Portal:Ancient Near East

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Location of Assyria
Assyria was originally a region on the Upper Tigris river, named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur. Later, as a nation and empire that came to control all of the Fertile Crescent, Egypt and much of Anatolia, the term "Assyria proper" referred to roughly the northern half of Mesopotamia (the southern half being Babylonia), with Nineveh as its capital.

The Assyrians were warriors, who invented excavation to undermine city walls, battering rams to knock down gates, as well as the concept of a corps of engineers, who bridged rivers with pontoons or provided soldiers with inflatable skins for swimming. The Assyrian kings controlled a large kingdom at three different times in history. These are called the Old (20th – 15th centuries BC), Middle (15th – 10th centuries BC), and Neo-Assyrian (911 – 612 BC) kingdoms, of which the last is the most well known and best documented.

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Achaemenid Empire
Cyrus II, the Great (Old Persian: Kūruš; reigned 559 – c. 530 BC), was the founder of the Persian Empire under the Achaemenid dynasty. The empire expanded under his rule, eventually conquering most of Southwest Asia and much of Central Asia, from Egypt and the Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, to create the largest state the world had yet seen.

During his twenty-nine year reign, Cyrus fought against some of the greatest states of his time, including the Median Empire, the Lydian Empire, and the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Cyrus did not venture into Egypt, as he himself died in battle, fighting the Massagetae along the Syr Darya in August 530 BC.

Beyond his nation, Cyrus left a lasting legacy on Jewish religion (through his Edict of Restoration), politics, and military strategy, as well as on both Eastern and Western civilization.

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Murex shell bearing the name "Rimush, king of Kish"
Credit: Jastrow
Murex shell bearing the name "Rimush, king of Kish"
Akkadian Empire, ca. 23rd century BC (Louvre)

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Did you know...

Earliest known pictographic writing c. 3500 BC
...that c. 5300 BC Eridu was the first settlement in what would become the cradle of civilization?

...that the first writing system was developed in the late 4th millennium BC in Sumer? It was a logographic script which is still incompletely deciphered.

...that the Sumerian language, the Kassite language, and the Hattic language are all language isolates, unrelated to any other known language?

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