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    Default Assyrians, the Lords of the Massacres The bloodiest ancient civilization

    Quote Originally Posted by Assyrians, the Lords of the Massacres The bloodiest ancient civilization By Stefan Anitei, Science Editor
    Assyrians were one of the most warlike people in history, lovers of the violence of the war and hunt. Amongst the people of the ancient Middle East, they were famous for their cruelty. At the peak of its power, Assyria stretched from Egypt to Persian Gulf. Their aggressiveness was partially attributed to their location: Assyria was in northern Mesopotamia, north of Babylon. As no natural bounders like shores or mountains were found there, they were vulnerable to attacks from any direction. This required the presence of a strong and mobile army.

    Assyrians were also good traders, and the main trade routes of Mesopotamia passed through Assyria. Their control was a source of richness.



    Like the Babylonians, Assyrians were Akkadians, thus descending from the Semites that during the third millennium BC went out of Arabia and conquered Sumer and Akkad. Assyria emerged around 1900 BC, but it was under the control of the Mitanni kingdom. During this period, Assyrians developed a military tradition and during the 14th century BC, they started their campaigns.

    Tukultiapil-Esara I expanded Assyria to the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea in the 12th century. But their success was fluctuating, due to numerous migrations of people, and the emergence of a new powerful enemy, the Arameans, who were Semites as well. Other main enemies were Egypt and Urartu (later Armenia), which supported the Neo-Hittites. Starting with the 9th century BC, Assyrians turned increasingly cruel. The Assyrian Empire emerged, comprising Mesopotamia and northern Syria. In 745 BC, Tukultiapil Esara III formed a new dynasty and conquered Babylon, Syria and Palestine. In 701 BC, Sin-ahhe-eriba occupied Jerusalem. Ashur-ah-iddina (689-669 BC) invaded Egypt for a short time. Even the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon fell.

    Military service was compulsory for all Assyrians, no matter the social class. A body of engineers was created during the 7th century BC, for attacking fortifications. Soon, Assyrians passed from bronze weapons to iron weapons and were amongst the first users of the horse driven war chariots, carrying archers. They were the first people to introduce chivalry units in the army. Heavy chariots were driven by 4 horses and had two pairs of wheels. The crew comprised a driver and an archer. The anterior part was protected by a metal plate.

    The power of the infantry was conferred by archers using "composed curb" bow, with high penetration power (the arrow passed bronze armors) and long reach. First, they wore metallic vests, and then they protected themselves with long wooden shields and metal helmets. In direct combat, Assyrians employed axes and short swords. The military commander has triangular scepters, a memory of the heavy war maces used by ancient Mesopotamians. Infantry was helped by chariots and chivalry charges.



    Assyrians invented siege machines, like battering rams and mobile towers shooting arrows. The ram hanged on a rope inside the mobile tower. The whole population of the besieged towns would be massacred and the human heads piled outside the city's wall.

    In 853 BC, the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III fought an army made of Syrians and Jews joined by the Arabian king Gindibu, with his army of 1,000... camel riders. The Assyrian chivalry was spooked by the sight of the unusual beasts (not known by those times outside Arabia) and ran away. On the ruins of the city of Nineveh (the ancient Assyrian capital), on a relief can be seen the chivalry of King Ashurbanipal (669-627 BC) fighting Arab camel riders (even today, Neo-Assyrians, ones of the few Christians of Iraq, do not consume camel meat).



    The richness of Assyria made the import of stone, wood and precious stones possible, which were used for adorning the cities of Ashur, Kalack, Dur-Sarrukin and Nineveh. Royal palaces comprised ornaments depicting winged bulls with human heads, symbolically watching the building. Columns raised for commemorating the victories took pride in the name of the defeated enemy and the number of beheaded or impaled persons. Many bas-reliefs depicted the king killing or mutilating enemies or lions during the hunt. Phoenician made ivory carved plates depicting animals, which adorned the rooms of the palace of Kalack. Rosettes were common elements in the Assyrian art, from diadems to palace decorations. Pottery was well developed, and the works were adorned in vivid colors, having a glassy shine.

    Nobles, dignitaries and kings wore large fringed tunics. They all had beards, sometimes curled, and wore a strip encircling their hair. Jewels were made of gold, silver or ivory. Jewelers were usually Phoenicians, and many were deported at the Assyrian court, due to the mass deportations effectuated by the Assyrians.

    Average people were allowed to hunt only small game, despite the abundant game in those times. The princes and officials hunted following a well-established protocol: elephants, leopards, aurochs (wild cattle), wild boars, deer, antelopes and onagers (wild *****). Assyrians practiced falconry.

