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The Ancient East by D. G. Hogarth

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No. 92





D. G. HOGARTH, M.A., F.B.A., F.S.A.




















The title of this book needs a word of explanation, since each of its
terms can legitimately be used to denote more than one conception both
of time and place. "The East" is understood widely and vaguely nowadays
to include all the continent and islands of Asia, some part of
Africa--the northern part where society and conditions of life are most
like the Asiatic--and some regions also of South-Eastern and Eastern
Europe. Therefore it may appear arbitrary to restrict it in the present
book to Western Asia. But the qualifying term in my title must be
invoked in justification. It is the East not of to-day but of antiquity
with which I have to deal, and, therefore, I plead that it is not
unreasonable to understand by "The East" what in antiquity European
historians understood by that term. To Herodotus and his contemporary
Greeks Egypt, Arabia and India were the South; Thrace and Scythia were
the North; and Hither Asia was the East: for they conceived nothing
beyond except the fabled stream of Ocean. It can be pleaded also that my
restriction, while not in itself arbitrary, does, in fact, obviate an
otherwise inevitable obligation to fix arbitrary bounds to the East. For
the term, as used in modern times, implies a geographical area
characterized by society of a certain general type, and according to his
opinion of this type, each person, who thinks or writes of the East,
expands or contracts its geographical area.

It is more difficult to justify the restriction which will be imposed in
the following chapters on the word Ancient. This term is used even more
vaguely and variously than the other. If generally it connotes the
converse of "Modern," in some connections and particularly in the study
of history the Modern is not usually understood to begin where the
Ancient ended but to stand only for the comparatively Recent. For
example, in History, the ill-defined period called the Middle and Dark
Ages makes a considerable hiatus before, in the process of
retrospection, we get back to a civilization which (in Europe at least)
we ordinarily regard as Ancient. Again, in History, we distinguish
commonly two provinces within the undoubted area of the Ancient, the
Prehistoric and the Historic, the first comprising all the time to which
human memory, as communicated by surviving literature, ran not, or, at
least, not consciously, consistently and credibly. At the same time it
is not implied that we can have no knowledge at all of the Prehistoric
province. It may even be better known to us than parts of the Historic,
through sure deduction from archaeological evidence. But what we learn
from archaeological records is annalistic not historic, since such
records have not passed through the transforming crucible of a human
intelligence which reasons on events as effects of causes. The boundary
between Prehistoric and Historic, however, depends too much on the
subjectivity of individual historians and is too apt to vary with the
progress of research to be a fixed moment. Nor can it be the same for
all civilizations. As regards Egypt, for example, we have a body of
literary tradition which can reasonably be called Historic, relating to
a time much earlier than is reached by respectable literary tradition of
Elam and Babylonia, though their civilizations were probably older than
the Egyptian.

For the Ancient East as here understood, we possess two bodies of
historic literary tradition and two only, the Greek and the Hebrew; and
as it happens, both (though each is independent of the other) lose
consistency and credibility when they deal with history before 1000 B.C.
Moreover, Prof. Myres has covered the prehistoric period in the East in
his brilliant _Dawn of History_. Therefore, on all accounts, in treating
of the historic period, I am absolved from looking back more than a
thousand years before our era.

It is not so obvious where I may stop. The overthrow of Persia by
Alexander, consummating a long stage in a secular contest, which it is
my main business to describe, marks an epoch more sharply than any other
single event in the history of the Ancient East. But there are grave
objections to breaking off abruptly at that date. The reader can hardly
close a book which ends then, with any other impression than that since
the Greek has put the East under his feet, the history of the centuries,
which have still to elapse before Rome shall take over Asia, will simply
be Greek history writ large--the history of a Greater Greece which has
expanded over the ancient East and caused it to lose its distinction
from the ancient West. Yet this impression does not by any means
coincide with historical truth. The Macedonian conquest of Hither Asia
was a victory won by men of Greek civilization, but only to a very
partial extent a victory of that civilization. The West did not
assimilate the East except in very small measure then, and has not
assimilated it in any very large measure to this day. For certain
reasons, among which some geographical facts--the large proportion of
steppe-desert and of the human type which such country breeds--are
perhaps the most powerful, the East is obstinately unreceptive of
western influences, and more than once it has taken its captors captive.
Therefore, while, for the sake of convenience and to avoid entanglement
in the very ill-known maze of what is called "Hellenistic" history, I
shall not attempt to follow the consecutive course of events after 330
B.C., I propose to add an epilogue which may prepare readers for what
was destined to come out of Western Asia after the Christian era, and
enable them to understand in particular the religious conquest of the
West by the East. This has been a more momentous fact in the history of
the world than any political conquest of the East by the West.

* * * * *

In the further hope of enabling readers to retain a clear idea of the
evolution of the history, I have adopted the plan of looking out over
the area which is here called the East, at certain intervals, rather
than the alternative and more usual plan of considering events
consecutively in each several part of that area. Thus, without
repetition and overlapping, one may expect to convey a sense of the
history of the whole East as the sum of the histories of particular
parts. The occasions on which the surveys will be taken are purely
arbitrary chronological points two centuries apart. The years 1000, 800,
600, 400 B.C. are not, any of them, distinguished by known events of the
kind that is called epoch-making; nor have round numbers been chosen for
any peculiar historic significance. They might just as well have been
1001, 801 and so forth, or any other dates divided by equal intervals.
Least of all is any mysterious virtue to be attached to the millenary
date with which I begin. But it is a convenient starting-point, not only
for the reason already stated, that Greek literary memory--the only
literary memory of antiquity worth anything for early history--goes back
to about that date; but also because the year 1000 B.C. falls within a
period of disturbance during which certain racial elements and groups,
destined to exert predominant influence on subsequent history, were
settling down into their historic homes.

A westward and southward movement of peoples, caused by some obscure
pressure from the north-west and north-east, which had been disturbing
eastern and central Asia Minor for more than a century and apparently
had brought to an end the supremacy of the Cappadocian Hatti, was
quieting down, leaving the western peninsula broken up into small
principalities. Indirectly the same movement had brought about a like
result in northern Syria. A still more important movement of Iranian
peoples from the farther East had ended in the coalescence of two
considerable social groups, each containing the germs of higher
development, on the north-eastern and eastern fringes of the old
Mesopotamian sphere of influence. These were the Medic and the Persian.
A little earlier, a period of unrest in the Syrian and Arabian deserts,
marked by intermittent intrusions of nomads into the western
fringe-lands, had ended in the formation of new Semitic states in all
parts of Syria from Shamal in the extreme north-west (perhaps even from
Cilicia beyond Amanus) to Hamath, Damascus and Palestine. Finally there
is this justification for not trying to push the history of the Asiatic
East much behind 1000 B.C.--that nothing like a sure chronological basis
of it exists before that date. Precision in the dating of events in West
Asia begins near the end of the tenth century with the Assyrian Eponym
lists, that is, lists of annual chief officials; while for Babylonia
there is no certain chronology till nearly two hundred years later. In
Hebrew history sure chronological ground is not reached till the
Assyrian records themselves begin to touch upon it during the reign of
Ahab over Israel. For all the other social groups and states of Western
Asia we have to depend on more or less loose and inferential
synchronisms with Assyrian, Babylonian or Hebrew chronology, except for
some rare events whose dates may be inferred from the alien histories of
Egypt and Greece.

* * * * *

The area, whose social state we shall survey in 1000 B.C. and re-survey
at intervals, contains Western Asia bounded eastwards by an imaginary
line drawn from the head of the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea. This
line, however, is not to be drawn rigidly straight, but rather should
describe a shallow outward curve, so as to include in the Ancient East
all Asia situated on this side of the salt deserts of central Persia.
This area is marked off by seas on three sides and by desert on the
fourth side. Internally it is distinguished into some six divisions
either by unusually strong geographical boundaries or by large
differences of geographical character. These divisions are as follows--

(1) A western peninsular projection, bounded by seas on three sides and
divided from the rest of the continent by high and very broad mountain
masses, which has been named, not inappropriately, _Asia Minor_, since
it displays, in many respects, an epitome of the general characteristics
of the continent. (2) A tangled mountainous region filling almost all
the rest of the northern part of the area and sharply distinct in
character not only from the plateau land of Asia Minor to the west but
also from the great plain lands of steppe character lying to the south,
north and east. This has perhaps never had a single name, though the
bulk of it has been included in "Urartu" (Ararat), "Armenia" or
"Kurdistan" at various epochs; but for convenience we shall call it
_Armenia_. (3) A narrow belt running south from both the former
divisions and distinguished from them by much lower general elevation.
Bounded on the west by the sea and on the south and east by broad tracts
of desert, it has, since Greek times at least, been generally known as
_Syria_. (4) A great southern peninsula largely desert, lying high and
fringed by sands on the land side, which has been called, ever since
antiquity, _Arabia_. (5) A broad tract stretching into the continent
between Armenia and Arabia and containing the middle and lower basins of
the twin rivers, Euphrates and Tigris, which, rising in Armenia, drain
the greater part of the whole area. It is of diversified surface,
ranging from sheer desert in the west and centre, to great fertility in
its eastern parts; but, until it begins to rise northward towards the
frontier of "Armenia" and eastward towards that of the sixth division,
about to be described, it maintains a generally low elevation. No common
name has ever included all its parts, both the interfluvial region and
the districts beyond Tigris; but since the term _Mesopotamia_, though
obviously incorrect, is generally understood nowadays to designate it,
this name may be used for want of a better. (6) A high plateau, walled
off from Mesopotamia and Armenia by high mountain chains, and extending
back to the desert limits of the Ancient East. To this region, although
it comprises only the western part of what should be understood by
_Iran_, this name may be appropriated "without prejudice."




In 1000 B.C. West Asia was a mosaic of small states and contained, so
far as we know, no imperial power holding wide dominion over aliens.
Seldom in its history could it so be described. Since it became
predominantly Semitic, over a thousand years before our survey, it had
fallen under simultaneous or successive dominations, exercised from at
least three regions within itself and from one without.


The earliest of these centres of power to develop foreign empire was
also that destined, after many vicissitudes, to hold it latest, because
it was the best endowed by nature to repair the waste which empire
entails. This was the region which would be known later as Babylonia
from the name of the city which in historic times dominated it, but, as
we now know, was neither an early seat of power nor the parent of its
distinctive local civilization. This honour, if due to any one city,
should be credited to Ur, whose also was the first and the only truly
"Babylonian" empire. The primacy of Babylonia had not been the work of
its aboriginal Sumerian population, the authors of what was highest in
the local culture, but of Semitic intruders from a comparatively
barbarous region; nor again, had it been the work of the earliest of
these intruders (if we follow those who now deny that the dominion of
Sargon of Akkad and his son Naram-sin ever extended beyond the lower
basins of the Twin Rivers), but of peoples who entered with a second
series of Semitic waves. These surged out of Arabia, eternal motherland
of vigorous migrants, in the middle centuries of the third millennium
B.C. While this migration swamped South Syria with "Canaanites," it
ultimately gave to Egypt the Hyksos or "Shepherd Kings," to Assyria its
permanent Semitic population, and to Sumer and Akkad what later
chroniclers called the First Babylonian Dynasty. Since, however, those
Semitic interlopers had no civilization of their own comparable with
either the contemporary Egyptian or the Sumerian (long ago adopted by
earlier Semitic immigrants), they inevitably and quickly assimilated
both these civilizations as they settled down.

At the same time they did not lose, at least not in Mesopotamia, which
was already half Semitized, certain Bedawi ideas and instincts, which
would profoundly affect their later history. Of these the most important
historically was a religious idea which, for want of a better term, may
be called Super-Monotheism. Often found rooted in wandering peoples and
apt long to survive their nomadic phase, it consists in a belief that,
however many tribal and local gods there may be, one paramount deity
exists who is not only singular and indivisible but dwells in one spot,
alone on earth. His dwelling may be changed by a movement of his people
_en masse_, but by nothing less; and he can have no real rival in
supreme power. The fact that the paramount Father-God of the Semites
came through that migration _en masse_ to take up his residence in
Babylon and in no other city of the wide lands newly occupied, caused
this city to retain for many centuries, despite social and political
changes, a predominant position not unlike that to be held by Holy Rome
from the Dark Ages to modern times.

