Assyrian Soldiers with Nubian Prisoners

Assyrian Soldiers with Nubian Prisoners

Assyrian Soldiers with Nubian Prisoners - History

Assyrians Blinding Their Prisoners

Assyrian King Blinding His Prisoner

This sketch represents part of a scene from a marble slab discovered at Khorsabad. The Assyrian king is using a spear to blind one of his many prisoners.

In his left hand he holds a cord with a hook attached at the opposite end which are inserted into the prisoners lips. The Assyrians would thrust the point of a dagger or spear into the eye. Their are many representations that have been discovered revealing that the Babylonians, Assyrians and Persians made use of the same cruel punishment.

Jeremiah 39:6 - Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah.

Isaiah 37:17 - Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God.

"But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king of Judah, and they overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his army was scattered from him. So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they pronounced judgment on him. Then they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon." - 2 Kings 25:5-7

Assyrian Captives Blinded and Led Into Captivity

Judges 16:28 - And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

Blinding a prisoner has always been a common form of punishment in the orient. In the days of Cyrus the younger of Persia, blinded criminals became spectacles along the highway. When a Persian was soon to become a ruler he would be blinded if he forfeited his right to the throne.

The Bible Mentions the Word "Assyria"

Jeremiah 2:18 - And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?

2 Kings 16:10 - And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that [was] at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.

2 Kings 19:4 - It may be the LORD thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up [thy] prayer for the remnant that are left.

Isaiah 37:4 - It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up [thy] prayer for the remnant that is left.

Jeremiah 2:36 - Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.

2 Chronicles 32:9 - After this did Sennacherib king of Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem, (but he [himself laid siege] against Lachish, and all his power with him,) unto Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Judah that [were] at Jerusalem, saying,

2 Chronicles 30:6 - So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria.

2 Kings 16:7 - So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, saying, I [am] thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me.

2 Kings 18:9 - And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which [was] the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, [that] Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it.

2 Kings 18:17 - And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which [is] in the highway of the fuller's field.

2 Kings 17:26 - Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.

2 Kings 17:24 - And the king of Assyria brought [men] from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed [them] in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.

2 Kings 20:6 - And I will add unto thy days fifteen years and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.

2 Chronicles 28:21 - For Ahaz took away a portion [out] of the house of the LORD, and [out] of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave [it] unto the king of Assyria: but he helped him not.

Zechariah 10:10 - I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon and [place] shall not be found for them.

Jeremiah 50:17 - Israel [is] a scattered sheep the lions have driven [him] away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.

2 Kings 18:16 - At that time did Hezekiah cut off [the gold from] the doors of the temple of the LORD, and [from] the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.

Isaiah 36:8 - Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.

Nehemiah 9:32 - Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before thee, that hath come upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria unto this day.

Micah 5:6 - And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver [us] from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.

2 Kings 23:29 - In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.

Isaiah 27:13 - And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

Isaiah 36:2 - And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field.

2 Kings 18:23 - Now therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my lord the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.

2 Kings 18:28 - Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and spake, saying, Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria:

2 Kings 19:10 - Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.

Isaiah 36:13 - Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria.

2 Kings 15:19 - [And] Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.

2 Kings 16:8 - And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house, and sent [it for] a present to the king of Assyria.

2 Kings 18:30 - Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.


The Kerma culture was the first Nubian kingdom to unify much of the region. The Classic Kerma Culture, named for its royal capital at Kerma, was one of the earliest urban centers in the Nile region [5] Kerma culture was militaristic. This is attested by the many bronze daggers or swords as well as archer burials found in their graves. [6] Despite assimilation, the Nubian elite remained rebellious during Ancient Egyptian occupation. Numerous rebellions and military conflict occurred almost under every Ancient Egyptian reign until the 20th dynasty. [7] At one point, Kerma came very close to conquering Egypt as the Egyptians suffered a serious defeat by the natives of Kerma. [8] [9]

Ta-Seti which means "land of the bow" was the name used to refer to Nubia itself by the ancient Egyptians for their skills in archery. [10] [11] [12] [13] Nubian tribes such as the Medjay served as mercenaries in Ancient Egypt.They also were sometimes employed as soldiers (as we know from the stele of Res and Ptahwer). During the Second Intermediate Period, they were even used in Kamose's campaign against the Hyksos [14] and became instrumental in making the Egyptian state into a military power. [15]

The Kingdom of Kush began to emerge around 1000 BC, 500 years after the end of the Kingdom of Kerma. By 1200 BC, Egyptian involvement in the Dongola Reach was nonexistent. By the 8th century BC, the new Kushite kingdom emerged from the Napata region of the upper Dongola Reach. The first Napatan king, Alara, dedicated his sister to the cult of Amun at the rebuilt Kawa temple, while temples were also rebuilt at Barkal and Kerma. A Kashta stele at Elephantine, places the Kushites on the Egyptian frontier by the mid-eighteenth century. This first period of the kingdom's history, the 'Napatan', was succeeded by the 'Meroitic period', when the royal cemeteries relocated to Meroë around 300 BC. [17]

Wars of Kush Edit

War against Assyria Edit

Kushite Kings conquered Egypt and formed the 25th dynasty, reigning in part or all of Ancient Egypt from 744 to 656 BC. [18] Taharqa began cultivating alliances with elements in Phoenicia and Philistia who were prepared to take a more independent position against Assyria. [19] Taharqa's army undertook successful military campaigns, as attested by the "list of conquered Asiatic principalities" from the Mut temple at Karnak and "conquered peoples and countries (Libyans, Shasu nomads, Phoenicians?, Khor in Palestine)" from Sanam temple inscriptions. [18] Torok mentions the military success was due to Taharqa's efforts to strengthen the army through daily training in long-distance running, as well as Assyria's preoccupation with Babylon and Elam. [18] Taharqa also built military settlements at the Semna and Buhen forts and the fortified site of Qasr Ibrim. [18]

Imperial ambitions of the Assyrian Empire as well as the growing influence of the 25th dynasty made war between them inevitable. In 701 BC, Taharqa and his army aided Judah and King Hezekiah in withstanding a siege by King Sennacherib of Assyria (2 Kings 19:9 Isaiah 37:9). [20] There are various theories (Taharqa's army, [21] disease, divine intervention, Hezekiah's surrender, Herodotus' mice theory) that try to explain as to why the Assyrians failed to take Jerusalem but withdrew to Assyria. [22] Many historians claim that Sennacherib was the overlord of Khor following the siege in 701 BC. Sennacherib's annals record Judah was forced into tribute after the siege. [23] However, this is contradicted by Khor's frequent utilization of an Egyptian system of weights for trade, [24] the 20 year cessation in Assyria's pattern (before 701 and after Sennacherib's death) of repeatedly invading Khor, [25] Khor paying tribute to Amun of Karnak in the first half of Taharqa's reign, [18] and Taharqa flouting Assyria's ban on Lebanese cedar exports to Egypt, while Taharqa was building his temple to amun at Kawa. [26]

In 679 BC, Sennacherib's successor, King Esarhaddon, campaigned into Khor and took a town loyal to Egypt. After destroying Sidon and forcing Tyre into tribute in 677-676 BC, Esarhaddon carried a fullscale invasion of Egypt in 674 BC. Taharqa and his army defeated the Assyrians outright in 674 BC, according to Babylonian records. [27] There are few Assyrian sources on the invasion. However, it ended in what some scholars have assumed was possibly one of Assyria's worst defeats. [28] In 672 BC, Taharqa brought reserve troops from Kush, as mentioned in rock inscriptions. [18] Taharqa's Egypt still held sway in Khor during this period as evidenced by Esarhaddon's 671 BC annal mentioning that Tyre's King Ba'lu had "put his trust upon his friend Taharqa", Ashkelon's alliance with Egypt, and Esarhaddon's inscription asking "if the Kushite-Egyptian forces 'plan and strive to wage war in any way' and if the Egyptian forces will defeat Esarhaddon at Ashkelon." [29] However, Taharqa was defeated in Egypt in 671 BC when Esarhaddon conquered Northern Egypt. He went on to capture Memphis, as well as impose tribute, before withrawing back to Assyria. [30] Although the Pharaoh Taharqa had escaped to the south, Esarhaddon captured the Pharaoh's family, including "Prince Nes-Anhuret" and the royal wives," [18] which were sent to Assyria as hostages. Cuneiform tablets mention numerous horses and gold headdresses were taken back to Assyria. [18] In 669 BC, Taharqa reoccupied Memphis, as well as the Delta, and recommenced intrigues with the king of Tyre. [30] Taharqa intrigued in the affairs of Lower Egypt, and fanned numerous revolts. [31] Esarhaddon again led his army to Egypt and on his death in 668 BC, the command passed to Ashurbanipal. Ashurbanipal and the Assyrians again defeated Taharqa, advancing as far south as Thebes. However, direct Assyrian control was not established. [30] The rebellion was stopped and Ashurbanipal appointed as his vassal ruler in Egypt Necho I, who had been king of the city Sais. Necho's son, Psamtik I was educated at the Assyrian capital of Nineveh during Esarhaddon's reign. [32] As late as 665 BC, the vassal rulers of Sais, Mendes, and Pelusium were still making overtures to Taharqa in Kush. [18] The vassal's plot was uncovered by Ashurbanipal and all rebels but Necho of Sais were executed. [18]

War against Roman legions Edit

Meroitic forces fought numerous battles against Rome, some successful. A peace treaty was eventually negotiuated between Augustus and Kushite diplomats, with Rome ceding a buffer strip along the southern border and exempting the Kushites from paying any tribute.

