Achaemenid Assyria

Athura[1] (Old Persian: 𐎠𐎰𐎢𐎼𐎠 Aθurā), also called Assyria Babylonia, was a geographical area within the Achaemenid Empire in Upper Mesopotamia from 539 to 330 BC as a military protectorate state. Although sometimes regarded as a satrapy,[2][3]

Achaemenid royal inscriptions list it as a dahyu (plural dahyāva), a concept generally interpreted as meaning either a group of people or both a country and its people, without any administrative implication.[4][5][6]

It mostly incorporated the territories of Neo-Assyrian Empire corresponding to what is now northern Iraq in the upper Tigris, the middle and upper Euphrates, modern-day northeastern Syria (Eber-Nari) and part of south-east Anatolia (now Turkey). However, Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula were separate Achaemenid territories.[7][8] The Neo-Assyrian Empire collapsed after a period of violent civil wars, followed by an invasion by a coalition of some of its former subject peoples, the Iranian peoples (Medes, Persians and Scythians), Babylonians and Cimmerians in the late seventh century BC, culminating in the Battle of Nineveh, and Assyria had fallen completely by 609 BC.

Between 609 and 559 BC, former Assyrian territories were divided between the Median Empire to the east and the Neo-Babylonian Empire to the west. Both parts were subsumed into the Achaemenid Empire in 539 BC, and it has been argued that they constituted the satrapies of Media and Aθurā, respectively.[3] In Herodotus' account the Ninth Tributary District comprised "Babylonia and the rest of Assyria" and excluded Eber-Nari.[9]

Despite a few rebellions, Aθurā functioned as an important part of the Achaemenid Empire and its inhabitants were given the right to govern themselves throughout Achaemenid rule and Old Aramaic was used diplomatically by the Achaemenids.[10]

Known for their combat skills, Assyrian soldiers (along with the Lydians) constituted the main heavy infantry of the Achaemenid military.[11] Due to the major destruction of Assyria during the fall of its empire, some early scholars described the area as an "uninhabited wasteland." Other Assyriologists, however, such as John Curtis and Simo Parpola, have strongly disputed this claim, citing how Assyria would eventually become one of the wealthiest regions among the Achaemenid Empire.[12] This wealth was due to the land's great prosperity for agriculture that the Achaemenids used effectively for almost 200 years.

In contrast to the policy of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the Achaemenid Persians did not intervene in the internal affairs of their ruling satrapies as long as they continued the flow of tribute and taxes back to Persia.[13]

Province of Achaemenid Empire

539 BC–330 BC
Location of Athura
Assyria in the Achaemenid Empire, 500 BC.
 •  Established 539 BC
 •  Disestablished 330 BC

Fall of the Assyrian Empire

Assyrians lay waste to Susa, Elam, 647 BC. In less than 40 years the same fate would befall Assur, Nineveh and Harran.

Between the mid 14th centuries and late 11th century BC, and again between the late 10th and late 7th centuries BC, the respective Middle Assyrian Empire and Neo-Assyrian Empire dominated the Middle East militarily, culturally, economically and politically,[14] and the Persians and their neighbours the Medes, Parthians, Elamites and Manneans were vassals of Assyria and paid tribute. In the late 7th century BC, however, the Assyrian empire descended into a period of civil war in 626 BC, which drastically weakened it, and eventually led to a number of its former subject peoples; the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians, forming an alliance and attacking the civil war ridden Assyrians in 616 BC. The Battle of Nineveh in 612 BC eventually left Assyria destroyed for years to come. The Assyrians continued to fight on, with the aid of another of their former vassals, Egypt who feared the rise of these new powers. A costly but victorious Battle at Megiddo against the forces of Judah allowed the Egyptians to advance to the rescue, only to be defeated by the Babylonian-Median-Scythian alliance. Harran, the new Assyrian capital, was eventually taken in 609 BC, thus ending the empire.[15][16][17] Despite this, part of the remnants of the former Assyrian army continued to fight on, along with Egypt, until final defeat at Carchemish in 605 BC.[17]

Babylonian rule was unpopular, but did not last long. In 539, Cyrus the Great defeated the Babylonian King Nabonidus (ironically himself an Assyrian from Harran), took Babylon and made it, along with Assyria, into provinces of the Persian Empire.[17]

Athura as part of the Achaemenid Empire

The former major Assyrian capitals of Nineveh, Dur Sharrukin and Kalhu were only sparsely populated during Achaemenid rule. Most Assyrian settlement was in smaller cities, towns and villages at plain level, in the mountains, or on mounds such as Tell ed-Darim. However, according to more recent Assyriologists such as Georges Roux, cities such as Arrapkha, Guzana and Arbela remained intact, and Ashur was to revive. Despite many of the Assyrian cities being left largely in ruins from the battles that led to the fall of its empire in the 7th century BC, rural Assyria was prosperous according to the Greek scholar Xenophon.[18] After passing Kalhu and Nineveh (which he described in ruins with only a handful of Assyrians dwelling amongst them), Xenophon and the Greeks turned north-west, following the east bank of the Tigris River. He described rural Assyria as:

..there was an abundance of corn in the villages, and found a palace, with many villages round about it...In these villages they remained for three days, not only for the sake of the wounded, but likewise because they had provisions in abundance – flour, wine, and great stores of barley that had been collected for horses, all these supplies having been gathered together by the acting satrap of the district.[19]

The testimony is an example of the rich agricultural resources of Assyria's region and the existence of a satrap's palace. It is not known exactly where this palace was located, but Layard suggest it may have been near Zakho.[20]

An inscription found in Egypt, written by Arsames, describes Assyrian cities that obtained administrative centres under Achaemenid rule:[21]

