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Ancient Inscription Details Conquest of Assyrian King Sargon II

Ancient Inscription Details Conquest of Assyrian King Sargon II


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In "A New Historical Inscription of Sargon II from Karkemish," published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies , Gianni Marchesi translates a recently discovered inscription of the Assyrian King Sargon II found at the ruins of the ancient city of Karkemish. The inscription, which dates to around 713 BC, details Sargon's conquest , occupation, and reorganization of Karkemish, including his rebuilding the city with ritual ceremonies usually reserved for royal palaces in capital cities. The text implies that Sargon may have been planning to make Karkemish a western capital of Assyria, from which he could administer and control his empire's western territories.

The Discovery of the Artifact About the Ancient City of Karkemish

The cuneiform inscription was found on fragments from three different clay cylinders in 2015 as part of the Nicolò Marchetti-led Turco-Italian Archaeological Expedition at Karkemish. Now in ruins, the site is located on the Euphrates river on the border between present day Syria and Turkey.

Marchesi analyzed and translated the total of thirty-eight lines of partially broken Akkadian text, using reference material, academic literature and other inscribed Assyrian artifacts as reference points for filling in the gaps. The lines of text ranged from two-thirds complete to much less, and no line of text was completely intact.

Sample of Akkadian language inscription, Akkadian text was found on the Karkemish artifact. (Mbzt / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

"Even so, we can grasp much of the original text, which turns out to be very informative," Marchesi writes. "In fact, unlike other Sargon cylinders, which contain relatively standard 'summary' inscriptions or annalistic accounts of the events of Sargon's reign, the Karkemish Cylinder provides us with a completely new inscription, dealing almost exclusively with the newly conquered city on the Euphrates in a highly-elaborated, literary style."

What Does the Inscription Reveal About Karkemish?

In the inscription, Sargon tells of the "betrayal" of Pirisi, the Hittite King of Karkemish who exchanged hostile words about Assyria with its enemy, King Midas of Phrygia. Sargon invades Karkemish, deports Pisiri and his supporters, destroys his palace, seizes his riches as booty, and incorporates Pisiri's army into his own. He resettles the city with Assyrians. Having previously blocked the water supply to Karkemish, the meadows "let go fallow, like a wasteland," Marchesi translates, he now reactivates the irrigation system , planting orchards and botanical gardens. "I made the scent of the city sweeter than the scent of a cedar forest."

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Map of Syria in the second millennium BC, showing the location of Karkemish. (Zunkir)

He also details an inauguration ceremony where he received gifts from Assyrian provinces and sacrifices them to deities. "My lords the gods Karhuha and Kubaba, who dwell in Karkemish, I invited them into my palace," Marchesi translates. "Strong rams of the stable, geese, ducks, and flying birds of the sky I offered before them."

Marchesi was struck by the attention that Sargon paid to Karkemish, in particular the elaborate inauguration ceremony and construction of botanical gardens, both indicative not of a typical provincial capital but of a royal palace.

Statue depicting the head of the Assyrian King Sargon II, the ruler who wanted to make Karkemish the capital. (John Cummings / )

"Because of its glorious past and strategic position, Karkemish was fully entitled to become a sort of western capital of the Assyrian Empire: a perfect place in which to display the grandeur of Assyria, and from which to control the western and north-western territories of the empire," Marchesi writes.

Karkemish, the Capital That Never Was

This vision of Karkemish was short-lived, however. Though much care was taken to detail the city's rise in these texts, the city is not mentioned in any known inscriptions of Sargon's successors .

"The unthinkable, ominous death of Sargon on the battlefield in Tabal probably prevented this project from being accomplished, and negatively marked the destiny of Karkemish itself, which no longer attracted the interest of Assyrian kings who followed after him," Marchesi writes.


Royal-Memorial Inscription Attributed to King Sargon II Discovered in Western Iran

In western Iran, Iranian archaeologists discovered a part of a royal memorial inscription attributed to the Neo-Assyrian king Sargon II.

“During an excavation project in Qabaq Tappeh of Kermanshah province, a team of Iranian archaeologists has unearthed a portion of a royal memorial inscription, which is attributed to Sargon II, who was the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire,” ISNA quoted archaeologists Sajad Alibeigi, who leads the survey, as saying.

The royal inscription, which bears 23 lines of writing in cuneiform, is deemed to be the most significant discovery of the survey so far, according to the archaeologist.

