Battle of Nineveh


Date: 612 BC
Place: Nineveh, the capital of Assyria [36°22'N and 43°09'E]
Participants: Assyria ¤ Media, Babylonia and Scythians
Result: Decisive victory for the allied forces
Consequences: The fall of the mighty Assyrian Empire and the resurrection of Babylonia


After the fall of Elam, a great civilization that had existed in southern Iran for more than  4500 years, the Persians moved in to the area and incorporated the Elamites in their own society. Now the Iranian Plateau was split between the the Medes in North Iran and the Persians in South Iran. The Medes, the Persians and the Scythians were Iranians, and they were all Iranian-speaking. The Median king Cyaxares proved himself as a very strong king that had great ambitions for the newly-unified Media.


(The Walls of Nineveh, Kyle A. King)

The Medes decided to ally themselves with the Babylonians, Scythians etc. . At some point it looked as if that most of the nations allied against the merciless Assyrians, and as Herodotus says: 

"The Assyrians had held the Empire of Upper Asia for the space of five hundred and twenty years, when the Medes set the example of revolt from their authority. They took arms for the recovery of their freedom, and fought a battle with the Assyrians, in which they behaved with such gallantry as to shake off the yoke of servitude, and to become a free people. Upon their success the other nations also revolted and regained their independence."
(First Book: The Histories of Herodotus, Translated by George Rawlinson)

Media mustered all its strength and met with other coalition forces on its way to the Assyrian capital. It is descriped in the Nabopolassar chronicle: 

"The king of the Medes marched towards the king of Akkad and they met one another at ... . The king of Akkad and his army crossed the Tigris; Cyaxares had to cross the Radanu, and they marched along the bank of the Tigris. In the month Simanu, the Nth day, they encamped against Nineveh."
(The Chronicle of Nabopolassar: 612 - 611)

In February 612 BC they laid siege to Nineveh. The siege lasted for three months, and when they breached the wall a battle full of blood and gore ensued. As the chronicle of Nabopolassar states: 

"From the month Simanu until the month Abu - for three months - they subjected the city to a heavy siege. On the N-th day of the month Abu they inflicted a major defeat upon a great people. At that time Sin-shar-ishkun, king of Assyria, died. They carried off the vast booty of the city and the temple and turned the city into a ruin heap... ."
(The Chronicle of Nabopolassar: 612 - 611)

It is very obvious that the Medes and her allies gave the Assyrians "the Assyrian treatment". Even the Sin-shar-ishkun, the king of Assyria was slain when the Medes entered the capital. The same happened to Nineveh as the Assyrians did to Susa 35 years prior.

The Assyrians had ruled the most of the known world for almost 1500 years, and they were the unrivaled superpower from the beginning of human civilization to that date. The victory of the Medes and her allies sent shock-waves throughout the world. The Greek poet Phocylides, and the Jewish prophet Nahum mention the sacking of the Assyrian Capital.

The Battle of Nineveh resulted in the reemergence of the Babylonian Empire and the consolidation of Media as a major power. A new world order emerged where the balance of power kept these four empires away from eachother. 

 The Ancient world, 600 BC



1 comment:

  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

    ReplyDelete