- Symbol: Star/Sun symbol of Shamash (which also appears on the Assyrian flag)
- Musical Theme: Ancient Assyrian Chant (composed by Geoff Knorr)
- Music Set: Middle East and Africa
- Architecture: Middle Eastern
- Spy Names: Adapa, Kubaba, Nabu, Nergal, Ninlil, Ninurta, Nisroch, Shamash, Pazuzu, Qingu
- Preferred Religion: Zoroastrianism
- Preferred Ideology: Order
The Assyrians are designed for a domination victory. Along with the Huns, they have one of the most powerful early game siege engines, and although it appears later than the Battering Ram, the Siege Tower is arguably more effective because of the additional bonus against cities it confers to nearby units.
To take advantage of the Siege Tower, research Archery relatively early and build 6+ Archers after founding your second city, but before building Science buildings. By building early trade units, selling embassies, or clearing barbarian encampments, you can gain enough Gold to upgrade them once you research Construction after Mathematics. Six Composite Bowmen and two Siege Towers are more than enough to take down an enemy Capital before turn 100 on Standard speed, especially if it's surrounded by flat terrain.
The Assyrians' unique building, the Royal Library, also confers them a military advantage in the middle and late game, thanks to the special XP bonus for units trained in a city with this building, provided you have filled the slot in it with a Great Work of Writing. The additional slot for Great Works also gives the Assyrians a slight edge toward a cultural victory, should they choose to pursue one.
Finally, their unique ability allows them to steal technologies when conquering cities! This allows them to either catch up with their rivals or keep ahead in military technology throughout the game. Simply target a rival who has more Victory Points from Technology than you (which you can check with the tooltips in the Diplomacy screen), and quickly acquire all that he or she has discovered and you have not!
The many ancient kingdoms of Assyria, long since swept into the dust of history, were at various times among the most prosperous and powerful of any on Earth. Centered in the heart of Mesopotamia (modern northern Iraq), Assyria was founded by Semitic descendants of Akkadian and Sumerian refugees following the collapse of the Akkadian Empire c. 2154 BC, whose languages and customs slowly coalesced into two distinct Mesopotamian peoples: the Assyrians in the north and Babylonians in the south. Despite a number of initial attempts at forming an independent kingdom, the Assyrians were continually thwarted by the expansion of their neighbors, particularly Babylon. Eventually, commencing with the near-legendary Tudiya, Assyrian kings succeeded in establishing a great empire - and on more than one occasion Assyria was the most powerful state in the region. However, Assyria also continued to suffer at the hands of neighboring rivals, and by the late 6th Century BC, the empire was no more.
Climate and Terrain
Located in the fertile region of Mesopotamia around the Tigris-Euphrates river system, Assyria lay in a land capable of producing bountiful harvests of wheat and other grains. Widely considered to be the cradle of Western civilization, in the Bronze Age Mesopotamia was dominated by the Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian cultures. The climate of Assyria was semi-arid, although the kingdom received ample water in the form of snowmelt and rain from the Zagros Mountains throughout the year. The river region (some 5800 square miles) is marked by marshes, lagoons, mud flats and reed banks. Irrigated agriculture spread south from the Zagros foothills commencing around 5000 BC; Assyrian farmers are known to have planted such crops as wheat, barley, onions, grapes, turnips and apples. The land that once constituted the Assyrian homeland is now primarily encompassed by parts of Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. Bordered to the north by rugged mountains, to the west by the Aramaeans, to the south by the kingdoms of Babylonia and Elam and the Amorite tribes of Arabia, the Assyrians were in a fruitful but tenuous position.
The oldest Neolithic sites in Assyria date to c. 7100 BC, and the earliest evidence of human culture, the Hassuna culture, to c. 6000 BC. The region that would encompass Assyria is home to the first known examples of irrigated agriculture, and to some of the earliest human settlements. Among these can be included Assur, which was founded at some point in the mid-3rd millennium BC; it appears to have been an administrative center for Sumaria rather than an independent city. Nineveh, although likely established far earlier, is first mentioned in historical records in 1800 BC as the center of worship for Ishtar, the primary deity of Mesopotamia.
During the third and second millenniums BC, a cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and Semites gave rise to the Akkadian empire, of which the Assyrian cities were a vital element. The list of Assyrian kings, commencing with Tudiya, begins with the fall of the Akkadian empire, destroyed by internal strife, economic collapse and the incursions of barbarians. However, after a brief period of independence, the Assyrian lands were absorbed by the Third Sumerian Empire of Ur, which had been founded in 2112 BC. From the decline of the Akkadian and subsequently the Sumerian empires, a distinct Assyrian culture emerged to establish customs and traditions of their own, coinciding with crucial technological developments in agriculture, animal husbandry, pottery, and metal working.
