ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Assyria- The Rise and Fall of an Empire

Updated on June 5, 2015

Hammurabi's Legacy

At the time of his death, Hammurabi, the sixth king of Babylon, had complete rule over the lands of Mesopotamia. The first few decades of his rule were peaceful, and during this period of respite from war, Hammurabi dedicated himself to the improvement of his capital in Babylon.

Walls were made higher for defense, temples were expanded, dams were built, and alliances with minor kingdoms were forged. He had imposed a set of laws, the "Code of Hammurabi," and his skills of leadership improved the administrative efficiency of his government.............. Hammurabi's Babylonwas powerful, wealthy, and well run. But for some reason none of his successors were able to maintain it, and before long invaders were knocking at the gates of his capital.


The Assyrians

After several centuries of turmoil, war, and invasion, Hammurabi's former empire returned once more to imperial rule. The Assyrian cities of Assur and Nineveh had been amongst the first to break away from Babylonian rule after Hammurabi's death. Improvements were made, armies were organized, and trade routes were established, and by 1300 B.C., Assyria had begun to gradually extend their control and authority over a very large portion of southwestern Asia.

Assyrian armies brought fear to the masses; no city was safe from invasion. Battering rams and wheeled towers were implemented to bring down the walls of protesting cities; horse drawn chariots were added to the cavalry units and soon became a staple of war. Because of this, battles were not only more ferocious, they were quicker and more efficient. Archers decimated their foes from these rapidly moving platforms, and those who survived soon found themselves vulnerable to the infantry and cavalry units that followed.

Assyrian forces were organized into units and commanded by professional soldiers. Attaining rank was not dependent on having political connections or having been born into the nobility. Assyria's military leaders were chosen based on performance, merit, skill, and bravery.

Prisoners were sometimes tortured, but most were taken captive and transported to growing cities as slaves. These conquered souls provided cheap labor for farmers and physical strength for building projects. Some prisoners actually escaped and returned to their homelands, but many embraced their lives in Assyria and eventually went on to start their own families and become citizens. Newly acquired skills afforded them job opportunities, family afforded them a sense of community, and citizenship gave them the right to vote.



The Assyrians, like the majority of Mesopotamian peoples, relied heavily on the methods of administration their predecessors had implemented. Laws were similar to the Code of Hammurabi and literature was preserved in huge libraries.

The vast library established at King Assurbanipal's court housed literary and scholarly texts, as well as diplomatic correspondence and government records. One of the most important pieces of literature found among his texts was the Epic of Gilgamemsh, a true gift to those who have read it.

His palace was magnificent and luxurious, and the citizens of his empire shared in the wealth, enjoying a comfort never before known. That's not to say that all citizens were fat, happy and content. Many of the people living in regions outside of Nineveh and Assur found Assyrian rule less than desirable. Rulers frequently faced rebellion by their subjects over what was an enormous area. These rebellions soon became a challenge to the administration, and ultimately, the combination of unrest and its ensuing assaults caused the empire to crumble. By the year 612 B.C., the Assyrian Empire had ceased to exist.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu
Gilgamesh and Enkidu

Many monuments have been discovered in the ruins of ancient Assyria; one such monument boasts the following inscription, commissioned by King Ashurnasipal to describe his army's conquest of a city;

"Their men, young and old, I took as prisoners. Of some I cut off the feet and hands; of others cut off the noses, ears, and lips; of the young men's ears I made a heap; of the old men's heads I built a minaret."


Hawlinson's "Five Great Monarchies" vol. 2, p85, note.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • awdur profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Chicago

      Anne Harrison- Unfortunately, rulers don't always reflect the traits and beliefs of the people they rule.... your assessment of a recurring historical theme is right on target! Thank you for stopping by and adding to the discussion!

    • awdur profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Chicago

      mrod- To describe the Assyrians as barbaric seems almost kind ;-) . Thank you for reading ad commenting. Your thoughts are appreciated!

    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 

      3 years ago from Australia

      Much as I love reading about the past, I'm glad to live now! The library and growth of literary text shows a culture and a people not neccssarily as violent as their rulers - a recurring historical theme. An interesting hub, thanks for sharing

    • mrod profile image

      Monique Rodriguez 

      3 years ago

      I always laugh when I see the depiction of an Assyrian, they all look alike, maybe that's because in a sense they were all alike: barbarians, sackers, blood-thirsty intruders, the terrorists of antiquity. However the fact that they disappeared amidst their own rubbles, sends a powerful message of hope down to our days as we come face to face with modern, similar evils.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)