Episode 23: The Assyrian Empire, Warfare and Collapse
Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization
Dr Amanda H Podany
This lecture manly covers the rise of the Neo-Babylonian Empire after the fall of Assyria. In fact, Babylonia would expand to encompass most of former Assyria, except for the western regions. With the support of Egypt, the western city-states (in the Levant) resisted Babylonian occupation.
Podany gives the specific example of Judah, which was invaded by the Babylonian king/general in 587 BC for refusing to pay tribute to Babylonia. After capturing large numbers of Jewish prisoners and deporting them to Babylonia, king Nebuchadnezzar II put a pro-Babylonian king in charge of Judah, but he rebelled as well.
This resulted in the 587 BC Siege of Jerusalem and capture and deportation of yet more Jewish captives.
Although as a king/general he led many battles, Nebuchadnezzar II prided himself much more on the building programs he carried out in the city of Babylon, which was the biggest city in the region until Rome was built several centuries later.
The buildings he commissioned included a temple consisting of a seven-level high ziggurat and a massive palace housing numerous offices and workshops and apartments, as well as the king’s residence and throne room. Unlike other kings, the Neo-Babylonian king covered the walls with vibrantly colorful motifs instead of victorious battles. He also surrounded the city with a wall wide enough to drive a chariot on it.
Although clay tablets from Nebuchadnezzar II’s empire include many references to foreign captives (some of whom became quite wealthy) who came to live in Babylonia, very few of them were slaves.
*After King Solomon’s death in 930 BC, Israel split into two kingdoms, a southern kingdom called Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel. The latter was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian empire in 722 BC. Judah remained independent until 586 BC, when it was conquered by the Neo-Babylonian empire.
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