The Roman conquest of Egypt put it on a collision course with the Sudanic powers of the southern regions. In 25 BC, Kushites under their ruler Teriteqas, invaded Egypt with some 30,000 troops. Kushite forces were mostly infantry and their armament consisted of bows about 4 cubits long, shields of rawhide, clubs, hatchets, pikes and swords. [33]

The Kushites penetrated as far south as the Aswan area, defeating three Roman cohorts, conquering Syene, Elephantine and Philae, capturing thousands of Egyptians, and overthrowing bronze statutes of Augustus recently erected there. The head of one of these Augustian statutes was carried off to Meroe as a trophy, and buried under a temple threshold of the Candace Amanirenas, to commemorate the Kushite victory, and symbolically tread on her enemies. [34] [35] [36] A year later, Rome dispatched troops under Gaius Petronius to confront the Kushites, with the Romans repulsing a poorly armed Meroitic force at Pselchis. [37] Strabo reports that Petronius continued to advance- taking Premnis and then the Kushite city of Napata. [38] Petronius deemed the roadless country beyond unsuitable or too difficult for further operations. He pulled back to Premnis, strengthening its fortifications, and leaving a garrison in place. [39] These setbacks did not settle hostilities however, for a Kushite resurgence occurred just three years later under the queen or Candace Amanirenas, with strong reinforcements of African troops from further south. Kushite pressure now once more advanced on Premnis. The Romans countered this initiative by sending more troops to reinforce the city. [40] A decisive final campaign did not take place however but negotiations instead- with final outcomes that saw major concessions being granted to an enemy of Rome. [41]

The Meroitic diplomats were invited to confer with the Roman emperor Augustus himself on the Greek island of Samos where he was headquartered temporarily. That the Kushites did not appear as beaten supplicants is suggested by the aggressive message brought to the Romans by the envoys of Meroe. A bundle of golden arrows was presented with the envoys reputedly saying: "The Candace sends you these arrows. If you want peace, they are a token of her friendship and warmth. If you want war, you are going to need them." [42] An entente between the two parties was beneficial to both. The Kushites were a regional power in their own right and resented paying tribute. The Romans sought a quiet southern border for their absolutely essential Egyptian grain supplies, without constant war commitments, and welcomed a friendly buffer state in a border region beset with raiding nomads. The Kushites too appear to have found nomads like the Blemmyes to be a problem, allowed Rome monitoring and staging outposts against them, and even conducted joint military operations with the Romans in later years against such mauraders. [43] The conditions were ripe for a deal. During negotiations, Augustus granted the Kushite envoys all they asked for, and also cancelled the tribute earlier demanded by Rome. [44] Premmis (Qasr Ibrim), and areas north of Qasr Ibrim in the southern portion of the "Thirty-Mile Strip"] were ceded to the Kushites, the Dodekaschoinos was established as a buffer zone, and Roman forces were pulled back to the old Greek Ptolemaic border at Maharraqa. [45] Roman emperor Augustus signed the treaty with the Kushites on Samos. The settlement bought Rome peace and quiet on its Egyptian frontier, and increased the prestige of Roman Emperor Augustus, demonstrating his skill and ability to broker peace without constant warfare, and do business with the distant Kushites, who a short time earlier had been fighting his troops. The respect accorded the emperor by the Kushite envoys as the treaty was signed also created a favorable impression with other foreign ambassadors present on Samos, including envoys from India, and strengthened Augustus' hand in upcoming negotiations with the powerful Parthians. [46] The settlement ushered in a period of peace between the two empires for around three centuries. Inscriptions erected by Queen Amanirenas on an ancient temple at Hamadab, south of Meroe, record the war and the favorable outcome from the Kushite perspective. [47] Along with his signature on the official treaty, Roman emperor Augustus marked the agreement by directing his administrators to collaborate with regional priests in the erection of a temple at Dendur, and inscriptions depict the emperor himself celebrating local deities. [48]

The Arabs, who had overrun Egypt and large parts of the Middle east sought to conquer the region of Sudan. For almost 600 years, the powerful bowmen of the region created a barrier for Muslim expansion into the northeast of the African continent, fighting off multiple invasions and assaults with stinging swarms of arrows. One modern historian (Ayalon 2000) likens Nubian resistance to that of a dam, holding back the Muslim tide for several centuries. [49] According to Ayalon:

The absolutely unambiguous evidence and unanimous agreement of the early Muslim sources is that the Arabs abrupt stop was caused solely and exclusively by the superb military resistance of the Christian Nubians. .. the Nubian Dam. The array of those early sources includes the two most important chronicles of early Islam, al-Tabari (d. 926) and al-Yaqubi (d. 905) the two best extant books on the Muslim conquests, al-Baladhuri (d. 892) and Ibn al-A tham al-Kufi (d. 926) the most central encyclopedic work of al-Masudi (d.956) and the two best early sources dedicated specifically to Egypt, Ibn Abd al-Hakim (d. 871) and al-Kindi (961).. All of the above-cited sources attribute Nubian success to their superb archery.. To this central factor should be added the combination of the Nubians' military prowess and Christian zeal their acquaintance of the terrain the narrowness of the front line that they had to defend and, quite possibly, the series of cataracts situated at their back, and other natural obstacles.. The Nubians fought the Muslims very fiercely. When they encountered them they showered them with arrows, until all of them were wounded and they withdrew with many wounds and gouged eyes. Therefore they were called "the marksmen of the eye." [49]

The awe and respect that the Muslims had for their Nubian adversaries are reflected in the fact that even a rather late Umayyad caliph, Umar b Abd al- Aziz (Umar II 717-720), is said to have ratified the Nubian-Muslim treaty out of fear for the safety of the Muslims (he ratified the peace treaty out of consideration for the Muslims and out of [a desire] to spare their lives.. [50]

The Nubians constituted an "African front" that barred Islam's spread, along with others in Central Asia, India and the Anatolian/Mediterranean zone. Whereas the Islamic military expansion began with swift conquests across Byzantium, Central Asia, the Maghreb and Spain, such quick triumphs foundered at the Sudanic barrier. [51] Internal divisions, along with infiltration by nomads were to weaken the "Nubian dam" however, and eventually it gave way to Muslim expansion from Egypt and elsewhere in the region. [49]

Infantry and Cavalry Edit

Projectiles Edit

Bowmen were the most important force components in Kushite military. [52] Ancient sources indicate that Kushite archers favored one-piece bows that were between six and seven feet long, with so powerful a draw strength that many of the archers user their feet to bend their bows. However, composite bows were also used in their arsenal. [52] Greek historian, Herodotus indicated that primary bow construction was of seasoned palm wood, with arrows made of cane. [52] Kushite arrows were often poisoned-tipped. [53] Kushite archers were noted for their archery prowess by the Ancient Egyptians. [10] Cambyses ventured into Kush after conquering Egypt but logistical difficulties in crossing desert terrain were compounded by the fierce response of the Kushite armies, particularly accurate volleys of archery that not only decimated Persian ranks, but sometimes targeted the faces and eyes of individual Persian warriors. [52] One historical source notes:

"So from the battlements as though on the walls of a citadel, the archers kept up with a continual discharge of well aimed shafts, so dense that the Persians had the sensation of a cloud descending upon them, especially when the Kushites made their enemies eyes the targets.. SO unerring was their aim that those who they pierced with their shafts rushed about wildly in the throngs with the arrows projecting from their eyes like double flutes." [52]

At Qasr Ibrim, two crossbow darts have been discovered. The use of crossbows had hitherto been unattested in Nubia. [54] One simple wooden self bow is known from an early Nobadian burial in Qustul. [55] The Nobadians shot barbed and possibly poisoned arrows of around 50 cm length. [56] To store the arrows, they used quivers made of tanned leather originally from long-necked animals like goats or gazelles. Additionally, they were enhanced with straps, flaps and elaborate decoration. [57] The quivers were possibly worn not in the back, but in the front. [58] On the hand holding the bow, the archers wore bracelets to protect the hand from injuries while drawing the bowstring. For the nobility, the bracelets could be made of silver, while poorer versions were made of rawhide. [59] Furthermore, the archers wore thumb rings, measuring between three and four cm. [60] Thus, Nubian archers would have employed a drawing technique very similar to the Persian and Chinese one, both of which were also reliant on thumb rings. [61] Mounted archery was prevalent in both Meroitic and post-Meroitic period. [62]

Siege weapons Edit

During the siege of Hermopolis in the 8th century BC, siege towers were built for the Kushite army led by Piye, in order to enhance the efficiency of Kushite archers. [63] After leaving Thebes, Piye's first objective was besieging Ashmunein. He gathered his army after their lack of success so far, and undertook the personal supervision of operations including the erection of a siege tower from which Kushite archers could fire down into the city. [64] Early shelters protecting sappers armed with poles trying to breach mud-brick ramparts gave way to Battering rams. [63] The use of the battering ram by Kushite forces against Egyptian cities are recorded on the stele of Piye

Then they fought against "The Peak, Chest of victories". Then a battering ram was employed against it, so that its walls were demolished and a great slaughter made among them in incalculable numbers, including the son of the Chief of the Ma, Tefnakht.

Melee weapons Edit

Meroitic infantry attacking Rome consisted of shields of rawhide, clubs, hatchets, pikes and swords. [33]

A weapon characteristic for the Nobadians was a type of short sword. [66] It has a straight hollow-ground blade which was sharpened only on one edge and was therefore not designed to thrust, but to hack. [67] Apart of said swords, there were also lances, some of them with large blades, as well as halberds. The large-bladed lances and the halberds could have possibly been only ceremonial. [68]

Other war equipments Edit

The forces of Kerma wore no armor. However, Chariots as well as armory were manufactured in Kush during the Meroitic period. [69] Nobadian warriors and their leadership made use of shields and body armour, mostly manufactured from leather. [66] [67] Fragments of thick hide have been found in the royal tombs of Qustul, suggesting that the principal interment was usually buried while wearing armour. [70] A well-preserved and richly decorated breastplate made of oxhide comes from Qasr Ibrim, [67] while a comparable, but more fragmentary piece was discovered at Gebel Adda. However, this breastplate was made of reptile hide, possibly from a crocodile. [71] Another fragment which possibly once constituted a body armour comes from Qustul. It consists of several layers of tanned leather and was studded with lead rosettes. [66]

Elephants were occasionally used in warfare during the Meroitic period as seen in the war against Rome around 20 BC. [53] There is some debate about the purpose of the Great Enclosure at Musawwarat es-Sufra, with earlier suggestions including an elephant-training camp. [72] Taharqa built military settlements at the Semna and Buhen forts as well as the fortified site of Qasr Ibrim. [18] There is archaeological evidence for the Kushite fortification of Kalabsha, under the reign of Yesebokheamani resumably as a defence against the raiding Blemmyes. [73] [74]

Navy Edit

Not much is known about the naval fighting forces of the various Nubian kingdoms. Most sources of Naval conflicts come from stelas and inscriptions. It is stated from the Piye stela that Piye led a naval fleet during an invasion of a harbor in Memphis, where he brought back with him to Kush as a spoil of war several boats, ferry, pleasure boats and warships. [75] Also from the Stela, Piye defeated and captured many ships belonging to the Navy of lower Egypt in a sea battle. [76] [77]

Nastasen defeated an invasion of Kush from Upper Egypt. Nastasen's monument calls the leader of this invasion Kambasuten, a likely local variation of Khabbash. Khabbash was a local ruler of Upper Egypt who had campaigned against the Persians around 338 BC. His invasion of Kush was a failure, and Nastasen claimed to have taken many fine boats and other booty during his victory. [78]

The Ancient Nubia Military Thread:What was the military power of Ancient Nubia?

[ame=""]Piankhy the Great: E. Harper Johnson: [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@516nBdaczSL[/ame]


Calliope: Taharqo: Ruler of Nubia and Egypt

This is about taharaqa and there is a image of piye in egypt inside.It's good book,and i had it for a few years now.

YOU could order it or check your library.

Calliope: Taharqo: Ruler of Nubia and Egypt


illustration of angus mcbride showing a Assyrian Warrior of The assyrian King Esarhaddon fighting against a Nubian Warrior of The nubian Pharaoh Taharqa in the 7th century BC.


