The history of Assyria differs greatly from the history of Babylonia. Babylonia was divided into numerous semi-independent regions and city-states. Its dynasties were usually shortlived. Assyria, by contrast, had unusually centralized government. Not more than two or three royal families dominated the life of the Empire for generations. Historians today assume that these contemporaneous dynasties succeeded one another. They place the kings of the city of Assur — the Ellasar of the Bible — immediately before the kings of Calah and Nineveh. Their assumption is based on the fact that the Dynasty of Assur is listed immediately before the kings of Calah. As in all the royal canons, the order in which dynasties appear does not prove they were necessarily successive. It indicates only that one line of kings may have begun earlier than another. This fact is admitted for much of early Babylonia, but adamently denied — without proof — when it comes to late Babylonian and Assyrian history. The kings of the city Assur were contemporary with Dynasties XVIII and XIX of Egypt. Hence they, too, must have ruled during the time of the kings of Israel and Judah — not in the time of the judges! Numerous letters of correspondence have been found in El-Amarneh, Egypt, that passed between these Assyrian kings and those of the Egyptian Empire. The Dynasty of Assur thus constituted a third contemporary royal line ruling Assyria from the twelfth to the seventh century before the present era. The following chart restores to their proper dates the Assur kings from Enlil-Nasir II to Enlil-kudur-usur, the last king of the city Assur.
Names of Kings Lengths of Reign Dates of the City Assur
(two preceding numbers lost)
Enlil-nasir (II) deposed his brother 6 930-924
Assur-nirari (II) 7 924-917
Assur-bel-nisheshu 9 917-908
Assur-rim-nisheshu 8 908-900
Assur-nadin-ahhe (II) 10 900-890
Eriba-Adad (I), son of 27 890-863 Assur-bel-nisheshu
Assur-uballit (I) 36 863-827
Enlil-nirari 10 827-817
Arik-den-ili 12 817-805
Adad-nirari (I), brother of Arik-den-ili 32 805-773
Shulmanu-asarid (Shalmaneser I) 30 773-743
Tukulti-Ninurta (I) 37 743-706
While Tukulti-Ninurta lived, 4 or 3 707-703 Assur-nadin-apli, his son, 706-703 seized the throne
Assur-nirari (III), son of Assur-nasir-apli 6 703-697
Enlil-kudur-usur, son of Tukulti-Ninurta (I) 5 697-692
The "Cambridge Ancient History" or any other reputable source will provide the information linking the reigns of these kings with their contemporaries in Egypt. The exact dates are determined as follows. Assur-uballit I was a contemporary of Akhenaton and Tutankhamen, and corresponded with both. In 930 a revolt occurred in the Calah line. In the preceding chart a revolt in 930 brought Enlil-nasir II to the throne. The line ceased in 692 when the last king was killed in a battle with the Kassites in Babylonia. The year 692 witnessed a great war in Babylonia which also involved Sennacherib, an Assyrian king of Nineveh (see the account in his annals).
The Kassite Dynasty
The Kassite Dynasty in the King List was inserted by the ancient scribes after Dynasty I of the Sealand and before Dynasty II of Isin (the Pashe Dynasty). This position proves only that it began after ,the Sealand Dynasty (1098), but before Dynasty II of Isin (879). It is known to have been contemporary with both these royal families, as well as the line of Hammurabi. Its kings ruled over Karduniash, a territory bordering on Babylon and the Sealand. The last king of the Assur dynasty of Assyria — Enlil-kudur-usur — died in the same battle in which a Kassite king fell. The year was 692. From this event the list of Kassite rulers of Southern Mesopotamia can be dated consecutively back to 845. Prior to that point the names and dates are broken away. A few contemporary tablets supply the missing names almost in entirety, but they cannot be dated.
Names of Kassite Lengths of Reign Dates Rulers from 845-692
Nazi-bugash comes to power during struggle in 846 when Kassites overthrow Eagamil of the First Dynasty of the Sealand.
Kurigalzu (the younger) 25 845-820
Nazi-maruttash 26 820-794
Kadashman-turgu 18 794-776
Kadashman-harbe 11 776-765
Kudur-enlil 9 765-756 (or 6) (765-759)
During the three years from 759-756 two other Kassite kings (listed next) came to the throne who were not sons of Kudur-enlil.
Thereafter the royal line of Kudur-enlil was restored.
