and beard. The whole figure is instinct with real dignity, yet such dignity as is due rather to rank and the habitual exercise of power, than to the innate qualities of the man.

The character of Assur-Nazir-Pal, as gathered from the dry details of his Annals, seems to have been very complex. He was as ambitious, resolute, and active as any prince in the world; yet he refrained from offensive warfare as soon as his victories had brought under his rule the majority of the countries formerly subject to Tiglath-Pileser I. He knew the crucial moment for ending a campaign, arresting his progress where one more success might have brought him into collision with some formidable neighbor; and this wise prudence in his undertakings enabled him to retain the principal acquisitions won by his arms. As a worshipper of the gods he showed devotion and gratitude; he was just to his subjects, but his  conduct towards his enemies was so savage as to appear to us cruel even for that terribly pitiless age: no king ever employed such horrible punishments, or at least none has described with such satisfaction the tortures inflicted on his vanquished foes. Perhaps such measures were necessary, and the harshness with which he repressed insurrection prevented more frequent outbreaks and so averted greater sacrifice of life. But the horror of these scenes so appalls the modern reader, that at first he can only regard Assur-Nazir-Pal as a royal butcher of the worst type.