Secondly the Arabs brought with them their immemorial instinct of
restlessness. This habit also is apt to persist in a settled society,
finding satisfaction in annual recourse to tent or hut life and in
annual predatory excursions. The custom of the razzia or summer raid,
which is still obligatory in Arabia on all men of vigour and spirit, was
held in equal honour by the ancient Semitic world. Undertaken as a
matter of course, whether on provocation or not, it was the origin and
constant spring of those annual marches to the frontiers, of which royal
Assyrian monuments vaingloriously tell us, to the exclusion of almost
all other information. Chederlaomer, Amraphel and the other three kings
were fulfilling their annual obligation in the Jordan valley when Hebrew
tradition believed that they met with Abraham; and if, as seems agreed,
Amraphel was Hammurabi himself, that tradition proves the custom of the
razzia well established under the First Babylonian Dynasty.

Moreover, the fact that these annual campaigns of Babylonian and
Assyrian kings were simply Bedawi razzias highly organized and on a
great scale should be borne in mind when we speak of Semitic "empires,"
lest we think too territorially. No permanent organization of
territorial dominion in foreign parts was established by Semitic rulers
till late in Assyrian history. The earlier Semitic overlords, that is,
all who preceded Ashurnatsirpal of Assyria, went a-raiding to plunder,
assault, destroy, or receive submissive payments, and their ends
achieved, returned, without imposing permanent garrisons of their own
followers, permanent viceroys, or even a permanent tributary burden, to
hinder the stricken foe from returning to his own way till his turn
should come to be raided again. The imperial blackmailer had possibly
left a record of his presence and prowess on alien rocks, to be defaced
at peril when his back was turned; but for the rest only a sinister
memory. Early Babylonian and Early Assyrian "empire," therefore, meant,
territorially, no more than a geographical area throughout which an
emperor could, and did, raid without encountering effective opposition.

Nevertheless, such constant raiding on a great scale was bound to
produce some of the fruits of empire, and by its fruits, not its
records, we know most surely how far Babylonian Empire had made itself
felt. The best witnesses to its far-reaching influence are first, the
Babylonian element in the Hittite art of distant Asia Minor, which shows
from the very first (so far as we know it, i.e. from at least 1500 B.C.)
that native artists were hardly able to realize any native ideas without
help from Semitic models; and secondly, the use of Babylonian writing
and language and even Babylonian books by the ruling classes in Asia
Minor and Syria at a little later time. That governors of Syrian cities
should have written their official communications to Pharaohs of the
Eighteenth Dynasty in Babylonian cuneiform (as the archives found at
Amarna in Upper Egypt twenty years ago show us they did) had already
afforded such conclusive proof of early and long maintained Babylonian
influence, that the more recent discovery that Hittite lords of
Cappadocia used the same script and language for diplomatic purposes has
hardly surprised us.

It has been said already that Babylonia was a region so rich and
otherwise fortunate that empire both came to it earlier and stayed later
than in the other West Asian lands which ever enjoyed it at all. When we
come to take our survey of Western Asia in 400 B.C. we shall see an
emperor still ruling it from a throne set in the lower Tigris basin,
though not actually in Babylon. But for certain reasons Babylonian
empire never endured for any long period continuously. The aboriginal
Akkadian and Sumerian inhabitants were settled, cultivated and home
keeping folk, while the establishment of Babylonian empire had been the
work of more vigorous intruders. These, however, had to fear not only
the imperfect sympathy of their own aboriginal subjects, who again and
again gathered their sullen forces in the "Sea Land" at the head of the
Persian Gulf and attacked the dominant Semites in the rear, but also
incursions of fresh strangers; for Babylonia is singularly open on all
sides. Accordingly, revolts of the "Sea Land" folk, inrushing hordes
from Arabia, descents of mountain warriors from the border hills of Elam
on the south-eastern edge of the twin river basin, pressure from the
peoples of more invigorating lands on the higher Euphrates and
Tigris--one, or more than one such danger ever waited on imperial
Babylon and brought her low again and again. A great descent of Hatti
raiders from the north about 1800 B.C. seems to have ended the imperial
dominion of the First Dynasty. On their retirement Babylonia, falling
into weak native hands, was a prey to a succession of inroads from the
Kassite mountains beyond Elam, from Elam itself, from the growing
Semitic power of Asshur, Babylon's former vassal, from the Hittite
Empire founded in Cappadocia about 1500 B.C., from the fresh wave of
Arabian overflow which is distinguished as the Aramaean, and from yet
another following it, which is usually called Chaldaean; and it was not
till almost the close of the twelfth century that one of these intruding
elements attained sufficient independence and security of tenure to
begin to exalt Babylonia again into a mistress of foreign empire. At
that date the first Nebuchadnezzar, a part of whose own annals has been
recovered, seems to have established overlordship in some part of
Mediterranean Asia--_Martu_, the West Land; but this empire perished
again with its author. By 1000 B.C. Babylon was once more a small state
divided against itself and threatened by rivals in the east and the


During the long interval since the fall of the First Babylonian Dynasty,
however, Western Asia had not been left masterless. Three other imperial
powers had waxed and waned in her borders, of which one was destined to
a second expansion later on. The earliest of these to appear on the
scene established an imperial dominion of a kind which we shall not
observe again till Asia falls to the Greeks; for it was established in
Asia by a non-Asiatic power. In the earlier years of the fifteenth
century a Pharaoh of the strong Eighteenth Dynasty, Thothmes III, having
overrun almost all Syria up to Carchemish on the Euphrates, established
in the southern part of that country an imperial organization which
converted his conquests for a time into provincial dependencies of
Egypt. Of the fact we have full evidence in the archives of Thothmes'
dynastic successors, found by Flinders Petrie at Amarna; for they
include many reports from officials and client princes in Palestine and

If, however, the word empire is to be applied (as in fact we have
applied it in respect of early Babylonia) to a sphere of habitual
raiding, where the exclusive right of one power to plunder is
acknowledged implicitly or explicitly by the raided and by surrounding
peoples, this "Empire" of Egypt must both be set back nearly a hundred
years before Thothmes III and also be credited with wider limits than
those of south Syria. Invasions of Semitic Syria right up to the
Euphrates were first conducted by Pharaohs in the early part of the
sixteenth century as a sequel to the collapse of the power of the
Semitic "Hyksos" in Egypt. They were wars partly of revenge, partly of
natural Egyptian expansion into a neighbouring fertile territory, which
at last lay open, and was claimed by no other imperial power, while the
weak Kassites ruled Babylon, and the independence of Assyria was in
embryo. But the earlier Egyptian armies seem to have gone forth to Syria
simply to ravage and levy blackmail. They avoided all fenced places, and
returned to the Nile leaving no one to hold the ravaged territory. No
Pharaoh before the successor of Queen Hatshepsut made Palestine and
Phoenicia his own. It was Thothmes III who first reduced such
strongholds as Megiddo, and occupied the Syrian towns up to Arvad on the
shore and almost to Kadesh inland--he who by means of a few forts,
garrisoned perhaps by Egyptian or Nubian troops and certainly in some
instances by mercenaries drawn from Mediterranean islands and coasts, so
kept the fear of himself in the minds of native chiefs that they paid
regular tribute to his collectors and enforced the peace of Egypt on all
and sundry Hebrews and Amorites who might try to raid from east or

In upper Syria, however, he and his successors appear to have attempted
little more than Thothmes I had done, that is to say, they made
periodical armed progresses through the fertile parts, here and there
taking a town, but for the most part taking only blackmail. Some strong
places, such as Kadesh, it is probable they never entered at all. Their
raids, however, were frequent and effective enough for all Syria to come
to be regarded by surrounding kings and kinglets as an Egyptian sphere
of influence within which it was best to acknowledge Pharaoh's rights
and to placate him by timely presents. So thought and acted the kings of
Mitanni across Euphrates, the kings of Hatti beyond Taurus, and the
distant Iranians of the Kassite dynasty in Babylonia.

Until the latter years of Thothmes' third successor, Amenhetep III, who
ruled in the end of the fifteenth century and the first quarter of the
fourteenth, the Egyptian peace was observed and Pharaoh's claim to Syria
was respected. Moreover, an interesting experiment appears to have been
made to tighten Egypt's hold on her foreign province. Young Syrian
princes were brought for education to the Nile, in the hope that when
sent back to their homes they would be loyal viceroys of Pharaoh: but
the experiment seems to have produced no better ultimate effect than
similar experiments tried subsequently by imperial nations from the
Romans to ourselves.


Beyond this conception of imperial organization the Egyptians never
advanced. Neither effective military occupation nor effective
administration of Syria by an Egyptian military or civil staff was so
much as thought of. Traces of the cultural influence of Egypt on the
Syrian civilization of the time (so far as excavation has revealed its
remains) are few and far between; and we must conclude that the number
of genuine Egyptians who resided in, or even passed through, the Asiatic
province was very small. Unadventurous by nature, and disinclined to
embark on foreign trade, the Nilots were content to leave Syria in
vicarious hands, so they derived some profit from it. It needed,
therefore, only the appearance of some vigorous and numerous tribe in
the province itself, or of some covetous power on its borders, to end
such an empire. Both had appeared before Amenhetep's death--the Amorites
in mid Syria, and a newly consolidated Hatti power on the confines of
the north. The inevitable crisis was met with no new measures by his
son, the famous Akhenaten, and before the middle of the fourteenth
century the foreign empire of Egypt had crumbled to nothing but a sphere
of influence in southernmost Palestine, having lasted, for better or
worse, something less than two hundred years. It was revived, indeed, by
the kings of the Dynasty succeeding, but had even less chance of
duration than of old. Rameses II, in dividing it to his own great
disadvantage with the Hatti king by a Treaty whose provisions are known
to us from surviving documents of both parties, confessed Egyptian
impotence to make good any contested claim; and by the end of the
thirteenth century the hand of Pharaoh was withdrawn from Asia, even
from that ancient appanage of Egypt, the peninsula of Sinai. Some
subsequent Egyptian kings would make raids into Syria, but none was
able, or very desirous, to establish there a permanent Empire.



The empire which pressed back the Egyptians is the last but one which we
have to consider before 1000 B.C. It has long been known that the
Hittites, variously called _Kheta_ by Egyptians and _Heth_ or _Hatti_ by
Semites and by themselves, developed into a power in westernmost Asia at
least as early as the fifteenth century; but it was not until their
cuneiform archives were discovered in 1907 at Boghazkeui in northern
Cappadocia that the imperial nature of their power, the centre from
which it was exerted, and the succession of the rulers who wielded it
became clear. It will be remembered that a great Hatti raid broke the
imperial sway of the First Babylonian Dynasty about 1800 B.C. Whence
those raiders came we have still to learn. But, since a Hatti people,
well enough organized to invade, conquer and impose its garrisons, and
(much more significant) its own peculiar civilization, on distant
territories, was seated at Boghazkeui (it is best to use this modern
name till better assured of an ancient one) in the fifteenth century, we
may reasonably believe Eastern Asia Minor to have been the homeland of
the Hatti three centuries before. As an imperial power they enter
history with a king whom his own archives name Subbiluliuma (but
Egyptian records, Sapararu), and they vanish something less than two
centuries later. The northern half of Syria, northern Mesopotamia, and
probably almost all Asia Minor were conquered by the Hatti before 1350
B.C. and rendered tributary; Egypt was forced out of Asia; the Semitic
settlements on the twin rivers and the tribes in the desert were
constrained to deference or defence. A century and a half later the
Hatti had returned into a darkness even deeper than that from which they
emerged. The last king of Boghazkeui, of whose archives any part has
come to light, is one Arnaunta, reigning in the end of the thirteenth
century. He may well have had successors whose documents may yet be
found; but on the other hand, we know from Assyrian annals, dated only a
little later, that a people, possibly kin to the Hatti and certainly
civilized by them, but called by another name, Mushkaya or Mushki (we
shall say more of them presently), overran most, if not all, the Hatti
realm by the middle of the twelfth century. And since, moreover, the
excavated ruins at both Boghazkeui, the capital of the Hatti, and
Carchemish, their chief southern dependency, show unmistakable signs of
destruction and of a subsequent general reconstruction, which on
archaeological grounds must be dated not much later than Arnaunta's
time, it seems probable that the history of Hatti empire closed with
that king. What happened subsequently to surviving detachments of this
once imperial people and to other communities so near akin by blood or
civilization, that the Assyrians, when speaking generally of western
foes or subjects, long continued to call them Hatti, we shall consider


Remains Assyria, which before 1000 B.C. had twice conquered an empire of
the same kind as that credited to the First Babylonian Dynasty and twice
recoiled. The early Assyrian expansions are, historically, the most
noteworthy of the early West Asian Empires because, unlike the rest,
they were preludes to an ultimate territorial overlordship which would
come nearer to anticipating Macedonian and Roman imperial systems than
any others precedent. Assyria, rather than Babylon or Egypt, heads the
list of aspirants to the Mastership of the World.

