Neo-Babylonian Empire

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Neo-Babylonian Empire

626 BC–539 BC
Neo-Babylonian Empire.png
The Neo-Babylonian Empire at its greatest extent
Capital Babylon, Tayma (it was the de facto capital of Neo-Babylon under Nabonidus) [1]
Common languages Akkadian, Aramaic
Babylonian religion
Government Monarchy
 626–605 BC
Nabopolassar (first)
 556–539 BC
Nabonidus (last)
626 BC
539 BC
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Map of Assyria.png Neo-Assyrian Empire
Achaemenid Empire Standard of Cyrus the Great (Achaemenid Empire).svg

The Neo-Babylonian Empire (also Second Babylonian Empire) was a period of Mesopotamian history which began in 626 BC and ended in 539 BC. [2] During the preceding three centuries, Babylonia had been ruled by their fellow Akkadian speakers and northern neighbours, Assyria. A year after the death of the last strong Assyrian ruler, Ashurbanipal, in 627 BC, the Assyrian empire spiralled into a series of brutal civil wars. Babylonia rebelled under Nabopolassar. In alliance with the Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians, they sacked the city of Nineveh in 612 BC, [3] and the seat of empire was transferred to Babylonia for the first time since the death of Hammurabi in the mid-18th century BC. This period witnessed a general improvement in economic life and agricultural production, and a great flourishing of architectural projects, the arts and science.

Mesopotamia area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system

Mesopotamia is a historical region in Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, parts of Northern Saudi Arabia, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.

Babylonia Ancient Akkadian region in Mesopotamia

Babylonia was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia. A small Amorite-ruled state emerged in 1894 BC, which contained the minor administrative town of Babylon. It was merely a small provincial town during the Akkadian Empire but greatly expanded during the reign of Hammurabi in the first half of the 18th century BC and became a major capital city. During the reign of Hammurabi and afterwards, Babylonia was called "the country of Akkad".

Akkadian is an extinct East Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia from the 30th century BC until its gradual replacement by Akkadian-influenced Old Aramaic among Mesopotamians by the eighth century BC.


The Neo-Babylonian period ended with the reign of Nabonidus in 539 BC. To the east, the Persians had been growing in strength, and eventually Cyrus the Great conquered the empire.

Nabonidus King of Babylon

Nabonidus was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556–539 BC. He seized power in a coup, toppling King Labashi-Marduk. He also angered the priests and commoners of Babylon by neglecting the city’s chief god, Marduk, and elevating the moon god, Sin, to the highest status. In fact, Nabonidus left the capital for ten years to build and restore temples – mostly to Sin – leaving his son, Belshazzar, in charge. While leading excavations for the restoration effort, he initiated the world’s first archaeological work.

Achaemenid Empire first Persian Empire founded by Cyrus the Great

The Achaemenid Empire, also called the First Persian Empire, was an empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Great. Ranging at its greatest extent from the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west to the Indus Valley in the east, it was larger than any previous empire in history, spanning 5.5 million square kilometers. Incorporating various peoples of different origins and faiths, it is notable for its successful model of a centralised, bureaucratic administration, for building infrastructure such as road systems and a postal system, the use of an official language across its territories, and the development of civil services and a large professional army. The empire's successes inspired similar systems in later empires.

Cyrus the Great King and founder of the Achaemenid Empire

Cyrus II of Persia, commonly known as Cyrus the Great, and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Western Asia and much of Central Asia. From the Mediterranean Sea and Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, Cyrus the Great created the largest empire the world had yet seen. Under his successors, the empire eventually stretched at its maximum extent from parts of the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east. His regal titles in full were The Great King, King of Persia, King of Anshan, King of Media, King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, and King of the Four Corners of the World. The Nabonidus Chronicle notes the change in his title from simply "King of Anshan", a city, to "King of Persia". Assyriologist François Vallat wrote that "When Astyages marched against Cyrus, Cyrus is called ‘King of Anshan’, but when Cyrus crosses the Tigris on his way to Lydia, he is ‘King of Persia’. The coup therefore took place between these two events."