    The lion hunting was reserved just for the kings, on foot or in their war chariots on two wheels. Of course, there may have been kings or officials extremely skilled in handling the sword, spear, arrow or lasso. But the royal vanity had to be mesmerized, and this is how the scribes wrote the first ... "hunting tales".

    The Assyrian king Tiglatpalasar I (1116-1078 BC) synthesized this way his hunting career: "I killed four giant, powerful bulls in the desert of the Mitanni land, with my hard bow, my steel sword, and my sharp arrows... I also killed 10 strong elephant bulls in Harran on the banks of the Habur River. I captured 4 living elephants. From the order of the Ninurta god, I killed in fight, standing on foot, 120 brave hearted lions and 800 lions from my war chariot."

    Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC) was more persuasive: in just one hunting party "I killed 30 elephants with the bow, 257 powerful wild bulls I killed from my war chariot, I killed 370 strong lions just by spear like birds in a cage".

    Common Assyrians lived in adobe made simple houses. Temples appeared as huge stepped pyramids called ziggurats. The ziggurats were also astronomic observatories. Only priests acceded to the top of the ziggurat, where an altar with a continuously burning flame was located. The priests reported precise astronomic data, eclipse predictions, and changes in the stars' orbits.

    The supreme Assyrian god was Ashur (hence the name Assyria), the war god, cruel with the enemies and merciful with his believers. Its symbol was a solar disk. The priest made his prayer lying on his back, accompanied by altar boys. The wife of Ashur was the Babylonian Ninlil, but he also had another goddess. Many foreign gods entered the Assyrian pantheon. Shamshi-Adad I build an altar in Terqa for the Amorite god Dagan. Like in Egypt, the king was the supreme priest and the living representative of the gods and the royalty symbol was the eagle with lion head.



    Besides massacring the enemy soldiers, Assyrians made mass deportations of the rulers (nobles, functionaries, craftsmen), so that the remaining people obeyed with humiliation (the most famous is that described in the Bible, of the Israeli to Babylon). Enemy kings were beheaded, and their heads hanged in trees and cities were destroyed. Women were made slaves. This cunning policy, the army and good administration maintained the empire for centuries. The conquered populations had to pay heavy annual tributes.

    A body of scribes redacted texts comprising order, laws or commercial documents. Assyrians employed the cuneiform writing, on clay tablets. Most kings and nobles could not write, and engraved their signature on texts using a stone cylinder with their engraved name. By rolling the cylinder seal over the tablet, its characters remained on it.

    The expansionism exhausted the power of Assyria, facing continuously new enemies. During Ashurbanipal, Assyria was at its peak, even if it had lost Egypt. But a weak moment appeared in 620 BC, due to a civil war. The attack of the Medes from the East and Babylonians from the south ended with the fall of the capital, Ashur, in 614 BC and Nineveh and Kalack in 612 BC. This time the massacre was perpetrated on the Assyrians, so badly that they were out of history.
    What are your thoughts on this article? Do you agree or disagree based upon your own historical understanding of Assyrians?
    Last edited by bleck; 2010-01-10 at 06:29.

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    Please edit this thread after rule 1.1.2 and 1.1.3, or else it will be closed because there's no specific topic to follow in the thread. The first post in the thread should always include a few questions on your mind related to the topic which you want the discussion to revolve around, in order to avoid Off Topic.

    https://www.forumbiodiversity.com/misc.php?do=showrules

    //mod


    ---------- Post added 2010-01-10 at 08:14 ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by bleck View Post
    What are your thoughts on this article? Do you agree or disagree based upon your own historical understanding of Assyrians?
    For the most part I agree with it, it seems very factual and correct, although it's one-sided and presents the ancient Assyrians as bloodthirsty genocidal maniacs. Indeed, the ancient Assyrians were extremely brutal toward their enemies. But this was a necessity in those days, it was sort of a protectionism in a region which was heavily surrounded by invading tribes who were looking after natural resources, and luxury of that time.

    I'm of the opinion this guy said it best in a short conversation I had with him a few years ago:

    “The Assyrians have been in Iraq for a very long time, they were there before Arabs existed, and about 2000 years prior to Mohamed's founding of Islam. The second Assyrian Empire of Tiglat-Pileser and his successors, with equally exotic names such as Ashurnazirpal II, Shalmeneser III and Sargon II, created a state based on war, invasion, and conquest. The civilized world of Mesopotamia had never seen anything quite like them. They were entirely focused and ruthlessly aggressive in subjugating their enemies. In the words of Professor Ian Morris of Stanford University, "The Romans would have loved them." Sometimes, when I listen to the pronouncements of the current candidates, I wish an Assyrian were running for president; how about President Ashurbanipal.” — Alek

    The laws of the Assyrian state were also very tough shit, so to say. You could get your eyes gouged out, lips and tongue cut off, crucified, and so on. But this was mostly for criminals, rapists and murderers. Also, the family was given the choice to decide the penalty of the murderer for their loss of son or daughter.

