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Who were the Assyrians?

Who were the Assyrians?

June 14, 2024

The Assyrians will always be remembered both for its antiquity as a civilization, as for its brutal military methods that frighten the Middle East and part of the West. Their armies, their soldiers and their ferocity on the battlefield procured a resounding and respected success during the 9th and 7th century BC. in the region of Mesopotamia. They extended their domains from the Turkey side, through Iran to Egypt.

But not everything was blood and violence with the Assyrian people. They had a great predilection for art and architecture, printing great works wherever they stepped. They wanted to impose their regional hegemony facing the Empire of Babylon, which was the power of the moment and which managed to survive by joining forces with another competitor, the Medos, who formed a coalition to wipe out the Assyrians.

In this article we will give a brief review of the history of the Assyrian people , one of the most important elements that occurred in the cradle of civilizations.

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The origin of the Assyrians

The Assyrians were a set of nomadic peoples of Semitic origin who moved through what is known today as the Middle East . The origin of its name corresponds to what was the main capital of the Assyrian people, Assura or Ashura in Arabic. This word was dedicated to the god Assur, who according to the mythology of Antiquity means "the God of Life", represented in its beginnings as a tree.

Although a priori the God Assur represented the creation of the whole, vegetation, life, order and the infinite, as the Assyrian empire expanded, his figure was twisted, until it was given a more wicked and warrior meaning to Encourage soldiers to push new conquests. He was the king of the Gods and God of the kings, and every citizen or Assyrian ruler had to proceed to a ritual to obtain his blessing.

According to the archaeological discoveries made in the city of Assura, al-Charquat in present-day Iraq, on the shores of the splendid Tigris River, this was a colony of the Babylonians that became the Assyrians after their total destruction. This ancient city was revealed in 2003 and was declared a World Heritage Site in danger of disappearance by UNESCO.

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Imperial period

Like any other empire of antiquity, the Assyrian went through the life cycle that everyone shares: birth, splendor and decay. Here we present those three moments that explain the existence of the Assyrian empire.

First Assyrian Empire

It was in this period (1814-1781 a.C.) that the Assyrian Empire was consolidated with such a category. The rise of the Assyrian population outside their regions blew up the first tensions and battles with neighboring nations . Under the rule of King Shamshi Adad I until 1760 a.C, since in that year was defeated by the Empire of Babylon.

Middle Assyrian Empire

This was a tumultuous moment of great confusion throughout the Mesopotamian region, especially for the Assyrians. Once annexed to the Babylonian Empire, they began to suffer invasions from other emerging powers such as the Hittites and the so-called Peoples of the Sea from the Balkan Peninsula.

It is here that the Assyrians began to work their legacy, a feared legacy in the years to come. Resisted against all attacks suffered on all fronts before the Hittites, Egyptians, Arameans or the Mitani . So they spread territorially their domains, and established the practice of terror as a weapon of war, burning, killing and devastating the conquered regions.

The Neo Assyrian Empire

Curiously, just the more militarily ruthless the Assyrians seemed, they wanted to establish the bases of an administrative system of assimilation of the peoples, avoiding their destruction and taking care of their fellow citizens. In each region a province was established with a governor and their respective representative buildings (usually temples).

King Sargon II, of the Sargonides dynasty , was responsible for bringing another less warlike element to his empire: art, architecture and urban modernization. The gardens and plants are one of the shining attributes of the time, making the capital Nineveh one of the most beautiful in Mesopotamia.

However, all this -even with the accommodation of the masses- was done with an iron hand and a despotic manner. The inequality and cruelty with which the second-class inhabitants were treated made the empire fall into a spiral of weakness and lack of control, which It would culminate with the reconquest of the Babylonians back in 609 BC.

The artistic legacy

We have had a great impact on the conquests and military battles of the Assyrian Empire. In its cruelty and political administration.However, not everything was fights and skirmishes between ethnic groups and archaic nations. There was also an artistic brilliance that remains of incalculable value are still discovered today.

In terms of architecture, the Assyrians assimilated part of the Chaldean art, improving and enlarging the palaces and temples that they built to demonstrate their power and greatness. A distinguishing detail was the identification plates that adorned the facades of the buildings: baked brick and glass was the material used to give beauty to the monuments. Art historians agree that the Assyrian temples are the most spectacular of Mesopotamia, highlighting that of Sargon II from the 8th century BC.

The Assyrians were brilliant in the descriptive reliefs, carved with special care and finesse. Basically, they represented the battles won, the heroic characters who carried them out and the rulers who subdued the people. Firmness, power and hierarchy was the theme present in all Assyrian representation. In the paintings there is no variation in the narrative, but the most used colors were blue, yellow and red. Vibrant colors that told the daily life of the Assyrian culture. The remains that are conserved today are witnesses of the greatness of this civilization.

Who were the Assyrians? History of the Assyrian Empire (June 2024).

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