Historical background

Babylonia was subject to and dominated by Assyria during the Neo-Assyrian period (911–626 BC), as it had often been during the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365–1020 BC). The Assyrians of Upper Mesopotamia had usually been able to pacify their southern relations through military might, installing puppet kings, or granting increased privileges.

Neo-Assyrian Empire Historical state in Mesopotamia

The Neo-Assyrian Empire was an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire, in existence between 911 and 609 BC, and became the largest empire of the world up till that time. The Assyrians perfected early techniques of imperial rule, many of which became standard in later empires, and was, according to many historians, the first real empire in history. The Assyrians were the first to be armed with iron weapons, and their troops employed advanced, effective military tactics.

Middle Assyrian Empire

The Middle Assyrian Empire is the period in the history of Assyria between the fall of the Old Assyrian Empire in the 14th century BC and the establishment of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in the 10th century BC.

Upper Mesopotamia Northern part of the region between Tigris and Euphrates rivers, now part of Iraq, Syria and Turkey

Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq, northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey, in the northern Middle East. After the Arab Early Muslim conquests of the mid-7th century AD the region has been known by the traditional Arabic name of al-Jazira, also transliterated Djazirah, Djezirah, Jazirah & the Syriac (Aramaic) variant Gāzartā or Gozarto (ܓܙܪܬܐ). The Euphrates and Tigris rivers transform Mesopotamia into almost an island, as they are joined together at the Shatt al-Arab in the Basra Governorate of Iraq, and their sources in eastern Turkey are in close proximity.

Revival of old traditions

After Babylonia regained its independence, Neo-Babylonian rulers were deeply conscious of the antiquity of their kingdom and pursued an archtraditionalist policy, reviving much of the ancient Sumero-Akkadian culture. Even though Aramaic had become the everyday tongue, Akkadian was retained as the language of administration and culture. Archaic expressions from 1500 years earlier were reintroduced in Akkadian inscriptions, along with words in the long-unspoken Sumerian language. Neo-Babylonian cuneiform script was also modified to make it look like the old 3rd-millennium BC script of Akkad.

Aramaic is a language or group of languages belonging to the Semitic subfamily of the Afroasiatic language family. More specifically, it is part of the Northwest Semitic group, which also includes the Canaanite languages such as Hebrew and Phoenician. The Aramaic alphabet was widely adopted for other languages and is ancestral to the Hebrew, Syriac and Arabic alphabets. During its approximately 3,100 years of written history, Aramaic has served variously as a language of administration of empires, as a language of divine worship and religious study, and as the spoken tongue of a number of Semitic peoples from the Near East.

Sumerian language Language of ancient Sumer

Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer and a language isolate that was spoken in Mesopotamia. During the 3rd millennium BC, an intimate cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Semitic-speaking Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism. The influence of Sumerian and the East Semitic language Akkadian on each other is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a substantial scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the third millennium BC as a Sprachbund.

Ancient artworks from the heyday of Babylonia's imperial glory were treated with near-religious reverence and were painstakingly preserved. For example, when a statue of Sargon the Great was found during construction work, a temple was built for it, and it was given offerings. The story is told of how Nebuchadnezzar II, in his efforts to restore the Temple at Sippar, had to make repeated excavations until he found the foundation deposit of Naram-Sin of Akkad. The discovery then allowed him to rebuild the temple properly. Neo-Babylonians also revived the ancient Sargonid practice of appointing a royal daughter to serve as priestess of the moon-god Sîn.

Sargon of Akkad Founder of Akkadian Empire

Sargon of Akkad was the first ruler of the Semitic-speaking Akkadian Empire, known for his conquests of the Sumerian city-states in the 24th to 23rd centuries BC.

Nebuchadnezzar II king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire

Nebuchadnezzar II was king of Babylon c. 605 BC – c. 562 BC, whose reign was the longest and most powerful of any monarch in the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

Sippar archaeological site in Iraq

Sippar was an ancient Near Eastern Sumerian and later Babylonian city on the east bank of the Euphrates river. Its tell is located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah near Yusufiyah in Iraq's Baghdad Governorate, some 60 km north of Babylon and 30 km southwest of Baghdad. The city's ancient name, Sippar, could also refer to its sister city, Sippar-Amnanum ; a more specific designation for the city here referred to as Sippar was Sippar-Yahrurum.

