Assyria
Part Eight
Author: Godspeed, George

 

Advance Into Syria And The Rise Of Urartu.

From Shalmaneser II To The Fall Of His House. 860-745 B.C.

172. For more than a century after the death of Ashurnacirpal (860
B.C.) his descendants occupied the throne of Assyria. The period is one of
great variety in details; new peoples come upon the scene as the empire
widens; new political problems appear for solution in the increasing
complexity of the field and the factors involved; inner difficulties arise
the presence of which is not easily to be accounted for, though of obvious
significance; the dynasty at last gives way to a successful revolution.
But, in the main features, the historical development of Assyria continues
as before, with the same lines of policy, the same unwearied military
activity, the same unceasing effort after expansion, the same methods of
government, the same relations to peoples without. Accordingly, to trace in
repetitious detail the campaigns of the several kings in turn, would be
wearisome and unprofitable. Their work may be considered as a whole, its
general features described, and its results summarized, while the special
achievements of each ruler are properly appreciated. Ashurnacirpal was
succeeded by his son Shalmaneser II., whose thirty-five years of reigning
(860-825 B.C.) were one long military campaign. Either under his own
leadership, or that of his commanding general, the Turtan, his armies
marched in all directions, coercing rebellious vassals, and collecting their
tribute, or seeking new peoples to conquer. An obelisk of black basalt
records in brief sentences, year by year, thirty-two of these expeditions,
and its testimony is supplemented on the other monuments of the king by
fuller accounts of particular achievements. His son, Shamshi Adad IV.,
reigned less than half as long as his father (825-812 B.C.), and has left,
as his memorial, a monolith, the inscription of which covers only half of
his years. Adadnirari III. followed (812-783 B.C.), ascending the throne of
his father, apparently, in early youth, but ruling with great energy and
splendor for nearly thirty years. Unfortunately, no satisfactory annals of
his reign have been preserved. Royal inscriptions from the next three kings
utterly fail. Shalmaneser III. (783-773 B.C.), Ashurdan III. (773-755
B.C.), and Ashurnirari II. (755-745 B.C.) are known to us from the limu list
alone, where the brief references to years without campaigns, to pestilence
and revolt, tell the melancholy story of imperial decay, until, with the
last of the three, the dynasty fell, and a usurper seized the crown.

173. Beyond a few facts, little is known of the political organization
and economic development of Assyria during this century. In the time of
Shalmaneser II. and his two successors, the spoil of subject peoples
continued to flow in abundantly, precious metals and manufactured articles
from the west, corn, wine, and domestic animals from the north and east.
Among the latter, two-humped dromedaries, received from the far northeast,
obtained special mention as novelties, and point to the control of a trade
route from the upper Iranian plateau. Shalmaneser seems to have taken a
step forward, in the imposition of a regular and definite yearly tribute
upon certain communities. Thus the kingdom of Patin paid one talent of
silver, two talents of purple cloth, and two hundred (?) cedar beams;
another king, at the foot of Mount Amanus, ten mina of silver, two hundred
cedar beams, and other products of cedar; Karkhemish paid sixty mina of
gold, one talent of silver, and two talents of purple cloth; Qummukh, twenty
mina of silver, and three hundred cedar beams. A prescribed number of
horses broken to the yoke was required from the northern tribes. These
requisitions are more moderate than were the spoils gained in the descents
of the armies upon the various subject regions, and indicate that already
the Assyrian kings perceived the wisdom of adjusting their demands to the
resources of the lands under their sway. Much less harshness in the wars is
recorded. Measures like those of Ashurnacirpal were reserved for the few
peoples whose rebellious spirit or persistent hostility seemed to justify
extreme penalties. Indeed, revolts became less frequent, because during
this period the empire was becoming more compact by the direct incorporation
of regions long subject to Assyrian authority. A striking illustration of
this fact is found in the limu list, in which a regular order in the
succession of officials seems to be established. In it appear governors of
cities and districts along the borders, such as Racappa (Reseph) on the
right bank of the Euphrates, Arpakha on the Elamite border, Nacibina
(Nisibis) in northern Mesopotamia, Amid and Tushkha in the northern
mountains, Guzana (Gozan) in western Mesopotamia, Kirruri, and Mazamua, in
the northeastern mountains. To have occupied places in this honorable list,
the occupants of such posts must have been in intimate association with the
court, and their administrative activity in immediate dependence on the
central power.

