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Aššur-dan II

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Biography of Aššur-dan II

Historians regard this king's reign as marking the beginning of the Neo-Assyrian period, for which it is most famous. In this last span of its history, Assyria expanded once again into northern Mesopotamia into territories previous held in the Middle Assyrian period, before engaging in a much larger expansionist project that eventually saw the domination of all of Mesopotamia and Egypt.

However as Amelie Kuhrt remarks (Kuhrt pg. 478), the early part of the Neo-Assyrian period was remarkably similar to the previous age in terms of its territorial growth. After the height of its power during the reign of Tiglath-pileser I (1114-1076), the Middle Assyrian state began to contract under pressure from the Aramaeans. By the time of Assur-nasir-pal I (1049-1031) the state had shrunk to its ancient core around Assur, Nineveh, Arbela, and Kilizi (Kuhrt pg. 362), and historical sources become scarce for about a hundred years.

Thus Assur-dan found himself fighting for land his predecessors had conquered more than a century ago, in the first of many campaigns which the Assyrian royal annals would consistently portray as a rightful reclaiming of ancestral territory:

[…I]ahanu, the land of the Aramaeans, which is behind the land Pi[…, which from the time of Assur-ra]bi (II), king of Assyria, my forefather, the cities of the district of [my land,…] they captured for themselves; [I mustered] chariots (and) troops. [I plundered…] (and) inflicted upon them a major defeat. (RIME 2, pg. 133)

Also notable in Assur-dan's annals are the recurrent forms of punishment inflicted upon recalcitrant subject kings in the Neo-Assyrian annals, almost becoming a trademark of Assyrian rule:

I captured Ku[undibhal]e, [king of the land Katmuhu], inside his palace. […] bronze, tine, precious stones of the mountain, […], his valuable booty [I brought] to [my] city Assur. On the throne I set …s]illa, a man loyal to me. Kundi[bhal]e, king of the land Katmuhu, [I brought to Assyria (and) in the city] Arbail I flayed (him and) draped his skin over [the wall of the city…] (RIME 2, pg. 134)

In his annals Assur-dan also states that he resettled Assyrian citizens in areas lost in war and famine, promoting agricultural development and building palaces in various districts. Following the example of his predecessor Tiglath-pileser I, he also including a section in his annals describing his hunting feats:

[The gods Ninurta and Nergal], who love my priesthood, gave to me the wild beasts (and) commanded me [to hunt]. I killed from my … chariot (and) on my swift feet [with the spear] 120 lions within […]. I killed 1,600 wild bulls. I captured two [strong] wild virile bulls by ambush. I killed 56 elephants. (RIME 2, pg. 135)

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