Cultural and economic life

Much more is known about Mesopotamian culture and economic life under the Neo-Babylonians than about the structure and mechanics of imperial administration. It is clear that for southern Mesopotamia, the Neo-Babylonian period was a renaissance. Large tracts of land were opened to cultivation. Peace and imperial power made resources available to expand the irrigation systems and to build an extensive canal system. The Babylonian countryside was dominated by large estates, which were given to government officials as a form of pay. The estates were usually managed by local entrepreneurs, who took a cut of the profits. Rural folk were bound to these estates, providing both labour and rents to their landowners.

Urban life flourished under the Neo-Babylonians. Cities had local autonomy and received special privileges from the kings. Centered on their temples, the cities had their own law courts, and cases were often decided in assemblies. Temples dominated urban social structure, just as they did the legal system, and a person's social status and political rights were determined by where they stood in relation to the religious hierarchy. Free laborers like craftsmen enjoyed high status and a sort of guild system came into existence, which gave them collective bargaining power. The period witnessed a general improvement in economic life, agricultural production, and a significant increase in architectural projects, the arts and science.

Neo-Babylonian dynasty

Dynasty XI of Babylon (Neo-Babylonian)

Nabopolassar King of Babylon

Nabopolassar (; cuneiform: 𒀭𒀝𒌉𒍑𒌶dAG.IBILA.URU3Akkadian: Nabû-apla-uṣur; c. 658 BC – 605 BC) was a Chaldean king of Babylonia and a central figure in the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The death of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal around 627 BC resulted in political instability. In 626 BC, a native dynasty arose under Nabopolassar. He made Babylon his capital and ruled over Babylonia for a period of about twenty years (626–605 BC). He is credited with founding the Neo-Babylonian Empire. By 616 BC, Nabopolassar had united the entire area under his rule.

Amel-Marduk, 'man of Marduk' was the son and successor of Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon.

Nergal-sharezer or Neriglissar was King of Babylon from 560 to 556 BC. He was the son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar II, whose son and heir, Amel-Marduk, Nergal-sharezer murdered and succeeded. A Babylonian chronicle describes his western war in 557/556 BC. He is traditionally listed as a king of the Chaldean Dynasty; however, it is not known if he was a Chaldean or native of Babylon, as he was not related by blood to Nabopolassar and his successors. His name is mentioned as one of the high-ranking officers of king Nebuchadnezzar II in the Book of Jeremiah.

Nabopolassar 626–605 BC

The Ishtar Gate of Babylon as reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin Fotothek df ps 0002470 Innenräume ^ Ausstellungsgebäude.jpg
The Ishtar Gate of Babylon as reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin

After the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC, the Assyrian Empire began to disintegrate, riven by internal strife. Ashur-etil-ilani co-ruled with Ashurbanipal from 630 BC, while an Assyrian governor named Kandalanu sat on the throne of Babylon on behalf of his king. Babylonia seemed secure until both Ashurbanipal and Kandalanu died in 627 BC, and Assyria spiralled into a series of internal civil wars which would ultimately lead to its destruction. An Assyrian general, Sin-shumu-lishir, revolted in 626 BC and declared himself king of Assyria and Babylon, but was promptly ousted by the Assyrian Army loyal to king Ashur-etil-ilani in 625 BC. Babylon was then taken by another son of Ashurbanipal Sin-shar-ishkun, who proclaimed himself king. His rule did not last long, however, and the Babylonians revolted. Nabopolassar seized the throne amid the confusion, and the Neo-Babylonian dynasty was born. Babylonia as a whole then became a battleground between king Ashur-etil-ilani and his brother Sin-shar-ishkun who fought to and fro over the region. This anarchic situation allowed Nabopolassar to stay on the throne of the city of Babylon itself, spending the next three years undisturbed, consolidating his position in the city. [4]

However, in 623 BC, Sin-shar-ishkun killed his brother the king in battle at Nippur in Babylonia, seized the throne of Assyria, and then set about retaking Babylon from Nabopolassar. Nabopolassar was forced to endure Assyrian armies encamped in Babylonia over the next seven years. However, he resisted, aided by the continuing civil war in Assyria itself, which greatly hampered Sin-shar-ishkun's attempts to retake the parts of Babylonia held by Nabopolassar. Nabopolassar took Nippur in 619 BC, a key centre of pro-Assyrianism in Babylonia, and by 616 BC, he was still in control of much of southern Mesopotamia. Assyria, still riven with internal strife, had by this time lost control of its colonies, who had taken advantage of the various upheavals to free themselves. The empire had stretched from Cyprus to Persia and the Caucasus to Egypt at its height.

