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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 146

Agum III, a grandson of Ulamburiash, found it necessary, however, to invade Sealand, which must therefore have revolted. It was probably a centre of discontent during the whole period of Kassite ascendancy.

After a long obscure interval we reach the period when the Hyksos power was broken in Egypt, that is, after 1580 B.C. The great Western Asiatic kingdoms at the time were the Hittite, the Mitannian, the Assyrian, and the Babylonian (Kassite). Between 1557 B.C. and 1501 B.C. Thothmes I of Egypt was asserting his sway over part of Syria. Many years elapsed, however, before Thothmes III, who died in 1447 B.C., established firmly, after waging a long war of conquest, the supremacy of Egypt between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean coast as far north as the borders of Asia Minor.

"At this period", as Professor Flinders Petrie emphasizes, "the civilization of Syria was equal or superior to that of Egypt." Not only was there in the cities "luxury beyond that of the Egyptians", but also "technical work which could teach them". The Syrian soldiers had suits of scale armour, which afterwards were manufactured in Egypt, and they had chariots adorned with gold and silver and highly decorated, which were greatly prized by the Egyptians when they captured them, and reserved for royalty. "In the rich wealth of gold and silver vases", obtained from captured cities by the Nilotic warriors, "we see also", adds Petrie, "the sign of a people who were their (the Egyptians') equals, if not their superiors in taste and skill."[296] It is not to be wondered at, therefore, when the Pharaohs received tribute from Syria that they preferred it to be carried into Egypt by skilled workmen. "The keenness with which the Egyptians record all the beautiful and luxurious products of the Syrians shows that the workmen would probably be more in demand than other kinds or slave tribute."[297]

One of the monarchs with whom Thothmes III corresponded was the king of Assyria. The enemies of Egypt in northern Mesopotamia were the Hittites and Mitannians, and their allies, and these were also the enemies of Assyria. But to enable us to deal with the new situation which was created by Egypt in Mesopotamia, it is necessary in the first place to trace the rise of Assyria, which was destined to become for a period the dominating power in Western Asia, and ultimately in the Nile valley also.

The Assyrian group of cities grew up on the banks of the Tigris to the north of Babylonia, the mother country. The following Biblical references regarding the origins of the two states are of special interest:--

Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.... The sons of Ham: Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.... And Cush begat Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city. The children of Shem: Elam and Asshur ... (Genesis, x, 1-22). The land of Assyria ... and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof (


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