Preface This booklet was originally conceived as an exercise in advanced desktop publishing; as portfolio art for a graphic design job. Also as a celebration of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian Antiquities departments of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. My IO-year association with the Ash has inspired me to become somewhat of an amateur historian. The book let is now offered as a presentation piece showcasing skills in graphic design utilising the Adobe Creative Suite (C52) software package. Please do not assume it has been produced for any commercial purpose, as in it's image sourcing I have commited heinous copyright infringements. All elements have been type· set, pasted, edited and prepared for print using InOeslgn. All title type ·faces, maps, traces and some illustration elements have been created in Illustrator. Photoshop has been employed to create the title montages and covers, to paint my own illustrations, and to 'pop' virtually every image in the booklet. Assyrian wall-reliefs are objects of wonder, but the 'mosel -marble' amber-brown needed a visual push here and there to maintain interest in a younger audience. After all, just as with Egyptian sandstone or Greco-Roman marble, in their original context these sculptures would all have been garishly painted, artistic subtlety being a flavour more appreciated by the modern world. In it 's text I have 'popularised' the content of the booklet to a degree too lurid to be an official publication of a museum or similar learning institute. For a start, it addresses non-academic hot topics such as faith and ethnicity (whilst attempting to avoid opinion). It is also written for a target audience of 10-14 years and therefore is designed to have visual punch and immediacy. I believe linear history, with the exception of simple story-telling, would be lost on anyone younger. Every effort has been made, in the producing of this booklet, to source images whose copyright is in the public domain, o r are fro m Ashmolean Pub lications, with further material from both myself and from photographer Ellis Deen. With all sculptors having been dead for two and a half millennia the copyright on photographs of arn:ient artefacts including museum objects is held by the photographer of that artefact, although fora commercial publication it would be bad form not to seek kind permission from the trustees of the material. Many siteson the Internet offer O public domain images, most notablyWikipedia and Wikimedia, god bless them, these free study resou rces don't deserve aI/the bad press they get. Other liberal-minded souls have re leased the content of book!; that have passed into the public domain because of their venerable age over the Internet, material and images were here sourced from Project Gutenberg (Maspero's 3 Vol. Histories), Google Books (J.G.wi lklnson) and Christian Computer Art (layard drawings) amongst others. Where images have been sourced from Ashmolean Publications booklets it is only because the Middle East collections are unavailable to view or photograph at this time, due to the Museum's extensive redevelopment. However, in the pursuit of presenting the ancient work! in as illuminated a form as possible, I have appropriated some images without copyright permission, which obviously wou ld be wildly illegal if this booklet were in tended for commercial purposes. The original source or location of all images, unless they are from the Ashmolean, are listed in the appropriate side bars. A full list of the intermediary sources and web-sites that I have obtained them from, with the copyright status of each, can be found on the inside back cover. Many thanks to all my friends al the Ash, for questions answered and inspiration given.

-Sh,lun JBrylln

Th e

magnificent, bloody and ruth less Third ('Neo') Assyrian Empire was the scourge of

the ancient Middle East for three hundred years, in the 9'~, 8'" and 7'" Cen t uries BC. The Assyrian

peoples regarded the conquest and subjugation of all surrounding nations to be not only their national destiny but also their religious duty - and the Assyrians were no thing if not religious. By holding the known world to ransom through intimidation, bru tality and the reality of bloody destruction, they amassed wealth beyond imagining. With this they buil t monumen tal structu res for their Kings and to their Gods, decorated with scu lptures and wall-reliefs that represented a more refined and realistic art style than the world had seen before. These wall-reliefs frequently illustrated the themes of t he wa rs, cultural destruction ilnd enslavemen t for which the Assyriilns were feared throughout their Empire and beyond. The most infamous of the tyrant kings of Assyria was Sennllcherib, known through history firS! and foremost from his stilrring role in the Old Testament books IIKings,IIChronicies and ISiliilh. His story is also told

on the wali-reliefs from

the 'Peerless Palace' at his capital Nineveh, virtually

ali of which were shipped wholesale to the British Museum in 1850 by Sir George Henry Layard,

Assyrian ea"alrr soldier leading a 110"", with harnessing typical of &nn:lCherib's period '-Iosel marble w"lIlciicffrom &mulC hcrib's p',Jocc ilt 1'incwll As hmolc,,,,

In the Ashmolean's Assyrian collections we have a wealth of artifacts dating from as far back as the first ground -breaking excavations of Layard, and of Schliemann (1870), and also from archaeological digs in which the University of Oxford has been directly involved, between 1918 and the 1980's, including from the findings of such luminaries of archal!'Ology as Professor Sir William FlindersPetrie and Sir Charles Wooley. Many of these artifacts still bare fire damage incurred during The Assyrian Empire's eventual total annihilation, which came at the hands of a vengeful world.