  • Lair: Assyrian Lahiru (Eski Kifri), by the Diyala Valley
  • Arzuhina: Tell Chemchemal, 40 kilometers east of Kirkuk
  • Arbela
  • Halsu: Location unknown
  • Matalubash: Assyrian Ubaše (Tell Huwaish), 20 kilometers north of ancient city of Assur

Prior to the Persian rule of Assyria, the Achaemenids were greatly Assyrianized,[22] and Aramaic continued as the lingua franca of the Empire in the region, with the Assyrian script being the everyday writing system. Assyrian (Sumero-Akkadian) religion within the empire was tolerated, and the judicial system, calendar and imperial standards imposed by the Assyrians remained in force everywhere.[23]

The Assyrians, like all other tributary peoples of the Persian Empire, were obliged to pay taxes to the King of Persia and, whenever the King campaigned, supply troops as well. Reliefs of Assyrian tribute bearers carved on the east and north sides of the Apadana, consist of seven bearded men: one carrying animal skins, one carrying a length of cloth, two carrying bowls, and two leading Mouflons.[24]

Rise of Aramaic

The Assyrian Empire resorted to a policy of deporting troublesome conquered peoples (predominantly fellow Semitic Aramean tribes as well as many Jews) into the lands of Mesopotamia. While this allowed some integration, it may have also led to the various rebellions within the Empire in the 7th century. By the 6th century, the indigenous and originally Akkadian speaking Semites of Assyria and Babylonia, spoke Akkadian infused dialects of Eastern Aramaic, which still survive among the Assyrian people to this day. Consequently, during the Persian rule of Assyria, Aramaic gradually became the main language spoken by the Assyrians.[25]

Even before the Empire fell, the Assyrians had made the language the lingua franca of its empire; many could speak Aramaic, and the ruling elite of Assyria needed to be bilingual, capable of speaking both Akkadian and Aramaic. The conquest of Assyria and the violent destruction of the cities meant that many of these bilingual skilled individuals died with their language and the Aramaic script was incorporated into the Assyrian culture by around the late 6th century BC.[25]

Taq-e Bostan - Pahlavi writing
Inscriptional Pahlavi text from Shapur III at Taq-e Bostan, 4th century. Pahlavi script is derived from the Aramaic script that was used under Achaemenid rule.

Following the Achaemenid conquest of Assyria, under Darius I the Aramaic language was adopted as the "vehicle for written communication between the different regions of the vast empire with its different peoples and languages." The use of a single official language, which modern scholarship has dubbed "Official Aramaic" or "Imperial Aramaic", is thought to have greatly contributed to the success of the Achaemenids in holding their far-flung empire together for as long as they did.[26] Imperial Aramaic was highly standardized; its orthography was based more on historical roots than any spoken dialect, and the inevitable influence of Persian gave the language a new clarity and robust flexibility. In 1955, Richard Frye questioned the classification of Imperial Aramaic as an "official language", noting that no surviving edict expressly and unambiguously accorded that status to any particular language.[27] Frye reclassifies Imperial Aramaic as the "lingua franca" of the Achaemenid territories, suggesting then that the Achaemenid-era use of Aramaic was more pervasive than generally thought.

For centuries after the fall of the Achaemenids, Imperial Aramaic – or near enough for it to be recognizable – remained an influence on the various native Iranian languages. Aramaic script and – as ideograms – Aramaic vocabulary survived as the essential characteristics of the Pahlavi writing system.[28]

One of the largest collections of Imperial Aramaic texts is that of the Persepolis fortification tablets, which number about five hundred.[29] Many of the extant documents witnessing to this form of Aramaic come from Egypt, and Elephantine in particular. Of them, the best known is the Wisdom of Ahiqar, a book of instructive aphorisms quite similar in style to the biblical book of Proverbs. Achaemenid Aramaic is sufficiently uniform that it is often difficult to know where any particular example of the language was written. Only careful examination reveals the occasional loan word from a local language.

A group of thirty Imperial Aramaic documents from Bactria were recently discovered, and an analysis was published in November 2006. The texts, which were rendered on leather, reflect the use of Aramaic in the 4th century BC Achaemenid provinces of Bactria and Sogdiana.[30]

Aramaic dialects and written script survive to this day among the Christian Assyrian people of Iraq, south eastern Turkey, north eastern Syria and north western Iran.

Revolts of Assyria, 546 and 520 BC

In 546 BC and 520 BC, the two Assyrian Provinces of Mada and Athura revolted against the Persian Empire.[31] Though the revolts were suppressed, it illustrated that the two regions acted in unison, suggesting perhaps an ethnic and cultural link. Having said this a rebellion could occur in several different parts of an Empire for geographical reasons and it may have been that the whole of the Mesopotamia region became swept with rebellion.


Although the effectiveness of the once invincible Assyrian army was shown to be greatly depleted by the time of its eventual collapse, the soldiers of Assyria continued to be brave and fierce warriors. Most soldiers at the time would not wear heavy armour, but rather than act as melee troops, would serve as skirmishers. The Assyrian troops were different, since they fought as archers, cavalry and heavy infantry and were useful as front line troops. The Assyrian infantry was specifically trained to engage in hand-to-hand combat.[32] A massive army was assembled by Xerxes in the early 5th century BC. Contemporary estimates place the numbers between 100,000 and over a million. Whatever the number, it was enormous and the Persians summoned troops from all across their realm. Herodotus remarks that Assyrian soldiers were employed in Xerxes' expedition to Greece.[31]

The Assyrian contingent wore on their heads either bronze helmets or plaited helmets of a peculiarly foreign design which is hard to describe. Their shields, spears, and daggers, resembled Egyptian ones, and they also carried wooden clubs with iron studs, and wore.|author=Herodotus[33]

Influence of Assyrian art on Achaemenid sculpture

Sphinx Darius Louvre
Assyrians of Athura were responsible for the glazing of the Palace of Darius at Susa and have influenced Achaemenid Persian art to some extent.