Note for the above/ The art work in the book dealing with taharqa's story show that piye face or head was/is broad like Shabti of Piankhy above and other kushite rulers.

I like the music and the above pic is in this video.

Armies of the ancient world

[ame=""]Armies of the ancient world - YouTube[/ame]



Nubia actually resisted the Romans, though some people say they did not defeat the Romans. They still resisted being conquered.

This thread was one of the things that led me here when I was trying to find information on their ancient armor. I debated whether or not to post this question here and decided since it had specifically to do with one of the pictures that Son of RA displayed in his initial post it didn't warrant a new thread. If I'm wrong, I apologize and please let me know so I can remember in the future .

I've been working on a picture of Kandake Amanirenas the last few days after having written an article about her a few months ago for some of my friends. During my research I read that fatness was a sign of beauty among the Ancient Nubians as a sign of abundance and considering the Kandakes were the spiritual mothers of their nation they were depicted as such. I drew the picture accordingly. But it was when I was looking for what sort of armor she might have worn that I stumbled upon the above image where she looks rather slender and lithe. I hope my confusion doesn't seem too ridiculous.

Does anyone know if the statue was made around the time she would have lived? And if so, I am very interested to hear any information anyone has to offer on how the Kandakes were represented vs. how they might have been in real life?


If not wrong nubia was known for their bowmen and to Egyptians was known as Ta Seti land of the bow

Anyway the romans did crush the nubians on several occasions with punitive expeditions and capital sacks , this to punish and refrain the skirmishes of southern borders .
Romans had no interest or intention to conquer nubia.

According to Strabo, following the Kushite advance, Petronius (a Prefect of Egypt at the time) prepared a large army and marched south. The Roman forces clashed with the Kushite armies near Thebes and forced them to retreat to Pselchis (Maharraqa) in Kushite lands. Petronius, then, sent deputies to the Kushites in an attempt to reach a peace agreement and make certain demands.

Quoting Strabo, the Kushites "desired three days for consideration"6 in order to make a final decision. However, after the three days, Kush did not respond and Petronius advanced with his armies and took the Kushite city of Premnis (modern Karanog) south of Maharraqa. From there, he advanced all the way south to Napata, the second Capital in Kush after Meroe. Petronius attacked and sacked Napata causing the son of the Kushite Queen to flee. Strabo describes the defeat of the Kushites at Napata, stating that "He (Petronius) made prisoners of the inhabitants.

Son Of RA

If not wrong nubia was known for their bowmen and to Egyptians was known as Ta Seti land of the bow

Anyway the romans did crush the nubians on several occasions with punitive expeditions and capital sacks , this to punish and refrain the skirmishes of southern borders .
Romans had no interest or intention to conquer nubia.

According to Strabo, following the Kushite advance, Petronius (a Prefect of Egypt at the time) prepared a large army and marched south. The Roman forces clashed with the Kushite armies near Thebes and forced them to retreat to Pselchis (Maharraqa) in Kushite lands. Petronius, then, sent deputies to the Kushites in an attempt to reach a peace agreement and make certain demands.

Quoting Strabo, the Kushites "desired three days for consideration"6 in order to make a final decision. However, after the three days, Kush did not respond and Petronius advanced with his armies and took the Kushite city of Premnis (modern Karanog) south of Maharraqa. From there, he advanced all the way south to Napata, the second Capital in Kush after Meroe. Petronius attacked and sacked Napata causing the son of the Kushite Queen to flee. Strabo describes the defeat of the Kushites at Napata, stating that "He (Petronius) made prisoners of the inhabitants.

'Some of the most appalling images ever created' – I Am Ashurbanipal review

Y ou have to hand it to the ancient Assyrians – they were honest. Their artistic propaganda relishes every detail of torture, massacre, battlefield executions and human displacement that made Assyria the dominant power of the Middle East from about 900 to 612BC. Assyrian art contains some of the most appalling images ever created. In one scene, tongues are being ripped from the mouths of prisoners. That will mute their screams when, in the next stage of their torture, they are flayed alive. In another relief a surrendering general is about to be beheaded and in a third prisoners have to grind their fathers’ bones before being executed in the streets of Nineveh.

These and many more episodes of calculated cruelty can be seen carved in gypsum in the British Museum’s blockbuster recreation of Assyria’s might. Assyrian art makes up in tough energy what it lacks in human tenderness. It is an art of war – all muscle, movement, impact. People and animals are portrayed as fierce cartoons of merciless force.

‘Celebrating the blood-sport of the king’ … Ashurbanipal on a hunt. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

Yet behind the conquests these eye-blistering reliefs depict, lay an intricate system of bureaucracy and a passion for logistics. I Am Ashurbanipal is a portrait of the banality of empire. Just as Hannah Arendt argued that the Holocaust was perpetrated by characterless paper-pushers, not flamboyant sadists, so we find here that Assyrian atrocities – including the forced resettlement of thousands of Israelites – were not the product of random mayhem but diligent organisation.

The Assyrian empire was so disciplined that even though this exhibition focuses on one man, Ashurbanipal, who ruled the empire from 669BC until his death somewhere around 631BC, his personality is as remote as the sphinxes and lion spirits that loom in the atmospherically lit galleries. Ashurbanipal is less an individual in this show than a set of royal roles that he seems to have carried out immaculately. A letter that he wrote to his father when he was 13 – did the boy ever see his dad? – describes how he has been learning all the proper skills for a king.

One was hunting. In stone relief after stone relief, the blood-sport of the king is celebrated. Unusually, Ashurbanipal and his family didn’t hunt harmless deer or lumbering wild boars. They fought lions, to prove their superhuman virility and capacity to subdue the savage. Lions, portrayed with great observational accuracy, are shown being shot at close range with arrows or speared in the neck, their bodies carried aloft by servants. It’s a more equal battle than some the Assyrians conducted against human enemies and fought, it seems, with more respect. Lions rear up against their attackers and try to face down men on horseback. There’s a study of a dying lion gushing blood.

Ashurbanipal, shown with cuneiform inscription. Photograph: The Trustees of the British Museum

Ashurbanipal had what it took to fight lions but it was his administrative abilities that made him a successful crusher and smiter of peoples. He was served by eunuchs whose freedom from family ambition was thought to make them ideal civil servants. A portrait that may be of a bureaucratic eunuch shows him with a chubby face and no beard – for facial hair was phallic. That phallic symbolism explains the huge square beard worn by Ashurbanipal himself. Cuneiform, the world’s oldest form of writing, already almost 2,000 years old, was as crucial as siege machines to the sinews of power. Letters, negotiations and commands were transported down the king’s roads to organise a huge human system.

This excellent organisation, it seems from this detailed delve into history, was the true originality of the Assyrian Empire. It was precociously modern in its organisational rigour. Ashurbanipal was not a romantic conqueror like Alexander the Great or Daenerys Targaryen. He was the CEO of a ruthless global enterprise. Perhaps it is weirdly fitting that the exhibition is sponsored with much fanfare by BP. The controversial oil company is part of the relentless machinery of the modern world that exploits nature even faster than Ashurbanipal killed lions.

You can’t get away from the 21st century in this unsettling and even nightmarish exploration of the rise and fall of empires. The mini “caliphate” created by Islamic State was nothing like as vast or enduring as the Assyrian empire but in the three years that they ruled Mosul in Iraq, from June 2014 to July 2017, Isis militants set out to destroy the remains of Ashurbanipal’s pre-Islamic culture. The ruins of Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian Empire, are on Mosul’s outskirts. They smashed antiquities in the Mosul Museum and set about demolishing Nineveh itself.

What’s it all for? Human history, including that of our own times, looks pretty brutal in this exhibition. One of the palace reliefs portrays people defeated by the Assyrians being forced by Ashurbanipal’s soldiers to migrate to land where their labour will profit the empire. Scenes like this are both fascinating and utterly crushing to the human spirit. The efficient brutality of the Assyrians looks like a sterile enterprise that existed only, at least as far as this exhibition goes, for the glory and luxury of the monarch. Once Ashurbanipal was dead, his empire fell apart. A wall-filling film of a city in flames looks as if it might be Mosul in 2017 or during the Iraq war. In fact it is meant to suggest the burning of Nineveh in 612BC and the apocalyptic end of Assyrian power.

‘A glimpse of hope’ … stone tablets from the library of Ashurbanipal. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

Yet in this futile cycle of rising and falling empires one glimpse of hope gives the exhibition warmth. It is a wall of illuminated cuneiform tablets, their spiky scripts full of words that only specialists can read but whose human weight anyone can feel. These clay tablets come from the great library Ashurbanipal created in Nineveh. It was his enduring contribution to civilisation. The library was fired in the destruction of Nineveh at the end of the seventh century BC, but clay tablets don’t burn. They were hardened and preserved by the heat.

They include the text of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Collected by Ashurbanipal and excavated from his library, this is the best-preserved copy of the world’s earliest literary masterpiece. It’s still a basis for modern translations. Ashurbanipal may have been a murderous bureaucrat but he was also a benefactor of civilisation. In the relentless cycles of history, that urge to preserve and remember is what raises us out of the dust.

The Names of Nubia

Nubia is a name that came into use in the Roman period

The origin of the name Nubia is obscure. Some have linked it to nwb, the ancient Egyptian word for gold. Others connect it with the term Noubades, the Greek name for people who moved into northern Nubia sometime in the 4th century AD.

Nubia was known as Kush for 2000 years

For much of antiquity, the region south of the 1st cataract of the Nile was called Kush. The name is known from ancient Egyptian, classical, and biblical texts. Whether it reflects an indigenous term is not known. The Kushites developed powerful kingdoms. The first was centered at Kerma (2000–1650 BC). The later kingdom had capitals at Napata (800–270 BC) and Meroe (270 BC–370 AD).

Some Nubian cultures are known by archaeological names

A-Group, C-Group, X-Group, and Kerma (the name of a modern town near the archaeological site of the early Kushite kingdom) are names archaeologists assigned to cultures they excavated in Nubia.


