Midterm #1, Part 1
Question 2: The Assyrians
Since the rise and establishment of the city-states of Mesopotamia in 3000 B.C., mankind has
flourished in its efforts toward technological and societal betterment. For the following 3000
years, civilizations were brought forth successfully and each reaped the benefits of human
innovation. But regardless of such fruitful events, the flowering of economical stability and
societal standards inevitably brought forth the need for power, and thus war. It is clear through
documentations of human history in the Bronze Age that many civilizations experienced the
capture, as well as the loss, of power over other civilizations. Among the more notably powerful
of these peoples were the Assyrians, who dominated neighboring civilizations of the Near East
throughout the Bronze Age.
The Rise of Assyria
The Assyrian Empire was among the first of various powers to emerge upon the advent of the
power vacuum caused by the fall of the Hittite kingdom and the decline of Egypt. After the death
of Solomon, King of Israel, conflict between the northern and southern tribes of Israel broke out,
and two separate kingdoms were established thereafter. Because of circumstances such as these,
in which different city-states and kingdoms were constantly at war, the Assyrians were able to
take advantage of and subdue great parts of the Near East. In order to maintain control over
conquered lands, the Assyrians forced the conquered to resettle to foreign lands and pay tribute
to the empire, which heavily burdened the economical supply of those subject to this policy.
The Assyrians also relied heavily on iron weaponry and “each year embarked on military
expeditions to continue [the] expansion” of the Assyrian kingdom.
) Over the course of many years, the
Assyrians developed effective military tactics and leaders, enlisting and deploying troops by the
hundred thousands. In addition to size, the Assyrian military was also extremely disciplined and
organized, and included a standing army, cavalrymen and horse drawn chariots, which
collectively guaranteed effectiveness and success in war.
In addition, kings exercised absolute control, which helped to guarantee organization within the
empire. Governorship based on a hereditary basis was eliminated, and officials were directly
responsible to the king, a policy change which gave the king greater control over resources. In
essence, the Assyrians ruled by what has been called “barbarous and unspeakable cruelty”,
testament to their success as powerful, but brutal conquerors.
:) By utilizing sheer force, military brilliance
and political savvy, the Assyrians were able to rise to power and effectively dominate the Near
The Fall of Assyria