    Although the Neo-Assyrian Empire is arguably the first major empire (its Mesopotamian predecessor Sargon of Akkad created the first empire in history, but the Neo-Assyrian Empire was actually the first real and major empire that took it to a whole new level) that can be accused of genocide, it's important to understand here it wasn't done for the sake of being cruel, but rather, because of conflicting interests. The Assyrian kings did not want to slay the entire non-Assyrian world, but they understood that if Assyria resorted to pacifism, Assyria would go under very quickly. So they had to resort to aggressive and extremely cruel policies toward resisting nations.

    The Lion hunting was very unfortunate and it's very sad it contributed to exterminating Lions in the Middle East. As an advocate of ecofascism and rigorous protection of flora and fauna, I'm more ashamed of what the ancient Assyrians contributed to slaughtering Lions than whatever injury they caused toward Jews and other surrounding nations.

    The deportation policy is also in line with what I've read. It's true that the Assyrian kings deported entire ethnic groups all around the Middle East. But this was mostly with troublesome individuals who caused trouble. Most notably, the Israelites were deported:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Lost_Tribes

    Jews have always been troublesome though, the Romans and to a lesser extent the Greeks, were also in conflicts with the Jews (if I'm not mistaken, Vespasianus also had some serious conflicts the Hebrews during the Great Jewish Revolt).

    But the purpose with the deportation policy was to lessen the resistance, by disuniting homogeneous nations. The Assyrians were very tactical in this sense. Unfortunately though, those useless Semitic Aramaean bastards, were deported all around the Middle East, and this caused the Assyrians to eventually shift to the Aramaic language, mostly because the Aramaic abjad script (derived from the original Phoenician abjad script) became very popular as it was more useful and practical than Sumerian cuneiform.

    To this day, modern Assyrians are cursed, with a fraction of Assyrians denying their Assyrian ancestry, saying they're Aramaeans, and so on (they're not Aramaeans). It's like the pseudo-Arabs in Iraq and Syria, saying they're Arabs because they speak bastardised local Arabic dialects. It's very annoying.

    Anyway, the ancient Assyrians were mostly at war with surrounding Semitic nations, also a lot of war took place with ancient Aryan tribes (mostly Medes, Cimmerians and Scythians who got their Aryan ass kicked all the time and were paying tribute and tax to Assyria until Babylonia revolted against Assyria).

    Like the article describes very correctly, Assyria was extremely fierce and warlike, because it was a necessity as a result of geography. This, unlike for example Egypt, which was located in a relatively isolated region without much invasions. This is why the ancient Egyptians had all the time in the world to build pyramids and other useless junk, because they had no serious wars aside from a few Negroids who invaded from time to time. In Assyria, things were different, it was the definition of eat or be eaten.

    This book describes why the Neo-Assyrian Empire resorted to aggressive imperialism, it was about the necessity to ensure the survival of the Assyrian state and the Assyrian nation:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=Hod...JYvazQTjneXvDQ

    But I also agree with British Assyriologist, H. W. F. Saggs, that the ancient Assyrians were not uncivilised barbarians, but rather, the defenders of civilisation. We have to keep in mind here that one of the earliest libraries of the ancient world was Ashurbanipal's library:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Ashurbanipal

    Almost everything we know today of the ancient world, is because of the efforts Ashurbanipal, the last Assyrian—and arguably one of the most awesome—king in history, to preserve carefully sacred knowledge from that time.

    So the ancient Assyrians weren't just crazy bloodthirsty maniacs who were on a slaughter tour.

    Another thing that must be kept in mind here, is that "human rights" back then did not exist. Every nation at the time used cruel tactics, the Assyrians simply excelled at it because they were smarter than everyone else and had excellent masculine physique.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militar...ssyrian_Empire

    But of course, warfare was the real deal back then. It was real warfare, physical warfare, when muscular strength and performance seriously counted. Not like today, when advanced toys do all the heavy work.

    In any case, the Babylonian betrayal of Assyria, more specifically the Chaldean dynasty that took power in southern Mesopotamia, was what really caused the death blow to the Assyrian empire. Of course, it didn't help that those degenerate Aramaeans, were a distraction all over the Assyrian empire.
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    One thing to keep in mind. There reliefs in Assyrian palaces showing the use of Israeli charioteers in it's army.

