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The Rise of the Assyrians 1600 B. C. – 539 B. C.


During the century after the Hittites had raided Babylon and rose to power in Turkey and Syria, Mesopotamia was a divided unproductive land. In the south, Babylonia fell under the rule of foreigners, first the Kassites from the northeast and then the Elamites from the southeast. Neither of these people seemed able to make any advances in civilization. Northern Mesopotamia came under the Mitanni kingdom, which at least introduced trained horses and chariots to the Near East. By the time the native Babylonians regained control and the Mitanni kingdom fell, another people was disturbing the land – the Assyrians. The Assyrians who wrote and spoke Akkadian, were close relatives of the Babylonians and had played a minor part in Mesopotamian affairs for some time. They made their home in the upper reaches of the Tigris River, where once had been some of the earliest farming communities in the world. The region later came under the influence of various early Sumerian and Babylonian kingdoms to the south. By about 2000 B. C., the Assyrians themselves became independent enough to carry on a thriving trade with people in Turkey. But around 1800 B. C. the Hittites put an end to that and then the Mitanni kingdom set itself over Assyria. The Warrior Kings Centuries passed and the Assyrians overthrew a weakened Mitanni kingdom, but even before this they were struggling with Babylonia for control of Mesopotamia. Year after year, lands, cities, trading routes and outposts changed hands, until the Assyrians gradually won out. By 1100 B. C., under their king Tiglath-Pileser I, the Assyrians were strong enough to begin expanding. Fighting off enemies on all sides, Assyria began to dominate the metal trade with the north and the commercial centres of the Syrian coast. Loot and tribute made Ashur, the capital of …

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