The Assyrians continued to serve the Persians under King Darius I, who was at his time considered the greatest ruler, often styling himself as "King of Kings." He ruled as a king over many other powerful subordinates and, as such, it was believed that a great palace should be built at the Persian city of Susa. The Assyrians were employed in the construction of this building, albeit with many other tributary peoples as well as Persians themselves. The Western Assyrians of Athura were closer to Mount Lebanon, where fine trees could be found and timber processed for Darius' grand Palace. The Eastern Assyrians of Mada were charged with excavating gold.[31]

Assyrian influence over Achaemenid art and sculpture can be seen in various areas of the empire. Examples include the doorway relief of the palaces in Pasargadae,[34] and in the Bukan area (near Urmia) where various tiles are decorated with human-headed winged figures, lions, and ibexes.[35] The symbol of the Assyrian God, Ashur, was chosen as the faravahar, the symbol of God in Zoroastrianism, during the Achaemenid rule of Assyria.[36]

The best example of Assyrian influence can be observed in the Gate of All Nations in Persepolis, with two lamassus (human-headed winged bull) in the entrance.[34] The Assyrian lamassu, however, was used to protect the palace from evil spirits, while those of Persepolis expressed meditative calm and humanity. Iranologists and Assyriologists have tried to answer the question of how was the influence transmitted. Possibilities include contacts between Athura and Persia were frequent and Achaemenid architects visited the Assyrian palaces. Other suggest Assyrian slaves were brought back to Persia to have them work on the new palaces.[37]


As with many other countries, the primary occupation was farming.[38] The large output of Mesopotamian farms resulted in highly populated civilizations.[38] The chief crop that fueled the ever-growing civilizations in the region was the grain barley and enumer wheat though sesame seeds also provided a source of nourishment.[38] Like much of the rest of the world at the time, the economy of Athura relied heavily upon the produce of the farms and the rivers, including fish and what fruit and meat could be raised in the Euphrates' fertile soils. The agricultural year began with sowing after summer. Flooding posed a serious risk to farmers, whilst rodents were supposedly driven off by prayers to the rodent god.[39] To ensure that such prayers were answered, tall silos were built to house the grain and keep out the mice.

Trees were grown for their fruit. To prevent the hot winds of the region from destroying the crops, tall palm trees were planted around the smaller trees, thus breaking the wind and shading the plants from the heat of the sun, the intensity of which provided plenty for the plants, even when shaded.[39] Following the Persian conquest, peaches were added to the original Assyrian mix of apples, cherries, figs, pears, plums and pomegranates.[39] Tree growing was an art mastered with tree-cutting and even "artificial mating" in order to have the Palm trees yield fruit.[39] In the north, rainfall in Athura met the demands of farming but in the more southernly parts (covering Mada) Shadufs were used to assist in irrigation.[40]

Oxen, donkeys, cattle and sheep were raised, the latter for their milk (which could be turned into butter) and the former as draught animals. Pigs, ducks, geese and chickens were all raised for their meat. Hunting supplemented the food supply with birds and fish.[41]

The down-time resulting from farming and the seasons allowed men and women to master other skills in life such as the arts, philosophy and leisure. Without the fertile soils of the Euphrates river valley, civilization would not have come to be.[38]

Archaeological findings


Xerxes I tomb Assyrian soldier circa 470 BCE
Assyrian soldier in the Achaemenid army circa 470 BC, Xerxes I tomb, Naqsh-e Rustam .

Kalhu (Nimrud)'s buildings were dramatically destroyed during the sacking of 614–612 BC. However, evidence of reoccupation during the "post-Assyrian period" (612–539 BC) is noted in various areas, including the Palace of Adad-nirari III, the North-West Palace, the Burnt Palace and Nabu Temple complex, Fort Shalmaneser, and the Town-Wall Houses.[42]

Xenophon passed by Nimrud (which he called Larissa) in 401 BC along with 10,000 Greek soldiers and described the city as

a large deserted city… Its wall was twenty-five feet in breadth and a hundred in height, and the whole circuit of the wall was two parasangs. It was built of clay bricks, and rested upon a stone foundation twenty feet high… Near by this city was a pyramid of stone, a plethrum in breadth and two plethra in height; and upon this pyramid were many barbarians (Assyrians) who had fled away from the neighbouring villages.[43]

Despite Xenephon's description of the city as being abandoned, archaeological evidence seems to show that there was some Achaemenid-period occupation. Phase 3 or H in the Nabu Temple complex and Burnt Palace is described as Achaemenid occupation.[44] They include traces of kilns on the south side of Room 47 in the Burnt Palace, together with red glass ingots and slag, which after a radiocarbon analysis yielded a date of 425 +/- 50 BC.[45] In the Nabu Temple, a pipe lamp and a group of seven pottery vessels are considered to be "ascribed to the Achaemenid period."[46] There was also some Achaemenid occupation in the South-East Palace: a deep footed bowl, a hemispherical bowl (which is compared with pottery from the Achaemenid village at Susa),[47] and three pottery vessels.[48] Also in the South-East Palace were two "eye of Horus" amulets, often regarded as hallmarks of Achaemenid period material culture. Another eye of Horus amulet has been found in the Town Hall Houses. In the palace of Adad-nirari III, three bronze kohl sticks with castellated heads having been identified as Achaemenid period.


