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In any attempt to study critically the history of Western Asia in the period of Assyrian supremacy, it is most natural to group the events around the person of the monarch who was, for the time being, the most important individual in the civilized world. This we do, not so much on account of the dominant personality of these rulers, though most of them were, indeed, strong men, as because we must take, however reluctantly and with however much suspicion as to the personal equation, the royal annals for the backbone of our narrative. This seeming isolation of the events of each reign is further intensified by the fact that none of these royal records extends to the end of its reign, and we accordingly have here a marked break, after which we often find an entirely new set of conditions. It has therefore seemed wise, in dealing with this history in detail, to follow the Germans in their Jahrbücher system of presenting reign by reign the rulers of that German Empire which formed in mediæval times so similar a center for the general history of Europe. This has already been done with the necessary detail for the reign of Sargon, and it is as an advance study for a similar discussion of the reign of his son and successor, Sennacherib, that the present sketch is submitted.2

As regards our sources, we are by no means so well situated as in the case of his father's reign, and we are far less so as compared with those of his son and grandson, Esarhaddon and Ashur bani apal. Aside from a few doubtful and much discussed fragments


1 Olmstead, Western Asia in the Days of Sargon of Assyria (Cornell Studies in Hist. and Pol. Sci., Vol. II). Referred to as Sargon. It is intended to deal with the history of the other Assyrian reigns in the same fashion.

2 The best general account of the reign is that given by G. Maspero, Histoire ancienne de l'Orient classique, III, 273 ff. The sketch of Sennacherib given by Weber in Das Alte Orient is brief but good. In the present article only the most important references are given.

A full bibliography of the various editions and translations of the texts is given by Maspero, op. cit., 273, note 1. The majority are now badly antiquated. We need only refer to the text editions in Rawlinson's Cuneiform Inscriptions and in Smith and Sayce's History of Sennacherib. The most up-to-date translation is that of C. Bezold, accompanied by a transliterated text based on the recensions, in the Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek, II, 80 ff., but this is already antiquated and an adequate philological publication is much to be desired.

which seem to belong to the end of the reign, all our official records are simply more or less complete editions of one document, which was added to with each year, thus furnishing a good example of the manner in which these were built up. In this the events are arranged in order, but it is the order of campaigns, not of years, and we must look elsewhere for an exact chronology. Some help may be secured in fixing a minimum date by noting the year in which any one recension was compiled. For the first few years something may be gained by my reconstruction of the last fragment of the so-called "Assyrian Chronicle,' while the Babylonian Chronicle gives exact dates for those events connected with the native country of the author and is confirmed by the king lists. Yet we must admit that much of our chronology is merely relative.




For all this later period the Assyrian letters from the royal archives are of the utmost value, but here, again, we have few which can as yet be attributed to this particular reign. In the case of Sargon it was possible to write a whole chapter, that dealing with the Armenian wars at the close of his reign, from the absolutely authentic data of these letters, and later, as, for example, in the case of the Esarhaddon succession, they amplify and correct the scanty and prejudiced official sources. A few of no great importance have already been identified and more will certainly be, but this can be secured only by a long and painful study of documents noted for their difficulty of interpretation and still largely untouched by the philologist. For no reign have we more dated commercial documents, but their evidence is of value mainly for geography or for the commercial life, and their main interest for us at present must lie in the fact that we date by them the careers of the great officials, and thus identify the writers of the letters. Of the greatest possible value are the sculptures," but the fire which destroyed the palace

1 Twenty-five inscriptions or fragments were utilized by Bezold, loc. cit., in the preparation of his composite text, but it is to be desired that a fuller description of these and of what portions they contain should be given. The Cornell Expedition has a large prism fragment which seems to belong here. The three rock inscriptions at Bavian have not been mentioned in the text. The Cornell Expedition secured squeezes of these while in Assyria.

2 Sargon, 15 ff.

All the chronological data are most conveniently studied in the Chronologische Beigaben to the Keilinschr. Bibl., II, 286 ff.

4R. H. Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters.

5 Sargon, 148 ff.

Godbey, American Journal of Semitic Languages, XXII, 63 ff.

E. g., K. 4740, discussed by Winckler, Altorientalische Forschungen, II, 24 ff., dating from 693. It is a letter dealing with the privileges of Babylon and is sent by two Assyrian partisans in that city.

8 C. H. W. Johns, Assyrian Deeds and Documents.

The sculptures are figured in A. H. Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, and discussed in his Nineveh and its Remains and in Nineveh and Babylon. The results secured by a renewed study and attempt to place those without labels are interesting, but too specialized to be given here.

has also destroyed most of the labels, and only a minute study will permit us to use them. And even then we can never rid ourselves of the uneasy suspicion that the particular slab before us may, after all, be one of the many we know to have been stolen by his son from the palace of the half-finished city to which Sargon gave his name.1

Since the overshadowing question of his reign was the relation to be assumed toward Babylon, the Babylonian Chronicle is in many respects the most important of our documents, and this is justified by its almost complete impartiality, for we must remember that to its author Assyrian and Chaldæan were alike in being barbarians who were destroying his native country between them.2 The Haldians or early Armenians now entirely fail us for records, and for the peoples on the northwest frontier we have only an Armenian translation of a Greek work, which very indirectly goes back to the Babylonian Berossus, and even that was preserved only because it was supposed to refer to the Greeks. 3

In some respects our most interesting sources are those preserved in our own sacred writings. But here again all is uncertainty. One small fragment,* added to the main document in Kings after it had been copied from that common source whose text is more accurately given in the historical portion of Isaiah, is certainly contemporary, or nearly so, and may be part of the royal annals of Judah, or may even go back to a cuneiform original. The remainder of the account in Kings, save for a few easily removed glosses, is undoubtedly preexilic, but seems to be based on tradition rather than on written sources; at least it is strongly influenced by folklore. Some references-for example, the story of Merodach Baladan's embassy and the allusions of the speeches-belong rather to the reign of Sargon. As for the prophecies of Isaiah, their attribution to definite historical events is one of the most difficult problems of Biblical criticism.

Yet in spite of the comparative paucity of sources, we may secure a fairly full account of the events of the period. Sennacherib's father, Sargon, was an usurper whose vigor made up for his unknown ancestry. There is no likelihood that our monarch was born to the purple, for he early appears in one of the letters as crown prince. While his father was conquering Babylonia he was left in Kalhu as regent of Assyria, and it is from here that we find him conducting the Armenian wars. The Cimmerian invasion and the defeat of the

1 Place, Ninève, II, 92.

2 Text best given by Delitzsch, Assyrische Lesestücke, 137 ff. Translation by A. Barta, Assyrian and Babylonian Literature, 200 ff.

3 Eusebius, Chronicle, ed. Schoene, 27, 35. One passage is referred to Polyhistor, the other to Abydenus, but both are based on one original, and that can only be Berossus.

II Kings, XVIII, 14-16.

5 Sargon, 23.

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