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Mesopotamian Superpowers Laying Waste To The Ancient Near East

Mesopotamian Superpowers Laying Waste To The Ancient Near East

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Call it Canaan, the Levant or the Ancient Near East; the region has always had a troubled history of warfare and invasions. For 400 years from 732 to 332 BC, this region incorporating Philistia, Judea and Israel has been the epicenter of the battlefields between the superpowers of Mesopotamia; the Assyrians (732 to 604 BC); the Babylonians (604 to 539 BC) and finally the Persians (539 to 332 BC). Its harbor cities on the eastern Mediterranean Sea elevated it as an important link in the sea-trade with Europe and Africa, and it also lay on the over-land spice-trade route towards Egypt. 

Map of the region in the ninth century BC, the Kingdom of Israel is in blue, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah is in yellow, with Philistia to its left, on the Mediterranean coast. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Map of the region in the ninth century BC, the Kingdom of Israel is in blue, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah is in yellow, with Philistia to its left, on the Mediterranean coast. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Due to its prime location, it became a coveted prize possession of whichever nation or dynasty that had envisioned expanding its empire during the first millennium BC. The Levant was a pawn at the mercy of the conquerors; its cities and villages ravaged and pillaged, raised to the ground, rising like a Phoenix from the ashes, only to be destroyed once more. Its populations were massacred, deported, exiled, enslaved, supplemented with foreigners, and repatriated. Foreign cultural influences impacted on the material legacy of the region and trade fluctuated like the eb and flow of the ocean, depending on who was the master at the time.

Judean people being deported into exile after the fall of Lachish to the Assyrians (Palace at Nineveh, Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq, currently housed in the British Museum, London. (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin/ CC BY-SA 4.0)

Judean people being deported into exile after the fall of Lachish to the Assyrians (Palace at Nineveh, Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq, currently housed in the British Museum, London. ( Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

The Assyrians 732 – 604 BC

The Assyrian conquest of the Levant encompassed three phases: In the period 734 to 722 BC, the region north of the trans-Jordan, part of Israel, the coast of southern Phoenicia and Philistia was destroyed; from 721 to 700 BC the rest of Philistia and Judea (excluding Jerusalem) fell and from 700 to 663 BC Assyrian fortresses were built along the Via Maris. The Assyrian domination ended with the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC.

Via Maris in purple and the King's Highway in red. (Briangotts/ CC BY-SA 3.0)

Via Maris in purple and the King's Highway in red. ( BriangottsCC BY-SA 3.0 )

Assyrian administration of the conquered region consisted of provinces under the authority of a governor, autonomous vassal kingdoms, the Phoenician and Philistine cities along the coast and the nomads in the desert.

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Dr Micki Pistorius  has an Honours Degree in Biblical Archaeology

Top Image:  The Flight of the Prisoners; The exile of the Jews from Canaan to Babylon by James Tissot (1896) ( Public Domain )

By Dr Micki Pistorius

Comments

Hi All,

This article correlates a lot of what's made known in The Bible about this region. The question that could possibly be asked is why are we so routinely drawn too Mesopotamia to begin with?

There's this one class in particular I recall which was Western Civilization.

Introduction taught you about the various Civilization's we'd wind up Studying an I remember the point of impact when first chapter of the Classes assigned Text Book Western Civilization we started off with Sumeria.

I had took take the History Class; it was a Prerequisite the textbook revealed Sumeria discussed Ziggart places that were used for worship an yet oddly the text book mentioned the Ziggart's were older than the Pyramids in Egypt.

An what I've learned during Bible Study; now, I know why Ziggart was older than Egypt's Pyramid's. Not to worry won't share that bit.

I found out that Hammurabi dwelled in Sumeria that The Code of Hammurabi came from Sumeria (an I mistakenly assumed they didn't practice The Code anymore) it seemed my brain took a while to catch up on what I had been reading, what was on the News it seemed to me every night, War in Afghanistan, War in Iraq even the location of The Euphrates River.

I suppose what caught my attention about Sumeria is how it was connected to of course Mesopotamia an it hit me Terah father of Abraham, Nahor, an one other Son who died in Sumeria left behind His only Son Lot, that Made Sumeria There Home.

Mesopotamia/Sumeria Ur Land of the Chaldees pops up in Genesis ch.11 right after everyone feels safe an secure to move away somewhat from Tyre which today is Turkey.

It just seemed to me from both The Bible an The Western Civilization assigned Text Book for my History Class That Mesopotamia put the W in The Word War. Almost from the get go The Assyrian's, Syrian's, Sumerian's, The People of Tyre appeared to be bogged down by constant Warfare.

I think the Seeds that were sown 6,000 year's ago is why; The Middle East is as volatile as it is the least likeliest thing can set off massive storms of War in those Hot spot region's.

An as I shared earlier on it's like The World's Civilization's of Today is repeatedly drawn over there like a Moth to a Flame.

I for one don't believe They'll ever change.

This is all I have to share on this topic by the way I hadn't considered Canaan as apart of Mesopotamia in my head it was making it it's own separate Region especially, considering The Philistine's or rather Philista getting mentioned.

Until next discussion Everyone, Goodbye!

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