Piye Edit

The twenty-fifth dynasty originated in Kush, which is presently in Northern Sudan. The city-state of Napata was the spiritual capital and it was from there that Piye (spelled Piankhi or Piankhy in older works) invaded and took control of Egypt. [11] Piye personally led the attack on Egypt and recorded his victory in a lengthy hieroglyphic filled stele called the "Stele of Victory." The stele announces Piye as Pharaoh of all Egypt and highlights his divine kingship by naming him "Son of Re" (Ruler of Lower Egypt) and "Beloved of Amun" (Ruler of Upper Egypt). [5] : 166 Piye's success in achieving the double kingship after generations of Kushite planning resulted from "Kushite ambition, political skill, and the Theban decision to reunify Egypt in this particular way", and not Egypt's utter exhaustion, "as frequently suggested in Egyptological studies." [9] Piye revived one of the greatest features of the Old and Middle Kingdoms, pyramid construction. An energetic builder, he constructed the oldest known pyramid at the royal burial site of El-Kurru. He also expanded the Temple of Amun at Jebel Barkal [9] by adding "an immense colonnaded forecourt." [5] : 163–164

Piye made various unsuccessful attempts to extend Egyptian influence in the Near East, then controlled from Mesopotamia by the Semitic Assyrian Empire. In 720 BC he sent an army in support of a rebellion against Assyria in Philistia and Gaza, however, Piye was defeated by Sargon II, and the rebellion failed. [12] Although Manetho does not mention the first king, Piye, mainstream Egyptologists consider him the first Pharaoh of the 25th dynasty. [8] [9] [10] [13] Manetho also does not mention the last king, Tantamani, although inscriptions exist to attest to the existence of both Piye and Tantamani.

The "Stele of Victory" inscription describes Piye as very religious, compassionate, and loved horses. [14] Piye scolded those that abused horses, demanded horses as gifts, and had eight of his horses buried with him. [14] Studies of horse skeletons at el Kurru, textual evidence, and iconographical evidence related to the use of horses in Kushite warfare indicate that "the finest horses used in Egypt and Assyria were bred in, and exported from Nubia." [5] : 157–158 Better horses, chariots, and the development of cavalry tactics helped Piye to defeat Tefnakht and his allies. [5] : 158

Shabaka and Shebitku Chronology Dispute Edit

Although the Manethonic and classical traditions maintain that it was Shabaka's invasion which brought Egypt under Kushite rule, the most recent archaeological evidence shows that Shabaka ruled Egypt after Shebitku and not before, as previously thought. The confusion may stem from Shabaka's accession via Kushite collateral succession versus Egyptian patrilinear succession. [5] : 168 The construction of the tomb of Shebitku (Ku. 18) resembles that of Piye (Ku. 17) while that of Shabaka (Ku. 15) is similar to that of Taharqa (Nu. 1) and Tantamani (Ku. 16) [39 – D. Dunham, El-Kurru, The Royal Cemeteries of Kush, I, (1950) 55, 60, 64, 67 also D. Dunham, Nuri, The Royal Cemeteries of Kush, II, (1955) 6–7 J. Lull, Las tumbas reales egipcias del Tercer Periodo Intermedio (dinastías XXI-XXV). Tradición y cambios, BAR-IS 1045 (2002) 208.] . [15] Secondly, Payraudeau notes in French that "the Divine Adoratrix Shepenupet I, the last Libyan Adoratrix, was still alive during the reign of Shebitku because she is represented performing rites and is described as "living" in those parts of the Osiris-Héqadjet chapel built during his reign (wall and exterior of the gate) [45 – G. Legrain, "Le temple et les chapelles d’Osiris à Karnak. Le temple d’Osiris-Hiq-Djeto, partie éthiopienne", RecTrav 22 (1900) 128 JWIS III, 45.]. [15] In the rest of the room it is Amenirdis I, (Shabaka's sister), who is represented with the Adoratrix title and provided with a coronation name. The succession Shepenupet I - Amenirdis I thus took place during the reign of Shebitku/Shabataqo. This detail in itself is sufficient to show that the reign of Shabaka cannot precede that of Shebitku/Shabataqo. [15] Finally, Gerard Broekman's GM 251 (2017) paper shows that Shebitku reigned before Shabaka since the upper edge of Shabaka's NLR #30's Year 2 Karnak quay inscription was carved over the left-hand side of the lower edge of Shebitku's NLR#33 Year 3 inscription. [16] This can only mean that Shabaka ruled after Shebitku.

Shebitku Edit

According to the newer chronology, Shebitku conquered the entire Nile Valley, including Upper and Lower Egypt, around 712 BC. Shebitku had Bocchoris of the preceding Sais dynasty burned to death for resisting him. After conquering Lower Egypt, Shebitku transferred the capital to Memphis. [16] Dan'el Kahn suggested that Shebitku was king of Egypt by 707/706 BC. [17] This is based on evidence from an inscription of the Assyrian king Sargon II, which was found in Persia (then a colony of Assyria) and dated to 706 BC. This inscription calls Shebitku the king of Meluhha, and states that he sent back to Assyria a rebel named Iamanni in handcuffs. Kahn's arguments have been widely accepted by many Egyptologists including Rolf Krauss, and Aidan Dodson [18] and other scholars at the SCIEM 2000 (Synchronisation of Civilisations of the Eastern Mediterranean in the Second Millennium B.C.) project with the notable exception of Kenneth Kitchen and Manfred Bietak at present.

Shabaka Edit

According to the traditional chronology, Shabaka "brought the entire Nile Valley as far as the Delta under the empire of Kush and is 'reputed' to have had Bocchoris, dynast of Sais, burnt to death." [8] [5] : 166–167 There is no direct evidence that Shabaqo did slay Bakenranef, and although earlier scholarship generally accepted the tradition, it has recently been treated more skeptically. [19] Initially, Shabaka maintained good relations with Assyria, as shown by his extradition of the rebel, Iamani of Ashdod, to Assyria in 712 BC. [5] : 167 Shabaka supported an uprising against the Assyrians in the Philistine city of Ashdod, however he and his allies were defeated by Sargon II. [ citation needed ]

Shabaka "transferred the capital to Memphis" [5] : 166 and restored the great Egyptian monuments and temples, "unlike his Libyan predecessors". [5] : 167–169 Shabaka ushered in the age of Egyptian archaism, or a return to a historical past, which was embodied by a concentrated effort at religious renewal and restoration of Egypt's holy places. [5] : 169 Shabaka also returned Egypt to a theocratic monarchy by becoming the first priest of Amon. In addition, Shabaka is known for creating a well-preserved example of Memphite theology by inscribing an old religious papyrus into the Shabaka Stone.

Taharqa Edit

In 690 BC, [5] Taharqa was crowned in Memphis [14] and ruled Upper and Lower Egypt as Pharaoh from Tanis in the Delta. [21] [8] Taharqa's reign was a prosperous time in the empire with a particularly large Nile river flood and abundant crops and wine. [22] [5] Taharqa's inscriptions indicate that he gave large amounts of gold to the temple of Amun at Kawa. [23] He restored and constructed great works throughout the Nile Valley, including works at Jebel Barkal, Kawa (with Lebanese cedar), [5] Qasr Ibrim, and Karnak. [24] [25] "Thebes was enriched on a monumental scale." [5] At Karnak, the Sacred Lake structures, the kiosk in the first court, and the colonnades at the temple entrance are all owed to Taharqa and Mentuemhet. Taharqa and the Kushites marked a renaissance in Pharaonic art. [26] Taharqa built the largest pyramid (52 square meters at base) in the Nubian region at Nuri (near El-Kurru) with the most elaborate Kushite rock-cut tomb. [27] Taharqa was buried with "over 1070 shabtis of varying sizes and made of granite, green ankerite, and alabaster." [28]

Taharqa's army undertook successful military campaigns, as attested by the "list of conquered Asiatic principalities" from the Mut temple at Karnak and "conquered peoples and countries (Libyans, Shasu nomads, Phoenicians?, Khor in Palestine)" from Sanam temple inscriptions. [5] Imperial ambitions of the Mesopotamian based Assyrian Empire made war with the 25th dynasty inevitable. In 701 BC, Taharqa and his army aided Judah and King Hezekiah in withstanding a siege by King Sennacherib of the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:9 Isaiah 37:9). [29] There are various theories (Taharqa's army, [30] disease, divine intervention, Hezekiah's surrender) as to why the Assyrians failed to take the city and withdrew to Assyria. [31] Torok mentions that Egypt's army "was beaten at Eltekeh" under Taharqa's command, but "the battle could be interpreted as a victory for the double kingdom", since Assyria did not take Jerusalem and "retreated to Assyria." [5] : 170 Many historians claim that Sennacherib was the overlord of Khor following the siege in 701 BC. Sennacherib's annals record Judah was forced into tribute after the siege. [12] However, this is contradicted by Khor's frequent utilization of an Egyptian system of weights for trade, [32] the 20 year cessation in Assyria's pattern (before 701 and after Sennacherib's death) of repeatedly invading Khor, [33] Khor paying tribute to Amun of Karnak in the first half of Taharqa's reign, [5] and Taharqa flouting Assyria's ban on Lebanese cedar exports to Egypt, while Taharqa was building his temple to amun at Kawa. [34] Sennacherib was murdered by his own sons in revenge for the destruction of the rebellious Mesopotamian city of Babylon, a city sacred to all Mesopotamians, the Assyrians included. [ citation needed ]

In 679 BC, Sennacherib's successor, King Esarhaddon, campaigned into Khor and took a town loyal to Egypt. After destroying Sidon and forcing Tyre into tribute in 677-676 BC, Esarhaddon invaded Egypt in 674 BC. Taharqa and his army defeated the Assyrians outright in 674 BC, according to Babylonian records. [35] Taharqa's Egypt still held sway in Khor during this period as evidenced by Esarhaddon's 671 BC annal mentioning that Tyre's King Ba'lu had "put his trust upon his friend Taharqa", Ashkelon's alliance with Egypt, and Esarhaddon's inscription asking "if the Egyptian forces will defeat Esarhaddon at Ashkelon." [36] However, Taharqa was defeated in Egypt in 671 BC when Esarhaddon conquered Northern Egypt, captured Memphis, imposed tribute, and then withdrew. [21] In 669 BC, Taharqa reoccupied Memphis, as well as the Delta, and recommenced intrigues with the king of Tyre. [21] Esarhaddon again led his army to Egypt and on his death, the command passed to Ashurbanipal. Ashurbanipal and the Assyrians advanced as far south as Thebes, but direct Assyrian control was not established." [21] Taharqa retreated to Nubia, where he died in 664 BC.

Taharqa remains an important historical figure in Sudan and elsewhere, as is evidenced by Will Smith's recent project to depict Taharqa in a major motion picture. [37] As of 2017, the status of this project is unknown.