Nabopolassar attempted a counterattack; he marched his army into Assyria proper in 616 BC and tried to besiege Assur and Arrapha (Kirkuk), but was defeated by Sin-shar-ishkun and driven back into Babylonia. A stalemate seemed to have ensued, with Nabopolassar unable to make any inroads into Assyria despite its greatly weakened state, and Sin-shar-ishkun unable to eject Nabopolassar from Babylon due to the unremitting civil war in Assyria itself.

However the balance of power was decisively tipped when Cyaxares, ruler of the Iranian peoples (the Medes, Persians and Parthians), and technically a vassal of Assyria, attacked a war-weary Assyria without warning in late 615 BC, sacking Arrapha and Kalhu (the biblical Nimrud). Then in 614 BC Cyaxares, in alliance with the Scythians and Cimmerians, besieged and took Assur, with Nabopolassar remaining uninvolved in these successes. [5]

Nabopolassar too then made active alliances with other former subjects of Assyria; the Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians.

During 613 BC the Assyrian army seems to have rallied and successfully repelled Babylonian, Median and Scythian attacks. However, in 612 BC Nabopolassar and the Median king Cyaxares led a concentrated coalition of forces including Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians in an attack on Nineveh. The size of the forces ranged against Assyria in its weakened state proved too much, and, after a bitter three-month siege, followed by house-to-house fighting, Nineveh finally fell, with Sin-shar-ishkun being killed defending his capital.

An Assyrian general, Ashur-uballit II, became king of Assyria amid the fighting. According to the Babylonian Chronicle, he was offered the chance to bow in vassalage to the rulers of the alliance. However, he refused, and managed to fight his way free of Nineveh to set up a new capital at Harran. Nabopolassar, Cyaxares, and their allies, then fought Ashur-uballit II for a further five years, until Harran fell in 608 BC; after a failed attempt to retake the city, Ashur-uballit II disappeared from the pages of history.

The Egyptians under Pharaoh Necho II had invaded the near east in 609 BC in a belated attempt to help their former Assyrian rulers. Nabopolassar (with the help of his son and future successor Nebuchadnezzar II) spent the last years of his reign dislodging the Egyptians (who were supported by Greek mercenaries and the remnants of the Assyrian army) from Syria, Asia Minor, northern Arabia and Israel. Nebuchadnezzar proved to be a capable and energetic military leader, and the Egyptians, Assyrians and their mercenary allies were finally defeated by the Babylonians, Medes and Scythians at the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC.

The Babylonians were now left in possession of much of Assyria, with the northern reaches being held by the Medes. However, they appear to have made no attempt to occupy it, preferring to concentrate on rebuilding southern Mesopotamia.

Nebuchadnezzar II 605–562 BC

An engraving on an eye stone of onyx with an inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II Nebukadnessar II.jpg
An engraving on an eye stone of onyx with an inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II

Nebuchadnezzar II became king after the death of his father.

Nebuchadnezzar was a patron of the cities and a spectacular builder. He rebuilt all of Babylonia's major cities on a lavish scale. His building activity at Babylon was what turned it into the immense and beautiful city of legend. His city of Babylon covered more than three square miles, surrounded by moats and ringed by a double circuit of walls. The Euphrates flowed through the center of the city, spanned by a beautiful stone bridge. At the center of the city rose the giant ziggurat called Etemenanki, "House of the Frontier Between Heaven and Earth," which lay next to the Temple of Marduk.

Nebuchadnezzar II conducted successful military campaigns in Syria and Phoenicia, forcing tribute from Damascus, Tyre and Sidon. He conducted numerous campaigns in Asia Minor, in the "land of the Hatti". Like the Assyrians, the Babylonians had to campaign yearly in order to control their colonies.

