The heyday of Assyria - World History

The heyday of Assyria - World History
Posted on 28-12-2022

The heyday of Assyria ( 750 ) Assyria resurfaces under Theglathphalasar III.

In the second half of the eighth century the civilized world underwent many changes. In 750 the Nubian king Kashta advanced north and conquered Thebes, whereupon the Nubian priests descended from the long-exiled priests of Amun regained their ancestral power.

Meanwhile, Hesiod writes "The Works and the Days". He was a Boeotian peasant, and in his play he teaches farm management. His description of the Greece of his time, from a humble man's point of view, is bleak, but at this time Greece was beginning to emerge from his dark ages. One of the most prosperous areas at the time was the island of Euboea. It came to have such an excess of population that a good part of it had to emigrate. The city of Chalcis came to found up to thirty colonies in the north of the Aegean Sea in one hundred years, in what became known as the Chalcidic peninsula.

In the Peloponnese, the city of Argos reached the height of its power under King Phidon. His influence spread beyond the Argolis and reached as far west as possible, and even as far as some nearby islands.

Israel lived a period of splendor under Jeroboam II, while Judah progressed under Uzziah. However, in Judah there was an internal conflict, and it was the rivalry between the king and the high priest. Since the time of David and Solomon, the high priest had been subservient to the king, but Athaliah's reign and overthrow had given wings to the clergy. Joash and Amaziah failed to assert themselves and were killed, and now Uzziah was also fighting to reassert his authority. He even tried to preside over the sacrifices in the temple, but somehow failed. The version of the Bible (perhaps not very reliable) is that Uzziah fell ill with leprosy (by divine punishment, naturally), and a leper could not enter the temple. Since749 his son Jotan acted as regent.

In 748 Jeroboam II died and his son Zacharias succeeded to the throne of Israel, but he reigned only half a year, after which there was a coup followed by a few weeks of commotion. Finally a general named Menachem was made king. It was an Olympic year in Greece. The previous games had been organized by Élide, city ​​near Olympia, but this time Argos managed to wrest the organization from him. Élide asked Sparta for help and thus began a bitter rivalry between Sparta and Argos. It is not very well known what happened, but Sparta must have prevailed, since from then on Élide organized the games almost uninterruptedly, and the records of 748 were erased. Since then, Argos joined all the enemies of Sparta and never participated in any activity in which the leader was Sparta.

Since the death of Shalmaneser III, Assyria had been ruled by weak monarchs, but in 745 a general staged a coup, ending a dynasty that had ruled the country for a thousand years, ever since Shamshi-Adad's founding. I. The new king adopted the name of a great Assyrian conqueror and became Teglathfalasar III. Under his rule, Assyria re-emerged. He began by reorganizing the Empire. He adjusted the administrative machinery and made all officials accountable to him. He created a professional salaried army, which could act constantly, without the need to recruit peasants for limited periods of time. This required money, for which he had to plunder the tributary towns. Then he went on to deal with surrounding towns. The nomadic Medes had been roaming wild for years. They were persecuted and subjected to tribute. He then headed west.

The Canaanite nations ganged up against Assyria. The coalition was led by Uzziah of Judah, but the attempt was unsuccessful and in 738 the Canaanite army was defeated by Teglathphalasar III. Israel, Judah, Syria, Tire and the other Phoenician cities were subjected to tribute. That same year Menachem of Israel died, who was succeeded by his son De he Pecajya.

According to Greek tradition, 738 was also the year King Midas came to the throne of Phrygia. Proof of the prosperity of Phrygia at this time is the well-known Greek legend according to which Midas turned everything he touched into gold.