There will be so much to say of the third and subsequent expansion of
Assyria, that her earlier empires may be passed over briefly. The middle
Tigris basin seems to have received a large influx of Semites of the
Canaanitic wave at least as early as Babylonia, and thanks to various
causes--to the absence of a prior local civilization as advanced as the
Sumerian, to greater distance from such enterprising fomenters of
disturbance as Elam and Arabia, and to a more invigorating
climate--these Semites settled down more quickly and thoroughly into an
agricultural society than the Babylonians and developed it in greater
purity. Their earliest social centre was Asshur in the southern part of
their territory. There, in proximity to Babylonia, they fell inevitably
under the domination of the latter; but after the fall of the First
Dynasty of Babylon and the subsequent decline of southern Semitic
vigour, a tendency manifested itself among the northern Semites to
develop their nationality about more central points. Calah, higher up
the river, replaced Asshur in the thirteenth century B.C., only to be
replaced in turn by Nineveh, a little further still upstream; and
ultimately Assyria, though it had taken its name from the southern city,
came to be consolidated round a north Mesopotamian capital into a power
able to impose vassalage on Babylon and to send imperial raiders to the
Mediterranean, and to the Great Lakes of Armenia. The first of her kings
to attain this sort of imperial position was Shalmaneser I, who early in
the thirteenth century B.C. appears to have crushed the last strength of
the north Mesopotamian powers of Mitanni and Khani and laid the way open
to the west lands. The Hatti power, however, tried hard to close the
passages and it was not until its catastrophe and the retirement of
those who brought it about--the Mushki and their allies--that about 1100
Tiglath Pileser I could lead his Assyrian raiders into Syria, and even,
perhaps, a short distance across Taurus. Why his empire died with him we
do not know precisely. A new invasion of Arabian Semites, the Aramaeans,
whom he attacked at Mt. Bishri (Tell Basher), may have been the cause.
But, in any case, the fact is certain. The sons of the great king, who
had reached Phoenician Aradus and there embarked vaingloriously on
shipboard to claim mastery of the Western Sea, were reduced to little
better than vassals of their father's former vassal, Babylon; and up to
the close of the eleventh century Assyria had not revived.


Thus in 1000 B.C., we look round the East, and, so far as our vision can
penetrate the clouds, see no one dominant power. Territories which
formerly were overridden by the greater states, Babylonia, Egypt,
Cappadocia and Assyria, seem to be not only self-governing but free from
interference, although the vanished empires and a recent great movement
of peoples have left them with altered political boundaries and
sometimes with new dynasties. None of the political units has a much
larger area than another, and it would not have been easy at the moment
to prophesy which, or if any one, would grow at the expense of the rest.

The great movement of peoples, to which allusion has just been made, had
been disturbing West Asia for two centuries. On the east, where the well
organized and well armed societies of Babylonia and Assyria offered a
serious obstacle to nomadic immigrants, the inflow had been pent back
beyond frontier mountains. But in the west the tide seems to have flowed
too strongly to be resisted by such force as the Hatti empire of
Cappadocia could oppose, and to have swept through Asia Minor even to
Syria and Mesopotamia. Records of Rameses III tell how a great host of
federated peoples appeared on the Asian frontier of Egypt very early in
the twelfth century. Among them marched men of the "Kheta" or Hatti, but
not as leaders. These strong foes and allies of Seti I and Rameses II,
not a century before, had now fallen from their imperial estate to
follow in the wake of newcomers, who had lately humbled them in their
Cappadocian home. The geographical order in which the scribes of Rameses
enumerated their conquests shows clearly the direction from which the
federals had come and the path they followed. In succession they had
devastated Hatti (i.e. Cappadocia), Kedi (i.e. Cilicia), Carchemish and
central Syria. Their victorious progress began, therefore, in northern
Asia Minor, and followed the great roads through the Cilician passes to
end at last on the very frontiers of Egypt. The list of these newcomers
has long interested historians; for outlandish as their names were to
Egyptians, they seem to our eyes not unfamiliar, and are possibly
travesties of some which are writ large on pages of later history. Such
are the Pulesti or Philistines, and a group hailing apparently from Asia
Minor and the Isles, Tjakaray, Shakalsha, Danaau and Washasha,
successors of Pisidian and other Anatolian allies of the Hittites in the
time of Rameses II, and of the Lycian, Achaean and Sardinian pirates
whom Egypt used sometimes to beat from her borders, sometimes to enlist
in her service. Some of these peoples, from whatever quarters they had
come, settled presently into new homes as the tide receded. The Pulesti,
if they were indeed the historic Philistines, stranded and stayed on the
confines of Egypt, retaining certain memories of an earlier state, which
had been theirs in some Minoan land. Since the Tjakaray and the Washasha
seem to have sprung from lands now reckoned in Europe, we may count this
occasion the first in history on which the west broke in force into the

Turn to the annals of Assyria and you will learn, from records of
Tiglath Pileser I, that this northern wave was followed up in the same
century by a second, which bore on its crest another bold horde from
Asia Minor. Its name, Mushki, we now hear for the first time, but shall
hear again in time to come. A remnant of this race would survive far
into historic times as the Moschi of Greek geographers, an obscure
people on the borders of Cappadocia and Armenia. But who precisely the
first Mushki were, whence they had originally come, and whither they
went when pushed back out of Mesopotamia, are questions still debated.
Two significant facts are known about their subsequent history; first,
that two centuries later than our date they, or some part of them, were
settled in Cappadocia, apparently rather in the centre and north of that
country than in the south: second, that at that same epoch and later
they had kings of the name Mita, which is thought to be identical with
the name Midas, known to early Greek historians as borne by kings of

Because of this last fact, the Mushki have been put down as
proto-Phrygians, risen to power after the fall of the Cappadocian Hatti.
This contention will be considered hereafter, when we reach the date of
the first known contact between Assyria and any people settled in
western Asia Minor. But meanwhile, let it be borne in mind that their
royal name Mita does not necessarily imply a connection between the
Mushki and Phrygia; for since the ethnic "Mitanni" of north Mesopotamia
means "Mita's men," that name must have long been domiciled much farther

On the whole, whatever their later story, the truth about the Mushki,
who came down into Syria early in the twelfth century and retired to
Cappadocia some fifty years later after crossing swords with Assyria, is
probably this--that they were originally a mountain people from northern
Armenia or the Caucasus, distinct from the Hatti, and that, having
descended from the north-east in a primitive nomadic state into the seat
of an old culture possessed by an enfeebled race, they adopted the
latter's civilization as they conquered it and settled down. But
probably they did not fix themselves definitely in Cappadocia till the
blow struck by Tiglath Pileser had checked their lust of movement and
weakened their confidence of victory. In any case, the northern storms
had subsided by 1000 B.C., leaving Asia Minor, Armenia and Syria
parcelled among many princes.


Had one taken ship with Achaeans or Ionians for the western coast of
Anatolia in the year 1000, one would have expected to disembark at or
near some infant settlement of men, not natives by extraction, but newly
come from the sea and speaking Greek or another Aegean tongue. These men
had ventured so far to seize the rich lands at the mouths of the long
Anatolian valleys, from which their roving forefathers had been almost
entirely debarred by the provincial forces of some inland power,
presumably the Hatti Empire of Cappadocia. In earlier days the Cretans,
or their kin of Mycenaean Greece in the latest Aegean age, had been able
to plant no more than a few inconsiderable colonies of traders on
Anatolian shores. Now, however, their descendants were being steadily
reinforced from the west by members of a younger Aryan race, who mixed
with the natives of the coast, and gradually mastered or drove them
inland. Inconsiderable as this European soakage into the fringe of the
neighbouring continent must have seemed at that moment, we know that it
was inaugurating a process which ultimately would affect profoundly all
the history of Hither Asia. That Greek Ionian colonization first
attracts notice round about 1000 B.C. marks the period as a cardinal
point in history. We cannot say for certain, with our present knowledge,
that any one of the famous Greek cities had already begun to grow on the
Anatolian coasts. There is better evidence for the so early existence of
Miletus, where the German excavators have found much pottery of the
latest Aegean age, than of any other. But, at least, it is probable that
Greeks were already settled on the sites of Cnidus, Teos, Smyrna,
Colophon, Phocea, Cyme and many more; while the greater islands Rhodes,
Samos, Chios and Mitylene had apparently received western settlers
several generations ago, perhaps before even the first Achaean raids
into Asia.

The western visitor, if he pushed inland, would have avoided the
south-western districts of the peninsula, where a mountainous country,
known later as Caria, Lycia, and Pisidia, was held by primitive hill-men
settled in detached tribal fashion like modern Albanians. They had never
yet been subdued, and as soon as the rising Greek ports on their coasts
should open a way for them to the outer world, they would become known
as admirable mercenary soldiery, following a congenial trade which, if
the Pedasu, who appear in records of Egyptian campaigns of the
Eighteenth Dynasty, were really Pisidians, was not new to them. North of
their hills, however, lay broader valleys leading up to the central
plateau; and, if Herodotus is to be believed, an organized monarchical
society, ruled by the "Heraclids" of Sardes, was already developed
there. We know practically nothing about it; but since some three
centuries later the Lydian people was rich and luxurious in the Hermus
valley, which had once been a fief of the Hatti, we must conclude that
it had been enjoying security as far back as 1000 B.C. Who those
Heraclid princes were exactly is obscure. The dynastic name given to
them by Herodotus probably implies that they traced their origin (i.e.
owed especial allegiance) to a God of the Double War-Axe, whom the
Greeks likened to Heracles, but we liken to Sandan, god of Tarsus and of
the lands of the south-east. We shall say more of him and his
worshippers presently.

Leaving aside the northern fringe-lands as ill known and of small
account (as we too shall leave them), our traveller would pass up from
the Lydian vales to find the Cappadocian Hatti no longer the masters of
the plateau as of old. No one of equal power seems to have taken their
place; but there is reason to think that the Mushki, who had brought
them low, now filled some of their room in Asia Minor. But these Mushki
had so far adopted Hatti civilization either before or since their great
raiding expedition which Tiglath Pileser I of Assyria repelled, that
their domination can scarcely have made much difference to the social
condition of Asia Minor. Their capital was probably where the Hatti
capital had been--at Boghazkeui; but how far their lordship radiated
from that centre is not known.

In the south-east of Asia Minor we read of several principalities, both
in the Hatti documents of earlier centuries and in Assyrian annals of
later date; and since some of their names appear in both these sets of
records, we may safely assign them to the same localities during the
intermediate period. Such are Kas in later Lycaonia, Tabal or Tubal in
south-eastern Cappadocia, Khilakku, which left its name to historical
Cilicia, and Kue in the rich eastern Cilician plain and the
north-eastern hills. In north Syria again we find both in early and in
late times Kummukh, which left to its district the historic name,
Commagene. All these principalities, as their earlier monuments prove,
shared the same Hatti civilization as the Mushki and seem to have had
the same chief deities, the axe-bearing Sandan, or Teshup, or Hadad,
whose sway we have noted far west in Lydia, and also a Great Mother, the
patron of peaceful increase, as he was of warlike conquest. But whether
this uniformity of civilization implies any general overlord, such as
the Mushki king, is very questionable. The past supremacy of the Hatti
is enough to account for large community of social features in 1000 B.C.
over all Asia Minor and north Syria.


