|25th C. BC–609 BC|
Map showing the Assyrian Empire at its greatest extension (7th century BC).
|Religion||Ancient Mesopotamian religion|
• c. 2500 BC
• 612–609 BC
|Ashur-uballit II (last)|
• Kikkiya overthrown
|25th C. BC|
• Decline of Assyria
|612 BC 609 BC|
|194,249 km2 (75,000 sq mi)|
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 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, it 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 at several times. Making up a substantial part of the greater Mesopotamian "cradle of civilization", which included Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, and Babylonia, Assyria was at the height of technological, scientific and cultural achievements for its time. At its peak, the Neo-Assyrian Empire stretched from Cyprus and the East Mediterranean to Iran, and from what is now Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus, to the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and eastern Libya.
Assyria is named after its 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 its fall from power, the greater remaining part of Assyria was 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 Ashur,[clarification needed]Adiabene, Osroene, Beth Nuhadra, Beth Garmai and Hatra.
The region of Assyria fell under the successive control of the Median Empire, the Achaemenid Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the Seleucid Empire, the Parthian Empire, the Roman Empire (only for a year) and the Sasanian Empire. The Arab Islamic Conquest 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.