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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 252

Elam gave trouble in 665 B.C. by raiding Akkad, but the Assyrian army repulsed the invaders at Dur-ilu and pushed on to Susa. The Elamites received a crushing defeat in a battle on the banks of the River Ula. King Teumman was slain, and a son of the King of Urtagu was placed on his throne. Elam thus came under Assyrian sway.

The most surprising and sensational conspiracy against Ashur-bani-pal was fomented by his brother Shamash-shum-ukin of Babylon, after the two had co-operated peacefully for fifteen years. No doubt the priestly party at E-sagila were deeply concerned in the movement, and the king may have been strongly influenced by the fact that Babylonia was at the time suffering from severe depression caused by a series of poor harvests. Merodach, according to the priests, was angry; it was probably argued that he was punishing the people because they had not thrown off the yoke of Assyria.

The temple treasures of Babylon were freely drawn upon to purchase the allegiance of allies. Ere Ashur-bani-pal had any knowledge of the conspiracy his brother had won over several governors in Babylonia, the Chaldaeans, Aramaeans and Elamites, and many petty kings in Palestine and Syria: even Egypt and Libya were prepared to help him. When, however, the faithful governor of Ur was approached, he communicated with his superior at Erech, who promptly informed Ashur-bani-pal of the great conspiracy. The intelligence reached Nineveh like a bolt from the blue. The emperor's heart was filled with sorrow and anguish. In after-time he lamented in an inscription that his "faithless brother" forgot the favours he had shown him. "Outwardly with his lips he spoke friendly things, while inwardly his heart plotted murder."

In 652 B.C. Shamash-shum-ukin precipitated the crisis by forbidding Ashur-bani-pal to make offerings to the gods in the cities of Babylonia. He thus declared his independence.

War broke out simultaneously. Ur and Erech were besieged and captured by the Chaldaeans, and an Elamite army marched to the aid of the King of Babylon, but it was withdrawn before long on account of the unsettled political conditions at home. The Assyrian armies swept through Babylonia, and the Chaldeans in the south were completely subjugated before Babylon was captured. That great commercial metropolis was closely besieged for three years, and was starved into submission. When the Assyrians were entering the city gates a sensational happening occurred. Shamash-shum-ukin, the rebel king, shut himself up in his palace and set fire to it, and perished there amidst the flames with his wife and children, his slaves and all his treasures. Ashur-bani-pal was in 647 B.C. proclaimed King Kandalanu[549] of Babylon, and reigned over it until his death in 626 B.C.

Elam was severely dealt with. That unhappy country was terribly devastated by Assyrian troops, who besieged and captured Susa, which was pillaged and wrecked. It was recorded afterwards as a great triumph of this campaign that the statue of Nana of Erech, which had been carried off by Elamites 1635 years previously, was recovered and restored to the ancient Sumerian city. Elam's power of resistance was finally extinguished, and the country fell a ready prey to the Medes and Persians, who soon entered into possession of it. Thus, by destroying a buffer State, Ashur-bani-pal strengthened the hands of the people who were destined twenty years after his death to destroy the Empire of Assyria.


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