It is time for our traveller to move on southward into "Hatti-land," as
the Assyrians would long continue to call the southern area of the old
Hatti civilization. He would have found Syria in a state of greater or
less disintegration from end to end. Since the withdrawal of the strong
hands of the Hatti from the north and the Egyptians from the south, the
disorganized half-vacant land had been attracting to itself successive
hordes of half-nomadic Semites from the eastern and southern steppes. By
1000 B.C. these had settled down as a number of Aramaean societies each
under its princeling. All were great traders. One such society
established itself in the north-west, in Shamal, where, influenced by
the old Hatti culture, an art came into being which was only saved
ultimately by Semitic Assyria from being purely Hittite. Its capital,
which lay at modern Sinjerli, one of the few Syrian sites scientifically
explored, we shall notice later on. South lay Patin and Bit Agusi; south
of these again, Hamath and below it Damascus--all new Aramaean states,
which were waiting for quiet times to develop according to the measure
of their respective territories and their command of trade routes. Most
blessed in both natural fertility and convenience of position was
Damascus (Ubi or Hobah), which had been receiving an Aramaean influx for
at least three hundred years. It was destined to outstrip the rest of
those new Semitic states; but for the moment it was little stronger than
they. As for the Phoenician cities on the Lebanon coast, which we know
from the Amarna archives and other Egyptian records to have long been
settled with Canaanitic Semites, they were to appear henceforward in a
light quite other than that in which the reports of their Egyptian
governors and visitors had hitherto shown them. Not only did they very
rapidly become maritime traders instead of mere local territorial
centres, but (if we may infer it from the lack of known monuments of
their higher art or of their writing before 1000 B.C.) they were making
or just about to make a sudden advance in social development. It should
be remarked that our evidence, that other Syrian Semites had taken to
writing in scripts of their own, begins not much later at various
points--in Shamal, in Moab and in Samaria.

This rather sudden expansion of the Phoenicians into a maritime power
about 1000 B.C. calls for explanation. Herodotus thought that the
Phoenicians were driven to take to the sea simply by the growing
inadequacy of their narrow territory to support the natural increase of
its inhabitants, and probably he was partly right, the crisis of their
fate being hastened by Armaean pressure from inland. But the advance in
their culture, which is marked by the development of their art and their
writing, was too rapid and too great to have resulted only from new
commerce with the sea; nor can it have been due to any influence of the
Aramaean elements which were comparatively fresh from the Steppes. To
account for the facts in Syria we seem to require, not long previous to
this time, a fresh accession of population from some area of higher
culture. When we observe, therefore, among the earlier Phoenician and
south Syrian antiquities much that was imported, and more that derived
its character, from Cyprus and even remoter centres of the Aegean
culture of the latest Minoan Age, we cannot regard as fantastic the
belief of the Cretan discoverer, Arthur Evans, that the historic
Phoenician civilization, and especially the Phoenician script, owed
their being in great measure to an immigration from those nearest
oversea lands which had long possessed a fully developed art and a
system of writing. After the fall of the Cnossian Dynasty we know that a
great dispersal of Cretans began, which was continued and increased
later by the descent of the Achaeans into Greece. It has been said
already that the Pulesti or Philistines, who had followed the first
northern horde to the frontiers of Egypt early in the twelfth century,
are credibly supposed to have come from some area affected by Minoan
civilization, while the Tjakaray and Washasha, who accompanied them,
were probably actual Cretans. The Pulesti stayed, as we know, in
Philistia: the Tjakaray settled at Dor on the South Phoenician coast,
where Unamon, an envoy of Rameses XI, found them. These settlers are
quite sufficient to account for the subsequent development of a higher
culture in mid and south Syria, and there may well have been some
further immigration from Cyprus and other Aegean lands which, as time
went on, impelled the cities of Phoenicia, so well endowed by nature, to
develop a new culture apace about 1000 B.C.


If the Phoenicians were feeling the thrust of Steppe peoples, their
southern neighbours, the Philistines, who had lived and grown rich on
the tolls and trade of the great north road from Egypt for at least a
century and a half, were feeling it too. During some centuries past
there had come raiding from the south-east deserts certain sturdy and
well-knit tribes, which long ago had displaced or assimilated the
Canaanites along the highlands west of Jordan, and were now tending to
settle down into a national unity, cemented by a common worship. They
had had long intermittent struggles, traditions of which fill the Hebrew
Book of Judges--struggles not only with the Canaanites, but also with
the Amorites of the upper Orontes valley, and later with the Aramaeans
of the north and east, and with fresh incursions of Arabs from the
south; and most lately of all they had had to give way for about half a
century before an expansive movement of the Philistines, which carried
the latter up to Galilee and secured to them the profits of all the
Palestinian stretch of the great North Road. But about a generation
before our date the northernmost of those bold "Habiri," under an
elective _sheikh_ Saul, had pushed the Philistines out of Bethshan and
other points of vantage in mid-Palestine, and had become once more free
of the hills which they had held in the days of Pharaoh Menephthah.
Though, at the death of Saul, the enemy regained most of what he had
lost, he was not to hold it long. A greater chief, David, who had risen
to power by Philistine help and now had the support of the southern
tribes, was welding both southern and northern Hebrews into a single
monarchical society and, having driven his old masters out of the north
once more, threatened the southern stretch of the great North Road from
a new capital, Jerusalem. Moreover, by harrying repeatedly the lands
east of Jordan up to the desert edge, David had stopped further
incursions from Arabia; and, though the Aramaean state of Damascus was
growing into a formidable danger, he had checked for the present its
tendency to spread southwards, and had strengthened himself by
agreements with another Aramaean prince, him of Hamath, who lay on the
north flank of Damascus, and with the chief of the nearest Phoenician
city, Tyre. The latter was not yet the rich place which it would grow to
be in the next century, but it was strong enough to control the coast
road north of the Galilean lowlands. Israel not only was never safer,
but would never again hold a position of such relative importance in
Syria, as was hers in a day of many small and infant states about 1000
B.C.: and in later times, under the shadow of Assyria and the menace of
Egypt, the Jews would look back to the reigns of David and his successor
with some reason as their golden age.

The traveller would not have ventured into Arabia; nor shall we. It was
then an unknown land lying wholly outside history. We have no record (if
that mysterious embassy of the "Queen of Sheba," who came to hear the
wisdom of Solomon, be ruled out) of any relations between a state of the
civilized East and an Arabian prince before the middle of the ninth
century. It may be that, as Glaser reckoned, Sabaean society in the
south-west of the peninsula had already reached the preliminary stage of
tribal settlement through which Israel passed under its Judges, and was
now moving towards monarchy; and that of this our traveller might have
learned something in Syria from the last arrived Aramaeans. But we, who
can learn nothing, have no choice but to go north with him again,
leaving to our right the Syrian desert roamed by Bedawis in much the
same social state as the Anazeh to-day, owing allegiance to no one. We
can cross Euphrates at Carchemish or at Til Barsip opposite the Sajur
mouth, or where Thapsacus looked across to the outfall of the Khabur.


No annals of Assyria have survived for nearly a century before 1000
B.C., and very few for the century after that date. Nor do Babylonian
records make good our deficiency. Though we cannot be certain, we are
probably safe in saying that during these two centuries Assyrian and
Babylonian princes had few or no achievements to record of the kind
which they held, almost alone, worthy to be immortalized on stone or
clay--that is to say, raids, conquests, sacking of cities, blackmailing
of princes. Since Tiglath Pileser's time no "Kings of the World" (by
which title was signified an overlord of Mesopotamia merely) had been
seated on either of the twin rivers. What exactly had happened in the
broad tract between the rivers and to the south of Taurus since the
departure of the Mushki hordes (if, indeed, they did all depart), we do
not know. The Mitanni, who may have been congeners of the latter, seem
still to have been holding the north-west; probably all the north-east
was Assyrian territory. No doubt the Kurds and Armenians of Urartu were
raiding the plains impartially from autumn to spring, as they always did
when Assyria was weak. We shall learn a good deal more about Mesopotamia
proper when the results of the German excavations at Tell Halaf, near
Ras el-Ain, are complete and published. The most primitive monuments
found there are perhaps relics of that power of Khani (Harran), which
was stretched even to include Nineveh before the Semitic _patesis_ of
Asshur grew to royal estate and moved northward to make imperial
Assyria. But there are later strata of remains as well which should
contain evidence of the course of events in mid-Mesopotamia during
subsequent periods both of Assyrian domination and of local

Assyria, as has been said, was without doubt weak at this date, that is,
she was confined to the proper territory of her own agricultural
Semites. This state of things, whenever existent throughout her history,
seems to have implied priestly predominance, in which Babylonian
influence went for much. The Semitic tendency to super-Monotheism, which
has already been noticed, constantly showed itself among the eastern
Semites (when comparatively free from military tyranny) in a reversion
of their spiritual allegiance to one supreme god enthroned at Babylon,
the original seat of east Semitic theocracy. And even when this city had
little military strength the priests of Marduk appear often to have
succeeded in keeping a controlling hand on the affairs of stronger
Assyria. We shall see later how much prestige great Ninevite war-lords
could gain even among their own countrymen by Marduk's formal
acknowledgment of their sovereignty, and how much they lost by
disregarding him and doing injury to his local habitation. At their very
strongest the Assyrian kings were never credited with the natural right
to rule Semitic Asia which belonged to kings of Babylon. If they desired
the favour of Marduk they must needs claim it at the sword's point, and
when that point was lowered, his favour was always withdrawn. From first
to last they had perforce to remain military tyrants, who relied on no
acknowledged legitimacy but on the spears of conscript peasants, and at
the last of mercenaries. No dynasty lasted long in Assyria, where
popular generals, even while serving on distant campaigns, were often
elevated to the throne--in anticipation of the imperial history of Rome.

It appears then that our traveller would have found Babylonia, rather
than Assyria, the leading East Semitic power in 1000 B.C.; but at the
same time not a strong power, for she had no imperial dominion outside
lower Mesopotamia. Since a dynasty, whose history is obscure--the
so-called Pashe kings in whose time there was one strong man,
Nabu-Kudur-usur (Nebuchadnezzar) I--came to an inglorious end just about
1000 B.C., one may infer that Babylonia was passing at this epoch
through one of those recurrent political crises which usually occurred
when Sumerian cities of the southern "Sea-Land" conspired with some
foreign invader against the Semitic capital. The contumacious survivors
of the elder element in the population, however, even when successful,
seem not to have tried to set up new capitals or to reestablish the
pre-Semitic state of things. Babylon had so far distanced all the older
cities now that no other consummation of revolt was desired or believed
possible than the substitution of one dynasty for another on the throne
beloved of Marduk. Sumerian forces, however, had not been the only ones
which had contributed to overthrow the last king of the Pashe dynasty.
Nomads of the _Suti_ tribes had long been raiding from the western
deserts into Akkad; and the first king set up by the victorious peoples
of the Sea-Land had to expel them and to repair their ravages before he
could seat himself on a throne which was menaced by Elam on the east and
Assyria on the north, and must fall so soon as either of these found a
strong leader.



Two centuries have passed over the East, and at first sight it looks as
if no radical change has taken place in its political or social
condition. No new power has entered it from without; only one new state
of importance, the Phrygian, has arisen within. The peoples, which were
of most account in 1000, are still of the most account in 800--the
Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Mushki of Cappadocia, the tribesmen of
Urartu, the Aramaeans of Damascus, the trading Phoenicians on the Syrian
coast and the trading Greeks on the Anatolian. Egypt has remained behind
her frontier except for one raid into Palestine about 925 B.C., from
which Sheshenk, the Libyan, brought back treasures of Solomon's temple
to enhance the splendour of Amen. Arabia has not begun to matter. There
has been, of course, development, but on old lines. The comparative
values of the states have altered: some have become more decisively the
superiors of others than they were two hundred years ago, but they are
those whose growth was foreseen. Wherein, then, lies the great
difference? For great difference there is. It scarcely needs a second
glance to detect the change, and any one who looks narrowly will see not
only certain consequent changes, but in more than one quarter signs and
warnings of a coming order of things not dreamt of in 1000 B.C.