Shagarakti-shuriash, son of 13 750-737 Kudur-enlil
Kashtiliash, son of 8 737-729 Shagarakti-shuriash
At this point there occurs a break in the history of the Kassite Dynasty. Tukulti-ninurta I occupied Babylon for seven years — 729-722. (observe that 729 is also the year that Tiglathpileser III "took the hands of Bel" and became king of Babylon.) An inscription of Tukulti-Ninurta I on a building informs us: "... I made ready to do battle with Kashtiliash, king of Karduniash, and brought about the overthrow of his host. His warriors I slew. In that encounter I took Kashtiliash prisoner. I trod upon his royal neck as on a footstool, naked and in bonds brought I him before Asshur my lord, Sumer and Akkad in their whole extent I brought under my power." Another document reads: "The defeat of Kashtiliash .... Tukulti-Ninurta turned back to Babylon ... he drew near, he wasted the wall of Babylon, he destroyed the Babylonians .... He set his governors over Karduniash. For seven years Tukulti-Ninurta ruled over Karduniash, thereafter the great ones of Akkad and Karduniash arose and made Adad-shumuli-nasir to sit upon his father's throne" (see pages 13-14 of Van der Meer's "Chronology of Ancient Western Asia").
Adad-shumuli-nasir 30 722-692
The period from Kudur-enlil to Adad-shumuli-nasir has not been properly understood by any modern authors. Van der Meer espouses one view; M. B. Rowton another in the "Revised Cambridge Ancient History", Vol. I, ch. IV. The Assyrian record proves that no Kassite rulers succeeded Kashtiliash until the reign of Adad-shumuli-nasir. Therefore the only place for the reigns of Enlil-nadin-shumi, Kadashman-harbe and Adad-nadin-shumi was at some previous period. Where that period occurred is revealed by the otherwise inexplicable difference in the length of reign of Kudur-enlil — 6 or 9 years. The Kassite king list does not place them in the actual order of their rule. It places the son and grandson of Kudur-enlil first because the scribe who drew up the document presented the kings in their blood relationship. His list of kings was not intended to be successive. After the year 692 four more Kassite kings came to the throne. They are as follows:
Kassites from 692-660 Lengths of Reign Dates
Melishipak 15 692-677
Marduk-aplaiddin, his son 13 677-664
Zababa-shumiddin 1 664-663
Ellil-nadin-ahhe 3 663-660
In 660 the Kassites — Cushites from the east — were overthrown in an Assyrian attack that carried Assyrian arms to the River Indus!
The Earliest Kassites
The Kassite kings make their first appearance in Southern Mesopotamia in year 8 of Samsu-iluna, son of Hammurabi. The event is commemorated in the "year-name" of year 9: "Year in which Samsu-iluna the king (defeated) the host of the Kassites." Year 8 is 1022-1021. (See p. 23 of Van der Meer's "Chronology of Ancient Western Asia".) The first Kassite kings are listed below:
Names of First Lengths of Reign Dates Kassite Kings
Gandhe (or Gandash) 16 1022-1006
Agum the First, son of Gandhe 12 1006-994 (or 22) 1006-984
Kashtiliash I 22 984-962
Ushshi 8 962-954
Though succeeding names are known, the years of reign are broken away. Now consider Agum I, who is variously assigned 12 or 22 years. Who was his contemporary after 12 years of reign? Here is the answer. The great-grandfather of the Assyrian king Enlilnasir II (930-924) was Puzur-Assur. The dates of Puzur-Assur's reign have not yet been presented. (Later it will be demonstrated that they fell from 994-980.) A contemporary of Puzur-Aggur III was the Kassite king Burnaburiash. A document naming them both reads: "Puzur-Assur, king of Assur, and Burnaburiash, king of Karduniash, took oath, they established the border of that region." (Page 19 of Van der Meer's "Chronology of Ancient Western Asia", second edition.) This Burnaburiash (probably an older brother of Kashtiliash I) was contemporary with the Kassite kings Agum I and Kashtiliash I. His reign must have begun in 994. For the 109 years between Ushshi (962-954) and Kurigalzu the Younger (845-820) only a bare outline of Kassite names is preserved. By a comparison with Egyptian and Assyrian and Babylonian history the Kassites can be associated with their contemporaries, though it is not always possible to determine which Kassite rulers were brothers, which sons. After Kashtiliash I (984-962) some lists place either Ushshi or Abirattash (who were apparently brothers). After Abirattash come either Kashtiliash II or Tazzigurumash (again probably older and younger sons of Abirattash). Inheritance of the Kassite line was passed first to brothers, then to sons. Following Tazzigurumash were Harbashipak, Tiptakzi and Agum II Kakrime, probably all brothers, since Agum II is known to be a son of Tazzigurumash. Agum II overthrew Babylon in 879, bringing to an end the First Dynasty of Babylon. (page 22 of Van der Meer's "Chronolgy