174. The usual internal troubles that beset oriental monarchies
appeared in this century in Assyria. Family difficulties in the reigning
house broke out in the rebellion of Shalmaneser's son Ashurdaninpal in the
thirty-third year of his father's reign. The cause is not difficult to
comprehend. Six years before, Shalmaneser had handed over the leadership of
his military expeditions to his Turtan, Dain Ashur. To this evidence of his
own growing weakness, and the natural fear, on the part of his sons, of the
usurpation of the throne by this general, is, perhaps, to be added a palace
intrigue, which threatened the future accession of Ashurdaninpal by the
putting forward of another son of Shalmaneser, Shamshi Adad, as a candidate
for the throne. The rebellion was a very serious one, involving twenty-
seven cities of the empire, among which were Nineveh, Assur, Arbela, Imgur
Bel, Amid, and Til-abni. Kalkhi and, apparently, the army were, however,
faithful to the king. In the midst of this civil war Shalmaneser died, and,
only after it had endured six years, was Shamshi Adad able to bring it to a
close and make sure his title to the crown. The blow inflicted upon the
centres of Assyrian life must have been very severe. Sixty years after
this, another revolt is chronicled, the causes of which are to be found in
the foreign politics of Assyria. The rising kingdom of Urartu was steadily
encroaching upon Assyria all along the northern border as far as the
Mediterranean, and the kings were being forced into a defensive attitude in
spite of all their efforts. Thus Assyrian military pride was wounded, and
mercantile prestige was crippled. A total eclipse of the sun occurring on
June 15, 763 B.C., was thought the favorable moment for raising the standard
of rebellion in the city of Assur. A line drawn across the limu list at
this year suggests the setting up of a rival king in that city. The revolt
spread to Arbakha in the east, and Gozan in the west, but was finally
subdued. In 746 B.C., however,another insurrection broke out in the
imperial military city of Kalkhi. Ashurnirari II. had been satisfied to
spend more than half his regnal years without making any military
expeditions, and, though in itself the fact does not account for the revolt,
since the latter half of the great Ashurnacirpal's reign is likewise
unmarked by wars, it reveals the manifest inability of this ruler to cope
with the threatening foreign difficulties. The attitude of the army was
decisive, and Ashurnirari disappeared before a military leader who became
king in 745 B.C. under the title of Tiglathpileser III.

175. While in these last troubled years the prosperity of the state
must have been severely shaken, the earlier and more successful kings show,
in their inscriptions and public works, that they were not behind
Ashurnacirpal in the development of the higher life of the nation.
Shalmaneser II. seems to have resided at Assur and Nineveh in his early
years, and in each of these cities traces of his building operations remain.
Kalkhi, however, was his real capital, and here, in the centre of the great
mound (sect. 170), he built his palace, of which, unfortunately, but few
remains have been found. In it stood the "Black Obelisk" (sect. 172), and
two gigantic winged bulls carved in high relief on slabs fourteen feet
square, inscribed with accounts of the royal campaigns (Layard, N. and R.,
I. pp. 59, 280 ff.). Toward the close of his reign the king rebuilt the
wall of Assur in stone, and left there a statue of himself seated on his
throne. At Imgur Bel, nine miles east of Kalkhi, were found the most
splendid remains of the artistic skill of his reign, the bronze sheathings
of what seems to be a wooden gate with double doors, twenty-seven feet in
height. These bronze plates were ornamented with scenes done in repousse
work, representing events in the various expeditions of the king. A
sacrifice on the shores of Lake Van, the storming of a fortress in Nairi,
the receipt of tribute from Syria, the burning of a captured city - are some
of the subjects, the treatment of which is bold and spirited, and differs
from the work of the earlier period chiefly in the variety of detail,
suggestive of the different localities in which the scenes are placed.
Skill in the handling of the metal, sharpness of observation, and an
artistic eye in the choice of scenes testify to the remarkable attainments
of the royal artists. The inscriptions of the several kings do not differ
largely from the conventional form adopted from earlier models. That of
Shamshi Adad, indeed, evinces a certain freedom of characterization,
indicating some independence in the details of literary expression, but
otherwise the same annalistic form and traditional figures of speech
prevail. Few other literary remains have survived. To Shalmaneser II. is
ascribed the foundation at Kalkhi of the royal library. It had a librarian
who cared for its collections. The works were chiefly Babylonian classical
religious texts, either in originals brought from the south as the spoil of
war, or copies made by scribes. The stock of books was still further
increased under Adadnirari III. and Ashurnirari II. Under the former king
was produced the diplomatic document known as the "Synchronistic History of
Assyria and Babylonia," a summary of the political relations between the
kings of these countries from the earliest period (sect. 30). The influence
of Assyrian culture of the time on its environment is illustrated by the
royal inscriptions of the kings of Urartu, who at first write in the
Assyrian language, and later employ the Assyrian script for their native
speech.