The obvious novelty is the presence of a predominant power. The mosaic
of small states is still there, but one holds lordship over most of
them, and that one is Assyria. Moreover, the foreign dominion which the
latter has now been enjoying for three-parts of a century is the first
of its kind established by an Asiatic power. Twice, as we have seen, had
Assyria conquered in earlier times an empire of the nomad Semitic type,
that is, a licence to raid unchecked over a wide tract of lands; but, so
far as we know, neither Shalmaneser I nor Tiglath Pileser I had so much
as conceived the idea of holding the raided provinces by a permanent
official organization. But in the ninth century, when Ashurnatsirpal and
his successor Shalmaneser, second of the name, marched out year by year,
they passed across wide territories held for them by governors and
garrisons, before they reached others upon which they hoped to impose
like fetters. We find Shalmaneser II, for example, in the third year of
his reign, fortifying, renaming, garrisoning and endowing with a royal
palace the town of Til Barsip on the Euphrates bank, the better to
secure for himself free passage at will across the river. He has finally
deprived Ahuni its local Aramaean chief, and holds the place as an
Assyrian fortress. Thus far had the Assyrian advanced his territorial
empire but not farther. Beyond Euphrates he would, indeed, push year by
year, even to Phoenicia and Damascus and Cilicia, but merely to raid,
levy blackmail and destroy, like the old emperors of Babylonia or his
own imperial predecessors of Assyria.

There was then much of the old destructive instinct in Shalmaneser's
conception of empire; but a constructive principle also was at work
modifying that conception. If the Great King was still something of a
Bedawi Emir, bound to go a-raiding summer by summer, he had conceived,
like Mohammed ibn Rashid, the Arabian prince of Jebel Shammar in our own
days, the idea of extending his territorial dominion, so that he might
safely and easily reach fresh fields for wider raids. If we may use
modern formulas about an ancient and imperfectly realized imperial
system, we should describe the dominion of Shalmaneser II as made up
(over and above its Assyrian core) of a wide circle of foreign
territorial possessions which included Babylonia on the south, all
Mesopotamia on the west and north, and everything up to Zagros on the
east; of a "sphere of exclusive influence" extending to Lake Van on the
north, while on the west it reached beyond the Euphrates into mid-Syria;
and, lastly, of a licence to raid as far as the frontiers of Egypt.
Shalmaneser's later expeditions all passed the frontiers of that sphere
of influence. Having already crossed the Amanus mountains seven times,
he was in Tarsus in his twenty-sixth summer; Damascus was attacked again
and again in the middle of his reign; and even Jehu of Samaria paid his
blackmail in the year 842.

Assyria in the ninth century must have seemed by far the strongest as
well as the most oppressive power that the East had known. The reigning
house was passing on its authority from father to son in an unbroken
dynastic succession, which had not always been, and would seldom
thereafter be, the rule. Its court was fixed securely in midmost
Assyria, away from priest-ridden Asshur, which seems to have been always
anti-imperial and pro-Babylonian; for Ashurnatsirpal had restored Calah
to the capital rank which it had held under Shalmaneser I but lost under
Tiglath Pileser, and there the kings of the Middle Empire kept their
throne. The Assyrian armies were as yet neither composed of soldiers of
fortune, nor, it appears, swelled by such heterogeneous provincial
levies as would follow the Great Kings of Asia in later days; but they
were still recruited from the sturdy peasantry of Assyria itself. The
monarch was an absolute autocrat directing a supreme military despotism.
Surely such a power could not but endure. Endure, indeed, it would for
more than two centuries. But it was not so strong as it appeared. Before
the century of Ashurnatsirpal and Shalmaneser II was at an end, certain
inherent germs of corporate decay had developed apace in its system.

Natural law appears to decree that a family stock, whose individual
members have every opportunity and licence for sensual indulgence, shall
deteriorate both physically and mentally at an ever-increasing rate.
Therefore, _pari passu_, an Empire which is so absolutely autocratic
that the monarch is its one mainspring of government, grows weaker as it
descends from father to son. Its one chance of conserving some of its
pristine strength is to develop a bureaucracy which, if inspired by the
ideas and methods of earlier members of the dynasty, may continue to
realize them in a crystallized system of administration. This chance the
Middle Assyrian Kingdom never was at any pains to take. There is
evidence for delegation of military power by its Great Kings to a
headquarter staff, and for organization of military control in the
provinces, but none for such delegation of the civil power as might have
fostered a bureaucracy. Therefore that concentration of power in single
hands, which at first had been an element of strength, came to breed
increasing weakness as one member of the dynasty succeeded another.

Again, the irresistible Assyrian armies, which had been led abroad
summer by summer, were manned for some generations by sturdy peasants
drawn from the fields of the Middle Tigris basin, chiefly those on the
left bank. The annual razzia, however, is a Bedawi institution, proper
to a semi-nomadic society which cultivates little and that lightly, and
can leave such agricultural, and also such pastoral, work as must needs
be done in summer to its old men, its young folk and its women, without
serious loss. But a settled labouring population which has deep lands to
till, a summer crop to raise and an irrigation system to maintain is in
very different case. The Assyrian kings, by calling on their
agricultural peasantry, spring after spring, to resume the life of
militant nomads, not only exhausted the sources of their own wealth and
stability, but bred deep discontent. As the next two centuries pass more
and more will be heard of depletion and misery in the Assyrian lands.
Already before 800 we have the spectacle of the agricultural district of
Arbela rebelling against Shalmaneser's sons, and after being appeased
with difficulty, rising again against Adadnirari III in a revolt which
is still active when the century closes.

Lastly, this militant monarchy, whose life was war, was bound to make
implacable enemies both within and without. Among those within were
evidently the priests, whose influence was paramount at Asshur.
Remembering who it was that had given the first independent king to
Assyria they resented that their city, the chosen seat of the earlier
dynasties, which had been restored to primacy by the great Tiglath
Pileser, should fall permanently to the second rank. So we find Asshur
joining the men of Arbela in both the rebellions mentioned above, and it
appears always to have been ready to welcome attempts by the Babylonian
Semites to regain their old predominance over Southern Assyria.


As we should expect from geographical circumstances, Assyria's most
perilous and persistent foreign enemies were the fierce hillmen of the
north. In the east, storms were brewing behind the mountains, but they
were not yet ready to burst. South and west lay either settled districts
of old civilization not disposed to fight, or ranging grounds of nomads
too widely scattered and too ill organized to threaten serious danger.
But the north was in different case. The wild valleys, through which
descend the left bank affluents of the Upper Tigris, have always
sheltered fierce fighting clans, covetous of the winter pasturage and
softer climate of the northern Mesopotamian downs, and it has been the
anxious care of one Mesopotamian power after another, even to our own
day, to devise measures for penning them back. Since the chief weakness
of these tribes lies in a lack of unity which the subdivided nature of
their country encourages, it must have caused no small concern to the
Assyrians that, early in the ninth century, a Kingdom of Urartu or, as
its own people called it, Khaldia, should begin to gain power over the
communities about Lake Van and the heads of the valleys which run down
to Assyrian territory. Both Ashurnatsirpal and Shalmaneser led raid
after raid into the northern mountains in the hope of weakening the
tribes from whose adhesion that Vannic Kingdom might derive strength.
Both kings marched more than once up to the neighbourhood of the Urmia
Lake, and Shalmaneser struck at the heart of Urartu itself three or four
times; but with inconclusive success. The Vannic state continued to
flourish and its kings--whose names are more European in sound than
Asiatic--Lutipris, Sarduris, Menuas, Argistis, Rusas--built themselves
strong fortresses which stand to this day about Lake Van, and borrowed a
script from their southern foes to engrave rocks with records of
successful wars. One of these inscriptions occurs as far west as the
left bank of Euphrates over against Malatia. By 800 B.C., in spite of
efforts made by Shalmaneser's sons to continue their father's policy of
pushing the war into the enemy's country, the Vannic king had succeeded
in replacing Assyrian influence by the law of Khaldia in the uppermost
basin of the Tigris and in higher Mesopotamia--the "Nairi" lands of
Assyrian scribes; and his successors would raid farther and farther into
the plains during the coming age.


Menacing as this power of Urartu appeared at the end of the ninth
century to an enfeebled Assyrian dynasty, there were two other racial
groups, lately arrived on its horizon, which in the event would prove
more really dangerous. One of these lay along the north-eastern frontier
on the farther slopes of the Zagros mountains and on the plateau beyond.
It was apparently a composite people which had been going through a slow
process of formation and growth. One element in it seems to have been of
the same blood as a strong pastoral population which was then ranging
the steppes of southern Russia and west central Asia, and would come to
be known vaguely to the earliest Greeks as Cimmerians, and scarcely less
precisely to their descendants, as Scyths. Its name would be a household
word in the East before long. A trans-Caucasian offshoot of this had
settled in modern Azerbaijan, where for a long time past it had been
receiving gradual reinforcements of eastern migrants, belonging to what
is called the Iranian group of Aryans. Filtering through the passage
between the Caspian range and the salt desert, which Teheran now guards,
these Iranians spread out over north-west Persia and southwards into the
well-watered country on the western edge of the plateau, overlooking the
lowlands of the Tigris basin. Some part of them, under the name Parsua,
seems to have settled down as far north as the western shores of Lake
Urmia, on the edge of the Ararat kingdom; another part as far south as
the borders of Elam. Between these extreme points the immigrants appear
to have amalgamated with the settled Scyths, and in virtue of racial
superiority to have become predominant partners in the combination. At
some uncertain period--probably before 800 B.C.--there had arisen from
the Iranian element an individual, Zoroaster, who converted his people
from element-worship to a spiritual belief in personal divinity; and by
this reform of cult both raised its social status and gave it political
cohesion. The East began to know and fear the combination under the name
_Manda_, and from Shalmaneser II onwards the Assyrian kings had to
devote ever more attention to the Manda country, raiding it, sacking it,
exacting tribute from it, but all the while betraying their growing
consciousness that a grave peril lurked behind Zagros, the peril of the
Medes. [Footnote: I venture to adhere throughout to the old
identification of the _Manda_ power, which ultimately overthrew Assyria,
with the _Medes_, in spite of high authorities who nowadays assume that
the latter played no part in that overthrow, but have been introduced
into this chapter of history by an erroneous identification made by
Greeks. I cannot believe that both Greek and Hebrew authorities of very
little later date both fell into such an error.]


The other danger, the more imminent of the two, threatened Assyria from
the south. Once again a Semitic immigration, which we distinguish as
Chaldaean from earlier Semitic waves, Canaanite and Aramaean, had
breathed fresh vitality into the Babylonian people. It came, like
earlier waves, out of Arabia, which, for certain reasons, has been in
all ages a prime source of ethnic disturbance in West Asia. The great
southern peninsula is for the most part a highland steppe endowed with a
singularly pure air and an uncontaminated soil. It breeds, consequently,
a healthy population whose natality, compared to its death-rate, is
unusually high; but since the peculiar conditions of its surface and
climate preclude the development of its internal food-supply beyond a
point long ago reached, the surplus population which rapidly accumulates
within it is forced from time to time to seek its sustenance elsewhere.
The difficulties of the roads to the outer world being what they are
(not to speak of the certainty of opposition at the other end), the
intending emigrants rarely set out in small bodies, but move restlessly
within their own borders until they are grown to a horde, which famine
and hostility at home compel at last to leave Arabia. As hard to arrest
as their own blown sands, the moving Arabs fall on the nearest fertile
regions, there to plunder, fight, and eventually settle down. So in
comparatively modern times have the Shammar tribesmen moved into Syria
and Mesopotamia, and so in antiquity moved the Canaanites, the
Aramaeans, and the Chaldaeans. We find the latter already well
established by 900 B.C. not only in the "Sea Land" at the head of the
Persian Gulf, but also between the Rivers. The Kings of Babylon, who
opposed Ashurnatsirpal and Shalmaneser II, seem to have been of
Chaldaean extraction; and although their successors, down to 800 B.C.,
acknowledged the suzerainty of Assyria, they ever strove to repudiate
it, looking for help to Elam or the western desert tribes. The times,
however, were not quite ripe. The century closed with the reassertion of
Assyrian power in Babylon itself by Adadnirari.


