The Assyrians and agriculture
The Assyrians were an ancient Mesopotamian people who played a major role in the history of the ancient Near East. Their history spans over two thousand years, from approximately 2400 BC. until the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 609 BC. The history of the Assyrians can be divided into several stages:
– Ancient Period (about 2400-2025 BC): The Assyrians began as one of several city-states in the Mesopotamian region. The city of Assur emerged as one of the most important centers. During this period, Assyrian city-states often found themselves in conflict with other neighboring city-states, such as Babylonia and Elam.
– Middle Period (about 2025-1365 BC): During this period, the Assyrians entered a period of decline, experiencing invasions by various nomadic tribes. However, they managed to regain strength under the Mitanni dynasty and established ties with other regional powers.
– Neo-Assyrian Period (about 1365-609 BC): This was the heyday of the Assyrians. Under King Tiglath-Pileser I, he began a series of conquests which led to the expansion of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The Assyrians developed advanced military tactics and a centralized bureaucracy that helped them dominate much of the Near East. Important rulers of this period include Ashurbanipal and Sargon II. During this period, the famous library of Nineveh was built.
– Decay and Fall (609-612 BC): The Neo-Assyrian Empire began to weaken due to internal strife, rebellions, and external pressure from powers such as the Medes and Babylonians. In 612 BC, the alliance between Babylonia and Media destroyed the Assyrian capital Nineveh, ending the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
After the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the Assyrians no longer played a central role in the history of the Near East. However, their culture and influence continued to persist in various forms through the successive cultures of the region.
It is important to note that the Assyrians are often associated with cruel and brutal practices in dealing with subject populations. Descriptions of military campaigns and conquests often report acts of violence and large-scale deportations. This aspect of their history has influenced modern perceptions of the Assyrians.
Agriculture of the Assyrians was a crucial aspect of their society and economy. The Assyrians lived in a region that stretched across parts of present-day Iraq, Syria, and southeastern Turkey, and agriculture was central to their survival and prosperity.
The Assyrians were known to have developed advanced irrigation techniques to exploit the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. They created canals, dams and drainage systems to manage the water and make the barren lands fertile. This enabled them to successfully grow grains such as barley and wheat.
The Assyrians grew a variety of crops, including barley, wheat, lentils, onions, figs, dates, grapes, and other fruits and vegetables. These crops were essential for feeding the population and for the maintenance of the army and the administration.
The Assyrians were also engaged in raising livestock, such as cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys. Cattle provided meat, milk, skins and manpower for agricultural and industrial activities.
To ensure food supplies during times of famine or conflict, the Assyrians developed methods of preservation, such as drying and salting meat, and storing grain in warehouses and silos.
Agricultural tools used by the Assyrians included ox-drawn ploughs, hoes, scythes, and sickles. These tools made it possible to work the land, sow and harvest the crops.
Agriculture was central to the life of the Assyrians and influenced their culture, religion and economy. Accounts of agricultural activities were often recorded in clay tablet inscriptions and administrative records.
The state administration of the Assyrians was involved in the organization and supervision of agricultural activities. Detailed accounts of crops, yields, and agricultural taxes were maintained for resource gathering and control purposes.
The Assyrians are known for their sophisticated culture and advanced administrative system, and agriculture played a vital role in the sustenance of this civilization. Their ability to master the challenges of farming in an often difficult environment has contributed to their enduring success.