In 601 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II was involved in a major, but inconclusive, battle against the Egyptians. In 599 BC, he invaded Arabia and routed the Arabs at Qedar. In 597 BC, he invaded Judah and captured Jerusalem and deposed its king Jehoiachin. Egyptian and Babylonian armies fought each other for control of the near east throughout much of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, and this encouraged king Zedekiah of Judah to revolt. After an 18-month siege, Jerusalem was captured in 587 BC, and thousands of Jews were deported to Babylon, and Solomon's Temple was razed to the ground.

By 572 Nebuchadnezzar was in full control of Babylonia, Assyria, Phoenicia, Israel, Philistinia, northern Arabia, and parts of Asia Minor. Nebuchadnezzar fought the Pharaohs Psammetichus II and Apries throughout his reign, and in 568 BC during the reign of Pharaoh Amasis II, invaded Egypt itself. [6]

Amel-Marduk 562–560 BC

Amel-Marduk was the son and successor of Nebuchadnezzar II. He reigned only two years (562–560 BC). According to the Biblical Book of Kings, he pardoned and released Jehoiachin, king of Judah, who had been a prisoner in Babylon for thirty-seven years. Allegedly, because Amel-Marduk tried to modify his father's policies, he was murdered by Neriglissar, his brother-in-law.

Neriglissar 560–556 BC

Babylonian wall relief in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin Fotothek df ps 0002472 Innenräume ^ Ausstellungsgebäude.jpg
Babylonian wall relief in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin

Neriglissar appears to have been a more stable ruler, conducting a number of public works, restoring temples etc.

He conducted successful military campaigns against Cilicia, which had threatened Babylonian interests. Neriglissar however reigned for only four years, being succeeded by the young Labashi-Marduk. It is unclear if Neriglissar was himself a member of the Chaldean tribe, or a native of the city of Babylon.

Labashi-Marduk 556 BC

Labashi-Marduk was a king of Babylon (556 BC), and son of Neriglissar. Labashi-Marduk succeeded his father when still only a boy, after the latter's four-year reign. He was murdered in a conspiracy only nine months after his inauguration.[ citation needed ] Nabonidus was consequently chosen as the new king.

Nabonidus 556–539 BC

Nabonidus' (Nabû-na'id in Babylonian) noble credentials are not clear, although he was not a Chaldean but from Assyria, in the city of Harran. He says himself in his inscriptions that he is of unimportant origins. [7] Similarly, his mother, Adda-Guppi, [8] who lived to high age and may have been connected to the temple of the Akkadian moon-god Sîn in Harran; in her inscriptions does not mention her descent. His father was Nabû-balatsu-iqbi, a commoner. [9]

For long periods he entrusted rule to his son, Prince Belshazzar. He was a capable soldier but poor politician. All of this left him somewhat unpopular with many of his subjects, particularly the priesthood and the military class. [10]

The Marduk priesthood hated Nabonidus because of his suppression of Marduk's cult and his elevation of the cult of the moon-god Sin. [11] [12] When Cyrus the Great conquered Babylonia, he portrayed himself as the savior chosen by Marduk to restore order and justice. [13]

To the east, the Persians had been growing in strength, and Cyrus the Great was very popular in Babylon itself. [14] [15] A sense of Nabonidus' religiously-based negative image survives in Jewish literature, such as the works of Josephus, [16] and the Jews initially greeted the Persians as liberators. [17]

Fall of Babylon

In 549 BC Cyrus the Great, the Achaemenid king of Persia, revolted against his suzerain Astyages, king of Media, at Ecbatana. Astyages' army betrayed him to his enemy, and Cyrus established himself as ruler of all the Iranic peoples, as well as the pre-Iranian Elamites and Gutians.