A study of the sphinx that was created to represent Taharqa indicates that he was a Kushite pharaoh from Nubia. [38]

Tantamani Edit

Taharqa's successor, Tantamani sailed north from Napata, through Elephantine, and to Thebes with a large army to Thebes, where he was "ritually installed as the king of Egypt." [5] : 185 From Thebes, Tantamani began his reconquest [5] : 185 and regained control of Egypt, as far north as Memphis. [21] Tantamani's dream stele states that he restored order from the chaos, where royal temples and cults were not being maintained. [5] : 185 After defeating Sais and killing Assyria's vassal, Necho I, in Memphis, "some local dynasts formally surrendered, while others withdrew to their fortresses." [5] : 185 Tantamani proceeded north of Memphis, invading Lower Egypt and, besieged cities in the Delta, a number of which surrendered to him. [ citation needed ]

Necho's son Psamtik I fled Egypt to Assyria and returned in 664 BC with Ashurbanipal and a large army comprising Carian mercenaries. [ citation needed ] Upon the Assyrians arrival in Egypt, Tantamani fled to Thebes, where he was pursued by the Assyrians. [5] : 186–187 Then, Tantamani escaped to Nubia and the Assyrian army sacked Thebes "and devastated the area" in 663 BC [21] Psamtik I was placed on the throne of Lower Egypt as a vassal of Ashurbanipal. [ citation needed ] Psamtik quickly unified Lower Egypt and expelled the Assyrian army, becoming the first ruler of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty. [5] : 186 In 656 BC, Psamtik sent a large fleet southwards to Thebes, peacefully taking control of the still rebellious Upper Egypt thereby unifying all of Egypt.

Tantamani and the Nubians never again posed a threat to either Assyria or Egypt. Upon his death, Tantamani was buried in the royal cemetery of El-Kurru, upstream from the Kushite capital of Napata. He was succeeded by a son of Taharqa, king Atlanersa. [12] In total, the Twenty-fifth Dynasty ruled Egypt for less than one hundred years. [39] [40] The successors of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty settled back in their Nubian homeland, where they continued their kingdom at Napata (656–590 BC), and continued to make empty claims to Egyptian kingship during the next 60 years, while the effective control of Egypt was in the hands of Psamtik I and his successors. [41] The Kushite next ruled further south at Meroë (590 BC – 4th century AD). [12]

Revenge of Psamtik II Edit

Psamtik II, the third ruler of the following dynasty, the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, deliberately destroyed monuments belonging to the 25th Dynasty of Kushite kings in Egypt, erasing their names and their emblems of royalty from statues and reliefs in Egypt. He then sent an army to Nubia in 592 BCE to erase all traces of their rule, during the reign of the Kushite King Aspelta. This expedition and its destructions are recorded on several victory stelae, especially the Victory Stela of Kalabsha. The Egyptian army "may have gone on to sack Napata, although there is no good evidence to indicate that they actually did so." [21] : 65 This led to the transfer of the Kushite capital farther south at Meroë. [42] [43] 1

Although the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty controlled Ancient Egypt for only 91 years (747–656 BC), it holds an important place in Egyptian history due to the restoration of traditional Egyptian values, culture, art, and architecture.

Relief of a High Official, c. 670–650 BC. 1996.146.3, Brooklyn Museum This relief's style makes it possible to attribute it to one of the palatial tombs of Dynasty XXV and Dynasty XXVI built by great officials such as Montuemhat, governor of Upper Egypt.

Kashta, sometimes considered the first King of the 25th dynasty, took control of parts of Upper Egypt and installed his daughter Amenirdis I as Chief Priestess of Amun at Thebes. Above are the names of Amenirdis (left) and Kashta (right).

Piye was a Nubian king who conquered Upper Egypt and brought it under his control. During the 25th dynasty Egypt was ruled from Napata. Pictured is his pyramid at Al Kurru, Sudan.

Kneeling statuette of a man with a seated figure of Osiris between his thighs. Steatite. Nubian 25th Dynasty. From Saqqara, H5-105, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

25th Dynasty royal monumental statues from Doukki-Gel.

The pharaohs of the 25th Dynasty ruled for approximately ninety-one years in Egypt, from 747 BC to 656 BC.

Pharaoh Image Throne Name Reign Pyramid Consort(s) Comments
Piye Usimare c. 747–714 BC Kurru 17 Tabiry (Kurru 53)
Abar (Nuri 53?)
Khensa (Kurru 4)
Peksater (Kurru 54)
Nefrukekashta (Kurru 52)
Kashta is sometimes considered the first pharaoh of the dynasty, as opposed to Piye.
Shebitku Djedkare 714–705 BC Kurru 18 Arty (Kurru 6)
Shabaka Nefer-ka-re 705–690 BC Kurru 15 Qalhata (Kurru 5)
Taharqa Khunefertumre 690–664 BC Nuri 1 Takahatenamun (Nuri 21?)
Atakhebasken (Nuri 36)
Naparaye (Kurru 3)
Tantamani Bakare 664–656 BC Kurru 16 Piankharty
Malaqaye? (Nuri 59)
Lost control of Upper Egypt in 656 BC when Psamtik I captured Thebes in that year.

The period starting with Kashta and ending with Malonaqen is sometimes called the Napatan Period. The later Kings from the twenty-fifth dynasty ruled over Napata, Meroe, and Egypt. The seat of government and the royal palace were in Napata during this period, while Meroe was a provincial city. The kings and queens were buried in El-Kurru and Nuri. [44]

Alara, the first known Nubian king and predecessor of Kashta was not a 25th dynasty king since he did not control any region of Egypt during his reign. While Piye is viewed as the founder of the 25th dynasty, some publications may include Kashta who already controlled some parts of Upper Egypt. A stela of his was found at Elephantine and Kashta likely exercised some influence at Thebes (although he did not control it) since he held enough sway to have his daughter Amenirdis I adopted as the next Divine Adoratrice of Amun there.

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In prehistoric times, the region that was to become known as Assyria (and Subartu) was home to a Neanderthal culture such as has been found at the Shanidar Cave. The earliest Neolithic sites in Assyria were the Jarmo culture c. 7100 BC and Tell Hassuna, the centre of the Hassuna culture, c. 6000 BC.

The cities of Assur (also spelled Ashur or Aššur) and Nineveh, together with a number of other towns and cities, existed as early as the 26th century BC, although they appear to have been Sumerian-ruled administrative centers at this time, rather than independent states. The Assyrian king list records kings dating from the 25th century BC onwards, the earliest being Tudiya, who was a contemporary of Ibrium of Ebla. However, many of these early kings would have been local rulers, and from the late 24th century BC to the early 22nd century BC, usually subject to the Akkadian Empire based in the city of Akkad, which united all of the Akkadian speaking Semites (including the Assyrians) under one rule.. The Sumerians were eventually absorbed into the Akkadian (Assyro-Babylonian) population. [1] [2]

After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, the Akkadians once more fragmented into smaller nation-states, with Assyria coming to dominate northern Mesopotamia, and states such as Ur, Kish, Isin and Larsa the south. In the 18th century BC the south Mesopotamian states were subsumed into a new power, that of Babylonia. However, Babylonia unlike Assyria, was founded and originally ruled by non indigenous Amorites, and was to be more often than not ruled by other waves of non indigenous peoples such as Kassites, Hittites, Elamites, Arameans and Chaldeans, as well as by the indigenous Assyrians.

Assyria was for most of this period a powerful and highly advanced nation, and a major center of Mesopotamian civilization and Mesopotamian religion. Assyria had three periods of empire the Old Assyrian Empire (2025–1750 BC) which saw it emerge as the most powerful state in the region, extending colonies into southeast Anatolia, the northern Levant, central Mesopotamia and northwestern Ancient Iran. The Middle Assyrian Empire (1365–1020 BC) saw Assyria emerge as the most powerful military and political force in the known world, destroying the Mitanni-Hurrian empire, largely annexing the Hittite Empire, forcing the Egyptian Empire from the region, conquering Babylonia and besting the Elamites, Kassites, Phrygians, Amorites, Arameans, Phoenicians and Cilicians among others. Middle Assyrian Empire kings extended Assyrian domination from Mount Ararat in the north to Dilmun (modern Bahrain) in the south, and from the Eastern Mediterranean and Antioch in the west to the Zagros (in modern northern Iran) in the east.

The Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–605 BC) was the largest the world had yet seen in the north, it extended to the Transcaucasia (modern Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan), to the south it encompassed Egypt, northern Nubia (modern Sudan), Libya and much of the Arabian peninsula, to the west it extended into parts of Ancient Greece, Cyprus, Cilicia, Phoenicia western Anatolia etc., and the East Mediterranean, and to the east into Persia, Media, Gutium, Parthia, Elam, Cissia and Mannea (the modern western half of Iran). [3] In 626 BC it descended into a bitter series of civil wars conducted by rival claimants to the throne, weakening it severely, and allowing it to be eventually conquered by a coalition of former subject peoples. In 615 BC combined attacks by an alliance of its former subjects namely the Medes, Babylonians, Persians, Chaldeans, Scythians, Sagartians and Cimmerians, gradually led to its fall by 599 BC. However, Assyria was to survive as a geo-political entity until the mid 7th century AD. The Assyrians today speak dialects of Eastern Aramaic, which still contain an Akkadian grammatical structure and hundreds of Akkadian loanwords. This language was originally introduced to Assyria as the lingua franca of the Neo Assyrian Empire in the mid 8th century BC by Tiglath-pileser III.

After the defeat of Ashur-uballit II in 608 BC at Haran, at Carchemish in 605 BC, and after the last center of Assyrian imperial records at Dūr-Katlimmu in 599 BC, the Assyrian empire was divided up by the key invading forces, the Babylonians and the Medes, with the Medes ruling Assyria proper. The Assyrian people, after the fall of their empire, fell under foreign domination ever since. Assyria came under the rule of the short-lived Median Empire until 546 BC. The last king of Babylon, Nabonidus (together with his son and co-regent Belshazzar), was ironically an Assyrian from Harran. Assyria then became an Achaemenid province named Athura (Assyria). [4]

The Median Empire was then conquered by Cyrus in 547 BC, [5] under the Achaemenid dynasty, and the Persian Empire was thus founded, which consumed the entire Neo-Babylonian or "Chaldean" Empire in 539 BC. [6] King Cyrus changed Assyria's capital from Nineveh to Arbela. Assyrians became front line soldiers for the Persian empire under King Xerxes, playing a major role in the Battle of Marathon under King Darius I in 490 BC. [7] Cyrus II returned the sacred images of the Assyrians to Nineveh and Assur, established for them permanent sanctuaries, gathered all their former inhabitants and returned them to their habitations. At the news of the assassination of Bardiya (son of Cyrus II), and this connection, Darius the Great declared that several satrapies including the Assyrian satrapy revolted. [6] In 482 BC, Babylonia and Assyria were joined together in the same administrative division. [6]

The Assyrian people were Christianized in the 1st to 3rd centuries, [8] in Roman Syria and Roman Assyria. [4] They were divided by the Nestorian Schism in the 5th century, and from the 8th century, they became a religious minority following the Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia. They suffered a genocide at the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and today to a significant extent live in diaspora.

In Assyrian Church of the East tradition, the Assyrians are descended from Abraham's grandson (Dedan son of Jokshan), progenitor of the ancient Assyrians. [9] Along with the Arameans, Phoenicians, Armenians, Greeks and Nabateans, they were among the first people to convert to Christianity and spread Eastern Christianity to the Far East.