176. The religious life of the times receives light from several sides.
The inscriptions of the kings, while still emphasizing the warlike side of
religion and glorifying the gods of war, reveal a tendency to exalt the
ethical element. Particularly the ranging of the sun-god Shamash alongside
of the national deity Ashur as the guide and inspirer of the king, and the
epithets applied to him such as "judge of the world," "ordainer of all
things," "director of mankind," and - though this is uncertain - "lord of
law," suggest the development of a sense of order and justice in the
government (Jastrow, Rel. of Bab. and Assyr., p. 210). A new emphasis on
culture is indicated by the high place ascribed in the reign of Adadnirari
III. to the Babylonian god of wisdom and learning, Nabu. A temple was built
for him on the mound of Kalkhi, and his statues were placed within it. On
one of them, prepared in honor of the king and the queen, an inscription,
glorifying the god as the clear-eyed, the patron of the arts, the holder of
the pen, whose attribute is wisdom, whose power is unequalled, and without
whom no decision in heaven is made, closes with the exhortation "O
Posterity, trust in Nabu; trust not in any other god!" Whatever may have
been the occasion to make so much of this god at this time, it is clear that
he represented to the Assyrians an ideal of life never before so attractive
to them and suggestive of their higher aspirations.

177. Turning to the first of those fields of aggressive activity in
which Assyria made distinct advance, it appears that in the year 852 B.C.
Babylonia engaged the attention of Shalmaneser II. Nabupaliddin, its king,
a vigorous defender of his state against the Arameans, had succeeded in
keeping free from hostilities with Ashurnacirpal and had even made alliance
with Shalmaneser II. After a long reign of at least thirty-one years, his
people deposed him, and his son Marduknadinshum succeeded to the throne,
which was contested by his brother, Mardukbelusate. The latter, having his
strength in the eastern provinces with their more vigorous population, was
pressing hard upon his brother, who held Babylon and the other cities of
western and middle Babylonia. Marduknadinshum appealed to Shalmaneser II.
for aid, which was promptly granted. In the two campaigns of 852-851 B.C.
the Assyrian king overthrew and killed the usurper, and restored the kingdom
to Marduknadinshum, who naturally became a vassal. As a sign of supremacy
and with the customary reverence of an Assyrian king for the shrines of
Babylonia, Shalmaneser visited the temples of Babylon, Borsippa, and Kutha,
and made rich offerings to the gods. Two hundred and fifty years had passed
since an Assyrian king had entered Babylon, and now the Assyrian suzerainty
was acknowledged by the legitimate Babylonian king, of his own accord.
Shalmaneser found the kingdom beset by its southern neighbors, the Kaldi
(sect. 155), who had organized petty kingdoms and were constantly pushing up
from the coast. He advanced against them, defeated one of their kings, and
laid tribute upon them. The suzerainty of Assyria was thrown off by
Babylon, possibly in the time of the rebellion of Ashurdaninpal, and was re-
established by Shamshi Adad in 818 B.C., who, however, according to the limu
list, occupied the last five years of his reign in expeditions to Babylonian
cities, and bequeathed the problem to his successor. Adadnirari III., after
an expedition in his first years, in which he fully restored Assyrian
supremacy, appears to have entered into very close relations with the
southern kingdom. The completion of the so-called "Synchronistic History"
in his reign marks a final stage in the boundary dispute between the two
states. The building of the Nabu temple at Kalkhi is an evidence of his
regard for things Babylonian. The mention in the inscription on the statue
of Nabu (sect. 176) of the Queen Sammuramat, the "lady of the palace," to
whom, together with the king, the statue is dedicated, has given rise to a
variety of interesting comment. That she should be named in this connection
suggests that she was active in the new Babylonian worship, and that,
therefore, she may have been herself a Babylonian princess, either wife or
mother of the king. The similarity of the name Semiramis, the famous queen
mentioned by Herodotus (I. 184) as ruling over Babylon, has suggested the
identity of the two royal ladies, but without much gain to history thereby.
The activity of the three last kings of the family, so far as Babylonia was
concerned, was consumed in expeditions against the Ituha, Aramean tribes in
lower Mesopotamia, who evidently interfered with the communications between
the two countries. Adadnirari had already found them troublesome. Whether
the later kings of the dynasty exercised supremacy over the southern kingdom
is uncertain with the probabilities against it in view of the growing
weakness of the royal house. A remarkable and as yet inexplicable fact is
that with Nabunacir, who became king in Babylonia in 747 B.C., the famous
Canon of Ptolemy begins, as well as the Babylonian Chronicle, as though the
accession of this ruler marked an epoch in the development of the state.
Yet no historical memorials in our possession suggest any special change in
Babylonian affairs.

