Saturday, December 16

The Second Campaign of Sennacherib

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The Second Campaign of Sennacherib

Sennacherib was an ancient Assyrian king who lived around 700 BCE in Mesopotamia (the ancient Middle East). During his lifetime, he embarked on three campaigns, the first being recorded on the Bellino Cylinder. The second version is preserved on the Rassam Cylinder, which includes the events of the first three campaigns which became the standard version for them all.

The second campaign was against Judea and the Rassam Cylinder tells how Sennacherib proceeded against the lands of the Kassites and the Yasubigallians. The Yasubigallians were a people who lived “along the Diyala between the Jebel Hamrin and the Darband-i-Khan (the area called Namri in the pre-Sennacherib texts), the latter the Sar Pol-i-Zohab region and the mountains flanking it”. The Kassite campaign is not mentioned at all apart from initially being mentioned in the superscription.

“The events are detailed only when Sennacherib enters the mountains, where he captures Bit Kilamzah, removes the inhabitants of this town, and then destroys the surrounding villages and nomadic encampments. Thereupon, he returns to Bit Kilamzah, installs an Assyrian garrison, and populates it with peoples from elsewhere in the empire. The Kassites and Yasubigallians, who had fled before the onslaught of Assyrian arms, are brought down out of their refuge areas in the mountains and settled in Hardispi and Bit Kubatti, and these two towns are made part of the administrative district of Arrapha. Finally, a victory stela is erected, but unfortunately the antecedent of the last line is unclear, and we do not know if it was placed in Bit Kilamzah, in Arrapha, or in Hardispi or Bit Kubatti”.

Scholars are in debate as to the Bit Kubatti’s geographical position, as both cylinders differ on this matter. In the Rassam Cylinder, it states that Bit Kubatti was located in the mountains. However, the Bellino account differs and we know from outside sources that agree with the latter cylinder as in the neo-Babylonian period the mountains to the east were within the Median area. Bit Kubatti was thus located in the lowlands as well as Hardispi (another city that Sennacherib captured, the geographical positioning also in debate). It is unsure as to which city was captured first.

The second campaign of Sennacherib was a great accomplishment for the king, promoting his military strength and the power of his kingdom. However, the records that were left behind, although detailed, have left us a little confused as to the particular details that would complete a chronology of the campaigns he undertook.

Bibliography:

Levine, Louis D. (1973) The Second Campaign of Sennacherib, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, The University of Chicago Press.

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