Such were the dangers which, as we now know, lurked on the horizon of
the Northern Semites in 800 B.C. But they had not yet become patent to
the world, in whose eyes Assyria seemed still an irresistible power
pushing ever farther and farther afield. The west offered the most
attractive field for her expansion. There lay the fragments of the Hatti
Empire, enjoying the fruits of Hatti civilization; there were the
wealthy Aramaean states, and still richer Phoenician ports. There urban
life was well developed, each city standing for itself, sufficient in
its territory, and living more or less on the caravan trade which
perforce passed under or near its walls between Egypt on the one hand
and Mesopotamia and Asia Minor on the other. Never was a fairer field
for hostile enterprise, or one more easily harried without fear of
reprisal, and well knowing this, Assyria set herself from
Ashurnatsirpal's time forward systematically to bully and fleece Syria.
It was almost the yearly practice of Shalmaneser II to march down to the
Middle Euphrates, ferry his army across, and levy blackmail on
Carchemish and the other north Syrian cities as far as Cilicia on the
one hand and Damascus on the other. That done, he would send forward
envoys to demand ransom of the Phoenician towns, who grudgingly paid it
or rashly withheld it according to the measure of his compulsion. Since
last we looked at the Aramaean states, Damascus has definitely asserted
the supremacy which her natural advantages must always secure to her
whenever Syria is not under foreign domination. Her fighting dynasty of
Benhadads which had been founded, it seems, more than a century before
Shalmaneser's time, had now spread her influence right across Syria from
east to west and into the territories of Hamath on the north and of the
Hebrews on the south. Ashurnatsirpal had never ventured to do more than
summon at long range the lord of this large and wealthy state to
contribute to his coffers; but this tributary obligation, if ever
admitted, was continually disregarded, and Shalmaneser II found he must
take bolder measures or be content to see his raiding-parties restricted
to the already harried north. He chose the bold course, and struck at
Hamath, the northernmost Damascene dependency, in his seventh summer. A
notable victory, won at Karkar on the Middle Orontes over an army which
included contingents from most of the south Semitic states--one came,
for example, from Israel, where Ahab was now king,--opened a way towards
the Aramaean capital; but it was not till twelve years later that the
Great King actually attacked Damascus. But he failed to crown his
successes with its capture, and reinvigorated by the accession of a new
dynasty, which Hazael, a leader in war, founded in 842, Damascus
continued to bar the Assyrians from full enjoyment of the southern lands
for another century.

Nevertheless, though Shalmaneser and his dynastic successors down to
Adadnirari III were unable to enter Palestine, the shadow of Assyrian
Empire was beginning to creep over Israel. The internal dissensions of
the latter, and its fear and jealousy of Damascus had already done much
to make ultimate disaster certain. In the second generation after David
the radical incompatibility between the northern and southern Hebrew
tribes, which under his strong hand and that of his son had seemed one
nation, reasserted its disintegrating influence. While it is not certain
if the twelve tribes were ever all of one race, it is quite certain that
the northern ones had come to be contaminated very largely with Aramaean
blood and infected by mid-Syrian influences, which the relations
established and maintained by David and Solomon with Hamath and
Phoenicia no doubt had accentuated, especially in the territories of
Asher and Dan. These tribes and some other northerners had never seen
eye to eye with the southern tribes in a matter most vital to Semitic
societies, religious ideal and practice. The anthropomorphic monotheism,
which the southern tribes brought up from Arabia, had to contend in
Galilee with theriomorphic polytheism, that is, the tendency to embody
the qualities of divinity in animal forms. For such beliefs as these
there is ample evidence in the Judaean tradition, even during the
pre-Palestinian wanderings. Both reptile and bovine incarnations
manifest themselves in the story of the Exodus, and despite the fervent
missionary efforts of a series of Prophets, and the adhesion of many,
even among the northern tribesmen, to the more spiritual creed, these
cults gathered force in the congenial neighbourhood of Aramaeans and
Phoenicians, till they led to political separation of the north from the
south as soon as the long reign of Solomon was ended. Thereafter, until
the catastrophe of the northern tribes, there would never more be a
united Hebrew nation. The northern kingdom, harried by Damascus and
forced to take unwilling part in her quarrels, looked about for foreign
help. The dynasty of Omri, who, in order to secure control of the great
North Road, had built himself a capital and a palace (lately discovered)
on the hill of Samaria, relied chiefly on Tyre. The succeeding dynasty,
that of Jehu, who had rebelled against Omri's son and his Phoenician
queen, courted Assyria, and encouraged her to press ever harder on
Damascus. It was a suicidal policy; for in the continued existence of a
strong Aramaean state on her north lay Israel's one hope of long life.
Jeroboam II and his Prophet Jonah ought to have seen that the day of
reckoning would come quickly for Samaria when once Assyria had settled
accounts with Damascus.

To some extent, but unfortunately not in all detail, we can trace in the
royal records the advance of Assyrian territorial dominion in the west.
The first clear indication of its expansion is afforded by a notice of
the permanent occupation of a position on the eastern bank of the
Euphrates, as a base for the passage of the river. This position was Til
Barsip, situated opposite the mouth of the lowest Syrian affluent, the
Sajur, and formerly capital of an Aramaean principate. That its
occupation by Shalmaneser II in the third year of his reign was intended
to be lasting is proved by its receiving a new name and becoming a royal
Assyrian residence. Two basaltic lions, which the Great King then set up
on each side of its Mesopotamian gate and inscribed with commemorative
texts, have recently been found near Tell Ahmar, the modern hamlet which
has succeeded the royal city. This measure marked Assyria's definite
annexation of the lands in Mesopotamia, which had been under Aramaean
government for at least a century and a half. When this government had
been established there we do not certainly know; but the collapse of
Tiglath Pileser's power about 1100 B.C. so nearly follows the main
Aramaean invasion from the south that it seems probable this invasion
had been in great measure the cause of that collapse, and that an
immediate consequence was the formation of Aramaean states east of
Euphrates. The strongest of them and the last to succumb to Assyria was
Bit-Adini, the district west of Harran, of which Til Barsip had been the
leading town.

The next stage of Assyrian expansion is marked by a similar occupation
of a position on the Syrian side of the Euphrates, to cover the landing
and be a gathering-place of tribute. Here stood Pitru, formerly a Hatti
town and, perhaps, the Biblical Pethor, situated beside the Sajur on
some site not yet identified, but probably near the outfall of the
stream. It received an Assyrian name in Shalmaneser's sixth year, and
was used afterwards as a base for all his operations in Syria. It served
also to mask and overawe the larger and more wealthy city of Carchemish,
a few miles north, which would remain for a long time to come free of
permanent Assyrian occupation, though subjected to blackmail on the
occasion of every western raid by the Great King.

With this last westward advance of his permanent territorial holding,
Shalmaneser appears to have rested content. He was sure of the Euphrates
passage and had made his footing good on the Syrian bank. But we cannot
be certain; for, though his known records mention the renaming of no
other Syrian cities, many may have been renamed without happening to be
mentioned in the records, and others may have been occupied by standing
Assyrian garrisons without receiving new names. Be that as it may, we
can trace, year by year, the steady pushing forward of Assyrian raiding
columns into inner Syria. In 854 Shalmaneser's most distant base of
operations was fixed at Khalman (Aleppo), whence he marched to the
Orontes to fight, near the site of later Apamea, the battle of Karkar.
Five years later, swooping down from a Cilician raid, he entered Hamath.
Six more years passed before he made more ground to the south, though he
invaded Syria again in force at least once during the interval. In 842,
however, having taken a new road along the coast, he turned inland from
Beirut, crossed Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, and succeeded in reaching the
oasis of Damascus and even in raiding some distance towards the Hauran;
but he did not take (perhaps, like the Bedawi Emir he was, he did not
try to take) the fenced city itself. He seems to have repeated his visit
three years later, but never to have gone farther. Certainly he never
secured to himself Phoenicia, Coele-Syria or Damascus, and still less
Palestine, by any permanent organization. Indeed, as has been said, we
have no warrant for asserting that in his day Assyria definitely
incorporated in her territorial empire any part of Syria except that one
outpost of observation established at Pitru on the Sajur. Nor can more
be credited to Shalmaneser's immediate successors; but it must be
understood that by the end of the century Adadnirari had extended
Assyria's sphere of influence (as distinct from her territorial holding)
somewhat farther south to include not only Phoenicia but also northern
Philistia and Palestine with the arable districts east of Jordan.


When an Assyrian emperor crossed Euphrates and took up quarters in Pitru
to receive the submission of the western chiefs and collect his forces
for raiding the lands of any who might be slow to comply, he was much
nearer the frontiers of Asia Minor than those of Phoenicia or the
Kingdom of Damascus. Yet on three occasions out of four, the lords of
the Middle Assyrian Kingdom were content to harry once again the
oft-plundered lands of mid-Syria, and on the fourth, if they turned
northward at all, they advanced no farther than eastern Cilicia, that
is, little beyond the horizon which they might actually see on a clear
day from any high ground near Pitru. Yet on the other side of the
snow-streaked wall which bounded the northward view lay desirable
kingdoms, Khanigalbat with its capital, Milid, comprising the fertile
district which later would be part of Cataonia; Tabal to west of it,
extending over the rest of Cataonia and southern Cappadocia; and Kas,
possessing the Tyanitis and the deep Lycaonian plain. Why, then, did
those imperial robbers in the ninth century so long hold their hands
from such tempting prey? No doubt, because they and their armies, which
were not yet recruited from other populations than the Semites of
Assyria proper, so far as we know, were by origin Arabs, men of the
south, to whom the high-lying plateau country beyond Taurus was just as
deterrent as it has been to all Semites since. Tides of Arab invasion,
surging again and again to the foot of the Taurus, have broken sometimes
through the passes and flowed in single streams far on into Asia Minor,
but they have always ebbed again as quickly. The repugnance felt by the
Assyrians for Asia Minor may be contrasted with the promptitude which
their Iranian successors showed in invading the peninsula, and may be
illustrated by all subsequent history. No permanent footing was ever
established in Asia Minor by the Saracens, its definite conquest being
left to the north-country Turks. The short-lived Arab power of Mehemet
Ali, which rebelled against the Turks some eighty years ago, advanced on
to the plateau only to recede at once and remain behind the Taurus. The
present dividing line of peoples which speak respectively Arabic and
Turkish marks the Semite's immemorial limit. So soon as the land-level
of northern Syria attains a mean altitude of 2500 feet, the Arab tongue
is chilled to silence.

We shall never find Assyrian armies, therefore, going far or staying
long beyond Taurus. But we shall find them going constantly, and as a
matter of course, into Cilicia, notwithstanding the high mountain wall
of Amanus which divides it from Syria. Cilicia--all that part of it at
least which the Assyrians used to raid--lies low, faces south and is
shielded by high mountains from northerly and easterly chills. It
enjoys, indeed, a warmer and more equable climate than any part of
Syria, except the coastal belt, and socially it has always been related
more nearly to the south lands than to its own geographical whole, Asia
Minor. A Semitic element was predominant in the population of the plain,
and especially in its chief town, Tarsus, throughout antiquity. So
closely was Cilicia linked with Syria that the Prince of Kue (its
eastern part) joined the Princes of Hamath and of Damascus and their
south Syrian allies in that combination for common defence against
Assyrian aggression, which Shalmaneser broke at Karkar in 854: and it
was in order to neutralize an important factor in the defensive power of
Syria that the latter proceeded across Patin in 849 and fell on Kue. But
some uprising at Hamath recalled him then, and it was not till the
latter part of his reign that eastern Cilicia was systematically

Shalmaneser devoted a surprising amount of attention to this small and
rather obscure corner of Asia Minor. He records in his twenty-fifth year
that already he had crossed Amanus seven times; and in the year
succeeding we find him again entering Cilicia and marching to Tarsus to
unseat its prince and put another more pliable in his room. Since,
apparently, he never used Cilicia as a base for further operations in
force beyond Taurus, being content with a formal acknowledgment of his
majesty by the Prince of Tabal, one is forced to conclude that he
invaded the land for its own sake. Nearly three centuries hence, out of
the mist in which Cilicia is veiled more persistently than almost any
other part of the ancient East, this small country will loom up suddenly
as one of the four chief powers of Asia, ruled by a king who, hand in
hand with Nebuchadnezzar II, negotiates a peace between the Lydians and
the Medes, each at the height of their power. Then the mist will close
over it once more, and we shall hear next to nothing of a long line of
kings who, bearing a royal title which was graecized under the form
Syennesis, reigned at Tarsus, having little in common with other
Anatolian princes. But we may reasonably infer from the circumstances of
the pacific intervention just mentioned that Cilician power had been
growing for a long time previous; and also from the frequency with which
Shalmaneser raided the land, that already in the ninth century it was
rich and civilized. We know it to have been a great centre of Sandan
worship, and may guess that its kings were kin of the Mushki race and,
if not the chief survivors of the original stock which invaded Assyria
in Tiglath Pileser's time, ranked at least among the chief inheritors of
the old Hatti civilization. Some even date its civilization earlier
still, believing the Keftiu, who brought rich gifts to the Pharaohs of
the eighteenth and succeeding dynasties, to have been Cilicians.