In 539 BC, Cyrus invaded Babylon. Nabonidus sent his son Belshazzar to head off the huge Persian army; however, already massively outnumbered, Belshazzar was betrayed by Gobryas, governor of Assyria, who switched his forces over to the Persian side. The Babylonian forces were overwhelmed at the battle of Opis. Nabonidus fled to Borsippa, and on 12 October, after Cyrus' engineers had diverted the waters of the Euphrates, "the soldiers of Cyrus entered Babylon without fighting." Belshazzar in Xenophon is reported to have been killed, but his account is not held to be reliable here. [18] Nabonidus surrendered and was deported. Gutian guards were placed at the gates of the great temple of Bel, where the services continued without interruption. Cyrus arrived in Babylon on 3 October, Gobryas having acted for him in his absence. Gobryas was then made governor of the province of Babylon.

Cyrus claimed to be the legitimate successor of the ancient Babylonian kings and the avenger of Bel-Marduk, who was assumed to be wrathful at the impiety of Nabonidus in removing the images of the local gods from their ancestral shrines, to his capital Babylon. Nabonidus, in fact, had excited a strong feeling against himself by attempting to centralize the religion of Babylonia in the temple of Marduk at Babylon, and while he had thus alienated the local priesthoods, the military party despised him on account of his antiquarian tastes. He seems to have left the defense of his kingdom to others, occupying himself with the more congenial work of excavating the foundation records of the temples and determining the dates of their builders.

The invasion of Babylonia by Cyrus was doubtless facilitated by the existence of a disaffected party in the state, as well and the presence of foreign exiles like the Jews. Accordingly, one of Cyrus' first acts was to allow these exiles to return to their homelands, carrying with them the images of their gods and their sacred vessels. The permission to do so was embodied in a proclamation, whereby the conqueror endeavored to justify his claim to the Babylonian throne. The feeling was still strong that none had a right to rule over western Asia until he had been consecrated to the office by Bel and his priests; and accordingly, Cyrus henceforth assumed the imperial title of "King of Babylon."

Babylon, like Assyria, became a colony of Achaemenid Persia.

See also

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The Medo-Babylonian war against Assyrian Empire was the last war fought by the Assyrian Empire. The war ultimately led to the destruction of the Assyrian Empire.

After the death of Assubanipal, in 627 BC, the Assyrian Empire entered a period of instability caused by the revolt of Sin-shar-ishkun against his brother Ashur-etil-ilani. This was the moment when the Babylonian ruler, Nabopolassar led a revolt against Assyrian rule. After a few years of war, the Babylonians expelled the Assyrian forces from their territory. The situation became highly dangerous for Assyria with the offensive of Cyaxares, king of the Medes, in 616 BC. The Median forces swiftly conquered Tarbisu and decisively defeated the Assyrian army at the battle of Assur. Then, they joined the Babylonian army and launched a combined offensive on Nineveh in 612 BC. After the battle of Nineveh, where the Assyrian king Sin-Shar-Ishkun died, Ashur-uballit II became king and went to Harran with his remaining troops. But the Medes and the Babylonians besieged Harran in 610 BC and took the city in 609 BC, forcing Assur-Uballit II to flee again with the remnants of his army. During this same year, Egyptian and Assyrian forces left the Egyptian city of Carchemish and attacked the Medes and the Babylonians garrisoned in Harran, but this offensive failed and this ended the Assyrian Empire.

After the death of Assurbanipal in 627 BC, the Neo-Assyrian empire entered a period of instability caused by fighting between Sin-shar-ishkun and his brother Assur-etil-ilani. In 626 BC, Nabopolassar, the Babylonian ruler revolted against the Assyrians. After a few years of war, the Babylonians expelled the Assyrian forces from their territory. However, Nabopolassar could not bring the fight to the heartland of the Assyrian empire. The situation changed drastically in 616 BC, when the Medes attacked the Assyrian empire. The fall of Tarbisu occurred when the Median army, led by Cyaxares the great, attacked and conquered the city. In the aftermath, the Medes went further and decisively defeated the Assyrians at the battle of Assur.


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  11. A.T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1948, p. 38
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  13. Georges Roux, Ancient Iraq, 3rd ed., Penguin Books, London, 1991, p. 382
  14. Georges Roux, Ancient Iraq, 3rd ed., Penguin Books, London, 1991, pp. 381–82
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  17. Isaiah 45 |
  18. Harper's Bible Dictionary, ed. by Achtemeier, etc., Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1985, p. 103