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8 Facts About the Ancient Assyrians

By Yona Williams    1/23/09

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Today, modern Assyrians can trace their heritage back to the indigenous descendants of an ancient people who spoke Aramaic and belonged to one of the earliest civilizations to grow in the Middle East. They can look back at a history that stretches across more than 6,750 years. In this article, you will encounter 8 facts about the ancient Assyrians.

1) The history of the Assyrians is divided into six different periods: Emergence (beginnings to 2400 BC); First Golden Age (2400 BC to 612 BC); First Dark Age (612 BC. to 33 AD); Second Golden Age (33 AD to 1300 AD); Second Dark Age (1300 AD to 1918 AD); and Diaspora (1918 AD to the present).

2) The Assyrians had an attraction to history. The majority of their literature was devoted to historical accounts. Babylonian priests had a knack for keeping lists of their kings. They kept business matters documented with dates. Babylonian priests had a knack for keeping lists of their kings. They kept business matters documented with dates. When it came to Assyrian texts, the kings left exact accounts that surpassed those of other kingdoms.

3) Two languages were associated with the Assyrians: ancient Assyrian (Akkadian), and Modern Assyrian (neo-syriac).

4) Akkadian was written using the cuneiform writing system (on clay tablets). This form dominated the early period of Assyrian communication. By 750 BC, a new take on writing was developed, which relied on parchment, leather, or papyrus. This method of writing came from the Arameans.

5) Throughout history, the Asyrrians embraced two different religions: Ashurism and Christianity. Ashurism was the first religion of the Assyrians, while the majority of Assyrians had accepted Christianity around 256 AD. This made them the first nation to do so. In 33 AD, the first Assyrian Church was founded – thanks to Thomas, Bortholemew and Thaddeus.

6) When it comes to Assyrian art, many example showcase battle scenes. Some are quite explicit with stark details, such as one that highlights the impaling of an entire village. The piece was meant to display the power that the emperor possessed. Usually, such pieces were created to serve as propaganda.

7) The ancient Assyrians believed that the king represented the god of Ashur.

8) The remains of Assur, one of the capitals that belonged to ancient Assyria is found on the western bank of the river Tigris in what is known as modern-day Iraq. The site is a United Nations World Heritage Site, but in 2003, was put on a list of World Heritage Sites that are in danger. The conflict unfolding in the region was one reason for this decision, while the other lie in a proposed dam that could potentially flood part of the site.

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