The Council of Seleucia of c. 325 dealt with jurisdictional conflicts among the leading bishops. At the subsequent Council of Seleucia-Ctesiphon of 410, the Christian communities of Mesopotamia renounced all subjection to Antioch and the "Western" bishops and the Bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon assumed the rank of Catholicos.

The Nestorian and Monophysite schisms of the 5th century divided the church into separate denominations. With the rise of Syriac Christianity, eastern Aramaic enjoyed a renaissance as a classical language in the 2nd to 8th centuries, and the modern Assyrian people continue to speak eastern Neo-Aramaic dialects which still retain a number of Akkadian loan words to this day.

Whereas Latin and Greek Christian cultures became protected by the Roman and Byzantine empires respectively, Assyrian/Syriac Christianity often found itself marginalized and persecuted. Antioch was the political capital of this culture, and was the seat of the patriarchs of the church. However, Antioch was heavily Hellenized, and the cities of Edessa, Nisibis, Arbela and Ctesiphon became Syriac cultural centres.

The Seleucid Greek hegemony Edit

At the end of the Achaemenid Persian rule in 330 BC, Mesopotamia was partitioned into the satrapy of Babylon in the south, while the northern part of Mesopotamia was joined with Syria in another satrapy. It is not known how long this division lasted, but by the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, the north was removed from Syria and made into a separate satrapy. Generally speaking, the Seleucid rulers respected the native priesthood of Mesopotamia, and there is no record of persecutions. [6] There is proof that the Parthians, when establishing their sovereignty over different parts in the empire, retained the dynasts that had become independent or had been acting on behalf of the Seleucids, as long as they accepted Parthian sovereignty. Full overlordship of the Parthians was established since the full establishment of the empire under Arsaces I of Parthia. Aramaic was the official language of the Achaemenid Persian Empire after the conquests of Alexander the Great, Greek replaced Aramaic, including up to the Seleucid empire. However, both Greek and Aramaic were used throughout the empire, although Greek was the principal language of the government. Aramaic changed different parts of the empire, and in Mesopotamia, under the subsequent rule of the Parthians it evolved into Syriac. [6]

Roman Empire Edit

Syria became a Roman province in 64 BC, following the Third Mithridatic War. The Assyria-based army accounted for three legions of the Roman army, defending the Parthian border. In the 1st century, it was the Assyria-based army that enabled Vespasian's coup. Syria was of crucial strategic importance during the crisis of the third century. From the later 2nd century, the Roman senate included several notable Assyrians, including Claudius Pompeianus and Avidius Cassius. In the 3rd century, Assyrians even reached for imperial power, with the Severan dynasty.

From the 1st century BC, Assyria was the theatre of the protracted Perso-Roman Wars. It would become a Roman province (Assyria Provincia) between 116 and 363 AD, although Roman control of this province was unstable and was often returned to the Parthians and Persians.

Parthian hegemony Edit

When the Seleucids passed, it was the Iranian Parthians who took their place, wielding the scepter over much of West Asia for some 400 years. [10] It is during the Parthian period that the Christianisation of Adiabene began. Despite the influx of foreign elements, despite the changes in architecture, the presence of Assyrians is confirmed by the worship of God Ashur, all proof of the continuity of the Assyrians. [6] The conclusion to be drawn from this is that the Greeks, Parthians, and Romans had a rather low-level of integration with the local population in Mesopotamia, which allowed their cultures to survive. Therefore, the large influx of Greek and Iranian Parthian elements did not wipe out the local population and culture.

The Parthians exercised only loose control over Assyria, and it saw a major cultural revival, with Ashur once more becoming independent, and other Assyrian states arising, such as Adiabene, Osroene, Beth Nuhadra and Beth Garmai, together with the partly Assyrian state of Hatra.

At the dawn of Christianity in the 1st century AD the people living in Assyria were Assyrians, bordered by Parthians, Persians, Greeks, and Armenians. [10]

Sassanid Persian hegemony Edit

In 225 AD Parthian rule over the Assyrian territories straightly moved to the newly established and vibrant Sassanid Persian Empire. [11]

The population of Asorestan was a mixed one, composed of Assyrians, Arameans (in the far south, and western deserts), and Persians. [12] [13] The Greek element in the cities, still strong in the Parthian period, was absorbed by the Semites in Sasanian times. [12] The majority of the population were Assyrian people, speaking Eastern Aramaic dialects. As the breadbasket of the Sasanian Empire, most of the population were engaged in agriculture or worked as traders and merchants. The Persians were found in the administrative class of society, as army officers, civil servants, and feudal lords, living partly in the country, partly in Ctesiphon. [12] At least three dialects of Eastern Aramaic were in spoken and liturgical use: Syriac mainly in the north and among Assyrian Christians, Mandaic in the south and among Mandaeans, and a dialect in the central region, of which the Judaic subvariety is known as Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. Aside from the liturgical scriptures of these religions which exist today, archaeological examples of all three of these dialects can be found in the collections of thousands of Aramaic incantation bowls—ceramic artifacts dated to this era—discovered in Iraq. While the Jewish Aramaic script retained the original "square" or "block" form of the Aramaic alphabet used in Imperial Aramaic (the Ashuri alphabet), the Syriac alphabet and the Mandaic alphabet developed when cursive styles of Aramaic began to appear. The Mandaic script itself developed from the Parthian chancellery script.

The religious demography of Mesopotamia was very diverse during Late Antiquity. From the 1st and 2nd centuries Syriac Christianity became the primary religion, while other groups practiced Mandaeism, Judaism, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism, and the old Mesopotamian religion. Christians were probably the most numerous group in the province. The Sasanian state religion, Zoroastrianism, was largely confined to the Persian administrative class. [14] Asorestan, and particularly Assyria proper, were the centers for the Church of the East (continuity with which is now claimed by several churches), which at times (partially due to the vast areas the Sasanian empire covered) was the most widespread Christian church in the world, reaching well into Central Asia, China and India. The Church of the East went through major consolidation and expansion in 410 during the Council of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, held at the Sasanian capital (in Asorestan). Selucia-Ctesiphon remained a location of the Patriarchate of the Church of the East for over 600 years.

This period of Sassanid hegemony lasted till the advent of the invading Rashidun Arabs between 633 and 638 AD after which Assuristan got annexed by the Islamic Arabs. Together with Mayshan became the province of al-'Irāq. A century later, the area became the capital province of the Abbasid Caliphate and the center of Islamic civilization for five hundred years from the 8th to the 13th centuries.

After the Arab Islamic Conquest of the mid 7th century AD Assuristan (Assyria) was dissolved as an entity. The previously basic civilization of the desert-dwelling Arabs was greatly enhanced and enriched by the influence and knowledge of native Mesopotamian & Iranian scientists, physicians, mathematicians, theologians, astronomers, architects, agriculturalists, artists, and astrologers.

Assyrian Christians especially Nestorian contributed to the Arab Islamic Civilization during the Ummayads and the Abbasids by translating works of Greek philosophers to Syriac and afterwards to Arabic. [15] They also excelled in philosophy, science (such as Hunayn ibn Ishaq, Qusta ibn Luqa, Masawaiyh, Patriarch Eutychius, Jabril ibn Bukhtishu etc.) and theology (such as Tatian, Bar Daisan, Babai the Great, Nestorius, Toma bar Yacoub etc.) and the personal physicians of the Abbasid Caliphs were often Assyrian Christians such as the long serving Bukhtishu dynasty. [16] [17]

However, despite this, indigenous Assyrians became second class citizens in a greater Arab Islamic state, and those who resisted Arabisation and conversion to Islam were subject to religious, ethnic and cultural discrimination, and had certain restrictions imposed upon them. [18] They were excluded from specific duties and occupations reserved for Muslims, did not enjoy the same political rights as Muslims, their word was not equal to that of a Muslim in legal and civil matters, as Christians they were subject to payment of a special tax (jizyah), they were banned from spreading their religion further in Muslim ruled lands, men were banned from marrying Muslim women, but at the same time they were also expected to adhere to the same laws of property, contract and obligation as the Muslim Arabs. [19] The ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh had its bishop of the Church of the East at the time of the Arab conquest of Mesopotamia. The Arabs still recognised Assyrian identity in the Medieval period, describing them as Ashuriyun. [20]

Assyrian people, still retaining Akkadian infused and influenced Eastern Aramaic and Church of the East Christianity, remained dominant in the north of Mesopotamia (what had been Assyria) as late as the 14th century AD [21] and the city of Assur was still occupied by Assyrians during the Islamic period until the mid-14th century when the Muslim Turco-Mongol ruler Tamurlane conducted a religiously-motivated massacre of indigenous Assyrian Christians. After that, there are no traces of a settlement at Ashur in the archaeological and numismatic record, and from this point, the Assyrian population was dramatically reduced in their homeland. [22] However, another theory posits that the migration of many Assyrians out of Ashur began in the fourteenth century during the Mongol conquests. [23]

In 1552, a schism occurred within the Church of the East: the established "Eliya line" of patriarchs was opposed by a rival patriarch, Sulaqa, who initiated what is called the "Shimun line". He and his early successors entered into communion with the Catholic Church, but in the course of over a century their link with Rome grew weak and was openly renounced in 1672, when Shimun XIII Dinkha adopted a profession of faith that contradicted that of Rome, while he maintained his independence from the "Eliya line". Leadership of those who wished to be in communion with Rome passed to the Archbishop of Amid Joseph I, recognized first by the Turkish civil authorities (1677) and then by Rome itself (1681). A century and a half later, in 1830, headship of the Catholics was conferred on Yohannan Hormizd. Yohannan was a member of the "Eliya line" family, but he opposed the last of that line to be elected in the normal way as patriarch, Ishoʿyahb (1778–1804), most of whose followers he won over to communion with Rome, after he himself was irregularly elected in 1780, as Sulaqa was in 1552. The "Shimun line" that in 1553 entered communion with Rome and broke it off in 1672 is now that of the church that in 1976 officially adopted the name "Assyrian Church of the East", [24] [25] [26] [27] while a member of the "Eliya line" family is one of the patriarchs of the Chaldean Catholic Church.