“Qabaq Tappeh was once an important and extensive settlement inhabited at least from the third millennium BC to the Islamic era,” Alibeigi noted.

King Sargon II.

Sargon II (721–705 BC) expanded and consolidated his father Tiglath-pileser III’s conquests. When he took the throne, he was immediately confronted with three major issues: dealing with the Chaldean and Aramaean chieftainships in southern Babylonia, the kingdom of Urartu, and the tribes to the north in the Armenian highlands, and Syria and Palestine.

These were, for the most part, Tiglath-pileser III’s conquests. Sargon’s problem was not only to preserve the status quo but also to expand his conquests in order to demonstrate the might of Ashur, the Assyrian empire’s national god.

Assyria was a northern Mesopotamian kingdom that grew into one of the ancient Middle East’s great empires.

In the 9th century BC, the Assyrian kings began a new period of expansion, and from the mid-8th to the late 7th century BC, a series of strong Assyrian kings — including Tiglath-pileser III, Sargon II, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon — united most of the Middle East under Assyrian rule, from Egypt to the Persian Gulf.

Ashurbanipal was the last great Assyrian ruler, but his final years and the period following his death in 627 BC are unknown. In 612–609 BC, a Chaldean-Median coalition destroyed the state. The Assyrians were known for their cruelty and fighting prowess, but they were also master builders, as evidenced by archaeological sites at Nineveh, Ashur, and Nimrud.


The Tribute of Jehu on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

Jehu King of Israel is seen kneeling before King Shalmaneser III of Assyria offering him tribute. This relief is part of Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III in the British Museum. Photo Credit: Steven G. Johnson / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Jehu was an army commander when we was anointed by a prophet as the next King of Israel (2 Kings 9:3). From these humble beginnings he was raised to the most powerful position in the land. His reign did not go well, however. Scripture records:

“But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin. In those days the LORD began to cut off parts of Israel.” (2 Kings 10:31-32 ESV)

The Bible goes on to describe some of that territory was taken by Hazael, King of Syria. Apparently, Jehu’s disobedience led to his humiliation before the Assyrian King Shalmaneser III as well. This is portrayed on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, which depicts Jehu bowing before the Assyrian king. The accompanying inscription reads, “The tribute of Jehu (Ia-ú-a), son of Omri (Hu-sum-ri) I received from him silver, gold, a golden saplu-bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin, a staff for a king, (and) wooden puruhtu.“ 2

It should be noted that Jehu was not the son of Omri, but rather a successor to the Omride throne. At that time the Assyrian Kings referred to most of the kings of Israel as the “son of Omri.”

While we have no record of this specific event in the Bible it is certainly in keeping with the general description of God whittling down Jehu’s kingdom in punishment for his disobedience.


Sargon II's Warning

After a lengthy inscription describing the work that went into the city, there is a warning to anyone who would undo the work.

Whoever destroys the work of my hands, injures my statue, brings to naught the law which I have established or blots out the record of my honors, may Assur, Shamash, Adad and the great gods who dwell therein, destroy his name and his seed from the land, may they set him in chains under the heel of his foe.

These were more ancient cities, all associated with Assyrian deities. This type of warning is common throughout inscriptions of the Babylonian and Assyrian period, as are the detailed descriptions of the king, his conquests, and restorations.

After 2,700 years, someone has systematically ignored Sargon's warning and destroyed his capital city. The great king, the mighty king, the king of the universe rolls over in his grave.


The Royal Inscriptions of Sargon II, King of Assyria (721–705 BC) (Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian Period) (Book)

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Sargon II, king of Assyria (721-705 BC)

Sargon II ascended to the Assyrian throne in the midst of a countrywide rebellion. He built a lavish new residence city, Dur-Šarruken, but died on the battlefield just one year after its completion.

Sargon was not the chosen successor of his father Tiglath-pileser III (744-727 BC) but took the throne by force from his brother Shalmaneser V (726-722 BC), the former crown prince Ululayu whose reign lasted barely five years.

Sargon was already middle-aged when he came to power: he must have been at least forty years old and had at least one adult son, Sennacherib, who from the start of his father's reign assisted him in running the empire as crown prince. As a son of Tiglath-pileser, we might expect to find Sargon attested in a prominent military or administrative role in the archival materials from Kalhu dating to his father's reign but, as we do not know under what name he was known before he took the crown of Assyria, he has not yet been identified.