First Assyrian Empire
Although the ancient Assyrian "King List" records many early kings, dating back as far as the 19th Century BC, the earliest Assyrian king for whom any definitive historical context exists was King Shamshi-Adad I, who ruled the city of Assur and established Assyrian control over much of Mesopotamia. He had deposed the Akkadian ruler of Assyria in 1813 BC and proclaimed himself the new king. Shortly thereafter, Shamshi-Adad began a campaign of expansion. He placed one of his sons on the throne of the nearby city of Ekallatum, and reestablished authority over Assyria's small Anatolian colonies. He next conquered the kingdom of Mari along the Euphrates, placing another son on the throne there.
Shamshi-Adad retired to oversee construction of a new capital city for himself, but died c. 1790 BC before it was completed. His sons fared poorly thereafter. The younger was overthrown by a rebellion in Mari, whose new king promptly allied himself with the king Hammurabi, who was in the process of making the newly-created kingdom of Babylon a major military power. The Babylonian forces swept into Assyria, overwhelming several cities. With Hammurabi's support, the Anatolian cities revolted and broke away from the Assyrian kingdom. Finally, the Babylonian king conquered Ekallatum itself, and the first fledgling Assyrian Empire fell and was fully absorbed into Babylon by 1756 BC. However, the bloodline of Assyrian kings survived as vassals to Hammurabi.
Hammurabi's short-lived empire rapidly unraveled following his death c. 1750 BC, and Babylon lost control over Assyria during the reign of his immediate successor. Commencing with the overthrow of an Amorite king ruling Assyria for Babylon by the vice-regent Puzur-Sin, the country plunged into a period of unrest and civil war, marked by relatively short reigns by the Assyrian kings. In the 16th Century BC, the Mittani - an Indo-European people - overran Anatolia and pushed eastwards, capturing and sacking Assur around 1480 BC. The Assyrian monarchy survived as vassals, and the Mittani appear to have been content to avoid interference in internal Assyrian affairs so long as tribute was paid.
By the reign of Eriba-Adad I (1390-1366 BC), Mittani power had declined significantly and his successor, Ashur-uballit, spent his years making Assyria an empire again. Having defeated the Hurrians and the Hittites to end any threat from that quarter, Ashur-uballit married his daughter to the last Kassite king of Babylon. When the Babylonian king was murdered by an unruly political faction, Ashur-uballit promptly invaded and absorbed Babylon. Shortly after he moved against the Mittani, crushing their forces despite military support for them from the Hittites and Hurrians. The lands of the Mittani and the Hurrians were appropriated, making Assyria a large and powerful kingdom once again.
Over the next two centuries, an unbroken succession of able kings insured the prosperity and stability of the kingdom, making it the dominant power in Mesopotamia. Internal reforms and policies maintained their popularity among the people and nobles, while a sequence of victories expanded Assyrian holdings into Asia Minor and the Levant. In 1274 BC, the great warrior king Shalmaneser I ascended the throne, pushing the boundaries of the Assyrian empire into the Caucasus Mountains and overrunning eastern Anatolia. At its peak, the empire stretched from the shores of the Persian Gulf to those of the Mediterranean. But following the death of emperor Tilgath-Pileser I, Assyria entered a 300-year period of decline.
A Dark Age
Mesopotamia entered a "Dark Ages" (dated c. 1200-900 BC) as less-civilized peoples overran much of the region. Semitic peoples such as the Arameans and Chaldeans nibbled at the western and southern borders of the Assyrian Empire, conquering much of Babylon. The Medes and Persians swept into the lands east of the Assyrian heartland. To the north, the Phrygians overran the Hittites and Armenian tribes pushed the Assyrians out of the Caucasus. Cimmerians and Scythians began migrations outward from their Black Sea homelands. Assyrian kings during this time seem to have contented themselves with defending a compact area centered on Assur and Nineveh and the trading center of Nimrud, surrendering the outer areas and colonies to the inevitable. They largely limited their military adventures to sporadic punitive raids against these barbarians, interspersed with the occasional effort at re-conquest of lost territories. Nonetheless these efforts slowly transformed Assyria into a warrior culture, even as trade collapsed and religion flourished. Anshur became the state god, and the priesthood rose to be a major political power in the kingdom, culminating in the murder of king Tukulti-ninurta I.