Like other Assyrian capitals, Assur was greatly destroyed during the battles of the century before. The importance of the city thereafter is not clear, but much evidence indicate it was a flourishing city during the Achaemenid rule. After the Babylonian conquest by Cyrus the Great, the "Cyrus Cylinder" mentions Assur as one of the cities of which cult statues were returned.[49] In 401 BC, Xenephon describes the city as

A large and prosperous city named "Caenae" (Assur[50][51]) which was seen on the opposite (west) bank of the Tigris River.[52] From this city, the barbarians (Assyrians) brought over loaves, cheeses and wine, crossing upon rafts made of skins.

At the Assur Temple, two shrines have been identified as being built between the fifth and third centuries BC.[53] A few graves at the site also may have been belonged to the Achaemenid period. From the grave site, a pair of circular earrings with globules has clearly been identified as Achaemenid.[54] These earrings are similar to the silver earring found at Dur-Sharrukin near Nineveh. In another grave, Haller dates grave number 811 as Achaemenid period.[55] The grave contained three bodies, a stamp-seal showing the goddess Ishtar standing on the back of a lion. This might indicate that ancient Mesopotamian religion was still being practiced within the Assyrian population during the Achaemenid rule. Other objects from the grave 811 include a bronze fibula; another earring, but gold rather than the earlier described silver; different kinds of beads of silver, agate, frit and glass; an alabastron; a bowl made of copper; and two pottery bottles.[55] It is not clear, however, if all the items are Achaemenid in date.

Tel ed-Daim

To the northeast of Kirkuk, the site of Tel ed-Daim shows significant evidence of Achaemenid rule.[56] A small fortified palace (most probably for a local governor) includes a bronze wall-plaques, a bronze snaffle-bit of a type well known from Achaemenid contexts at Persepolis, kohl tubes with ribbed decoration tapering, and pottery.[57] The pottery in the palace show similarities with the pottery from Nimrud that has been identified as Achaemenid.[58]

Eski Mosul Dam Salvage Project

In the Eski Mosul Dam Salvage Project, a few items were identified as dating from the Achaemenid period. The project was located to the northwest of Mosul, in the upper Tigris valley, and within the Assyrian heartland. In the Kharabeh Shattani site, various amounts of pottery have been dated Achaemenid. These include four bowls of which have similarities of Achaemenid bowls in Susa and Pasargadae.[59] Other times include clay spindle whorls, two iron sickle blades, and a bronze plate optimistically identified as a horse's forehead plaque. A bronze finger-ring with a crouching animal engraved on the bezel was also found in the site and is considered to be widespread in the Achaemenid empire.[12] Also in the project, a grave site excavated found bodies that included a conical kohl pot and a bronze pin with a castellated top. These objects are considered to be distinctive Achaemenid type.[60]

Assyria after the Achaemenid period

Alexander Aramaic coin
Coin of Alexander bearing an Aramaic inscription reflect the continuous impact of the Assyrian language after the Achaemenid period.

In the late fourth century BC, Alexander the Great led his Greco-Macedonian army to conquer the Achaemenid Empire. The empire's vast territory and numerous tributary peoples ensured that rebellion would be a constant problem. This new Greek Empire relied upon the administrative system put in place by the Persians to govern these new lands; consequently, the Assyrian lands of Athura and Mada were administrated as such by their own satraps. When Alexander the Great died, the Greek successor state of the Seleucid Empire, created in the Babylonian War, retained control of much of the Persian Empire. The Babylonian Chronicles now show the vitality of Greek culture in ancient cities like Babylon.

Whilst Greek rule beyond the Euphrates was subject to constant and eventually successful Iranian incursions, Assyria was forced to take the role of a frontier province, first defending the Seleucid Empire against the Parthians and later defending the Parthian Empire against the Romans. Greek rule in the East did not last long, although the cultural impact did - by the mid-third century BC, the satraps began revolting against the Seleucid Empire in Iran and Bactria, establishing their own domains. A temporary revival of Seleucid power reestablished Imperial authority in these regions in the late 3rd and early 2nd century BC, but afterward the Parthians came to incorporate the lands known as Assyria once again by the mid-second century BC.

Rule by the Parthian Empire aimed to emulate that of their Persian predecessors, the Achaemenids, with a similar system of administration involving satraps and smaller provinces. Indeed, the main rebel behind the rise of Parthia from Seleucia was a satrap himself.[61] On top of this, the Parthian Empire was more decentralized and power was shared amongst clan leaders,[61] hinting at the possibility of the retention of the provinces. Mesopotamia became the heartland of the Seleucid Empire with a new capital, Seleucia, founded. As a result, much culture and knowledge was exchanged between the Greeks and the Assyrians. The invasions of Alexander the Great consisted not only of soldiers but scientists and historians.[62]

Beginning in the first century BC, the Romans began expanding their Empire at the cost of the Parthians. Initially, the nomadic military tactic of circling and shooting worked to deadly effect against the slow, heavy-moving infantry of the Romans.[63] In time, however, superior technology and strategy drove the Parthians out of the Mediterranean and most of Anatolia. The Parthians continued to resist Roman rule, invading and in turn being invaded by the Romans many times, with their capital Ctesiphon being sacked three times.[64] The consequence of these bloody and inconclusive wars meant that the Assyrian provinces bore the brunt of the fighting, with Assyrian troops fighting for one side and then, at the change of the governing of the lands of Mada and Athura, fighting for the other side. Naturally such events served to undermine the Assyrians.

Assyrians had begun to adopt Christianity from the first century and Aramaic remained the spoken language of the region.