His throne name means "the king is true" and one of his inscriptions explains in detail the political programme behind this choice: "My name, which the great gods assigned to me in order to uphold law and justice, to help the powerless prevail and to protect the weak". Sargon portrayed himself as the restorer of order, but did he rescue the country from a state of lawlessness under his brother or was the chaos caused by a coup which he himself had engineered in order to win the crown? The few available sources do not allow us to decide this matter.

Rebellion!

The new king met with massive opposition in the Assyrian heartland as well as further away. The centre of insurgence in the west of the Assyrian empire was the city of Hamat  PGP  where one Yau-bi'di gained widespread support: the former kingdoms of Hamat, Arpad  PGP  , Damascus  PGP  and Israel all rose in rebellion in the aftermath of Sargon's rise to power but he managed to crush the revolt in 720 BC. Hamat was destroyed once again and 6,300 "guilty Assyrians", people from the heartland whose lives Sargon had decided to spare but whom he exiled from the empire's centre in northern Iraq, found themselves moved to its ruins, repaying their merciful king by rebuilding this once proud city.

As central Assyria and the west rose in rebellion against the new king, Assyria's enemies in the south saw their chance: Merodach-baladan, chief of the powerful Bit-Yakin tribe and the leading figure of the anti-Assyrian movement in Babylonia, announced the end of Assyrian sovereignty and claimed the throne of Babylon for himself. Sargon reacted to this provocation by marching his troops southwards and Merodach-baladan retaliated by joining forces with the king of Elam  PGP  , Assyria's rival of old. Together they mustered a massive army against Sargon's forces. In 720 BC, the troops met in battle at the city of Der  PGP  in the plains east of Babylon, on the very same battlefield where, almost two centuries later (539 BC), Dareios the Great would defeat the army sent by the last Babylonian king, Nabonidus, to repel the Persian invasion. Although Merodach-baladan's troops arrived too late for active combat, the Assyrian army was pushed back by his Elamite allies and he retained control of the south and the title of king of Babylon.

Filling Sargon's coffers: the plunder of Carchemish and Muṣaṣir

After this rocky start, and the loss of the Babylonian crown, Sargon was able to consolidate his rule in Assyria and his son Sennacherib, as crown prince, assumed a very responsible role in the running of the state.

The conquest of Carchemish  PGP  in 717 BC allowed Sargon to compensate for the costs of the permanent and intensive deployment of the army since the beginning of his reign. The small but wealthy kingdom of Carchemish was situated in a key position in the trade network: controlling an important Euphrates crossing, it was positioned at a crossroads between the Mediterranean coast, Anatolia and Assyria and profited from its role in international trade. Moreover, Carchemish was the ideological heir of the Hittite Kingdom of the second millennium BC, lending its king a leading role among the Syrian and Anatolian kingdoms that occupied the lands formerly under Hittite control. When Sargon attacked, he violated existing treaties with the venerable Assyrian ally, claiming that Pisiri, king of Carchemish, had betrayed him to his enemies. Carchemish could not offer much resistance to the Assyrian army. The prize was its treasury, including more than 60 tonnes of silver, huge amounts of bronze, tin, iron and ivory and 330 kilos of purified gold. The influx of silver permanently changed the Assyrian economy from a bronze-based to a silver-based financial system which relied on silver according to the standard of Carchemish.

The capture of the holy city of Muṣaṣir  PGP  three years later was similarly motivated by its wealth, rather than by the treachery of its king Urzana, the pretext used by Sargon to justify his actions. By the time Sargon plundered the shrine and the royal palace in 714 BC, the temple of Haldi, revered since at least the late 3rd millennium BC, had been receiving gifts and donations for centuries. This resulted in a loot of more than a tonne of gold and about ten tonnes of silver, as well as masses of other treasure.

Dur-Šarruken - "Sargon's Fortress"

This hefty addition to his finances enabled Sargon to begin the construction of Dur-Šarruken, "Sargon's Fortress", in 713 BC. In contrast to (see Kalhu, and also the later capital city of Nineveh, this was an entirely new city, constructed on virgin soil in an area quite close to Kalhu which Sargon had identified as the perfect site for the centre of the Assyrian empire.