Unfortunately, no scientific excavation of early sites in Cilicia has
yet been undertaken; but for many years past buyers of antiquities have
been receiving, from Tarsus and its port, engraved stones and seals of
singularly fine workmanship, which belong to Hittite art but seem of
later date than most of its products. They display in their decoration
certain peculiar designs, which have been remarked also in Cyprus, and
present some peculiarities of form, which occur also in the earliest
Ionian art. Till other evidence comes to hand these little objects must
be our witnesses to the existence of a highly developed sub-Hittite
culture in Cilicia which, as early as the ninth century, had already
been refined by the influence of the Greek settlements on the Anatolian
coasts and perhaps, even earlier, by the Cretan art of the Aegean area.
Cilician civilization offers a link between east and west which is worth
more consideration and study than have been given to it by historians.


Into Asia Minor beyond Taurus we have no reason to suppose that an
Assyrian monarch of the ninth century ever marched in person, though
several raiding columns visited Khanigalbat and Tabal, and tributary
acknowledgment of Assyrian dominance was made intermittently by the
princes of both those countries in the latter half of Shalmaneser's
reign. The farther and larger part of the western peninsula lay outside
the Great King's reach, and we know as little of it in the year 800 as,
perhaps, the Assyrians themselves knew. We do know, however, that it
contained a strong principality centrally situated in the southern part
of the basin of the Sangarius, which the Asiatic Greeks had begun to
know as Phrygian. This inland power loomed very large in their world--so
large, indeed, that it masked Assyria at this time, and passed in their
eyes for the richest on earth. On the sole ground of its importance in
early Greek legend, we are quite safe in dating not only its rise but
its attainment of a dominant position to a period well before 800 B.C.
But, in fact, there are other good grounds for believing that before the
ninth century closed this principality dominated a much wider area than
the later Phrygia, and that its western borders had been pushed outwards
very nearly to the Ionian coast. In the Iliad, for example, the
Phrygians are spoken of as immediate neighbours of the Trojans; and a
considerable body of primitive Hellenic legend is based on the early
presence of Phrygians not only in the Troad itself, but on the central
west coast about the Bay of Smyrna and in the Caystrian plain, from
which points of vantage they held direct relations with the immigrant
Greeks themselves. It seems, therefore, certain that at some time before
800 B.C. nearly all the western half of the peninsula owed allegiance
more or less complete to the power on the Sangarius, and that even the
Heraclid kings of Lydia were not independent of it.

If Phrygia was powerful enough in the ninth century to hold the west
Anatolian lands in fee, did it also dominate enough of the eastern
peninsula to be ranked the imperial heir of the Cappadocian Hatti? The
answer to this question (if any at all can be returned on very slight
evidence) will depend on the view taken about the possible identity of
the Phrygian power with that obscure but real power of the Mushki, of
which we have already heard. The identity in question is so generally
accepted nowadays that it has become a commonplace of historians to
speak of the "Mushki-Phrygians." Very possibly they are right. But, by
way of caution, it must be remarked that the identification depends
ultimately on another, namely, that of Mita, King of the Mushki, against
whom Ashurbanipal would fight more than a century later, with Midas,
last King of Phrygia, who is mentioned by Herodotus and celebrated in
Greek myth. To assume this identity is very attractive. Mita of Mushki
and Midas of Phrygia coincide well enough in date; both ruled in Asia
Minor; both were apparently leading powers there; both fought with the
Gimirrai or Cimmerians. But there are also certain difficulties of which
too little account has perhaps been taken. While Mita seems to have been
a common name in Asia as far inland as Mesopotamia at a much earlier
period than this, the name Midas, on the other hand, came much later
into Phrygia from the west, if there is anything in the Greek tradition
that the Phryges or Briges had immigrated from south-east Europe. And
supported as this tradition is not only by the occurrence of similar
names and similar folk-tales in Macedonia and in Phrygia, but also by
the western appearance of the later Phrygian art and script, we can
hardly refuse it credit. Accordingly, if we find the origin of the
Phrygians in the Macedonian Briges, we must allow that Midas, as a
Phrygian name, came from Europe very much later than the first
appearance of kings called Mita in Asia, and we are compelled to doubt
whether the latter name is necessarily the same as Midas. When allusions
to the Mushki in Assyrian records give any indication of their local
habitat, it lies in the east, not the west, of the central Anatolian
plain--nearly, in fact, where the Moschi lived in later historical
times. The following points, therefore, must be left open at present:
(1) whether the Mushki ever settled in Phrygia at all; (2) whether, if
they did, the Phrygian kings who bore the names Gordius and Midas can
ever have been Mushkite or have commanded Mushkite allegiance; (3)
whether the kings called Mita in records of Sargon and Ashurbanipal were
not lords rather of the eastern Mushki than of Phrygia. It cannot be
assumed, on present evidence at any rate (though it is not improbable),
that Phrygian kings ruled the Mushki of Cappadocia, and in virtue of
that rule had an empire almost commensurate with the lost sway of the

Nevertheless theirs was a strong power, the strongest in Anatolia, and
the fame of its wealth and its walled towns dazzled and awed the Greek
communities, which were thickly planted by now on the western and
south-western coasts. Some of these had passed through the trials of
infancy and were grown to civic estate, having established wide trade
relations both by land and sea. In the coming century Cyme of Aeolis
would give a wife to a Phrygian king. Ephesus seems to have become
already an important social as well as religious centre. The objects of
art found in 1905 on the floor of the earliest temple of Artemis in the
plain (there was an earlier one in the hills) must be dated--some of
them--not later than 700, and their design and workmanship bear witness
to flourishing arts and crafts long established in the locality.
Miletus, too, was certainly an adult centre of Hellenism and about to
become a mother of new cities, if she had not already become so. But, so
early as this year 800, we know little about the Asiatic Greek cities
beyond the fact of their existence; and it will be wiser to let them
grow for another two centuries and to speak of them more at length when
they have become a potent factor in West Asian society. When we ring up
the curtain again after two hundred years, it will be found that the
light shed on the eastern scene has brightened; for not only will
contemporary records have increased in volume and clarity, but we shall
be able to use the lamp of literary history fed by traditions, which had
not had to survive the lapse of more than a few generations.



When we look at the East again in 600 B.C. after two centuries of war
and tumultuous movements we perceive that almost all its lands have
found fresh masters. The political changes are tremendous. Cataclysm has
followed hard on cataclysm. The Phrygian dynasty has gone down in
massacre and rapine, and from another seat of power its former client
rules Asia Minor in its stead. The strongholds of the lesser Semitic
peoples have almost all succumbed, and Syria is a well-picked bone
snatched by one foreign dog from another. The Assyrian colossus which
bestrid the west Asiatic world has failed and collapsed, and the Medes
and the Chaldaeans--these two clouds no bigger than a man's hand which
had lain on Assyria's horizon--fill her seat and her room. As we look
back on it now, the political revolution is complete; but had we lived
in the year 600 at Asshur or Damascus or Tyre or Tarsus, it might have
impressed us less. A new master in the East did not and does not always
mean either a new earth or a new heaven.

Let us see to how much the change really amounted. The Assyrian Empire
was no more. This is a momentous fact, not to be esteemed lightly. The
final catastrophe has happened only six years before our date; but the
power of Assyria had been going downhill for nearly half a century, and
it is clear, from the freedom with which other powers were able to move
about the area of her empire some time before the end, that the East had
been free of her interference for years. Indeed, so near and vital a
centre of Assyrian nationality as Calah, the old capital of the Middle
Empire, had been taken and sacked, ere he who was to be the last "Great
King" of the northern Semites ascended his throne.


For the last hundred and fifty years Assyrian history--a record of black
oppression abroad and blacker intrigue at home--has recalled the rapid
gathering and slower passing away of some great storm. A lull marks the
first half of the ninth century. Then almost without warning the full
fury of the cloud bursts and rages for nearly a hundred years. Then the
gloom brightens till all is over. The dynasty of Ashurnatsirpal and
Shalmaneser II slowly declined to its inevitable end. The capital itself
rose in revolt in the year 747, and having done with the lawful heirs,
chose a successful soldier, who may have been, for aught we know, of
royal blood, but certainly was not in the direct line. Tiglath
Pileser--for he took a name from earlier monarchs, possibly in
vindication of legitimacy--saw (or some wise counsellor told him) that
the militant empire which he had usurped must rely no longer on annual
levies of peasants from the Assyrian villages, which were fast becoming
exhausted; nor could it continue to live on uncertain blackmail
collected at uncertain intervals now beyond Euphrates, now in Armenia,
now again from eastern and southern neighbours. Such Bedawi ideas and
methods were outworn. The new Great King tried new methods to express
new ideas. A soldier by profession, indebted to the sword for his
throne, he would have a standing and paid force always at his hand, not
one which had to be called from the plough spring by spring. The lands,
which used to render blackmail to forces sent expressly all the way from
the Tigris, must henceforward be incorporated in the territorial empire
and pay their contributions to resident governors and garrisons.
Moreover, why should these same lands not bear a part for the empire in
both defence and attack by supplying levies of their own to the imperial
armies? Finally the capital, Calah, with its traditions of the dead
dynasty, the old regime and the recent rebellion, must be replaced by a
new capital, even as once on a time Asshur, with its Babylonian and
priestly spirit, had been replaced. Accordingly sites, a little higher
up the Tigris and more centrally situated in relation to both the
homeland and the main roads from west and east, must be promoted to be
capitals. But in the event it was not till after the reign of Sargon
closed that Nineveh was made the definitive seat of the last Assyrian

Organized and strengthened during Tiglath Pileser's reign of eighteen
years, this new imperial machine, with its standing professional army,
its myriad levies drawn from all fighting races within its territory,
its large and secure revenues and its bureaucracy keeping the provinces
in constant relation to the centre, became the most tremendous power of
offence which the world had seen. So soon as Assyria was made conscious
of her new vigour by the ease with which the Urartu raiders, who had
long been encroaching on Mesopotamia, and even on Syria, were driven
back across the Nairi lands and penned into their central fastnesses of
Van; by the ease, too, with which Babylonia was humbled and occupied
again, and the Phoenician ports and the city of Damascus, impregnable
theretofore, were taken and held to tribute--she began to dream of world
empire, the first society in history to conceive this unattainable
ideal. Certain influences and events, however, would defer awhile any
attempt to realize the dream. Changes of dynasty took place, thanks
partly to reactionary forces at home and more to the praetorian basis on
which the kingdom now reposed, and only one of his house succeeded
Tiglath Pileser. But the set-back was of brief duration. In the year 722
another victorious general thrust himself on to the throne and, under
the famous name of Sargon, set forth to extend the bounds of the empire
towards Media on the east, and over Cilicia into Tabal on the west,
until he came into collision with King Mita of the Mushki and held him
to tribute.


Though at least one large province had still to be added to the Assyrian
Empire, Sargon's reign may be considered the period of its greatest
strength. He handed on to Sennacherib no conquests which could not have
been made good, and the widest extent of territory which the central
power was adequate to hold. We may pause, then, just before Sargon's
death in 705, to see what the area of that territory actually was.

Its boundaries cannot be stated, of course, with any approach to the
precision of a modern political geographer. Occupied territories faded
imperceptibly into spheres of influence and these again into lands
habitually, or even only occasionally, raided. In some quarters,
especially from north-east round to north-west, our present
understanding of the terms of ancient geography, used by Semitic
scribes, is very imperfect, and, when an Assyrian king has told us
carefully what lands, towns, mountains and rivers his army visited, it
does not follow that we can identify them with any exactness. Nor should
the royal records be taken quite at their face value. Some discount has
to be allowed (but how much it is next to impossible to say) on reports,
which often ascribe all the actions of a campaign not shared in by the
King in person (as in certain instances can be proved) to his sole
prowess, and grandiloquently enumerate twoscore princedoms and kingdoms
which were traversed and subdued in the course of one summer campaign in
very difficult country. The illusion of immense achievement, which it
was intended thus to create, has often imposed itself on modern critics,
and Tiglath Pileser and Sargon are credited with having marched to the
neighbourhood of the Caspian, conquering or holding to ransom great
provinces, when their forces were probably doing no more than climbing
from valley to valley about the headwaters of the Tigris affluents, and
raiding chiefs of no greater territorial affluence than the Kurdish beys
of Hakkiari.

