Assyria was a Semitic kingdom that existed from about 23rd century BC to 608 BC. Their location is centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia. Like most other Mesopotamian empires, they came to rule a number of times throughout history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur.
Rise of the Assyrians
Little is known about the origins of the Assyrian people. The list of Assyrian kings lead back to the 23st and 24th century. The first written inscriptions by Assyrian kings appear in the second half of the 21st century BC. Assyria then consisted of a number of city states and small Semitic Akkadian kingdoms. The foundation of the first true urbanised Assyrian monarchy was traditionally ascribed to Ushpia a contemporary of Ishbi-Erra of Larsa circa 2030 BC.
Assyria once more became a great power, growing to be the greatest empire the world had yet seen. He firmly subjugated the areas previously under only nominal Assyrian vassalage, conquering and deporting troublesome Aramean, Neo-Hittite and Hurrian populations in the north to far-off places. Adadinirari II then twice attacked and defeated Shamash-mudammiq of Babylonia, annexing a large area of land north of the Diyala River and the towns of Hīt and Zanqu in mid Mesopotamia. He made further gains over Babylonia under Nabu-shuma-ukin later in his reign. Fall of the Assyrians
Assyria was severely crippled following the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC — the nation descending into a prolonged and brutal series of civil wars involving three rival kings, Ashur-etil-ilani, Sin-shumu-lishir and Sin-shar-ishkun. Ashur-etil-ilani was deposed in 623 BC, after four years of bitter fighting by Sin-shumu-lishir. In turn, Sin-shumu-lishir was deposed after a year of warfare by Sin-shar-ishkun. Many of Assyria's vassal states and colonies took advantage of this situation to free themselves from Assyrian rule.
By 650 BC, the Assyrian kings ruled an empire that stretched from the Persian Gulf to Egypt and into Asia Minor. The empire was divided into different provinces, which were run by governor who was responsible to the king. Officials from the central government were sent into each province to collect taxes to support the army and to fund building projects in the Assyrian capital, Nineveh. This system is known as Imperial Administration. The Assyrians built systems of many roads in between provinces to improve communication. The roads were traveled by government messengers and Aramaean merchants so that they could be protected by soldiers from bandits and vandals. Even though they had the systems of roads, the Assyrian Empire began to fall apart when conquered people continually rebelled. In 612 BC, the Chaldeans, a group of people who lived in Babylon, formed an alliance with the Medes from the east. The alliance took over Nineveh, and forced the Assyrian Empire to fall apart completely. ( World History Textbook)
The Assyrian army was known as the most lethal fighting force in the Middle East. The Assyrians set up their warriors into units of foot soldiers, charioteers, and fast-moving cavalry fighting on horseback. They were described as “fighters whose arrows were sharp and all their bows bent, the horses’ hooves were like flint, and their wheels like a whirling wind.” The Assyrians treated conquered people cruelly, and they burned cities, tortured and killed thousands of captives.
Art was used to intimidate other cultures and show how powerful the emperor was. Pictures commonly shown battle scenes and whole villages being murdered. These stone carvings lined the walls in the palaces where outsiders would meet the king to make the tribe look fierce. Other stone carvings showed kings and people of power in religious ceremonies. Metals plates were once found, and were thought to be hinges from wooden doors. Art was also used to ward off back spirits. One example of this would be the winged bull Lamassu that guarded the king’s court. The Lamassi were usually sculpted with five legs, so that no matter what angle you viewed it from, four legs were visible.
The Assyrians were also innovative in military technology with the use of heavy cavalry, sappers, siege engines etc.1. The Assyrians were thought to have invented the first Library , although little evidence of this has been found. Small clear lenses were found, encased in wood. People believed that this was a lense, for either a telescope of a magnifying glass. They were the first to pave roads, making a road system for merchants so that they could avoid bandits. Canal system were used as irrigation and they made a key and lock system almost like today. They had several innovations which allowed them to excel at military conflict. Instead of making swords out of bronze, they used iron. Spears were made of metal instead of wood. They would lay down tar to slow enemies and light them on fire. They were also quiet advanced in mathematics, being the first people to devide a circle into 360 degrees. For geographic mapping, they made latitude and longitude.
Assyrian religion was polytheistic, or, worshipping more that one god. To be specific, they worshipped over 2000 gods, such as Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Assur, Nineveh, Ur, Uruk, Mari and Babylon. Some of the most significant of these deities were Anu, Ea, Enlil, Ishtar (Astarte), Ashur, Shamash, Tammuz, Adad/Hadad, Sin (Nanna), Dagan, Ninurta, Nisroch, Nergal, Tiamat, Bel and Marduk. All we know about their religion comes from remains dug up in the region. Most of these are written in cuneiform on clay.