of Ancient Western Asia"). No lineal descendants of Agum II are known. Agum II is the fifth generation after Gandhe in about a century and a quarter. The successor of Agum II was Burnaburiash II, who descended from a different line of Kassite kings. Burnaburiash II's long reign began in the closing years of the life of Amenhotpe III of Egypt and extended to the early years of Tut-ankhamen. (p. 17 of Van der Meer's publication). Burnaburiash's father was Kurigalzu I, a contemporary of Amenhotpe III. The two previous generations were Kadashman-harbe I and Karaindash I. Karaindash I, near the close of his life signed a treaty with Assur-bel-nisheshu (917-908). He also gave his daughter (a sister of Kadashman-harbe I) to Amen-hotpe III. Karaindash I was therefore of the generation of Thutmose IV of Egypt. The ancestry of Karaindash is not yet recovered. He may have been a descendant of Ushshi, brother of Abirattash. Burnaburiash II had three sons: Karaindash II, Ulamburiash and Kashtiliash III. Ulamburiash defeated Eagamil and conquered the Sealand in 846. Some years later the Sealand had to be reconquered by Agum III, a son of Kashtiliash III in a war which involved Nebuchadnezzar I, the king of Isin (847-825). A third son of Burnaburiash II was Karaindash II, who married the daughter of Assur-uballit of Assyria. Their son was Kadashman-harbe II (who was also named Karahardash in the Assyrian record). A rebellion broke out against Kadashman-harbe II. He was slain and a usurper, known by the names of Suzigash or Nazi-bugash, seized the throne. To avenge his grandson, Assuruballit (863-827) launched an attack on the Kassite realm. Upon the defeat and death of Nazi-bugash the throne was restored to Kurigalzu the Younger, a son of Kadashman-harbe II. This Kurigalzu has already been dated from the Kassite list as ruler from 845-820. Thus all 36 kings of the Kassites have been recovered from contemporary documents. Their government in Mesopotamia and Sumer extended from 1022-660, a period of 362 years. Because of numerous joint reigns with brothers, nephews and sons the total assigned to the Kassite kings in the King List is 576 years. There is no reason to dispute this figure, as many scholars have recently done. A final note of caution. None of the artificial lists of Kassite kings usually found in history textbooks is correct.
The First 1000 Years of Assyrian History
The complete line of kings from the city Assur has not yet been restored because the two predecessors of Enlil-nasir II have their regnal years broken away in every tablet thus far discovered.
The key to these missing years lies in the early history of Assyria preserved exclusively in classical Greek sources. The Greek historian Ctesias copied out of the annals in the Persian realm the ancient histories of Assyria and Media. Historians, since the advent of archaeology, have cast aside his records as worthless. They have found no evidence of the kings — but then they have found no written records of anything for that period. Mere lack of knowledge does not disprove the traditional record of history. In numerous cases the most important events of the past were carefully copied each generation on perishable materials — and later preserved in the classical writers. Witness the history of the Hebrews. The history of Palestine cannot be found on stone monuments or on clay tablets. It is to be found only in the pages of a Book, the Bible. The same is true of Assyria. The earliest ages have come down through royal annals only in the pages of books. Archaeology had nothing to say about the period other than confess its own ignorance! The most complete evidence for the early Assyrian kings may be found in "Fasti Hellenici the Civil and Literary Chronology of Greece", by Henry Fynes Clinton, vol. I, p. 267. Additional works include John Jackson's "Chronological Antiquities", vol. I, pp. 247-253. The classical records in Greek and Latin are reproduced in Dr. Alfred Schoene's "Eusebi Chronicorum", especially in the "Excerpta Latina Barbari." Compare these with Dr. Rudolf Helm's "Die Chronik des Hieronymus". Ctesias begins his consecutive history with the last 38 years (2006-1968) of the reign of Gilgamesh or Ninyas. Ninyas, it should be remembered, was the Assyrian name for Gilgamesh; Horus was his Egyptian. Ctesias does not preserve any record of the short period following the 42-year reign of Semiramis I (the Egyptian Isis) to the year 2006. This was the period of Median power in Babylonia. In his History, Ctesias noted that the Assyrian power endured 1306 years before the time of the Median revolt. It was exactly 1306 years between 2006 and 700, the year the Medes obtained their freedom from the Assyrians — only to lose it again to their own rulers! In the following chart all significant variants in names and figures are included.