of Sennacherib's most hardy opponent s was the Pharaoh Taharqa of Egypt. Taharqa

was the third king of Egypt's remarkable Twenty-Fifth Dynasty. The 2S'" dynasty kings were not native Egyptians at all, but Nubians from Central Africa. The sprawling kingdom of Nubia had shared a border with the Egyptian superpower for over two thousand years, usually the two were bitter enemies, until Egypt conquered Nubia during the 'New Kingdom' period. Nearly 500yearsofEgyptian occupation had led, however, to a shared culture and a shared religion, so that when the Nubian Kings themselves eventually conquered Egypt, after Egypt had been suffering a tong period of fracture and cultural decline, they brought with them not more anarchy but order, and a reaffirmation of the lost values of the earlier Egyptian 'New Kingdom'. For 75 years the Nubian kings strove to restore Egypt's former glorie$. They built new Temples and restored old ones, and faithfu lty promoted the worship of Amon-re, Egyptian king of the gods. They attempted to secure Egypt"s Interests overseas, and when Sennacherib'sdread Assyrian Empire, with terrible inevitability, set it's sights on the Conquest of Egypt, The Nubians and the Egyptians fought side-by-side through long years for the independence of their unified Kingdoms. Taharqa. as the longest reigning Nubian king, bore the brunt of most of these harsh times, yet also managed to carry out the most monumental of building programmes. The prize possession of the Ashmolean's Egyptian galleries, if not of the entire collection. is the 'Shrine

ofTaharqa'. The Shrine itself is a sandstone structure 4 metres square, and may have been a place of quiet religious meditation for the king, a sacred se lf-contained space within the large temple Taharqa built at Kawa. It is richty decorated on all four sides wi th relief sculptures showing Taharqa, wearing alternatively the two -cobra diadem crown of Nubia, and the 'double' crown of Egypt, in communion with Amon-re and the other gods. It wasgenerousty given to the UniverSity of Oxford, and thereby to the Ashmolean, by the Sudanese government, in recognition of the discovery and excavation of the temple complex at Kawa by Professor Griffith and Sir Lawrence Kirwan 1930-1936. The rest of the Kawa temple has since been lost, reclaimed by the african sands. It is chief among many fabulous treasures in the Ashmo lean, from the Nubian 25"' dynasty and from the long histories of both Nubia and Egypt.

north 1cbes. The king offers '";\ "hite loaf to his father" Amon-Re. acCOll1p.lJlied by Mut. Khons and Mon(U .

ll'alt!r,f her !>lou/I, Kush lind E/{J'pI


her bourrdless strerrgth ..• III/{e" eapli, ....

J'eI ~-h~ _.1

amI !>l...."t in/n ~u/~, IIltr Injanls IO"I!re dushltd tu piece.' UI thlt hltud oj Cloef y )'trltel. LtHS ....-ere CUtit jUl'

Iter nobles, ull her greal


lI'C't'e [lM1 I" (Nahum 3:6),

chul"s" 24

Taharqa loses Egypt but at least successfully retreats to Nubia. His crown passes to his nephew Tanutamon , who vows to re-take Egypt.

663 BC Taharqa dies and is buried under his pyramid at Nuri. In the same year Tanutamon regains control of Egypt and digs in. 664 Be The final climactic battle between Nubia and Assyria. Tanutamon's forces are beaten and Ashurbanipal chases him out, first of Egypt, then lower Nubia altogether. This is the end of the Nubian dynasty in Egypt. However, Nubia survives as it's own kingdom retaining it's independence through all the coming centuries, to the age of Ro me and beyond. Na tive Egyptian prince Psamtik is Installed as governor of the Assyrian province of Egypt.

664 Be The same year Ashurbanipal repulses an flamite invasion of Babylonia, during which the Elamite king Urtaku is killed. Sha mash -shum-ukin is left humil iated and belittled by the necessi ty of his brothers Intervention. The King of Babylonia begins to conspire with other heads of state against the King of Assyria . 6S6 Be with support from the new Greek/Syrian states of lydia, Ca ria and Ionia, Psamtlk rebels and ejects the Assyrians. Egypt is independent once more (26th Dynasty) and never again suffers the Assyrian boot. The conspiracy In the east requires Ashurbanipal's full attention.

653 BC The last incursion by the forces of Elam into Babylonia is decisiveJy crushed by Ashurbanipal at the battle of the river Ula·i. Elam has jumped t he gun on the conspiracy and pays a heavy price. King Teumann of Elam is killed . In the same year the Parsu (the protopersians) occupy the Elamite city of Anshan. Elam, having survived as an independent na tion for three thousand years, enters into swift decline.



