Assyria was an ancient Mesopotamian kingdom that existed in the region of northern Mesopotamia, primarily centered on the Upper Tigris River. It was one of the earliest and most powerful civilizations in the ancient Near East.
Assyria | History
Assyria was located in the northern part of Mesopotamia, an area that roughly corresponds to parts of modern-day Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. The history of Assyria spans several millenia, but its peak periods are generally considered to be during the Middle Assyrian (1365-1020 BC) and Neo-Assyrian (911-609 BC) periods.
Over the course of its history, Assyria had several capital cities. Assur (also spelled Ashur) was one of the earliest capitals included Nineveh, Nimrud (Calah), and Dur-Sharrukin.
Assyrian Empire and Military Power
The Neo-Assyrian period marked the height of the Assyrian Empire, which became one of the largest empires of the ancient world with important rulers. Assyria was known for its formidable military strength. The Assyrians developed advanced military tactics, siege warfare techniques, and a highly organized army. They employed advanced weaponry and were known for their use of terror as a means of warfare.
Cultural and Scientific Achievements and Religion
Assyria made significant contributions to art, literature, and science. The Assyrian kings were patrons of the arts, and they built grand palaces adorned with intricate reliefs. The library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh was one of the most extensive collectionss of cuneiform tablets in the ancient world. The Assyrians practiced a polytheistic religion with a pantheon of deities. Assur, the chief god of the Assyrian pantheon, was considered the national god.
Fall of Assyria
Despite its military might, Assyria faced internal strife and external pressures. The empire eventually fell to a coalition of Babylonians and Medes in 612 BC, leading to the sack of Nineveh in 612 BC and the subsequent decline of the Assyrian Empire.
Trajan’s Eastern Campaigns | 114-117 AD
Trajan, the Roman emperor, conducted military campaigns in the East, including regions corresponding to Assyria, Armenia, and Mesopotamia. He achieved significant territorial gains during this time. Trajan’s conquests included the annexation of territories that were part of the Parthian Empire, and he captured the capital city of Ctesiphon in Mesopotamia.
Administrative Changes under Hadrian
After Trajan’s death in 117 AD, his successor, Hadrian, faced challenges in maintaining the vast territorial gains in the East. Hadrian decided to withdraw from some of the recently conquered territories, including parts of Mesopotamia. He refortified the Roman frontier and established new defensive boundaries. The organization of provinces, including the establishment of Assyria as a distinct province, occured under later emperors. The exact details of provincial organization evolved over time, and administrative changes were implemented by different emperors.
Provinces Established by Severus Alexander
The Roman emperor Severus Alexander, who reigned 222-235 AD, is credited by reorganizing the eastern provinces, including the creation of the province of Assyria. This reorganization aimed to better secure the eastern frontier and manage the diverse territories.
Parzival | Wolfram von Eschenbach, 1200–1210