The resurgence of Assyrian influence begins with the accession of Adad-nirani II in 911 BC. This "Neo-Assyrian" Empire would survive until the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC to an allied force of Babylonians, Medes, Scythians and Cimmerians. At its zenith, around 671 BC, the empire would reach from the Nile River across northern Arabia to the Persian Gulf, north to the Zargos and Caucasus mountain ranges, and deep into Asia Minor in the west. It would cover all or portions of the present-day nations of Iraq, Iran, Georgia, Turkey, Armenia, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Kuwait, Egypt and Saudi Arabia - the largest empire yet seen in human history.
Beginning with the campaigns of Adad-nirani, Assyria subjugated the border territories and vassals that had seen only nominal Assyrian authority for a century. King Adad-nirani I then proceeded to conquer troublesome Aramean, neo-Hittite and Hurrian populations to the north. It was at this point that he instituted the state policy of deporting and resettling new subject peoples to other parts of the Assyrian empire, a ruthless policy his successors would follow. In the last years of his reign, he launched a successful campaign against Babylonia.
Upon Adad-Nirani's death in 892 BC, his heir would consolidate these gains as well as conquer the Persian and Medean settlements in the Zargos Mountains. Subsequent rulers would use the revitalized Assyrian military, notably its siege engines (which were particularly effective against mud-brick city walls), to great benefit as they overran vast tracts in the Arabian Peninsula, Asia Minor and Mesopotamia itself. Even the queens pursued Assyrian expansion. When Adad-nirani III (810-782 BC) came to the throne he was a small boy; his mother, semi-legendary queen Semiramis, serving as regent, crushed the last holdings of the Medes and Persians for the empire before abdicating power to her son after a few years.
Following a brief period of peace, expansion continued apace under Adad-nirani's successors in an unbroken string of conquests. Tiglath-pileser III (who reigned 745-727 BC), Sargon II (722-705), and the ruthlessly-effective Sennacherib (705-681) would add Phoenicia, Israel, Judah, Samaria, Palestine, Cyprus, Moab and vast tracts in the Taurus Mountains and the Arabian Peninsula to the empire. Sennacherib's heir Esarhaddon crossed the Sinai Desert to invade Egypt, driving its Nubian rulers out and, in the process, destroying the Kushite Empire. Returning to Assyria, Esarhaddon began the rebuilding of the city of Babylon which had been leveled following a revolt but died while preparing another invasion of Egypt.
Esarhaddon's death in 669 BC brought Ashurbanipal, considered to be the greatest of neo-Assyria's emperors, to the throne. Although more concerned with reform and scholarship, Ashurbanipal proved a capable warrior as well. Although he spent much of his time suppressing revolts and border incursions, he also completed the conquest of Egypt, the last expansion of the neo-Assyrian Empire. However, Ashurbanipal is best known for his efforts to rebuild cities, sponsor advances in Assyrian arts and sciences, and establish libraries throughout the realm. The cuneiform and scribal texts found by archeologists in his great palace library in Nineveh have provided much of what is known of not only Assyria but the entire region during this era.
Following the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC, a number of short-lived rival successors claimed the throne; Assyria was thrust into a period of civil war. The disarray and devastation brought by these conflicts led directly to the decline and dissolution of not only the Assyrian Empire, but also to the culture distinctly identified as "Assyria." In 605 BC, an alliance of Babylonians and Medes would defeat an Assyrian-Egyptian force at Carchemish and Assyria would become a Babylonian province. Following the collapse of the Baylonian Empire, the traditional Assyrian homeland would be overrun by waves of invaders ranging from the Persians through the Arabs. Knowledge of its glories and works would virtually disappear until brought to light by modern archeologists and historians, beginning with the excavations of fabled Nineveh in 1845 AD.
Neo-Assyrian emperors would deport thousands of people to insure pacification of newly-conquered kingdoms, continuing a policy instituted by the first emperor Adad-nirani II. Among the most infamous of these forced resettlements: 65,000 from Persian lands to the Assyrian-Babylonian border in 744BC; 108,000 Babylonians and Chaldeans to the western frontier in 707 BC; and in 703 BC emperor Sennacherib ordered the scattering of 208,000 residents of Babylon across the empire.
List of Cities
- Main article: Assyrian cities (Civ5)
Tablet Tech Pioneer
Beat the game on any difficulty as Ashurbanipal.
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