178. The Babylonian problem was neither so serious nor so insistent as
those of the west and the north. Ashurnacirpal had subdued the west
Mesopotamian states up and down the Euphrates, and, in his one Syrian
expedition, had made the Assyrian name known as far as the Mediterranean.
His successors proceeded to make that name supreme between the great river
and the sea, from the Amanus to the Lebanons. Before advancing thither,
however, Shalmaneser had to make good his title to the Aramean states which
had yielded to his father. Upon his accession Akhuni of Bit Adini (sects.
163 f.) rebelled, and four years (859-856 B.C.) were needed to subjugate
him. With great ability he had formed a league of states on either side of
the Euphrates, as far as Patin, to repel the Assyrian advance, - a method of
resistance in which the southern Syrian states were soon to imitate him with
greater success. Unfortunately the league fell to pieces on its first
defeat. Akhuni fought on alone desperately for three years, but was finally
captured and taken to the city of Assur. Northern Syria as represented in
the states of Karkhemish, Samal, and Patin, had already done homage. The
way was open to the south. Planting Assyrian colonists at important centres
and leaving garrisons in the chief cities of Bit Adini to which he gave
Assyrian names, the king marched to the southwest in 854 B.C. A new country
lay before him,as yet untrodden by an Assyrian army.

179. Three leading states divided the region between them; namely,
Hamath, Damascus, and Israel. Eighty miles south of Khalman, the southern
border of Assyrian authority in Syria, lay Hamath, at the entrance to Coele
Syria; one hundred miles farther south was Damascus; the border of Israel
met the confines of Damascus yet fifty miles west of south. Each state
controlled the country round about it. Israel dominated Judah, Moab, and
Edom; Damascus and Hamath were in treaty relations with the Phoenician ports
on the coast near to them. With one another they were in more or less
continuous war, the outcome of which at any particular time might be the
temporary suzerainty of the one or the other. Ever since Asa of Judah had
made the fatal blunder of inviting the king of Damascus to attack Baasha of
Israel in his interest, Damascus had been involved with Israel. Omri,
founder of a new dynasty and of a new capital of his country at Samaria, had
been worsted in the war. His son, Ahab, seems also to have reigned under
Damascene influence. In the face of Shalmaneser's advance and in imitation
of the example of Akhuni, a coalition was made under the leadership of the
three kings, Irkhuleni of Hamath, Benhadad II. of Damascus, and Ahab of
Israel, to which the kings of nine other peoples contributed troops. With
an army of nearly four thousand chariots, two thousand cavalry, one thousand
camel riders, and sixty-three thousand infantry, they met the Assyrian king
at Qarqar on the Orontes, twenty miles north of Hamath (854 B.C.). The