By the second century, the Roman Empire under Trajan began to achieve the upper hand against the Parthians and established the province of Assyria along the Euphrates and Tigris.

From 226, Assyria became a province of the Sasanian Empire and was known as Asōristān ("Asōr-land") in Middle Persian.

In 650, the area fell to the early Muslim conquests. However, the region remained Aramaic-speaking and largely Christian well into the Middle Ages. Assyrians remain in the area to this day, and there are a number of Assyrian towns and villages in the region. In addition, cities such as Mosul, Dohuk, Erbil and Kirkuk have Assyrian populations. Most Assyrians remain Christian and retain the Aramaic language and script.

See also


  1. ^ Shabani, Reza. Iranian History at a Glance. p. 11. Assyria became part of the Achaemenian Dynasty under the title of "Athura".
  2. ^ Maspéro, Gaston (1900). The Passing of the Empires: 850 B.C. to 330 B.C. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. p. 688.
  3. ^ a b Parpola, Simo (2004). "National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in Post-Empire Times" (PDF). Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies. JAAS. 18 (2): 18. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-17. With the fall of Nineveh, the Empire was split in two, the western half falling in the hands of a Chaldean dynasty, the eastern one in the hands of Median kings. In 539 BC, both became incorporated in the Achaemenid Empire, the western one as the megasatrapy of Assyria (Aθūra), the eastern one as the satrapy of Media (Māda).
  4. ^ Cameron, George (1973): "The Persian satrapies and related matters", Journal of Near Eastern Studies 32, pp. 47–56
  5. ^ Cook, J.M.: "The rise of the Achaemenids and establishment of their empire", pp. 261–262, in Ilya Gershevitch, Fisher, William Bayne; Gershevitch, I.; Boyle, John Andrew (1968). The Cambridge History of Iran. Cambridge University Press. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-521-20091-2.
  6. ^ Briant, Pierre (2002): From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire, pp. 177, 390-391, 909.
  7. ^ Curtis, John (November 2003). "The Achaemenid Period in Northern Iraq" (PDF). L’archéologie de l’empire achéménide. Paris, France: 3–4.
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  9. ^ Briant, Pierre, op. cit. p. 391.
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  13. ^ "The Culture And Social Institutions Of Ancient Iran" by Muhammad A. Dandamaev, Vladimir G. Lukonin. Page 104
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  45. ^ Barag, D., 1985. "Catalogue of Western Asiatic Glass in the British Museum I", p. 108–9. London.
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  47. ^ Ghirshman, R., 1954. Village Perse-Achéménide, p.25
  48. ^ Oates, D. and J., 1958. "Nimrud 1957: the Hellenistic settlement", p. 12–14
  49. ^ Curtis, John (November 2003). "The Achaemenid Period in Northern Iraq" (PDF). L’archéologie de l’empire achéménide. Paris, France: 12.
  50. ^ Andrae, W., 1977. Das wiedererstandene Assur, new impression edited by B.Hrouda, München.
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  53. ^ Roaf, M.D., 1983. "Sculptures and Sculptors at Persepolis."
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  57. ^ Forgotten empire: the world of Ancient Persia By John Curtis, Nigel Tallis, Béatrice André-Salvini. Page 40.
  58. ^ Curtis, John (November 2003). "The Achaemenid Period in Northern Iraq" (PDF). L’archéologie de l’empire achéménide. Paris, France: 14.
  59. ^ Simpson, St.J., 1990. ‘Iron Age crop storage and ceramic manufacture in rural Mesopotamia: a review of the British Museum excavations at Qasrij Cliff and Khirbet Qasrij in Northern Iraq’, 119-140.
  60. ^ The Achaemenid Period in Northern Iraq, by John Curtis. Paris, Collège de France, Novembre 2003
  61. ^ a b Bentley, Jerry H.; Herb F. Ziegler (2006). Traditions & Encounters a Global Perspective on the Past. 1. New York: McGraw-Hill..
  62. ^ Parker, Geoffrey. Compact History of the World. 4th ed. London: Times Books, 2005 pg 33 ISBN 0-7607-2575-6
  63. ^ Grant, R.G. (2005). Battle a Visual Journey Through 5000 Years of Combat. London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 43., "Carrhae was a disaster for the Roman empire in the east."
  64. ^ Parker, Geoffrey (2005). Compact History of the World. London: Times Books. p. 37. map shows temporary acquisitions of "Assyria" and "Mesopotamia" provinces
Ajam of Iraq

Ajam of Iraq or Persians of Iraq are Iraqi citizens of Iranian national background or descent. Iranians have had a long presence in Iraq, dating back to antiquity.

Saddam Hussein deported most Iraqi Ajams in the 1970s and 1980s.


Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamian kingdom and empire of the ancient Near East and the Levant. It existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25th century BC (in the form of the Assur city-state) until its collapse between 612 BC and 609 BC - spanning the periods of the Early to Middle Bronze Age through to the late Iron Age. From the end of the seventh century BC (when the Neo-Assyrian state fell) to the mid-seventh century AD, it survived as a geopolitical entity, for the most part ruled by foreign powers such as the Parthian and early Sasanian Empires between the mid-second century BC and late third century AD, the final part of which period saw Mesopotamia become a major centre of Syriac Christianity and the birthplace of the Church of the East.A largely Semitic-speaking realm, Assyria was centred on the Tigris in Upper Mesopotamia (modern northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and the northwestern fringes of Iran). The Assyrians came to rule powerful empires in several periods. Making up a substantial part of the greater Mesopotamian "cradle of civilization", which included Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, and Babylonia, Assyria reached the height of technological, scientific and cultural achievements for its time. At its peak, the Neo-Assyrian Empire of 911 to 609 BC stretched from Cyprus and the East Mediterranean to Iran, and from present-day Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus to the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and eastern Libya.The name "Assyria" originates with the Assyrian state's original capital, the ancient city of Aššur, which dates to c. 2600 BC - originally one of a number of Akkadian-speaking city states in Mesopotamia. In the 25th and 24th centuries BC, Assyrian kings were pastoral leaders. From the late 24th century BC, the Assyrians became subject to Sargon of Akkad, who united all the Akkadian- and Sumerian-speaking peoples of Mesopotamia under the Akkadian Empire, which lasted from c. 2334 BC to 2154 BC. After the Assyrian Empire fell from power, the greater remaining part of Assyria formed a geopolitical region and province of other empires, although between the mid-2nd century BC and late 3rd century AD a patchwork of small independent Assyrian kingdoms arose in the form of Assur, Adiabene, Osroene, Beth Nuhadra, Beth Garmai and Hatra.

The region of Assyria fell under the successive control of the Median Empire of 678 to 549 BC, the Achaemenid Empire of 550 to 330 BC, the Macedonian Empire (late 4th century BC), the Seleucid Empire of 312 to 63 BC, the Parthian Empire of 247 BC to 224 AD, the Roman Empire (from 116 to 118 AD) and the Sasanian Empire of 224 to 651 AD. The Arab Islamic conquest of the area in the mid-seventh century finally dissolved Assyria (Assuristan) as a single entity, after which the remnants of the Assyrian people (by now Christians) gradually became an ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious minority in the Assyrian homeland, surviving there to this day as an indigenous people of the region.

Assyria (disambiguation)

Assyria may refer to:

Assyria, an ancient empire in Mesopotamia

Either of two provinces of the Persian Empire:

Achaemenid Assyria, also known as Athura

Asuristan (Sassanid)

Assyria (Roman province), province of the Roman Empire

Asuristan, the Sassanid province

Assyrian homeland, the current geographical location of today's modern Assyrians

A modern term referring to the establishment of a state for the Assyrian people, see Assyrian independence movement

Assyria Township, Michigan

Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, the commonly spoken language by the modern Assyrians


Assyriology (from Greek Ἀσσυρίᾱ, Assyriā; and -λογία, -logia) is the archaeological, historical, and linguistic study of not just Assyria, but the entirety of ancient Mesopotamia (a region encompassing what is today modern Iraq, north eastern Syria, south eastern Turkey, and north western and south western Iran) and of related cultures that used cuneiform writing. The field covers Sumer, the early Sumero-Akkadian city-states, the Akkadian Empire, Ebla, the Akkadian and Imperial Aramaic speaking states of Assyria, Babylonia and the Sealand Dynasty, the migrant foreign dynasties of southern Mesopotamia, including; the Gutians, Amorites, Kassites, Arameans, Suteans and Chaldeans, and to some degree post-imperial Achaemenid Assyria, Athura, Seleucid Syria, Assyria (Roman province), and Assuristan, together with later Neo-Assyrian states such as Adiabene, Osroene, Hatra, Beth Nuhadra and Beth Garmai, up until the Arab invasion and Islamic conquest of the mid 7th century AD. Some Assyriologists also write on the further Assyrian continuity of the Assyrian people as well as the Mandaeans into the present day.

The large number of cuneiform clay tablets preserved by these Sumero-Akkadian and Assyro-Babylonian cultures provide an extremely large resource for the study of the period. The region's (and indeed the world's) first cities and city-states such as Ur are archaeologically invaluable for studying the growth of urbanization.

Scholars need a good knowledge of several languages: The two main languages of Mesopotamia; Akkadian (including its major dialects) and Sumerian, together with such neighbouring languages as Biblical Hebrew, Hittite, Elamite, Hurrian, Indo-Anatolian, Imperial Aramaic, Eastern Aramaic dialects, Old Persian and Canaanite for comparative purposes, and the knowledge of writing systems that use several hundred core signs. There now exist many important grammatical studies and lexical aids. Although scholars can draw from a large corpus of literature, some tablets are broken, or in the case of literary texts where there may be many copies, the language and grammar are often arcane. Moreover, scholars must be able to read and understand modern English, French, and German, as important references, dictionaries, and journals are published in those languages.


Asōristān (Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭮𐭥𐭥𐭮𐭲𐭭‎ Asōrestān, Āsūrestān) was the name of the Sasanian province of Babylonia from 226 to 637.

British Mandate for Mesopotamia (legal instrument)

The British Mandate for Mesopotamia (Arabic: الانتداب البريطاني على العراق‎) was a Mandate proposed to be entrusted to Britain at the San Remo, Italy-based conference, in accordance with the Sykes–Picot Agreement.

The proposed mandate was awarded on April 25, 1920, at the San Remo conference in Italy, but was not yet documented or defined. It was to be a Class A mandate under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. A draft mandate document was prepared by the British Colonial Office in June 1920. The Mandate with British administration was enacted via the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty.

The proposed mandate faced certain difficulties to be established, as a nationwide Iraqi revolt broke out in 1920, after which it was decided the territory would become the Kingdom of Iraq, via the Anglo-Iraq Treaty. The Kingdom of Iraq became independent in 1931-1932, in accordance with the League of Nations stance, which stated such states would be facilitated into progressive development as fully independent states.The civil government of postwar Iraq was headed originally by the High Commissioner, Sir Percy Cox, and his deputy, Colonel Arnold Wilson. British reprisals after the murder of a British officer in Najaf failed to restore order. British administration had yet to be established in the mountains of north Iraq. The most striking problem facing the British was the growing anger of the nationalists, who felt betrayed at being accorded mandate status.

