Reemergence of Assyrian Imperialism, 934-824 BC
Following the period of decline after the demise of the Middle Assyrian kingdom due to conflict, especially with the rising Mittani Empire, the Assyrian state was circumscribed to Ashur and its immediate hinterland. However, with the rise of Ashur-dan II campaigns began once again to reclaim the extent of the older Middle Assyrian territory. Ashur-dan II campaigned heavily in the northern mountain routes to subdue transhumant brigands and to make safe the trade routes into Anatolia. He also firmly reestablished the borders of Assyria against warring tribes in the Zagros Mountains in the East and against tribes of Arameans in the West. Ashur-dan II founded the initial strategy for the rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. His successor, Adad-nirari II, followed the same strategy, though he also expanded Assyrian territory into Babylonia and established supply routes and defensive fortifications in this area. Finally, Tukulti-Ninurta II made major advances against Anatolia, reopening the major trade route with his victory over the region of Bit Zamani. This development allowed increased influx of metals and precious stones into Assyria.
Once the foundations of the central empire had been established the next two kings were able to capitalize on the work of their predecessors. Ashurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III expanded and consolidated the Empire especially in the area of Anatolia and exploitated its resources. Ashurnasirpal II decimated the Bit Zamani area and exacted heavy tribute from the surrounding regions of Anatolia. He further expanded the military presence in these areas by building a palace at Tushan and erecting multiple fortifications in the area. Following his brutal suppression of revolts in the area, territories in Syria and Anatolia offered lavish gifts in order to win Assyrian favor. Ashurnasirpal II utilized this wealth to build the palace and city of Kalhu (Nimrud)–a city that featured the finest in Assyrian art and culture. Shalmaneser III’s reign was concerned with consolidation of Ashurnasirpal’s expansion. He is especially noted for his repeated campaigns against the Syria-Levantine coalition beginning in 853 BC with the Battle of Qarqar and ending with his eventual victory over the coalition in 845 BC. However, after his final victory over the Syria-Levantine coalition he was able to fully quell the unrest in northern Syria and Anatolia.
(Return to the The Neo-Assyrian Empire)