East of Assyria proper, the territorial empire of Sargon does not seem
to have extended quite up to the Zagros watershed; but his sphere of
influence included not only the heads of the Zab valleys, but also a
region on the other side of the mountains, reaching as far as Hamadan
and south-west Azerbaijan, although certainly not the eastern or
northern districts of the latter province, or Kaswan, or any part of the
Caspian littoral. On the north, the frontier of Assyrian territorial
empire could be passed in a very few days' march from Nineveh. The
shores of neither the Urmia nor the Van Lake were ever regularly
occupied by Assyria, and, though Sargon certainly brought into his
sphere of influence the kingdom of Urartu, which surrounded the latter
lake and controlled the tribes as far as the western shore of the
former, it is not proved that his armies ever went round the east and
north of the Urmia Lake, and it is fairly clear that they left the
northwestern region of mountains between Bitlis and the middle Euphrates
to its own tribesmen.

Westwards and southwards, however, Sargon's arm swept a wider circuit.
He held as his own all Mesopotamia up to Diarbekr, and beyond Syria not
only eastern and central Cilicia, but also some districts north of
Taurus, namely, the low plain of Milid or Malatia, and the southern part
of Tabal; but probably his hand reached no farther over the plateau than
to a line prolonged from the head of the Tokhma Su to the neighbourhood
of Tyana, and returning thence to the Cilician Gates. Beyond that line
began a sphere of influence which we cannot hope to define, but may
guess to have extended over Cappadocia, Lycaonia and the southern part
of Phrygia. Southward, all Syria was Sargon's, most of it by direct
occupation, and the rest in virtue of acknowledged overlordship and
payment of tribute. Even the seven princes of Cyprus made such
submission. One or two strong Syrian towns, Tyre and Jerusalem, for
example, withheld payment if no Assyrian army was at hand; but their
show of independence was maintained only on sufferance. The Philistine
cities, after Sargon's victory over their forces and Egyptian allies at
Raphia, in 720, no longer defended their walls, and the Great King's
sphere of influence stretched eastward right across the Hamad and
southward over north Arabia. Finally, Babylonia was all his own even to
the Persian Gulf, the rich merchants supporting him firmly in the
interests of their caravan trade, however the priests and the peasantry
might murmur. But Elam, whose king and people had carried serious
trouble into Assyria itself early in the reign, is hardly to be reckoned
to Sargon even as a sphere of influence. The marshes of its south-west,
the tropical plains of the centre and the mountains on the east, made it
a difficult land for the northern Semites to conquer and hold. Sargon
had been wise enough to let it be. Neither so prudent nor so fortunate
would be his son and successors.


Such was the empire inherited by Sargon's son, Sennacherib. Not content,
he would go farther afield to make a conquest which has never remained
long in the hands of an Asiatic power. It was not only lust of loot,
however, which now urged Assyria towards Egypt. The Great Kings had long
found their influence counteracted in southern Syria by that of the
Pharaohs. Princes of both Hebrew states, of the Phoenician and the
Philistine cities and even of Damascus, had all relied at one time or
another on Egypt, and behind their combinations for defence and their
individual revolts Assyria had felt the power on the Nile. The latter
generally did no more in the event to save its friends than it had done
for Israel when Shalmaneser IV beleaguered, and Sargon took and
garrisoned, Samaria; but even ignorant hopes and empty promises of help
cause constant unrest. Therefore Sennacherib, after drastic chastisement
of the southern states in 701 (both Tyre and Jerusalem, however, kept
him outside their walls), and a long tussle with Chaldaean Babylon, was
impelled to set out in the last year, or last but one, of his reign for
Egypt. In southern Palestine he was as successful as before, but,
thereafter, some signal disaster befell him. Probably an epidemic
pestilence overtook his army when not far across the frontier, and he
returned to Assyria only to be murdered.

He bequeathed the venture to the son who, after defeating his parricide
brothers, secured his throne and reigned eleven years under a name which
it has been agreed to write Esarhaddon. So soon as movements in Urartu
and south-western Asia Minor had been suppressed, and, more important,
Babylon, which his father had dishonoured, was appeased, Esarhaddon took
up the incomplete conquest. Egypt, then in the hands of an alien dynasty
from the Upper Nile and divided against itself, gave him little trouble
at first. In his second expedition (670) he reached Memphis itself,
carried it by assault, and drove the Cushite Tirhakah past Thebes to the
Cataracts. The Assyrian proclaimed Egypt his territory and spread the
net of Ninevite bureaucracy over it as far south as the Thebaid; but
neither he nor his successors cared to assume the style and titles of
the Pharaohs, as Persians and Greeks, wiser in their generations, would
do later on. Presently trouble at home, excited by a son rebelling after
the immemorial practice of the east, recalled Esarhaddon to Assyria;
Tirhakah moved up again from the south; the Great King returned to meet
him and died on the march.


But Memphis was reoccupied by Esarhaddon's successor, and since the
latter took and ruined Thebes also, and, after Tirhakah's death, drove
the Cushites right out of Egypt, the doubtful credit of spreading the
territorial empire of Assyria to the widest limits it ever reached falls
to Ashurbanipal. Even Tyre succumbed at last, and he stretched his
sphere of influence over Asia Minor to Lydia. First of Assyrian kings he
could claim Elam with its capital Susa as his own (after 647), and in
the east he professed overlordship over all Media. Mesopotamian arts and
letters now reached the highest point at which they had stood since
Hammurabi's days, and the fame of the wealth and luxury of "Sardanapal"
went out even into the Greek lands. About 660 B.C. Assyria seemed in a
fair way to be mistress of the desirable earth.


Strong as it seemed in the 7th century, the Assyrian Empire was,
however, rotten at the core. In ridding itself of some weaknesses it had
created others. The later Great Kings of Nineveh, raised to power and
maintained by the spears of paid praetorians, found less support even
than the old dynasty of Calah had found, in popular religious sentiment,
which (as usual in the East) was the ultimate basis of Assyrian
nationality; nor, under the circumstances, could they derive much
strength from tribal feeling, which sometimes survives the religious
basis. Throughout the history of the New Kingdom we can detect the
influence of a strong opposition centred at Asshur. There the last
monarch of the Middle Kingdom had fixed his dwelling under the wing of
the priests; there the new dynasty had dethroned him as the consummation
of an anti-sacerdotal rising of nobles and of peasant soldiery. Sargon
seems to have owed his elevation two generations later to revenge taken
for this victory by the city folk; but Sargon's son, Sennacherib, in his
turn, found priestly domination intolerable, and, in an effort to crush
it for ever, wrecked Babylon and terrorized the central home of Semitic
cult, the great sacerdotal establishment of Bel-Marduk. After his
father's murder, Esarhaddon veered back to the priests, and did so much
to court religious support, that the military party incited Ashurbanipal
to rebellion and compelled his father to associate the son in the royal
power before leaving Assyria for the last time to die (or be killed) on
the way to Egypt. Thus the whole record of dynastic succession in the
New Kingdom has been typically Oriental, anticipating, at every change
of monarch, the history of Islamic Empires. There is no trace of
unanimous national sentiment for the Great King. One occupant of the
throne after another gains power by grace of a party and holds it by
mercenary swords.

Another imperial weakness was even more fatal. So far as can be learned
from Assyria's own records and those of others, she lived on her
territorial empire without recognizing the least obligation to render
anything to her provinces for what they gave--not even to render what
Rome gave at her worst, namely, peace. She regarded them as existing
simply to endow her with money and men. When she desired to garrison or
to reduce to impotence any conquered district, the population of some
other conquered district would be deported thither, while the new
subjects took the vacant place. What happened when Sargon captured
Samaria happened often elsewhere (Ashurbanipal, for example, made Thebes
and Elam exchange inhabitants), for this was the only method of
assimilating alien populations ever conceived by Assyria. When she
attempted to use natives to govern natives the result was such disaster
as followed Ashurbanipal's appointment of Psammetichus, son of Necho, to
govern Memphis and the Western Delta.

Rotten within, hated and coveted by vigorous and warlike races on the
east, the north and the south, Assyria was moving steadily towards her
catastrophe amid all the glory of "Sardanapal." The pace quickened when
he was gone. A danger, which had lain long below the eastern horizon,
was now come up into the Assyrian field of vision. Since Sargon's
triumphant raids, the Great King's writ had run gradually less and less
far into Media; and by his retaliatory invasions of Elam, which
Sennacherib had provoked, Ashurbanipal not only exhausted his military
resources, but weakened a power which had served to check more dangerous

We have seen that the "Mede" was probably a blend of Scythian and
Iranian, the latter element supplying the ruling and priestly classes.
The Scythian element, it seems, had been receiving considerable
reinforcement. Some obscure cause, disturbing the northern steppes,
forced its warlike shepherds to move southward in the mass. A large
body, under the name Gimirrai or Cimmerians, descended on Asia Minor in
the seventh century and swept it to the western edge of the plateau and
beyond; others pressed into central and eastern Armenia, and, by
weakening the Vannic king, enabled Ashurbanipal to announce the
humiliation of Urartu; others again ranged behind Zagros and began to
break through to the Assyrian valleys. Even while Ashurbanipal was still
on the throne some of these last had ventured very far into his realm;
for in the year of his death a band of Scythians appeared in Syria and
raided southwards even to the frontier of Egypt. It was this raid which
virtually ended the Assyrian control of Syria and enabled Josiah of
Jerusalem and others to reassert independence.

The death of Ashurbanipal coincided also with the end of direct Assyrian
rule over Babylon. After the death of a rebellious brother and viceroy
in 648, the Great King himself assumed the Babylonian crown and ruled
the sacred city under a Babylonian name. But there had long been
Chaldaean principalities in existence, very imperfectly incorporated in
the Assyrian Empire, and these, inspiring revolts from time to time, had
already succeeded in placing more than one dynast on the throne of
Babylon. As soon as "Sardanapal" was no more and the Scythians began to
overrun Assyria, one of these principalities (it is not known which)
came to the front and secured the southern crown for its prince
Nabu-aplu-utsur, or, as the Greeks wrote the name, Nabopolassar. This
Chaldaean hastened to strengthen himself by marrying his son,
Nebuchadnezzar, to a Median princess, and threw off the last pretence of
submission to Assyrian suzerainty. He had made himself master of
southern Mesopotamia and the Euphrates Valley trade-route by the year

At the opening of the last decade of the century, therefore, we have
this state of things. Scythians and Medes are holding most of eastern
and central Assyria; Chaldaeans hold south Mesopotamia; while Syria,
isolated from the old centre of empire, is anyone's to take and keep. A
claimant appears immediately in the person of the Egyptian Necho, sprung
from the loins of that Psammetichus who had won the Nile country back
from Assyria. Pharaoh entered Syria probably in 609, broke easily
through the barrier which Josiah of Jerusalem, greatly daring in this
day of Assyrian weakness, threw across his path at Megiddo, went on to
the north and proceeded to deal as he willed with the west of the
Assyrian empire for four or five years. The destiny of Nineveh was all
but fulfilled. With almost everything lost outside her walls, she held
out against the Scythian assaults till 606, and then fell to the Mede
Uvakhshatra, known to the Greeks as Kyaxares. The fallen capital of West
Asia was devastated by the conquerors to such effect that it never
recovered, and its life passed away for ever across the Tigris, to the
site on which Mosul stands at the present day.


Six years later,--in 600 B.C.--this was the position of that part of the
East which had been the Assyrian Empire. Nebuchadnezzar, the Chaldaean
king of Babylon, who had succeeded his father about 605, held the
greater share of it to obedience and tribute, but not, apparently, by
means of any such centralized bureaucratic organization as the Assyrians
had established. Just before his father's death he had beaten the
Egyptians in a pitched battle under the walls of Carchemish, and
subsequently had pursued them south through Syria, and perhaps across
the frontier, before being recalled to take up his succession. He had
now, therefore, no rival or active competitor in Syria, and this part of
the lost empire of Assyria seems to have enjoyed a rare interval of
peace under native client princes who ruled more or less on Assyrian

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