    The following book, among many others, speaks of troops being assembled from various cities being placed under the firm command of the Assyrian king to march to war:

    "The Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East" (http://www.amazon.com/s/qid=12800222...potamia&page=2)

    If the Assyrians were genocidal, these foreign troops would neither be available (having been killed first in order for their people to suffer "genocide"), or they would be unreliable in war, wishing to defect at the first sign of weakness in battle to avenge their people's loss. Yet it is evident that the Assyrians were no fools in war, so would not have given weapons of war to men, whom had just lost their families to the Assyrian war machine.

    Additionally, if the Assyrians had been the genocidal maniacs that some label them as, one must answer why the Assyrians were eventually overwhelmed with rebellions all across their empire. Clearly a significant hostile population remained.

    Having said this, when the Babylonians overthrew the Assyrians, they inherited much of their empire, suggesting that the conquered provinces of Assyria were significantly weakened. Same thing when the Persians took over Babylon, although a span of 100 years separates these two conquests.

    More likely then, the Assyrians participated in a level of killing that was less than what is often exaggerated as. The Assyrians may have exaggerated the level of their brutality as some propaganda trick, to cow their conquered foes; they may have been smeared by weak, un-Nietzsche moralists who were to out to accuse Assyria of bloodthirstiness.

    In any case, as has been well pointed out, it was eat or be eaten; there is possibility of developing a sound defensive military strategy in the area; it is conquer or be conquered. Well said.
    Last edited by Assurbanipal; 2010-07-25 at 02:46. Reason: Reply to above member

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    oops I meant no possibility of defensive strategy. Also, I just realized that the rapid acquisition of Assyria's land's by Babylon and Persia could also be explained by the willingness of any present anti-Assyrian nation welcoming their "liberators".

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    Quote Originally Posted by EliasAlucard View Post
    Indeed, the ancient Assyrians were extremely brutal toward their enemies. But this was a necessity in those days, it was sort of a protectionism in a region which was heavily surrounded by invading tribes who were looking after natural resources, and luxury of that time.

    Like the article describes very correctly, Assyria was extremely fierce and warlike, because it was a necessity as a result of geography. In Assyria...it was the definition of eat or be eaten.
    Quote Originally Posted by Assurbanipal View Post
    If the Assyrians were genocidal, these foreign troops would neither be available (having been killed first in order for their people to suffer "genocide"), or they would be unreliable in war, wishing to defect at the first sign of weakness in battle to avenge their people's loss. Yet it is evident that the Assyrians were no fools in war, so would not have given weapons of war to men, whom had just lost their families to the Assyrian war machine.

    Additionally, if the Assyrians had been the genocidal maniacs that some label them as, one must answer why the Assyrians were eventually overwhelmed with rebellions all across their empire. Clearly a significant hostile population remained.

    More likely then, the Assyrians participated in a level of killing that was less than what is often exaggerated as. The Assyrians may have exaggerated the level of their brutality as some propaganda trick, to cow their conquered foes; they may have been smeared by weak, un-Nietzsche moralists who were to out to accuse Assyria of bloodthirstiness.

    In any case, as has been well pointed out, it was eat or be eaten; there is possibility of developing a sound defensive military strategy in the area; it is conquer or be conquered. Well said.

    Very good points. Further supported by the opinions of Dr. Ann Barron, discussed in the article below:


    Shock and Awe: Assyrian Battle Strategies...

    According to Dr. Barron’s research, Assyria’s military strength derives not so much from access to advanced weapons – but from its tactical doctrine. They knew how to put soldiers on the battlefield and they knew how to fight. They also had many bases and knew how to wage psychological warfare.
    A key ingredient to the Assyrians' success was their use of psychological warfare. Museums today are full of Assyrian art and it takes only a cursory glance to see that military motifs pop up again and again.

    “There’s lots of impaling and flailing alive and lots of dramatic and scary stuff like that,” said Dr. Barron.

    Assyrian inscriptions are also full of gory bits, check out this translation from The Writing on the Wall: Studies in the Architectural Context of Late Assyrian Palace Inscriptions, by John Malcolm Russell.

    [I] Assurbanipal, King of Assyria, entered joyfully into Ninevah with the severed head Teumman [king of] Elam, who I defeated with the help of Assur.

    So why all the violence?

