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  • Print publication year: 1992
  • Online publication date: March 2008

25 - The fall of Assyria (635–609 B.C.)

from PART I - ASSYRIA AND BABYLONIA

Summary

This period includes the final years of the reign of Ashurbanipal, and those of his three successors in Assyria, his sons Ashur-etel-ilani and Sin-sharra-ishkun, and Ashur-uballit II for whose affiliation we have no evidence. Ashurbanipal is perhaps the best known of Late Assyrian kings, and his reign is in some respects the best documented. Yet of his final years we know little beyond the fact that he continued to be recognized at Nippur until his thirty-eighth year (631). Even the length of his reign remains in dispute, although one later inscription attributes to him a total of forty-two years, i.e. until 627. His sons are even more shadowy figures, of whose reigns in Assyria we are certain of neither their length nor their date, while the last king of the once great empire is attested solely in the Babylonian Chronicle recording his defeat (609). Indeed the extant evidence for the chronology of the final years of the Assyrian empire is so sparse and problematic that attempts to resolve the difficulties have included the suggestion of Ashurbanipal's (perhaps forced) abdication or retirement to Harran sometime before 627, for which there is no direct evidence, and the hypothesis, now clearly unacceptable, that Sin-sharra-ishkun and Ashur-etel-ilani were one and the same person. These chronological problems are discussed in more detail below (pp. 166ff).