Assyrian won the battle, no doubt, as he claims, but the victory was
indecisive, and he retired beyond the Euphrates without capturing any of the
capitals of his enemies or receiving their tribute. Indeed, his own domains
in Syria withheld tribute, and in 850 B.C. he was compelled to chastise the
kings of Karkhemish and Bit Agusi. In the next year, 849 B.C.,he
encountered the southern coalition again, and again withdrew. In 846 B.C.
he called out the militia of Assyria and attacked the twelve allied kings
with an army of one hundred and twenty thousand soldiers, but without any
recorded success in the form of tribute. The situation was critical. Three
years later (843 B.C.) he visited his Syrian provinces, marching to the
Amanus without venturing southward. Meanwhile, either his intrigues or the
inconstancy of Syrian princes had been working for him. Revolutions had
taken place in Damascus and Israel. Benhadad II. had been overthrown by
Hazael, and the house of Omri by Jehu. Shalmaneser II. developed new
tactics. Marching westward, in 842 B.C., as though making for the sea at
the mouth of the Orontes, he suddenly turned southward, leaving Khalman,
Hamath, and Damascus on his left. He thus took the allied states unprepared
and divided. Hazael was isolated, but met the Assyrians on the eastern
slopes of Mount Hermon. They drove him back to Damascus and ravaged the
territory down into the Hauran, but could not capture his city. The cities
of Tyre and Sidon sent "tribute." Hamath appears to have submitted, though
the fact is not mentioned. More significant still was the attitude of
Israel, whose king Jehu sent "tribute," "silver, gold, golden bowls, golden
chalices, golden cups, golden buckets, lead, a royal sceptre and spear
shafts (?)." Yet so long as Hazael remained unsubdued, these gifts were
empty. A last expedition against him in 839 B.C. was equally unsuccessful
in subjugating him, though the Phoenician cities again sent presents.
Assyria had been virtually halted. Shalmaneser's armies never again marched
south of Hamath. Hazael was free to take vengeance on his recreant southern
allies, and soon was lord of the south, as far as the Egyptian border.
Israel was humiliated; Jehu and his son Jehoahaz became vassals.
Shalmaneser II. was forced to be content with northern Syria; but with the
southern trade routes cut off, he must find new outlets for Assyrian
commerce. He therefore turned toward the northwest where Tiglathpileser I.
had warred with the same purpose (sect. 144). Three campaigns are recorded
against Qui (Cilicia), where he reached Tarzi (Tarsus) in the rich Cilician
plain (840, 835, 834 B.C.); in 838 B.C. Tabal, in the vicinity of the modern
Marash, was his objective point; in 837 B.C. he renewed Assyrian authority
over Milid (sect. 144). In 832 B.C. his Turtan put down a rebellion in
Patin. Thus the land route to the west and with it the rich trade of Asia
Minor were secured for Assyria, and the civilization of the Tigris began
directly to affect the less advanced peoples of these regions.