Council of Ministers (Iraq)

The Council of Ministers is the executive branch of the government of Iraq.

The Council of Representatives of Iraq elects a President of the Republic who appoints the Prime Minister who in turn appoints the Council of Ministers, all of whom must be approved by the Assembly.


Eber-Nari (Akkadian, also Ebir-Nari), Abar-Nahara עבר-נהרה (Aramaic) or 'Ābēr Nahrā (Syriac) was the name of a region of Western Asia and a satrapy of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC), Neo-Babylonian Empire (612-539 BC) and Achaemenid Empire (539-332 BC). Eber-Nari roughly corresponded with the Levant (Syria region), and was also known as Aramea.

It means "Beyond the River" or "Across the River" in both the Akkadian and Imperial Aramaic languages of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (that is, the Western bank of the Euphrates from a Mesopotamian and Persian viewpoint). It is also referred to as Transeuphratia (French Transeuphratène) by modern scholars. The province is also mentioned extensively in the Biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah as עבר הנהר Evver Hanahar. Additionally, sharing the same root meaning, Eber (pronounced Evver) was also a character in the Hebrew Bible from which the term Hebrew was widely believed to have been derived (see: Eber), thus the Hebrews were inferred to have been the people who crossed into Canaan across the (Euphrates or the Jordan) river.

The term was established during the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC) in reference to its Levantine colonies, and the toponym appears in an inscription of the 7th century BC Assyrian king Esarhaddon. The region remained an integral part of the Assyrian empire until its fall in 612 BC, with some northern regions remaining in the hands of the remnants of the Assyrian army and administration until at least 605 BC, and possibly as late as 599 BC.Subsequent to this Eber-Nari was fought over by the Neo-Babylonian Empire (612-539 BC) and Egypt, the latter of which had entered the region in a belated attempt to aid its former Assyrian overlords. The Babylonians and their allies eventually defeated the Egyptians (and remnants of the Assyrian army) and assumed control of the region, which they continued to call Eber-Nari.

The Babylonians were overthrown by the Persian Achaemenid Empire (539-332 BC), and the Persians assumed control of the region. Having themselves spent centuries under Assyrian rule, the Achaemenid Persians retained the Imperial Aramaic and Imperial organisational structures of their Assyrian predecessors.

In 535 BC the Persian king Cyrus the Great organized some of the newly conquered territories of the former Neo-Babylonian Empire as a single satrapy; "Babylonia and Eber-Nari", encompassing southern Mesopotamia and the bulk of the Levant. Northern Mesopotamia, the north east of modern Syria and south east Anatolia remaining as Athura (Assyria) (Achaemenid Assyria).The satrap of Eber-Nari resided in Babylon and there were subgovernors in Eber-Nari, one of which was Tettenai, mentioned in both the Bible and Babylonian cuneiform documents. This organization remained untouched until at least 486 BC (Xerxes I's reign), but before c. 450 BC the "mega-satrapy" was split into two—Babylonia and Eber-Nari.Herodotus' description of the Achaemenid tax district number V fits with Eber-Nari. It comprised Aramea, Phoenicia, and Cyprus (which was also included in the satrapy). Herodotus did not include in the tax list the Arabian tribes of the Arabian peninsula, identified with the Qedarites, that did not pay taxes but contributed with a tax-like gift of frankincense.

Eber-Nari was dissolved during the Greek Seleucid Empire (312-150 BC), the Greeks incorporating both this region and Assyria in Upper Mesopotamia into Seleucid Syria during the 3rd century BC. Syria was originally a 9th-century Indo-Anatolian derivation of Assyria and was used for centuries only in specific reference to Assyria and the Assyrians (see Name of Syria), a land which in modern terms actually encompassed only the northern half of Iraq, north east Syria and south east Turkey and not the bulk of Greco-Roman, Byzantine or modern nation of Syria. However, from this point the terms Syrian and Syriac were used generically and often without distinction to describe both Assyria proper and Eber-Nari/Aram, and their respective Assyrian and Aramean/Phoenician populations.

Hamrin Mountains

The Hamrin Mountains (Arabic: جبل حمرين Jabāl Hamrīn, Kurdish:چیای حەمرین Çiyayê Hemrîn or Çiyayên Hemrîn) are a small mountain ridge in northeast Iraq. The westernmost ripple of the greater Zagros mountains, the Hamrin mountains extend from the Diyala Province bordering Iran, northwest to the Tigris river, crossing northern Salah ad Din Province and southern Kirkuk Province.

In antiquity, the mountains were part of the frontier region between Babylonia to the south and Assyria to the north. Today, the area forms part of the linguistic boundary between most of Arab people of Iraq and Kurdish people of Iraq in the north.

Infrastructure of Iraq

Infrastructure of Iraq describes the infrastructure of the country of Iraq. Throughout the history of Iraq, the country's infrastructure, along with its politics and economy, have been affected by armed conflicts; none more serious than the 2003 Invasion and subsequent reconstruction.


Kirkuk (Arabic: كركوك‎ Karkūk; Kurdish: کەرکووک‎ Kerkûk; Syriac: ܟܪܟܘ݂ܟ‎

Turkish: Kerkük) is a city in Iraq, serving as the capital of the Kirkuk Governorate, located 238 kilometres (148 miles) north of Baghdad.