It was a gigantic building project, intended to be the king's crowning achievement. In the foundation inscriptions excavated at the site, Sargon proudly takes credit for recognising the potential of the sleepy village of Maganubba as the location for his new residence city he bought the land from its owners, emphasising that he paid the market rate, and started a massive irrigation project which was to provide water for the agriculture needed to sustain the inhabitants of what was to be the largest city in Assyria, with an area of almost three square kilometres.

Dur-Šarruken's ground plan is modelled on that of Kalhu but while the latter city was developed from an existing settlement (a fact reflected in its layout), Sargon's new capital was perfectly symmetrical with no concern for the surrounding landscape. The two gigantic platforms, one housing the palace and the temples and the other housing the arsenal, were constructed from scratch. The seven monumental city gates penetrated the fortification wall at regular intervals, their locations not dictated by the needs of a pre-existing road network. Sargon's new palace eclipsed the buildings of all his predecessors in scale and quality. The relief scenes that adorned the palace walls depict his conquests and also the sack of Muṣaṣir which had contributed so crucially to the funding of the building works today, they can be admired in the Louvre (Paris) and in the Iraq Museum (Baghdad). Only eight years after the work had begun, in 706 BC, the court moved to Dur-Šarruken. By that time, the most prominent features of the project were finished, although building work still continued elsewhere.

Sargon's triumph and death

Sargon continued the policy of conquest and annexation that had already characterised the reigns of Tiglath-pileser III and Shalmaneser V, but the effort to control areas that were situated ever farther away from the Assyrian heartland began to weigh heavily. Two provinces in the Zagros Mountains  PGP  were created in 716 BC but were only held after years of fighting deportations from the region brought a sizeable Median population to the city of Assur, a fact which may have played a role in the city's fall in 614 BC. The attempt to establish the province of Tabal  PGP  in central Anatolia in 713 BC was doomed and had to be terminated after a bloody rebellion in the following year - a first in Assyrian imperialism. However, the annexation of the Philistine kingdom of Ashdod in 711 BC was successful, as were the conquest and integration of the Neo-Hittite states of Gurgum and Kummuhhu (Commagene) in the same year and in 708 BC respectively.

But Sargon's most significant triumph occurred in 710 BC when he finally managed to oust Merodach-baladan from the Babylonian throne, taking the crown of Babylon for himself while his crown prince Sennacherib officiated in Kalhu, Sargon spent the next three years residing in Babylon, receiving homage and gifts from rulers as far away as Cyprus and Bahrain. He came back to central Assyria only when the court was ready to move to Dur-Šarruken.

In 705 BC, Sargon returned to Tabal in an attempt to restore the region to its former status as an Assyrian province. His army met with violent opposition and, shockingly, the king died in battle, his corpse lost to the enemy - a catastrophic event which led to the abandonment of Dur-Šarruken as the royal residence and was later thought to lie at the root of his heirs' bad fortune: Sennacherib (704-681 BC) was murdered while the reign of Esarhaddon (681-669 BC) was haunted by conspiracy and illness.


Sargon II

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Sargon II, (died 705 bce ), one of Assyria’s great kings (reigned 721–705 bce ) during the last century of its history. He extended and consolidated the conquests of his presumed father, Tiglath-pileser III.

Sargon is the Hebrew rendering (Isaiah 20:1) of Assyrian Sharru-kin, a throne name meaning “the king is legitimate.” The name was undoubtedly chosen in reminiscence of two former kings of Assyria, particularly in commemoration of Sargon of Akkad (flourished 2300 bce ).

Although Sargon’s ancestry is partly veiled in mystery, he was probably a younger son of Tiglath-pileser III and consequently a brother of his predecessor Shalmaneser V, who may have died ignominiously or may have been deposed. It was for Sargon to resume the conquests and to improve the administration of the empire his father had begun to assemble.

Upon his accession to the throne, he was faced immediately with three major problems: dealing with the Chaldean and Aramaean chieftainships in the southern parts of Babylonia, with the kingdom of Urartu and the peoples to the north in the Armenian highlands, and with Syria and Palestine. By and large, these were the conquests made by Tiglath-pileser III. Sargon’s problem was not only to maintain the status quo but to make further conquests to prove the might of the god Ashur, the national god of the Assyrian empire.