180. The civil war in Assyria was not without influence in the west.
Khindanu, on the western bank of the Euphrates, and Hamath are mentioned
among the rebellious cities. Shamshi Adad gives no indication that he ever
crossed the Euphrates, and the presumption is that Assyrian authority in
these districts was at a discount. Adadnirari, however, has another story
to tell. In the summary of his achievements he says, "From above the
Euphrates, Khatti, Akharri to its whole extent, Tyre, Sidon, the land of
Omri, Edom, Palastu as far as the great sea of the setting sun I brought to
submission, [and] taxes and tribute I laid upon them" (see ABL, p. 52).
Special mention is made of an expedition to Damascus, where a certain Mari
(Benhadad III.?), who had succeeded to Hazael, was shut up in his capital,
and compelled to submit and pay tribute. In the limu list the objective
points of attack are Arpad (806 B.C.), Azaz (805 B.C.), Bahli (804 B.C.),
the seacoast (803 B.C.) that is, the Mediterranean (?), Mancuate (797 B.C.).
The two former cities are in northern Syria, the others in the central
region. It is impossible, therefore, to date the victory over Damascus, and
to determine whether the king ever traversed Israel and Palestine with his
armies, or merely received "tribute" from them. The latter is more probably
the case. The situation suggested is the breaking down of the dominance of
Damascus in the south, and the practical recovery of independence on the
part of the southern communities, by the easy method of sending gifts to the
Assyrian conqueror. The subjugation of Damascus would signify to the king
authority over all the regions owning Damascene supremacy. It is thought
that some indication of what this victory meant for Israel still lingers in
the late passage of 2 Kings xiii. 5, where the "saviour" may be identified
with the Assyrian king. At any rate, as no expedition of Adadnirari after
797 B.C. is recorded, and Mancuate, situated not far from Damascus, was the
objective point of that year, Israel, with its northern enemy weakened, was
able to recover strength, and, unmolested by Assyrian authority, make
headway against its foes. Nor did the Assyrian kings that belong to the
following years of decline disturb the southern states. A new centre of
opposition to Assyria developed at Hatarika (Hadrach), south of Hamath,
against which Ashurdan is said to have marched in 772 B.C. and 765 B.C.
Either he or his successor attacked it again in 755 B.C., and one expedition
of Ashurnirari against Arpad took place the next year (754 B.C.). It is
evident that, if northern Syria remained faithful, the central and southern
regions were practically free from Assyrian control after the reign of
Adadnirari III. It is easy to understand, therefore, how in this period so
brilliant a reign as that of Jeroboam II. of Israel was possible (2 Kings
xiv. 23-29).

181. The relations to the peoples of the northern and eastern frontier
form a not less important phase of Assyrian history during this period. The
mountain valleys through which the upper Tigris flows had been subjugated
and brought under direct Assyrian control by Ashurnacirpal (sects. 159 f.)
These gave the later kings little trouble. But the movements of peoples to
the east and north of this district, already in progress in his time (sect.
159), had produced a remarkable change in the political situation. In the
mountains from the southern slopes of which the Euphrates takes its rise,
peoples were forming into a nation calling itself Khaldia, after the name of
its god Khaldis, but to the Assyrians known as Urartu. They appear in
history as they come down from the flanks of Ararat in the far northeast, or
from homes on the banks of the Araxes, and move toward the southwest in the
direction of Lake Van, attracted by the rich valleys on its eastern shore.
Ashurnacirpal is the first to mention them as in this region, but does not
fight with them. The first kings of the new nation were Lutipris and
Sarduris I., followed - whether immediately or not is uncertain - by Arame.
Under this ruler the state made great strides westward and southward,
controlling the valley north of the Taurus almost to Milid, and the eastern
shores of Lake Van. Young, vigorous, aggressive, and eager for progress,
Urartu was ready to take part in the larger life of the world. Already it
had borrowed from Assyria its alphabet (sect. 175), and was preparing to
dispute the older nation's pre-eminence in the northern lands.

