Historical Setting

September 1, 2012

The Assyrian Empire was centered on the northern part of modern-day Iraq. Over the centuries, the Assyrians occupied a series of capital cities, the most famous of which was Nineveh on the Tigris River. The Assyrians are known to history for their military conquests, stunning monumental artwork, and cuneiform tablets. The well-known library of Assurbanipal, the last great Assyrian king, was discovered in the mid-1800s and preserved much of what is now known about the early history of the ancient Near East.


Starting in the mid-13th century BC, powerful Assyrian kings Tukulti-Ninurta I and Tiglath-Pileser I unified Assyria and embarked upon a series of military campaigns which led to the formation a large territorial empire stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. This period is called the Middle Assyrian period.


Following a subsequent hiatus in political power starting in the mid-11th century BC, the Assyrians regained their prominence in the ancient Near East in the early 9th century BC. For the next three hundred years, the Assyrian were the predominant military, political and economic power in the ancient world and their influence was felt from Egypt to Iran. This period is usually referred to as the Late Assyrian (or Neo-Assyrian) period.


Ziyaret Tepe was an important center during both the Middle and Late Assyrian periods. Our excavations through 2010 have primarily centered on the recovery of the remains of the Late Assyrian city, especially those from the very end of the city and the Assyrian Empire. It appears that Ziyaret Tepe was abandoned after the collapse of the Assyrian heartland, historically marked by the sack of Nineveh in 612 BC by the Medes and the Babylonians.

Roll your cursor over the periods to see an expanded timeline for each period