When Sargon succeeded to the Assyrian throne, Marduk-apal-iddina II (Merodach-baladan of the Bible), a dissident chieftain of the Chaldean tribes in the marshes of southern Babylonia, committed the description of his victory over the invading Assyrian armies (720 bce ) to writing on a clay cylinder, which he deposited in the city of Uruk (biblical Erech modern Tall al-Warkāʾ). The presence of this record obviously did not suit Sargon. After having discharged other commitments, he uncovered Marduk-apal-iddina’s record and removed it to his own residence, then at Kalakh (modern Nimrūd), substituting what has been described as an “improved” version that was more to his liking.

The extant texts reveal little about Sargon himself. With few exceptions, ancient Mesopotamian rulers have left no documents from which to write an actual biography. No personal documents have survived from Sargon’s reign, but it seems fair to assume that phraseologies uncommon in the inscriptions of other Assyrian kings, found in his texts, must have met with his approval, even though it is uncertain whether such phrases—sometimes turning into what is obviously poetry—were in fact conceived by Sargon himself or ascribed to him by his historiographers. The discovery, at Nimrūd, of a series of omens, the texts of which are written in cuneiform on beeswax encased in ivory and walnut boards and marked as being the property of the palace of Sargon, perhaps also throws some light on Sargon the man. Although he may not have introduced the method of recording cuneiform texts on wax, this novel method of committing texts to writing apparently took his fancy. This assumption tallies well with the interest he took in the engineering projects undertaken in cities he conquered. Sargon’s palace at Dur Sharrukin (modern Khorsabad) was dedicated in 706 bce , less than a year before he died.

An unparalleled record of Sargon’s eighth campaign (714 bce )—in the form of a letter to the god Ashur—has been recovered. According to this letter, Sargon in 714 led the Assyrian armies from Kalakh, which at the time was still his residence, into the areas around modern Al-Sulaymāniyyah in Iraqi Kurdistan and into the highlands of the Zagros range beyond. His purpose was to come to the aid of allies of the Assyrian realm who were threatened by Rusa I, a king of Urartu and a bitter enemy of Assyria. During the progress of this campaign, the author of the account visualized, or anticipated, the reactions of his adversary as, from a mountain, he watched the approach of the Assyrian armies. The passage, like many others in this unique text, constitutes an ingenious stylistic device unparalleled in Assyrian historical literature. The phraseology employed by the author is original by Mesopotamian standards as they are known today: inventive, resourceful, testifying to a fertile mind, and clearly deviating from the commonplace platitudes that mostly characterize the standard accounts of Assyrian kings. Whether or not Sargon himself is responsible for the wording of this narrative, it is to his credit that an account of this nature emerged from his chancery, with his approval and endorsement. Sargon is assumed to have died in battle in 705.


Ancient Inscription Details Conquest of Assyrian King Sargon II - History

Sargon II, proclaimed king of Assyria, 722 BC. From Hutchinson

In "A New Historical Inscription of Sargon II from Karkemish," published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Gianni Marchesi translates a recently discovered inscription of the Assyrian King Sargon II found at the ruins of the ancient city of Karkemish. The inscription, which dates to around 713 B.C., details Sargon's conquest, occupation, and reorganization of Karkemish, including his rebuilding the city with ritual ceremonies usually reserved for royal palaces in capital cities. The text implies that Sargon may have been planning to make Karkemish a western capital of Assyria, from which he could administer and control his empire's western territories.

The cuneiform inscription was found on fragments from three different clay cylinders in 2015 as part of the Nicolò Marchetti-led Turco-Italian Archaeological Expedition at Karkemish. Now in ruins, the site is located on the Euphrates river on the border between present day Syria and Turkey.

Marchesi analyzed and translated the total of thirty-eight lines of partially broken Akkadian text, using reference material, academic literature and other inscribed Assyrian artifacts as reference points for filling in the gaps. The lines of text ranged from two-thirds complete to much less, and no line of text was completely intact.

"Even so, we can grasp much of the original text, which turns out to be very informative," Marchesi writes. "In fact, unlike other Sargon cylinders, which contain relatively standard 'summary' inscriptions or annalistic accounts of the events of Sargon's reign, the Karkemish Cylinder provides us with a completely new inscription, dealing almost exclusively with the newly conquered city on the Euphrates in a highly-elaborated, literary style."

