/euh sear"ee euh/, n.an ancient empire in SW Asia: greatest extent from ab. 750 to 612 B.C. Cap.: Nineveh.
* * *Ancient empire, southwestern Asia.It grew from a small region around Ashur (in northern Iraq) to encompass an area stretching from Palestine to Anatolia. Assyria may have originated in the 3rd millennium BC, but it came to power gradually. Its greatest period began in the 9th century BC, when its conquests reached the Mediterranean Sea under Ashurnasirpal II (883–859), and again с 746–609 BC, during the Neo-Assyrian empire, when it conquered much of the Middle East. Its greatest rulers during the latter period were Tiglath-pileser III, Sargon II, Sennacherib, and Ashurbanipal. Famous for their cruelty and fighting prowess, the Assyrians were also monumental builders, as shown by archaeological finds at Nineveh, Ashur, and Calah. The opulence of Ashurbanipal's court at Nineveh became legendary. Artistically, the Assyrians were particularly noted for their stone bas-reliefs. The kingdom was vanquished between 626 and 612 BC, when Nineveh was destroyed by the kings of Media and Babylonia (Chaldea).
* * *▪ ancient kingdom, Middle Eastkingdom of northern Mesopotamia that became the centre of one of the great empires of the ancient Middle East. It was located in what is now northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey.Assyria was a dependency of Babylonia and later of the Mitanni kingdom during most of the 2nd millennium BC. It emerged as an independent state in the 14th century BC, and in the subsequent period it became a major power in Mesopotamia, Armenia, and sometimes in northern Syria. Assyrian power declined after the death of Tukulti-Ninurta I (c. 1208 BC). It was restored briefly in the 11th century BC by Tiglath-pileser I, but during the following period both Assyria and its rivals were preoccupied with the incursions of the seminomadic Aramaeans. The Assyrian kings began a new period of expansion in the 9th century BC, and from the mid-8th to the late 7th century BC, a series of strong Assyrian kings—among them Tiglath-pileser III, Sargon II, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon—united most of the Middle East, from Egypt to the Persian Gulf, under Assyrian rule. The last great Assyrian ruler was Ashurbanipal, but his last years and the period following his death, in 627 BC, are obscure. The state was finally destroyed by a Chaldean-Median coalition in 612–609 BC. Famous for their cruelty and fighting prowess, the Assyrians were also monumental builders, as shown by archaeological sites at Nineveh, Ashur, and Nimrūd. See also The rise of Assyria (Mesopotamia, history of).
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