For many centuries, from at least the time of Jerome (c. 347 – 420), [28] the term "Chaldean" indicated the Aramaic language and was still the normal name in the nineteenth century. [29] [30] [31] Only in 1445 did it begin to be used to mean Aramaic speakers in communion with the Catholic Church, on the basis of a decree of the Council of Florence, [32] which accepted the profession of faith that Timothy, metropolitan of the Aramaic speakers in Cyprus, made in Aramaic, and which decreed that "nobody shall in future dare to call [. ] Chaldeans, Nestorians". [33] [34] [35] Previously, when there were as yet no Catholic Aramaic speakers of Mesopotamian origin, the term "Chaldean" was applied with explicit reference to their "Nestorian" religion. Thus Jacques de Vitry wrote of them in 1220/1 that "they denied that Mary was the Mother of God and claimed that Christ existed in two persons. They consecrated leavened bread and used the 'Chaldean' (Syriac) language". [36] Until the second half of the 19th century. the term "Chaldean" continued in general use for East Syriac Christians, whether "Nestorian" or Catholic: [37] [38] [39] [40] it was the West Syriacs who were reported as claiming descent from Asshur, the second son of Shem. [41]

Starting from the 19th century after the rise of nationalism in the Balkans, the Ottomans started viewing Assyrians and other Christians in their eastern front as a potential threat. Furthermore, constant wars between The Ottomans and the Shiite Safavids encouraged the Ottomans into settling their allies, the nomadic Sunni Kurds, in what is today Northern Iraq and South-eastern Turkey. [42] Starting from then, Kurdish tribal chiefs established semi-independent emirates. The Kurdish Emirs sought to consolidate their power by attacking Assyrian communities which were already well established there. Scholars estimate that tens of thousands of Assyrian in the Hakkari region were massacred in 1843 when Badr Khan the emir of Bohtan invaded their region. [43] After a later massacre in 1846 The Ottomans were forced by the western powers into intervening in the region, and the ensuing conflict destroyed the Kurdish emirates and reasserted the Ottoman power in the area. The Assyrians of Amid were also subject to the massacres of 1895.

The Assyrians suffered a further catastrophic series of massacres known as the Assyrian genocide, at the hands of the Ottomans and their Kurdish and Arab allies from 1915–1918. The genocide (committed in conjunction with the Armenian genocide and Greek genocide) accounted for up to 750,000 unarmed Assyrian civilians and the forced deportations of many more. The sizable Assyrian presence in southeastern Asia Minor which had endured for over four millennia was reduced to a few thousand. As a consequence, the surviving Assyrians took up arms, and an Assyrian war of independence was fought during World War I, For a time, the Assyrians fought successfully against overwhelming numbers, scoring a number of victories over the Ottomans and Kurds, and also hostile Arab and Iranian groups then their Russian allies left the war following the Russian Revolution, and Armenian resistance broke. The Assyrians were left cut off, surrounded, and without supplies, forcing those in Asia Minor and Northwest Iran to fight their way, with civilians in tow, to the safety of British lines and their fellow Assyrians in the Assyrian homeland of northern Iraq. Assyrians prominently served in Iraq Levies organized by the British in 1919, and after 1928, these became the Assyrian Levies.

Many Assyrians from Hakkari settled in Syria after they were displaced and driven out by Ottoman Turks in southeast Turkey in the early 20th century. [44] During the 1930s and 1940s, many Assyrians resettled in northeastern Syrian villages, such as Tel Tamer, Al-Qahtaniyah Al Darbasiyah, Al-Malikiyah, Qamishli and a few other small towns in Al-Hasakah Governorate. [45]

In 1932, Assyrians refused to become part of the newly formed state of Iraq and instead demanded their recognition as a nation within a nation. The Assyrian leader Mar Shimun XXI Eshai asked the League of Nations to recognize the right of Assyrians to govern the area known as the "Assyrian triangle" in northern Iraq. The Assyrians suffered the Simele massacre, where thousands of unarmed villagers (men, women, and children) were slaughtered by joint Arab-Kurdish forces of the Iraqi Army. These massacres followed a clash between Assyrian tribesmen and the Iraqi army, where the Iraqi forces suffered a defeat after trying to disarm the Assyrians, whom they feared would attempt to secede from Iraq. Armed Assyrian Levies were prevented by the British from going to the aid of these defenseless civilians. [46] Eventually this led to the Iraqi government to commit its first of many massacres against its unarmed minority populations (see Simele massacre). [47]

The Assyrian Levies were founded by the British in 1928, with ancient Assyrian military rankings, such as Rab-shakeh, Rab-talia and Tartan, being revived for the first time in millennia for this force. The Assyrians were prized by the British rulers for their fighting qualities, loyalty, bravery and discipline, and were used to help the British put down insurrections among the Arabs and Kurds, guard the borders with Iran and Turkey and protect British military installations. [48]

The Assyrians were allied with the British during World War II, with eleven Assyrian companies seeing action in Palestine/Israel and another four serving in Cyprus. The Parachute Company was attached to the Royal Marine Commando and Assyrian Paratroopers were involved in fighting in Albania, Italy and Greece. Assyrians played a major role in the victory over Arab-Iraqi forces at the Battle of Habbaniya and Anglo-Iraq war in 1941, when the Iraqi government decided to join WW2 on the side of Nazi Germany. The British presence in Iraq lasted until 1954, and Assyrian Levies remained attached to British forces until this time.

The period from the 1940s through to 1963 saw a period of respite for the Assyrians. The regime of President Kassim, in particular, saw the Assyrians accepted into mainstream society. Many urban Assyrians became successful businessmen, others were well represented in politics and the military, their towns and villages flourished undisturbed, and Assyrians came to excel, and be over-represented in sports such as Boxing, Football, Athletics, Wrestling and Swimming.

However, in 1963, the Ba'ath Party took power by force in Iraq. The Baathists, though secular, were Arab Nationalists, and set about attempting to Arabize the many on Arab peoples of Iraq, including the Assyrians. Other ethnic groups targeted for forced Arabization included Kurds, Armenians, Turcomans, Mandeans, Yezidi, Shabaki, Kawliya, Persians and Circassians. This policy included refusing to acknowledge the Assyrians as an ethnic group, banning the publication of written material in Eastern Aramaic, and banning its teaching in schools, banning parents giving Assyrian names to their children, banning Assyrian political parties, taking control of Assyrian churches, attempting to divide Assyrians on denominational lines (e.g. Assyrian Church of the East vs Chaldean Catholic Church vs Syriac Orthodox) and forced relocations of Assyrians from their traditional homelands to major cities.

In response to Baathist persecution, the Assyrians of the Zowaa movement within the Assyrian Democratic Movement took up armed struggle against the Iraqi regime in 1982 under the leadership of Yonadam Kanna, [49] and then joined up with the IKF in the early 1990s. Yonadam Kanna, in particular, was a target of the Saddam Hussein Ba'ath regime for many years.

The policies of the Baathists have also long been mirrored in Turkey, whose governments have refused to acknowledge the Assyrians as an ethnic group since the 1920s, and have attempted to Turkify the Assyrians by calling them Semitic Turks and forcing them to adopt Turkic names. In Syria too, the Assyrian/Syriac Christians have faced pressure to identify as Arab Christians.

Many persecutions have befallen the Assyrians since, such as the Anfal campaign and Baathist, Arab and Kurdish nationalist and Islamist persecutions.

With the fall of Saddam Hussein and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, no reliable census figures exist on the Assyrians in Iraq (as they do not for Iraqi Kurds or Turkmen), though the number of Assyrians is estimated to be approximately 800,000.

The Assyrian Democratic Movement (or ADM) was one of the smaller political parties that emerged in the social chaos of the occupation. Its officials say that while members of the ADM also took part in the liberation of the key oil cities of Kirkuk and Mosul in the north, the Assyrians were not invited to join the steering committee that was charged with defining Iraq's future. The ethnic make-up of the Iraq Interim Governing Council briefly (September 2003 – June 2004) guided Iraq after the invasion included a single Assyrian Christian, Younadem Kana, a leader of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and an opponent of Saddam Hussein since 1979.

In October 2008 many Iraqi Christians(about 12,000 almost Assyrians) have fled the city of Mosul following a wave of murders and threats targeting their community. The murder of at least a dozen Christians, death threats to others, the destruction of houses forced the Christians to leave their city in hurry. Some families crossed the borders to Syria and Turkey while others have been given shelters in Churches and Monasteries. Accusations and blames have been exchanged between Sunni fundamentalists and some Kurdish groups for being behind this new exodus. For the time the motivation of these culprits remains mysterious, but some claims related it to the provincial elections due to be held at the end of January 2009, and especially connected to Christian's demand for wider presentation in the provincial councils. [50]

In recent years, the Assyrians in northern Iraq and northeast Syria have become the target of extreme unprovoked Islamic terrorism. As a result, Assyrians have taken up arms, alongside other groups (such as the Kurds, Turcomans and Armenians) in response to unprovoked attacks by Al Qaeda, ISIS/ISIL, Nusra Front and other terrorist Islamic Fundamentalist groups. In 2014 Islamic terrorists of ISIS attacked Assyrian towns and villages in the Assyrian Homeland of northern Iraq, together with cities such as Mosul and Kirkuk which have large Assyrian populations. There have been reports of atrocities committed by ISIS terrorists since, including beheadings, crucifixions, child murders, rape, forced conversions, Ethnic Cleansing, robbery, and extortion in the form of illegal taxes levied upon non-Muslims. Assyrians in Iraq have responded by forming armed Assyrian militias to defend their territories.

Thus far, the only people who have been attested with a high level of genetic, historical, linguistic and cultural research to be the descendants of the ancient Mesopotamians are the Assyrian Christians of Iraq and its surrounding areas in northwest Iran, northeast Syria and southeastern Turkey (see Assyrian continuity), although others have made unsubstantiated claims of continuity. Assyria continued to exist as a geopolitical entity until the Arab-Islamic conquest in the mid-7th century, and Assyrian identity, personal, family and tribal names, and both spoken and written evolutions of Mesopotamian Aramaic (which still contain many Akkadian loan words and an Akkadian grammatical structure) have survived among the Assyrian people from ancient times to this day (see Assyrian people).

The Assyrian Crisis in the Southern Kingdom

The middle eighth century BC was relatively prosperous for both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Even though Jeroboam II’s reign in the Northern Kingdom provided a period of relative peace and prosperity, he continued to allow Ba’al worship to flourish and was therefore seen as taking another step toward disaster for the nation (Amos 7:10-17). During the same period in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, Uzziah also proved to be a capable leader providing a corresponding forty year period of peace and prosperity for Judah. (2 Chron 26). Uzziah was one of only five kings of the Southern Kingdom whom the biblical traditions give passing marks as a leader. So, there is some sense of the passing of an era and the dawning of an ominous future in Isaiah of Jerusalem marking the beginning of his ministry as "the year that king Uzziah died" (Isa 6:1).

Jotham (co-regent, 750-742 king, 742-735)

King Uzziah contracted leprosy during the latter part of his reign, so his son Jotham shared the throne as co-regent for the last years of Uzziah’s rule, although it is likely that Uzziah retained control. Considering the monumental events swirling through the area, very little notice is taken of the reign of Jotham. The accounts in both Kings and Chronicles note a few building projects (2 Chron 27:1-5, 2 Kings 32-35) while the Chronicler adds a victory over the Ammonites that resulted in three years of tribute. Both accounts give him mixed ratings, noting that he tried to follow the practices of Uzziah but did not promote any religious reforms. The Chronicler tends to sanitize Jotham’s reign, omitting any reference to the threat from the alliance of Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Israel mentioned in Kings (The Syro-Ephraimitic Coalition, 2 Kings 15:37). Since Jotham died just as the armies of Pekah were poised to strike at Jerusalem, it fell to his son Ahaz to deal with this threat.