In the inscription, Sargon tells of the "betrayal" of Pirisi, the Hittite King of Karkemish who exchanged hostile words about Assyria with its enemy, King Midas of Phrygia. Sargon invades Karkemish, deports Pisiri and his supporters, destroys his palace, seizes his riches as booty and incorporates Pisiri's army into his own. He resettles the city with Assyrians. Having previously blocked the water supply to Karkemish, the meadows "let go fallow, like a wasteland," Marchesi translates, he now reactivates the irrigation system, planting orchards and botanical gardens. "I made the scent of the city sweeter than the scent of a cedar forest."

He also details an inauguration ceremony where he received gifts from Assyrian provinces and sacrifices them to deities. "My lords the gods Karhuha and Kubaba, who dwell in Karkemish, I invited them into my palace," Marchesi translates. "Strong rams of the stable, geese, ducks and flying birds of the sky I offered before them."

Marchesi was struck by the attention that Sargon paid to Karkemish, in particular the elaborate inauguration ceremony and construction of botanical gardens, both indicative not of a typical provincial capital but of a royal palace.

"Because of its glorious past and strategic position, Karkemish was fully entitled to become a sort of western capital of the Assyrian Empire: a perfect place in which to display the grandeur of Assyria, and from which to control the western and north-western territories of the empire," Marchesi writes.

This vision of Karkemish was short-lived, however. Though much care was taken to detail the city's rise in these texts, the city is not mentioned in any known inscriptions of Sargon's successors.

"The unthinkable, ominous death of Sargon on the battlefield in Tabal probably prevented this project from being accomplished, and negatively marked the destiny of Karkemish itself, which no longer attracted the interest of Assyrian kings who followed after him," Marchesi writes.


Mesopotamian King Sargon II envisioned ancient city Karkemish as western Assyrian capital

In "A New Historical Inscription of Sargon II from Karkemish," published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Gianni Marchesi translates a recently discovered inscription of the Assyrian King Sargon II found at the ruins of the ancient city of Karkemish. The inscription, which dates to around 713 B.C., details Sargon's conquest, occupation, and reorganization of Karkemish, including his rebuilding the city with ritual ceremonies usually reserved for royal palaces in capital cities. The text implies that Sargon may have been planning to make Karkemish a western capital of Assyria, from which he could administer and control his empire's western territories.

The cuneiform inscription was found on fragments from three different clay cylinders in 2015 as part of the Nicolò Marchetti-led Turco-Italian Archaeological Expedition at Karkemish. Now in ruins, the site is located on the Euphrates river on the border between present day Syria and Turkey.

Marchesi analyzed and translated the total of thirty-eight lines of partially broken Akkadian text, using reference material, academic literature and other inscribed Assyrian artifacts as reference points for filling in the gaps. The lines of text ranged from two-thirds complete to much less, and no line of text was completely intact.

"Even so, we can grasp much of the original text, which turns out to be very informative," Marchesi writes. "In fact, unlike other Sargon cylinders, which contain relatively standard 'summary' inscriptions or annalistic accounts of the events of Sargon's reign, the Karkemish Cylinder provides us with a completely new inscription, dealing almost exclusively with the newly conquered city on the Euphrates in a highly-elaborated, literary style."

In the inscription, Sargon tells of the "betrayal" of Pirisi, the Hittite King of Karkemish who exchanged hostile words about Assyria with its enemy, King Midas of Phrygia. Sargon invades Karkemish, deports Pisiri and his supporters, destroys his palace, seizes his riches as booty and incorporates Pisiri's army into his own. He resettles the city with Assyrians. Having previously blocked the water supply to Karkemish, the meadows "let go fallow, like a wasteland," Marchesi translates, he now reactivates the irrigation system, planting orchards and botanical gardens. "I made the scent of the city sweeter than the scent of a cedar forest."

He also details an inauguration ceremony where he received gifts from Assyrian provinces and sacrifices them to deities. "My lords the gods Karhuha and Kubaba, who dwell in Karkemish, I invited them into my palace," Marchesi translates. "Strong rams of the stable, geese, ducks and flying birds of the sky I offered before them."

Marchesi was struck by the attention that Sargon paid to Karkemish, in particular the elaborate inauguration ceremony and construction of botanical gardens, both indicative not of a typical provincial capital but of a royal palace.

"Because of its glorious past and strategic position, Karkemish was fully entitled to become a sort of western capital of the Assyrian Empire: a perfect place in which to display the grandeur of Assyria, and from which to control the western and north-western territories of the empire," Marchesi writes.