Names of Assyrian Rulers Lengths of Reign Dates Preserved by Ctesias
Ninyas (Gilgamesh) 38 2006-1968
Arius (Arioch of Genesis 14) 30 1968-1938
(Note that the year 1938 also marked the death of Amraphel of Shinar, according to the king list of Erech. Thus archaeological and classical records confirm the date of Abram's slaughter of the kings as 1938.)
Aralius (Amyrus) 40 1938-1898
Xerxes (Balaeus) 30 1898-1868
Armamithres 38 1868-1830
Belochus 35 1830-1795
Balaeus 52 1795-1743
Sethos (Zaztagus, Altallus, or Altadas) 35 1743-1708
(The year 1650 marked a great Assyrian attempt to conquer India. The battle was fought in the winter of 1650-1649. Assyrian losses, together with those of their allies, were sufficient to change the balance of power in Babylonia in 1649. See the history of Indian and early Babylonia for that date.)
Mamylus 30 1628-1598
Sparaethus (Spartheus, or Spareus) 42 1598-1556
Ascatades 38 1556-1518
Amyntes 45 1518-1473
Belochus 25 1473-1448
Attosa (Semiramis II) 23 1448-1425
Beletares 34 1425-1391 or Belochus 45 1473-1428
Attosa (Semiramis II) 7 1428-1421
Beletares 30 1421-1391
(With Semiramis II the direct male line ceases. Beletares, the keeper of the royal gardens, comes to the throne, possibly through intermarriage with an heir of royal line.)
Lamprides 32 1391-1359
Sosares 20 1359-1339
Lampares 30 1339-1309
Panyas 45 1309-1264 (or 42) (1309-1267)
Sosarmus 19 1264-1245 (or 22) (1267-1245)
Mithraeus 35 1245-1210
Teutamus (Assyrian King during 32 1210-1178 the First Trojan War)
Teutaeus 44 1178-1134
Thinaeus 30 1134-1104
Dercylus 40 1104-1064
Empacmes 38 1064-1026
Laosthenes 45 1026-981
Pertiades 30 981-951
Ophrataeus 21 951-930
Ephecheres 52 930-878 (Ophratanes)
Acraganes 42 878-836
Thonos Concolerus 20 836-816
In 816 the Medes end the Assyrian dynasty. The king at this time was at his royal Palace at Rehoboth-Ir on the Euphrates (Genesis 36:37). A history of the Median kings who rode to prominence in 816 will be given in another section.
Analyzing the King List
Several unusual features, some not included in the preceding chart, are worth special study. First, consider king Sethos or Altadas (1743-1708). His reign, according to Syncellus, extended over half a century — 1758-1708. Why did he come to the throne about 1758 during the reign of Balaeus? Assyrian history is silent. But Egyptian history may reveal the answer. This was the time of King Senwosre III (the Sesostris of classical writers). Senwosre III had spent his first 19 years (1779-1760) in the subjugation of Ethiopia (Breasted's "Ancient Records", vol. I). He then set out to conquer all Asia. Manetho records that "in nine years he subdued the whole of Asia (meaning Western Asia), and Europe as far as Thrace." It is very probable that the year 1758 marks the conquest of Assyria by the Egyptian Pharaoh and the beginning of a joint reign in Assyria to stabilize the weakened monarchy. In Eusebius' account of Ctesias only 32 years (1740-1708) are assigned to Sethos or Altadas. As this king's reign is the only one in the early part of the list to vary so unusually, this figure too must have significance. As the sole reign of Senwosre III ended in 1741, it may well be that the year 1740 points up the regaining of independence from Egyptian overlordship. Now consider the reigns of Sosarmus (1267-1245) and Mithraeus (1245-1210). In the "Excerpta Barbara" king Sosarmus is assigned only 20 years (1267-1247). In Africanus his successor Mithraeus is given 37 years (1247-1210). What is especially significant is that Eusebius assigns only 27 years to Mithraeus (1247-1220).
Eusebius' figure cuts the reign of Mithraeus short by 10 years. What is the significance of his figure which ends the reign in 1220 instead of 1210? Herodotus answers the question! The year 1220 marks the beginning of 520 years of Assyrian hegemony over Upper Asia, ending in the year 700 at the Median revolt (Clio — I, sect. 95). The full significance of the year 1220 has not yet been exhausted. Syncellus' account of Ctesias includes four otherwise unknown Assyrian rulers who belong to a collateral dynasty. Their reigns total 162 years. No other writer includes them. Where should these kings be placed? Syncellus provides a clue. He placed this short dynasty at its midway point, opposite kings Teutaeus and Thinaeus. Its beginning would therefore be about 1220. Observe the missing link in Assyrian history when this short dynasty is properly placed beginning in 1220.