Kirkuk lies in a wide zone with an enormously diverse population and has been multilingual for centuries. There were dramatic demographic changes during Kirkuk's urbanization in the twentieth century, which saw the development of distinct ethnic groups. Kurds, Iraqi Turkmen, Arabs, Chaldeans, and Assyrians lay conflicting claims to this zone, and all have their historical accounts and memories to buttress their claims. The city sits on the ruins of the original Kirkuk Citadel, site of the ancient mid-3rd millennium BC, Assyrian city of Arrapha, and which sits near the Khasa River. The city is mentioned during the Sumero-Akkadian period of Assyria in cuneiform script from about 2400 BC. The region became a part of the Akkadian empire (2335–2154 BC) which united all of the Akkadian and Sumerian speaking Mesopotamians under one rule. After its collapse, the language isolate-speaking Gutians, a pre-Iranic race from Ancient Iran, overran the region for a few decades, making Arrapha their capital, before being ejected from Mesopotamia by the Sumerians during the Neo-Sumerian Empire (2112–2004 BC). The city later came to be dominated by the Hurrians from eastern Anatolia before being incorporated into the Old Assyrian Empire (2025–1750 BC), after which Arrapha and the whole of northern Mesopotamia, together with parts of north east Syria and south east Turkey, became a part of Assyria proper. During the late 15th century BC Assyria and Arrapha was under the domination of the short-lived Mittani-Hurrian empire, but after the Assyrians overthrew and destroyed the Hurri-Mitanni in the early 14th century BC the city was once more under Assyrian rule. Arrapha remained an important Assyrian city until the fall of the Assyrian empire between 615–599 BC. After this it remained a part of the geo-political province of Assyria (Achaemenid Assyria, Athura, Seleucid Syria, Assyria (Roman province) and Assuristan) under various foreign empires, and between the 2nd century BC and 3rd century AD became the capital of the Neo-Assyrian state of Beth Garmai before this was conquered into the Sassanid empire and became a part of Assuristan. The Arab Islamic conquest of the 7th century AD saw the dissolution of Assyria as a geo-political entity.

Kurds and Turkmens have claimed the city as a cultural capital. It was named the "capital of Iraqi culture" by the Iraqi ministry of culture in 2010. The city currently consists mainly of people who self-identify as Kurds, Arabs, Iraqi Turkmens, Chaldeans, and Assyrians , with changes in population after the US-led invasion in 2003, and later the war against the Islamic State from 2014 to 2017.

Languages of Iraq

There are a number of languages spoken in Iraq, but Mesopotamian Arabic (Iraqi Arabic) is by far the most widely spoken in the country.

List of islands of Iraq

The following is an incomplete list of islands of Iraq.

Aloos Island, Euphrates (Al Anbar Governorate)

Hajjam Island

Jubbah Island, Euphrates (Al Anbar Governorate)

Om al-Babi Island, Shatt al-Arab

Om al-Khanazeer Island (Mother of Pigs Island), Baghdad

Majnoon Island

Sindbad Island, Shatt al-Arab

Om Al-Rasas Island (Mother of Lead Island), Shatt al-Arab

List of years in Iraq

This is a list of years in Iraq, referring to the Iraqi Republic (1958-1963), Baathist Iraq (1963-2003) and Arab Republic of Iraq (2003-present).

Midland Oil Company

Midland Oil Company is a state-owned oil company and is Iraq's fourth oil company. It is responsible for overseeing development in recently auctioned fields in the centre of the country. It has been announced to be launched by the Iraqi Ministry of Oil.

Presidency Council of Iraq

The Presidency Council of Iraq was an entity that operated under the auspices of the "transitional provisions" of the Constitution of Iraq and previously under the Transitional Administrative Law.

The Presidency Council functioned in the role of the President of Iraq until one successive presidential term after the ratification of the Constitution and a government was seated. The Presidency council consisted of one President and two deputies, or Vice-Presidents, and the Presidency Council must have made all decisions unanimously.The members of the Presidency Council were elected with "one list" by a two-thirds majority in the Iraqi Council of Representatives. The Presidency Council had the right to veto legislation passed by the Council of Representatives which may have overrode the veto with a three-fifths supermajority. Under the TAL the override required a two-thirds supermajority.

President of Iraq

The President of Iraq is the head of state of Iraq and "safeguards the commitment to the Constitution and the preservation of Iraq's independence, sovereignty, unity, the security of its territories in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution". The President is elected by the Council of Representatives by a two-thirds majority, and is limited to two four-year terms. The President is responsible for ratifying treaties and laws passed by the Council of Representatives, issues pardons on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, and performs the "duty of the Higher Command of the armed forces for ceremonial and honorary purposes". Since the mid-2000s, the Presidency is primarily a symbolic office, and by convention since 2005, usually held by a Kurdish Iraqi.

Prime Minister of Iraq

The Prime Minister of Iraq is the head of government of Iraq. The Prime Minister was originally an appointed office, subsidiary to the head of state, and the nominal leader of the Iraqi parliament. Under the newly adopted constitution the Prime Minister is the country's active executive authority. Nouri al-Maliki (formerly Jawad al-Maliki) was selected to be Prime Minister on 21 April 2006. On 14 August 2014, al-Maliki agreed to step down as prime minister of Iraq to allow Haider al-Abadi to take his place. On 25 October 2018, Adil Abdul-Mahdi was sworn into office five months after the 2018 elections.

Smoking in Iraq

Smoking in Iraq is a widespread and culturally accepted behavior in Iraqi society. Since 2003 however there has been a greater push from the government to impose stricter rules. Since 2009 it is illegal to smoke in or around public buildings, although the ban remains unpopular with the Iraqi public and enforcement is inconsistent.A 2015 study conducted by health advocates stated that and average of 55 Iraqis die daily due to tobacco related diseases. By comparison and average of 10 people a day are killed in Iraqi due to terrorism and violence.

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