Returning to Israel, King Pecahya did his best to please Assyria, but paying tribute required heavy taxes and the people were discontented. Furthermore, in Judah there had always been a feeling of hatred towards foreigners, which, coupled with an underestimation of Assyrian power, culminated in a coup in 736, which gave the throne to a general named Pekah, who hastened to organize a new coalition against Assyria. He soon won the support of King Rezin of Syria, son of Benhadad III, but they had difficulty convincing Jotan (the son of Uzziah, regent of Judah). in 735The prophet Isaiah appeared in the public life of Judah , a prophet along the lines of reform inaugurated by Hosea years before. Unlike Hosea, however, Isaiah was from an aristocratic family, so he had easy communication with the king and priests, and he was against a rebellion against Assyria. To further complicate matters, in 734 Uzziah died and soon after Jotan also died, with which the throne passed to his son Ahaz. The new king agreed with Isaiah and opted for the neutrality of Judah in a hypothetical confrontation against Assyria by Israel and Syria.

This same year the Corinthians founded the city of Syracuse, in western Sicily. Thus began a process of expansion of Greece in the Mediterranean. The policy of the Greeks was to found colonies in coastal areas suitable for trade. Their cities specialized in making handicrafts with imported materials that they later exchanged with more primitive tribes in the interior, who supplied them with food.

Meanwhile, joint Syrian-Israeli forces invaded Judah, in retaliation for its refusal to join the anti-Assyrian coalition. They had no difficulty in taking the whole country. The Edomites and the Philistines took the opportunity to become independent and Ahaz saw his kingdom reduced to the surroundings of Jerusalem. The king asked Assyria for help and Teglatfalasar III did not take long to respond. His armies arrived in Syria in 732 and they crushed it without difficulty. With this, Syria disappeared forever from history as an independent nation. This annihilation was due to the fact that Teglatphalasar III employed a much more cunning policy than his predecessors. While they tried to contain the towns subjected by terror, Teglatfalasar III decided to carry out mass deportations. He disseminated the aristocracy of a people among other distant regions, while other foreigners were brought to fill the void left. Thus he managed to erase many national feelings, while creating internal friction between the former inhabitants of an area and the newcomers, frictions that consumed energies that might otherwise have been used against Assyria. The case was that the Syrians spread throughout the Assyrian empire, and with them they took their language, Aramaic. It was a much simpler language than Akkadian, the language of Assyria, so it was quickly adopted by merchants and became a kind of international language of western Asia. In time it would also displace Hebrew. so it was quickly adopted by merchants and became a kind of international language of western Asia. In time it would also displace Hebrew. so it was quickly adopted by merchants and became a kind of international language of western Asia. In time it would also displace Hebrew.

Israel survived the Assyrian reprisals, but the kingdom of Pekah was reduced to the area around Samaria. The discontent gave rise to a coup d'état for which General Hosea was proclaimed king, who achieved the approval of Assyria by pledging to pay the corresponding tribute.

In 730 the Nubian king Pianji, Kashta's successor, conquered the Nile delta, thereby becoming king of a reunited Egypt. He is considered the first king of the XXV dynasty. Actually small areas of Lower Egypt were under the control of native kings, encompassed in a XXIV dynasty.

On this same date a conflict arose in Greece. To the west of Sparta, in the Peloponnese, lay the region of Messinia. The Dorians who had settled in Messenia mixed with the native population, contrary to what happened in Sparta, so the Spartans despised their neighbors. We do not know the details, but in 730 the First Messenian War began, with a sudden invasion by Sparta. After a few years of fighting, the Messenians, led by their king Aristodemus, were forced to take refuge on Mount Itome, a peak of about 800 m high, where they resisted a few more years.

Meanwhile Teglatfalasar III turned his attention towards Babylon, which was now ruled by a Chaldean king. When the latter died he marched on the city and proclaimed himself king under the name of Pulu (perhaps his real name). This union was corroborated in the heavens as usual, so that the Assyrian god Asur gained supremacy over the Babylonian god Marduk.

Theglathphalasar III died in 727 and was succeeded by his son Shalmaneser V. Egypt had watched Assyria's progress with trepidation. He feared that at any moment the Assyrians could reach his borders, so he dedicated himself to supporting any attempt at rebellion against the Empire. The king's death was the best possible time for a rebellion, so the Egyptian king induced Hosea of ​​Israel to revolt. He accepted the proposal and refused to pay the agreed tribute. In 725 Shalmaneser V laid siege to Samaria.

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