    The real point of the reliefs was to send a message and a strong message to anyone coming to visit the palaces from someplace else,” said Dr. Barron. “If you know that’s the consequences of not surrendering... a lot of people will surrender first,” said Barron.
    Very interesting. If this is true, and if much of the historical record relies on the depictions of the events on the reliefs as the gospel, this could very well, at least to some extent, change the attitudes and opinions of some regarding our supposed bloodlust.

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    The "strategic mobility" of the Assyrian army, or their ability to project their military force over a given area, was 375,000 square miles. After Rome fell, no army exceeded this area until the American Civil War, when the use of railroads made troop movements easier. In terms of efficiency of organization, no military staff (i.e. administrators, logistic officers and engineers) would reach the proficiency of the Assyrian or Roman military staffs until the German general staff of the 1870's. The prototype of a modern soldier's equipment (helmet, body armor, boots [a particular Assyrian innovation], and backpack) was invented by ancient armies and disappeared for almost 1,000 years after the fall of the Roman Empire. The killing power of an ancient composite bow (i.e. the accuracy, force, distance, and speed of deployment) was not matched until the introduction of the Prussian needle gun in 1871. According to modern tests, the body armor, helmet, and shield of the Assyrians would have provided excellent protection against firearms until Napoleon. If the dispersion of field formations, inaccuracy of early firearms, and rates of fire are considered, the Assyrian soldier would have been safer on a battlefield in the 18th century than on an Ancient Near Eastern one.
    Gabriel and Metz: From Sumer to Rome: The Military Capabilities of Ancient Armies

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    I believe this guy make a good point in his vedio that is called " Assyria is NOT an evil Empire"

    Part one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRpbVUzSU9I
    part two http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s02tlJqJvis
    part three http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTE0rsAtDKQ

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    Dr. Sarah Melville. Clarkson University

    I [Nebuchadnezzar] made a trench searching for the old foundation deposits ( . . . ), and I found the foundation of Naram-Sin, the king of Babylon, a remote ancestor, and I did not remove his inscription, but put my own inscription together with his inscription.
    The Pious King: Royal Patronage of Temples
    By Caroline Waerzeggers

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    Mass deportation: the Assyrian resettlement policy, Assyrian empire builders (2011)

    Karen Radner
    University College London

    [C]ontemporary text sources support the notion that the deportees were treated well, as attested for example in a letter from an Assyrian official to his king Tiglatpileser III (744-727 BC):

    As for the Aramaeans about whom the king my lord has written to me: 'Prepare them for their journey!' I shall give them their food supplies, clothes, a waterskin, a pair of shoes and oil. I do not have my donkeys yet, but once they are available, I will dispatch my convoy. (NL 25)
    That the state continued to support the deportees once they had reached their destination is clear from another letter of the same author:

    As for the Aramaeans about whom the king my lord has said: 'They are to have wives!' We found numerous suitable women but their fathers refuse to give them in marriage, claiming: 'We will not consent unless they can pay the bride price.' Let them be paid so that the Aramaeans can get married. (NL 26)
    ---------- Post Merged at 17:25 ----------

    Ancient Iraq (1964)

    Georges Roux



    ---------- Post Merged at 17:27 ----------

    Tel Reḥov in the Assyrian Period: Squatters, Burials, and a Hebrew Seal (2011)

    Amihai Mazar and Shmuel Aḥituv

    The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

    Various parts of Stratum III dwellings were excavated in Areas A, B, and J. All came to an end with the Assyrian conquest, yet there was no evidence of destruction by fire and the finds were rather scarce, with only random complete pottery vessels on the floors. The most telling evidence for the conquest was two human skeletons found among the tumble above the floors of rooms in Area A. One was a female skeleton found lying decapitated (perhaps intentionally) above a concentration of clay loom weights. The other was a fragmentary skeleton, including a skull, found thrown into the corner of a room (Mazar 1999: 32; Fig. 21). These scenes may be taken as evidence of a massacre that took place in the city following the conquest. Since the corpses remained in the abandoned houses, it is obvious that there was no one capable of recovering and burying them. As far as I know, no similar evidence of a massacre has been found in any of the Iron Age cities conquered by the Assyrians in the Land of Israel, aside, possibly, from Lachish.
    Last edited by Humanist; 2012-08-08 at 22:30.
    I [Nebuchadnezzar] made a trench searching for the old foundation deposits ( . . . ), and I found the foundation of Naram-Sin, the king of Babylon, a remote ancestor, and I did not remove his inscription, but put my own inscription together with his inscription.
    The Pious King: Royal Patronage of Temples
    By Caroline Waerzeggers

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    Most of nations , once got power, did similar things less or more to supress rivals or potential enemies .

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