182. Disturbances in the northeast brought Shalmaneser II., in the year
of his accession (860 B.C.), into conflict with this new state. He
traversed the land of Khubushkia, lying to the southwest of Lake Urmia, and
thence fell upon Urartu. In 857 B.C., after defeating Akhuni on the
Euphrates (sect. 178), he suddenly turned northward and marched along the
western slope of Mount Masius over the Taurus to the upper waters of the
Euphrates. Laying waste this region, he faced eastward and made for Urartu.
Far up on the slopes of Ararat he destroyed Arzashku, Arame's capital,
devastated the land and returned through Gilzan (Kirzan), on the
northwestern shores of Lake Urmia, whence came the two-humped dromedaries,
and through Khubushkia, coming out of the mountains above Arbela, a march of
nearly a thousand miles. Similar expeditions from the sources of the Tigris
to those of the Euphrates are recorded for 845 B.C. and 833 B.C. The latter
was under command of the Turtan. In the interval Arame had been succeeded
by Sarduris II., whom the Turtan of Shalmaneser II. attacked again in 829
B.C. In the Ushpina of "Nairi," with whom the general of Shamshi Adad fought
in 819 B.C., has been recognized Ishpuinis, successor of Sarduris II. The
steady expansion of Urartu toward the south and west in these years caused
uneasiness among the peoples already settled along the Assyrian border, and
compelled the kings to make many expeditions into districts which hitherto
had not come within the range of Assyrian aggression. A large extension of
Assyrian territory, therefore, is traceable, although the royal authority
was not at all times very insistent. Thus appear the Mannai, to the west
and northwest of Lake Urmia; Mazamua and Parzua to the south of the same
lake, and the Madai, or Medians, further to the east. In these latter
people is to be recognized the first wave of that Indo-European migration
which was to exercise so important an influence upon the later history of
Western Asia. It has been plausibly conjectured that the movement of the
Medes from the steppes of central Asia had forced the advance of Urartu
toward the south, and that, swinging off to the southeast, they were
pressing on along the mountain barrier that overlooks the eastern
Mesopotamian plain. As in the case of Urartu, so with them, the Assyrian
kings, without being conscious of the magnitude of the interests involved,
felt that they must be stopped, if Assyria was to keep its position in the
oriental world. Adadnirari III. marched against them in not less than eight
campaigns. From him, indeed, they received more attention than did Urartu.
The latter under the son of Ishpuinis, Menuas, pushed east, west, and north,
from the Araxes to the land of the Khatti (Hittites) and Lake Urmia. His
son Argistis I. passed beyond the Araxes in the north; in the west he
conquered Milid, and in the southeast overran the Mannai, Khubushkia, and
Parsua. Shalmaneser III. for more than half his years fought with him
without success. The Assyrians were compelled to see their northern and
eastern provinces torn away by this vigorous rival, whose intrigues in the
west were also threatening their possessions there. It was in this fierce
storm of assault upon the outworks of the empire that the house of
Ashurnacirpal III. and Shalmaneser II. fell.

183. In summing up this epoch of Assyrian history, the first impression
created is that of intense and superabounding energy. The long roll of
military expeditions is kept up almost to the end. Where details are given,
as in the reign of Shalmaneser II., these campaigns are seen to involve long
marches, often in mountainous countries, and frequent battles with not
insignificant antagonists. Both method and design in the expeditions are
traceable, revealing the fact that they were planned in advance and with a
broad outlook. The outcome of the whole was two-fold. On the one hand, was
a significant extension of Assyrian territory. New regions were opened up.
Thus Shalmaneser II. made Assyria dominant on Lake Urmia. It is inferred,
from hints in the inscriptions of Adadnirari III., that he reached the
Caspian sea. Indeed, a remarkable summary of the wide range of Assyrian
predominance is given in the laudatory inscription of the latter king:

Who conquered from the mountain Siluna, toward the rising sun. . . as
far as the great sea of the rising of the sun; from above the Euphrates,
Khatti, Akharri to its whole extent, Tyre, Sidon, the country of Omri, Edom,
Palastu as far as the great sea of the setting of the sun, I brought to
submission, (and) taxes and tribute I placed on them. . . . The kings of
Kaldu, all of them, became servants. Taxes (and) tribute for the future I
placed on them. Babylon, Borsippa (and) Kutha supported the decrees of Bel,
Nabu (and) Nergal (Slab Insc., 5-24; see ABL, pp. 51 f.)

184. On the other hand, obstacles of a character not hitherto
encountered and, in part, rising out of the very policy of Assyria,
confronted these kings. Nations, contemplated in their plans of conquest,
began to unite for self-defence. To overcome this concentration of
opposition called forth might and skill never before required. Assyrian
pressure combined with movements of peoples as yet without the zone of
historical knowledge, moulded border tribes into nations with national
impulses and aspirations that rivalled those of the Assyrians themselves.
New and vigorous tribes were at the same time brought upon the horizon of
Assyrian territory. In grappling with such problems, the royal family,
which had contributed so many warriors and statesmen to the throne of
Assyria, found its strength failing and was constrained to disappear. Would
the state itself go down before the same combination of difficulties, or
would it regather its energies, and, under other and abler leaders, rise
superior to opposition and hold its place of predominance for years to come?
The next century contains the answer to this question.

 

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