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Near East Revision Notes

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Near East Revision 5 - Assyria and Babylon.........................................................................................................................2 6 - Achaemenid Persia..........................................................................................................................5 7 - Alexander of Macedon.....................................................................................................................7 8 - Seleucids and Ptolemies................................................................................................................10 5 - Assyria and Babylon
Neo-Assyrian Empire

1. 934-745: main growth 883-824

2. 744-609: "" 744-705
Neo-Assyrian kingdom maintains continuity - Ashur as god, king-lists, court procedure.
Evidence
Language of Assyrian texts = Akkadian - main in the Bronze Age. Variants existed. Aramic is spoken from 8th century but Akkadian is used for writing. Script = cuneiform = used to write down Old
Persian, Babylonian, Elamite.
Royal Annals, royal inscriptions, letters, oracle texts.
934-884
Re-established control around heartland. Rhetoric of continuity and restoration. Ashur-dan II
imitates presentation of his Middle Assyrian predecessor.
883-824
Expansion of rule to Mediterranean. Interference in Babylonian affairs. Royal ideology of banquets 823-745
Period of decline - lose of control in Syria. Interference in Babylonian affairs - king deposed.
744-705
Control over Syria regained by Tiglath-pileser III who makes himself king of Babylon. Power extends to edges of Egypt.
704-630:
Development of Neo-Assyrian homeland + expansion of territory into Elam and Egypt.
Admin
Provinces under governors with a lot of autonomy. Tribute to king.
Babylon
Assyria v Babylon - fall of former due to latter growing as an imperial power?
Evidence
Royal inscriptions, local archives, letters of admin, Assyrian texts.
900-747
Co-operation and conflict - Assyrian seizure of Babylonian cities though they reman independent.
747-705 729 = Tiglath-pileser III invades and is declared king. Babylon revolts under Sargon II but is reconquered in 710 705-627
Sennacherib campaigns to gain control of Babylon until 689 - success. Next couple of rulers more peaceful.
626-539
Liberation under Nabopolassar and destruction of Assyria by 609. Nebuchadnezzar II.
Buildings
King responsible for religious matters like repairing temples - good kings restores them. City god =
Marduk.
Scholarship
Priesthood supported king. Divination and astronomy. Observation + monthly lists of food staples +
key events.
End of empire
Nabonidus (555-539) last king. Described in several inscriptions.
Persian empire
Cyrus captures Babylon in 539. Revolt in 522 and then 482. Important centre.
BIOGRAPHICAL CONTEXT:

1. Extract from Bavian rock inscription of Sennacherib (705-681 BC)

Sennacherib as author, during a period where Assyria expanded successfully.

2. Babylon A-G: a composite of a set of different building inscriptions commemorating works of
Esarhaddon (681-669 BC)
Son of Sennacherib and next king. Known for re-building Babylon.

3. Stele of Ashurbanipal (669-627 BC) BM 90864

Son of above and viewed as more peaceful - last strong ruler?

4. Restoration work of Nabopolassar (625-605 BC) BM 26263

1st ruler of Neo-Babylonian empire!! Babylon rebelled under him.

5. Restoration work of Nabopolassar, Iraq Museum A Babylon 11

6. The chronicle of Nabonidus

Last ruler of Neo-Babylonian kingdom. Assyrian? Angered priests and commoners with his religious actions?

7. The Cyrus cylinder (shortly after 539 BC)

Persian Achaemenid Empire to the east - popular amongst Babylonians. SUMMARY OF WORKS:

1. Extract from Bavian rock inscription of Sennacherib (705-681 BC)

Assyrian rhetoric by Sennacherib - boastful rhetoric. Aggressive depiction of power and kingship.

2. Babylon A-G: a composite of a set of different building inscriptions commemorating works of
Esarhaddon (681-669 BC)
Good king = builds temples and rose above divine temples. Shifts blame of Sennacherib's actions onto predecessors - avoids implication of father. Support of gods to rebuild Babylon.

3. Stele of Ashurbanipal (669-627 BC) BM 90864

Legitimising power through mentions of titles. Divine right to rule - order later kings to rebuild his construction.

4. Restoration work of Nabopolassar (625-605 BC) BM 26263

Religious feel + divine right to rule. King holds no power but is supported by gods. Support of gods in activities other than warfare.

5. Restoration work of Nabopolassar, Iraq Museum A Babylon 11

Repetition of previous restoration. Self-sufficiency. Drove out Ashurbanipal with gods' support.

6. The chronicle of Nabonidus

Conversation with future kings = foundational inscriptions. Descriptions of bad omens and disrespect to gods. Makes clear the rise of Cyrus was not unexpected. Part of Babylonian chronicles. Rare contemporary account of Cyrus' rise to power. composed by priests of Marduk = in response to unpopular religious acts.

7. The Cyrus cylinder (shortly after 539 BC)

Babylonian account of conquest of Babylon, his restoration of temples and his own work in Babylon.
Typical of royal inscriptions of this period. Written in Babylonian script and language. Written to be buried in the foundations of the city wall, on his orders. Denounces Nabonidus. Part of a tradition of an established rhetoric!!

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