History of Neo-Assyrian - Part 5


Egypt - the final show down

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Sennacherib was succeeded by Esarhadden who ruled from 680 - 669 BC. In 674 BC Esarhadden made a peace treaty with Elam so settling a long standing dispute over Assyrians Eastern border. This freed up military forces and in 674 BC Esarhadden took advantage of the fragmentation of Egypt to attack it but was unsuccessful on his first attempt. In 671 BC Esarhadden conquered the Phoenician City of Sidon “I besieged, I captured, I plundered, I destroyed, I devastated, I burned with fire. I hung the heads of the kings upon the shoulders of their nobles and with singing and music I paraded.”


He then attacked Tyre whose king “had put his trust in his friend Tirhakah (Tarku), king of Ethiopia.” He “threw up earthworks against the city,” captured it, and made a vassal of its king Ba’lu. The taking of Sidon secured his flanks and assured that he would not be attacked from the rear during his surprise assault on Egypt.


Esarhadden marched his army into the desert “where serpents and scorpions cover the plain like ants.” With the help of Arabs his army attacked the Nile Delta from the desert and completely took the Egyptians by surprise. Esarhadden occupied northern Egypt for the first time in its long history.


Esarhadden wrote; “From the town of Ishupri as far as Memphis, his royal residence, a distance of fifteen days march, I fought daily, without interruption, very bloody battles against Tirhakah, king of Egypt and Ethiopia, the one accursed by all the great gods. Five times I hit him with the point of my arrows, inflicting wounds from which he should not recover, and then I laid siege to Memphis, his royal residence, and conquered it in half a day by means of mines, breaches, and assault ladders; I destroyed it, tore down its walls, and burned it down.” (The Sendjirli Stele, translated by Luckenbill, Records of Assyria, II. 580).


In other Esarhadden inscriptions he continues; “I entered Memphis, his royal residence, amidst jubilation and rejoicing. Upon the Sad alum, which was plated with gold, I sat down in happiness. ?? Weapons, a nandti of gold, silver, plates of ?? Afterwards, I entered ?? and his palace, the gods and goddesses of Taharqo, king of Nubia, together with their possessions ?? I declared as booty.” (?? marks illegible script)


“His queen, the female servants of his court, Ušanahuru, the heir to his throne, ...-miri, his court officials, ... his possessions, his ...s inlaid with precious stones, ivory, wooden ..., the plating of which is of gold, their faucets of ... other utensils of gold, silver, ...-stone, ... whatever was in the palace, which had no equal in Assyria and was artfully constructed. And I also opened the chests, the baskets and the ... in which were stored the tribute of his kingdom.”


“All Ethiopians I deported from Egypt, leaving not even one to do homage to me. Everywhere in Egypt I appointed new kings, governors, officers.”


“I conquered Egypt, Upper Egypt, and Ethiopia (Musur, Patursi, and Kusi). Tirhakah (Taharqa or Taharqa), its king, five times I fought with him with my javelin, and I brought all of his land under my sway, I ruled it.”


These inscriptions describe the administration the Assyrians imposed on Egypt as well as the governors appointed to rule Egypt. This was a flimsy administration though which did not hold against the Nubian elite that still lived in Egypt. Esarhadden's successor Ashurbanipal, 668 – 627 BC, had to send armies to invade Egypt two times more to impose any for of Assyrian rule. In the process Ashurbanipal, who was famed for his cruelty in war, ordered his army to inflicted the worst destruction on Egypt that it had ever experienced. Unlike Esarhadden, Ashurbanipal did not lead the armies himself but sent orders from his Palace of Nineveh. Scripts have revealed that the first invasion of Egypt that Ashurbanipal ordered was to put down an attempt of Taharqa to retake the throne of Egypt, and the second was to put down a rebellious Egyptian vassals who tried to take advantage of the power vacuum caused by the war between Ashurbanipal and the Nubian Taharqa.


The second of Ashurbanipal's campaigns in Egypt was against Nubian King Tantamani, nephew of Taharqa, which led to the sacking of Thebes in 664 BC.


According to the Rassam cylinder inscriptions Ashurbanipal claimed; “In my second campaign I made straight for Egypt and Ethiopia. Tantamani heard of the advance of my army and that I was invading the territory of Egypt. He forsook Memphis and fled to save his life”. The extent of the destruction at Thebes is unknown but because the Egyptians were rebelling it would have been Assyrian practise to cause extensive damage. Also it would have been Assyrian practise to remove statue of their conquered enemies Gods, in this case the statue of Amun from Karnak, and have it sent to Nineveh. 664 BC was to be the last time the Assyrians attacked Egypt.


The Assyrians appointed a puppet ruler, Psamtik I (Psammetichus I) to rule over Egypt and Nekho so founding the Sais 26 th Dynasty of Egypt that ruled until it fell to the Persians. For 10 years Egypt was at peace with Assyria who benefitted from the trade that generated. Ten years later the puppet ruler Psamtik I rebelled against his Assyrian over lords and gained independence for Egypt again. Ashurbanipal was occupied by conflicts with Elam and Babylon again and could spare troops to regain Egypt.





Related MuseoPics Pages


Assyrian history In the Begining Sam'al Hittite Artefacts Relief Sculptures History of the Old Assyrian Kingdom History of the Middle Assyrian Kingdom History of the Neo-Assyrians History of Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal-II History of Assyrian King Sargon II History of Assyrian King Senacherib & Nineveh History of Assyrian Warefare & Military Army History of Assyrian Warefare & Military Army History of the downfall of the Assyrian Empire History of the Assyrian Palace at Ninevah, Kalha History of the Assyrian Palace at Dur Sharrukin History of the Assyrian Palace at Neneveh




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