This vision of Karkemish was short-lived, however. Though much care was taken to detail the city's rise in these texts, the city is not mentioned in any known inscriptions of Sargon's successors.

"The unthinkable, ominous death of Sargon on the battlefield in Tabal probably prevented this project from being accomplished, and negatively marked the destiny of Karkemish itself, which no longer attracted the interest of Assyrian kings who followed after him," Marchesi writes.


Sargon II

Usurper. In 722 b.c.e. Sargon, whose Akkadian name (Sharrukin) means “the king is legitimate,” overthrew the Assyrian king Shalmaneser V (726-722 b.c.e.), who may have been his brother, at the moment the king’s troops were besieging Samaria, the capital of ancient Israel. Although in his later years, Sargon claimed that on taking the throne, he completed the conquest of Samaria and the deportation of its population the Hebrew Bible, which is probably correct, mentions only Shalmaneser in this regard. In reality, after staging his coup, Sargon faced rebellion and belligerent adversaries on virtually all the borders of Assyria. Sargon spent practically his entire reign in military campaigns suppressing rebellions and attempting to complete the strategy of expansion and consolidation initiated during the reign of Shalmaneser’s father, Tiglath-pileser III (744–727 b.c.e.). Yet, Sargon also managed to have built a magnificent new capital city named after himself, Dur-Sharrukin (modern Khorsabad). Sargon’s artisans adorned the walls of his palace with large carved blocks of stone, many of them vividly depicting his military victories.

Rebellions in the South. Immediately after Sargon’s coup, Marduk-apla-iddina II (the biblical Merodoch-baladan), the leader of Bit-Yakin, a local Chaldaean tribe, seized the throne in Babylon, which had previously been occupied by the Assyrian kings Tiglath-pileser III and Shalmaneser V. The defeat of the Assyrian army by the Elamites of Iran, allies of the Babylonians, during an otherwise unsuccessful Elamite attack on the city of Der, forced Sargon to concentrate his efforts in areas other than Babylonia for a full ten years. He returned to Babylonia in 710 b.c.e. and managed to isolate the Babylonians from their erstwhile Elamite allies, driving Merodoch-baladan to flee for his life.

Rebellions in the West. Following the initial stalemate in the south, Sargon immediately turned his attention to the west. Among the rebellious former vassal states was Hamath on the Orontes in Syria. The king of Hamath, Yau-bidi, led a coalition of neighboring states in revolt. In an inscription, Sargon called Yau-bidi “a hupshu (a Hurrian loanword that originally designated a member of one of the lower classes and later became a term of abuse) without claim to the throne, a cursed Hittite.” Sargon fitted out an army and besieged Yau-bidi in the city of Qarqar. The city was captured and burned Yaubidi was captured and flayed alive. Sargon then continued south, retaking Gaza and defeating an Egyptian force at Raphia on the Egyptian border. Later, an Assyrian garrison was posted at the border, and the Egyptian king sent diplomatic gifts to Sargon. In 712 b.c.e., Sargon successfully pacified the Philistine city-states. Sargon’s power was felt as far west as the island of Cyprus, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) off the north Syrian coast. An Assyrian royal inscription excavated on Cyprus records the gifts of seven local kings sent to Sargon.

Enemies to the North. Two major powers on Assyria’s northern and northwestern frontiers presented Sargon with further difficulties: Phrygia and Urartu, in central and eastern Anatolia respectively, attempted together and individually to pressure border states into allying themselves with either of them. In the annals of his Eighth Campaign (714 b.c.e.), Sargon vividly described the difficult march into the highlands, where he defeated the Urartians and their allies. With the movement of the nomadic Cimmerians across the Caucasus Mountains into Anatolia, and the general threat they posed to all, the Phrygian king Mita (Midas) sought to bring hostilities with Assyria to a close eventually the two states exchanged ambassadors. In 705 b.c.e. troubles in the border state of Tabal took Sargon into the northwest on one last campaign, in which he was killed in battle.


Watch the video: Events of the 710s BC part 1 Sargon II, king of Assyria (May 2022).


Comments:

  1. Gijs

    Rather amusing opinion

  2. Nachman

    I apologize, it doesn't come close to me. Are there other variants?

  3. Stepan

    In it something is. Thanks for an explanation, the easier, the better...

  4. Byme

    It's all stories!

  5. Nehemiah

    In my opinion. Your opinion wrongly.



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