Ancient Assyrian Civilization
The Assyrians lived in what is now modern day northern Iraq, north-western Iraq, south-eastern Turkey, and north-eastern Syria. The Assyrians occupied a location called the Assyrian Triangle. This area is located between the Lower Zab and the Tigris Rivers. About 3 million people populated this Assyrian ruled region. The native language is called Assyrian, sometime referred to as Neo-Aramaic or Syriac.
In the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. the Assyrian and Babylonian empires both fell. This reduced the Assyrians to a small nation living at the mercy of their overlords and gods in the vastly scattered lands throughout the Middle Eastern region. Despite this the Assyrians played a major role in the development of civilization for mankind. In the first century they were among the first people to embrace Christianity. Due to the numerous atrocities that were cast amongst them over the following centuries, because of their religion and nationality, the Assyrians almost lost their identity as a nation. It was not until the middle of the 19th century, when Assyrians came in direct contact with the western world, that their existence attracted the attention of the outside world.
Monarchs of Assyria hated Babylon with a passion, because it contemplated independence and sedition. So they took action by attacking and destroying Babylon. The Assyrians moved their capital into the city of Nineveh. However, feeling that Marduk, the Babylonian god, was angry with them, they rebuilt Babylon and made an idol of Marduk and turned it into a temple. The last great monarch of Assyria was Ashurbanipal, who not only extended the empire, but also began a project of assembling a collection of tablets of all the literature of Great Mesopotamia. Around thirty thousand tablets still remain of Ashurbanipal's great library in the city of Nineveh. These tablets are our single greatest source of knowledge of Mesopotamian culture, myth, and literature.
The Assyrian upper land-holding classes consisted almost entirely of military commanders who grew wealthy from the spoils taken in war. The Assyrian Army was the largest standing army ever seen in the Middle East or Mediterranean. The necessities of war excited technological innovation that made the Assyrians almost unconquerable. Iron swords, lances, metal armour, and battering rams made them a fearsome foe in battle. Another great invention of the Assyrians was that of sciences and mathematics. Among the great mathematical inventions was the division of the circle into 360 degrees. The Assyrians were also responsible for inventing the longitude and latitude system. They used this new system for means of navigation and mapping. The Assyrians also developed a sophisticated medical science, which greatly influenced medical science as far away as Greece.