When King Ashurbanipal uncovers evidence of his brother's involvement in the conspiracy, relations deteriorate quickly. A 3-year siege is laid on Babylon. It ends wi t h the death of Shamash-sh um-uki n.


1546-640 Ashurbanipal conquers Elam, raising the capital Sun to the ground. It becomes the Assyrian empire province of Susiana. Ashurbanipal celebrates his dominion over the whole world, in a victory procession his charlot is pulled by 4 captive kings in harness.

635 Be Things begin to faU apart. Old Ashurbanipal abdicates and passes the crown to one of twin sons. The boys fall out and both claim the crown. Then an upstart Assyrian General claims kingship. Ashurbanipal himself is forced back in to the mess. Civil War ensues. with no resolution, the Empire fragments ...

King Ashurbanipal secms almost to be SCOl,ling hcre. at his vainglorious twin sons "hose Squabbling would spclllhc

By 626 The Chaldean chief Nabopolassar has ~~cd c~~i:: k~~\~·~re,,~~a~. h~t~t;::~ expelled all Assyrian contenders from Babylonia. A two- Nincl"Ch wall relief. now in the British Muscum. year War breaks out between Assyria and Chaldean Babylonia. As the decline of the Empire becomes L _ _ _ apparent, other nations seize their chance, little Judah retakes much of the former Israel and fearsome steppe warriors the Scythians race across the North, laying waste to Syria. In the carve-up the Median cavalry, united under King Cyallares, descend on Assyria from the east.



616-609 HC The Babylonians and the Medes are now acti ng in unison, in a pincer attack from both the south and east. In a con5lant, merciless seven year war Assyrian City after City falls to these unlikely allies. The remaining Assyrians are hounded from founding city Ashur to Kalakh to Nineveh and finally to Harran, in a long and pitiless series of deathblows. Wherever they rally they are slaughtered. The world has not forgotten their single-minded brutality. In the Bible, the dosing lines of the book of Nahum say "0 Xinlt of A$$yrill.. tffHlring CUll Irul your WQI/"d: pJf/r i"jury Is Ill/Q/, (I1'e'1Ot1e who Iteon rite nC't
and known as the r


,:=:===~====~(~h~aldeans. homelands of A Babl·lonian Chaldc3n. from M:lSpcro. l-tere he is called Kaldu . All of the n:uncs of :meien! cities

and nations haw como to us via (he

Grccks. In the original Akbdi.m the cityof fu bylon was called Bab·ili. "thc galcway of the Gods". Kingdom of Ar a m,

the Aramaeans, the City-state of Damasc u s, southern Syria and their own

became the common tongue, replacing Akkaddian, the Assyrian langu age. Tragically, Sennacherib's revenge on Babylon was so destructive that very little of the City's first 1000 years worth of culture; it's art and architecture, at ali.


had suffered the yoke of the Empire as sorely as had any. Furthermore, Babylonia seems to

have been Assyria's favourite dumping ground for it's population relocation programme, which presumably would

have meant that an equal number of Babylonians were

whateverrelocated scorchedto forcibly

kingdom the hapless refugees had been originally ta ken from. On top of this, as a punishment for the rebellions led by the Chaldean King Merodoch -Baladan, Sennacherib

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~g~~g~~~~~~~ Maspcro's dra\\ ing. by Fauthcr-gudin. ora Nineveh wall-relief now in the British Museum . It shows combat bctc"'~cn Assyrians and Chaldcans in the marshes of Sumn. wilh civili an refugees hiding amoung the reeds . 1 have coloured it

simplistidy for clarity. Ezekiel 23 tells uS that the Ass), rian army wore Bluc. and thc Babylonians wore red (confirmed at Nahum 2). If these colours look garish to our modern lasiCS. it is worth remembering thai all aneienl civilisations employed as much colour as was a,·aitable in thoir art . Cities such 3S Memphis or Rome would originally ha'·o b-c0 O sprey publications - 00 pcrmissioo. Tahu,,!,1 sl .."·,,bbti - Ashmolean pbcto Ellis Dt.",n Fall ofThebcs 1911 En"ldol'acdia Britannica online - 110 permission

PIO,e tl: IXSlroction of Susa C puhlic don,ain "ia Wikimcdia Ashurh,1nit~11 C public domain ,·ja WikimcIloio O EllisDccn Jerusalem dewil I - ,\shmole"n phoIo O Ellis lxcn Jeru,alem del:,il 2 - As hmolean pbcto Ellis lxcn I ~dpc I!)1!C"~ckwh public don,"in "ia jesuswalk &nnacherib a\ Laci,h c public domain Ilihle Places -I:,h.a"l" puhlicdomain "ia John Bvdswol!h l'la., 20. Sici-'\' Of Lacish Reader's DigcSl IIh,,(m(cd Bihle - 00 IlCrmis.sion Dt:struc(ion of S