Contemporary Kings Lengths of Reign Dates of Assyria
(Mithraeus) 27 1247-1220
Arabelus 42 1220-1178
Chalaus 45 1178-1133
Anebus 38 1133-1095
Babius (or Tautamus II) 37 1095-1058
(What occurred in 1058? The answer is in the next line!)
Ninurta-apil-Ekur, son of 3 1058-1055, Ilu-ihadda, seized the throne etc.
From here on the kings of the Calah line continue until 621. Thus the four kings of Syncellus provide the missing link that unites the testimony of Herodotus with the list of Ctesias and the record of archaeology! To return to the history of Ctesias. For the three kings Teutamus, Teutaeus and Thinaeus (1210-1104) several transcribers of Ctesias provide shortened figures. Altogether, 6 years are deleted. Who came to power during those six missing years? In chart form the three reigns appear thus:
Did a new dynasty perhaps arise in the years 1179-1173? Was there a king who ruled 6 years at this period in Assyrian history? Indeed. These years witness the rise of the royal house of the city of Assur. Its first king, Assur-dugul, reigned 6 years. In his sixth year — 1174-1173 — some kind of internal catastrophy hit the city, for six kings came to the throne during the sixth and last year of Assur-dugul. Was there a special event that befell Mesopotamia in the year 1174-1173?
The year 1174-1173 was the first year of king Sumu-abum of the First Dynasty of Babylon: Heretofore no parallel event could account for the sudden appearance of government at Babylon in 1174. A major revolution in Assyria would have been necessary to allow a rival power to rise in the city Babylon, which had had no political power since the days of Nimrod. With this period as a starting point it is now possible to complete the list of kings of the city Assur and fill in the sum of the two missing reigns.
Kings of the City Assur Lengths of Reign Dates
Assur-dugul, "son of a 'nobody'" 6 1179-1173
Assur-apla-idi, "son of a 'nobody'";
Nasir-Sin, "son of a 'nobody'":
Sin-namir, "son of a 'nobody'": "together exercised sovereignty for a Ipqi-Istar, "son of a 'nobody'"; BAB TUPPISU", that is, the remainder of Adad-salulu, "son of a 'nobody''; an official year
and Adasi, "son of a 'nobody'" 1174-1173
Belu-bani, son of Adasi 10 1173-1163
Libaiiu 17 1163-1146
Sarma-Adad (I) 12 1146-1134
En-tar-Sin, son of Sarma-Adad 12 1134-1122
Bazzaiiu, son of Belu-bani 28 1122-1094
Lullaiiu, "son of a 'nobody"' 6 1094-1088
Su-Ninua, son of Bazzaiiu 14 1088-1074
Sarma-Adad, son of Su-Ninua 3 1074-1071
Erisu, son of Su-Ninua 13 1071-1058
Samsi-Adad, son of Erisu 6 1058-1052
Isme-Dasan, son of Samsi-Adad 16 1052-1036
Samsi-Adad, son of Isme-Dasan, son of Su-Ninua 16 1036-1020
Assur-nerari, son of Isme-Dasan 26 1020- 994
Puzur-Assur, son of Assur-nerari 14 994- 980
Enlil-nasir, son of Puzur-Assur 13 980- 967
Nur-ili, son of Enlil-nasir 12 967- 955
Assur-saduni, son of Nur-ili 1 month 955
Assur-rabi (I), son of Enlil nasir, deposed Assur-saduni, and seized the throne — —
Assur-nadin-ahhe (I), son of Assur-rabi (I) — —
Enlil-nasir (II) deposed his brother Assur-nadin-ahhe 6 930-924, etc.
The lengths of the reigns of Assur-rabi and Assur-nadin-ahhe are broken away on every document. But the preceding restoration of contemporary history supplies the total length of the missing figures — 25 years (955-930) — a very reasonable figure for the passage of one generation. The reigns of Enlil-nasir and his successors to 692 have been presented in a former section. With this chart the restoration of Assyrian history is complete for all datable reigns. The next chapter will connect the history of Media, India and Japan with the Assyrian Empire and with famous Queen Semiramis III, the thrice-born "Queen of Heaven."