Ahaz (735-715)

Ahaz is remembered as one of the worst kings of Judah, not only willing to surrender the country to Assyria for his own survival but also willing to compromise the nation’s commitment to God. Ahaz came to the throne just as the coalition of Syria and Israel was ready to depose his father Jotham and replace him with someone more sympathetic to their anti-Assyrian plans (Isa 7:6) . We do not know all of the motivations that drove Ahaz since much of the biblical account views his actions through the consequences it had both politically and religiously for the Southern Kingdom. But his actions spelled disaster in both areas for Judah.

Ahaz faced the prospect of civil war with the Northern Israelites. No doubt taking advantage of a volatile situation, the Edomites to the south captured Elath, Judah’s port on the Red Sea and forced Ahaz’ army to retreat (2 Kings 16:6). About the same time the Philistines along the southeastern coast, whom Judah had held in check for some time, began raiding into the hill country along Judah’s southern borders. Ahaz, unwilling or unable to wage campaigns on three fronts, began seeking military alliances with other nations. The prophet Isaiah desperately pleaded with Ahaz to trust in the promises of God and not to pursue such a reckless course of action (Isa 7-8). But Ahaz ignored Isaiah, and after overtures to Egypt failed to produce any results, he finally appealed to the Assyrian ruler Tiglath Pileser III for assistance (1 Kings 16:7-10). In effect, Ahaz had willingly surrendered the Southern Kingdom to Assyria.

Assyria needed little excuse to take action, and the events that unfolded led to the destruction of the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians in 721 BC. While saving his throne and averting the same fate for the Southern Kingdom, Ahaz and Judah were now vassals of the Assyrian Empire. In the ancient Near Eastern culture, where each nation had a patron deity as protector and defender of that country, subjugation of another country meant that the gods of the victor had prevailed over the gods of the other. As vassal of Assyria, Ahaz was compelled to acknowledge the Assyrian gods as his own.

On a trip to Damascus to meet the Assyrian king to pledge his loyalty, and probably to pay homage to Assyrian deities as well, he saw an altar to Asshur the patron deity of Assyria. He made plans of this altar, sent them to Jerusalem, and instructed that the altar be built and placed in the Temple for his use. When he returned from Damascus, Ahaz offered sacrifices on the altar. In addition, he removed some of the furnishings of the Temple and closed the king’s entrance into the Temple at the instructions of the Assyrian ruler (2 Kings 16:10-18). In effect, Ahaz had converted part of the Temple into a shrine to Asshur!

With the king providing such an example, Ba’al worship and all sorts of Canaanite religious practices flourished. Ahaz himself even allowed one of his sons to be offered as a child sacrifice (2 Kings 16:3). This era was remembered as one of the worst times of apostasy from God in the Southern Kingdom, rivaled only by the reign of Manasseh. The prophets Isaiah and Micah both scathingly denounced the apostasy and warned of dire consequences for the Southern Kingdom, just as had already happened to the North, if Judah did not repent and return to God (Mic 1:2-16, 3:9-12, Isa 9:8-10:4). But the nation remained captive to Assyrian and Assyrian gods throughout the reign of Ahaz.

Hezekiah (715-687)

As bad as the reign of Ahaz had been, the reign of his son Hezekiah was remembered as one of the best for Judah. Hezekiah came to the throne just as events were heating up again in Palestine. After two decades of Assyrian rule, many of the surrounding nations as well as Judah were anxious to be free of the Assyrians. And there were many faithful followers of Yahweh in Judah, as exemplified by Micah and Isaiah with his group of followers, who found the religious situation under Ahaz intolerable. Hezekiah would quickly be caught up in a series of events that would allow Judah to escape the fate of Samaria and the Northern Kingdom, at least for a while.

The new Assyrian king, Sargon II who came to power about the time Samaria fell in 722/1 BC, was occupied in the northern, eastern, and western provinces of the Assyrian Empire quelling revolts and consolidating his reign. This eased some pressure on Palestine toward the end of the rule of Ahaz. Egypt, who had been weak during for some time, experienced a resurgence of power with a new dynasty around 716-715 BC, and encouraged rebellion against Assyria in Palestine and Syria as a means of establishing a buffer zone between Egypt and Assyria should Assyria again turn ambitious.

Led by Ashdod around 714, several Philistine city-states withheld tribute from Assyria, and surrounding nations were invited to join the rebellion with promised aid from Egypt. We have little information about Hezekiah’s involvement in the rebellion, although it is clear that Isaiah advised him to have no part of an alliance with Egypt (Isa 20). If he sided with the rebels at all, he managed to extricate himself before it was too late. By 712 Sargon had ruthlessly crushed the rebellion since the promised Egyptian aid never came.

However the pressure to purge Assyrian rule and deities from Judah continued to mount. Hezekiah, encouraged to restore the worship of Yahweh by the prophets Isaiah and Micah, began a series of sweeping religious reforms that intended to purge the pagan religious practices as well as to address the social abuses that had been allowed to prevail under Ahaz. The biblical traditions report this as simply an attempt to cleanse the nation of the religious syncretism that Ahaz had allowed to pollute the land (2 Chron 29). But since the altar to Assyrian gods had tremendous political implications, the reforms were hardly purely religious. To remove the Assyrian shrines was the same as rejecting Assyrian rule. While the biblical reports are matter of fact, the reforms probably were done gradually over a period of time rather than a radical break all at once.

In any case, by 704 Hezekiah’s opportunity came. Sargon II was assassinated and Sennacherib (705-681 BC) came to power in Assyria. Typically, outlying provinces attempted to rebel and Sennacherib was immediately spread thin attempting to hold the Empire together. Hezekiah was ready for a break from Assyria and withheld tribute, an open signal of rebellion. Other states in the area joined the rebellion and Hezekiah, in brokering an alliance with Egypt over the objections of Isaiah (Isa 30, 31), became the leader of the revolt. It took Sennacherib until 701 to quiet the other provinces sufficiently to turn his attention to Hezekiah.

Sennacherib marched from the north into Palestine intent on devastating cities that had rebelled. He began along the northwestern coastal area of Phoenicia and the seaport of Tyre, which quickly fell. The defeat of Tyre caused many of the city-states as far away as Moab and Ammon to promptly reassert their allegiance to Assyria. However, the Philistine cities of Ashkelon and Ekron along with the Kingdom of Judah continued to refuse tribute to Sennacherib. Determined to teach the rebellious cities a lesson, Sennacherib continued his southward march. In a short span of time, he had secured all of the Philistine territory along the coast and turned inland to deal with Hezekiah and Judah. The Assyrians destroyed a great number of towns in Judah and finally laid siege to Jerusalem itself.

At this point, the accounts of the ensuing campaigns of Sennacherib are not clear and there are differing opinions about the precise sequence of events. The debate centers on whether there were two separate campaigns by Sennacherib against Hezekiah, one in 701 and another in 688-687, or only one in 701. The evidence, both from biblical accounts and Sennacherib’s own Annals, which have survived, is unclear. Some suggest that at this time Hezekiah, fearing the worst, sent envoys to Sennacherib and secured a peace treaty at the price of heavy tribute that resulted in Hezekiah stripping the temple of it gold to meet the demands (2 Kings 18:13-16). They suggest that later Hezekiah again rebelled against Assyria around 690 with assistance from the new Egyptian pharaoh Tirhakah while Sennacherib was busy putting down unrest in Babylon (2 Kings 19:9). Since Tirhakah did not become Pharaoh until 690, this would imply a second campaign by Sennacherib subsequent to the 701 incursion.

However, most historians contend that there was only one campaign, with all the above events relating to the siege of Jerusalem in 701. Their perspective is that Hezekiah attempted to prevent the destruction of Jerusalem by sending tribute, but Sennacherib was not satisfied with the offer and was determined to destroy Jerusalem and humiliate Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:17-18). The reference to Tirhakah would then either be an anachronistic reference from a later period, or a reference to Tirhakah as a military leader a decade before he became pharaoh. In any case, the details are not adequate enough from the biblical account to decide with any certainty.

Regardless of the precise historical details, the primary biblical concern is the devastation of large areas of Judah by the Assyrians and the outcome of the siege of Jerusalem. There are various theories about what happened to end the siege, such an infestation of rats that led to a sudden deadly plague (2 Kings 19:35) or an unexpected recall of Sennacherib to Assyria (2 Kings 19:5-7), but they seem to miss the point of the biblical narrative. The biblical traditions simply remembered that just as it seemed inevitable the Assyrians would take the city, they suddenly left in the middle of the night never to return to the city (2 Kings 19:35-37). Clearly, the biblical traditions attribute this to God, just as Isaiah had promised Hezekiah (Isa 37:33-35). The implication of these events from the biblical perspective is that God spared the city because of the faithfulness of Hezekiah and the reforms that he had instituted in the worship of Yahweh (2 Chron 31:20-21). Even so, both the account in Kings and especially the parallel account in Chronicles note that Hezekiah was not not a model king and had a tendency to pride and self glorification (Isa 39 2 Chron 32:24-26).

Theological Note: It should not diminish this perspective either theologically or historically to note that the deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians would later lead to the dogma of the inviolability of Zion, the idea that God would always under all circumstances protect the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. This assumed that the promise of Isaiah was a timeless and unconditional one. Jeremiah would later face these ideas that presented a tremendous hindrance to his own message, which was precisely the opposite of Isaiah’s: that the city of Jerusalem would fall to the Babylonians (note Jer 7:1-11). He would also face false prophets such as Hananiah (Jer 28), who no doubt quoted the words of Isaiah to him with full confidence without considering that there was no righteous king close to the equivalent of Hezekiah and therefore the message from God might be different. It is even possible that these prophets were later disciples of Isaiah who were trying to preserve a tradition for its own sake without standing in the "council" of God (Jer 23:21-22).

It is a sober warning that God’s word for his people might be different at different times. Likewise it warns how easily and dangerously God’s people can assume that what was true in the past must always be true without qualification or consideration of how the condition of the people and their response might affect history. In many ways, it is this same assumption about the work of God in the world that caused problems for Jesus. Ironically, it was the Isaiah tradition itself that challenged the idea of "what has been must be" as it proclaimed God as the God of new things (Isa 42:8-9, 43:18-21).

The last years of Hezekiah’s reign are obscure. If there were two invasions by Sennacherib, then Hezekiah’s entire reign was occupied with the Assyrian threat. If there was only one, the later part of his reign was evidently uneventful, except for some building projects around Jerusalem (2 Kings 20:20, 2 Chron 32:27-32).

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Watch the video: Sennacherib and Assyrian invasion of Israel