maandag 29 september 2014

Plundering expeditions of the Assyrians.

The plundering expeditions of the Assyrians.
There are some messages of Assur-bel-ka and Adad-nirari II, but they used almost the same texts as Tiglat-pileser I did. They go on ships of Arwad, they kill a ‘nahiru’ on the sea and they mention the town of Araziki in the land of Hatti. One gets suspicious. Probably they only copied the text of Tiglat-pileser I, but they never reached the Mediterranean coast.
The first serious plundering expedition after Tiglat-pileser I comes from Assurnasirpal II (883-859 BC). In 876 BC he reports (ARA 479):
“At that time I marched along the side of Mount Lebanon and to the Great Sea of the land of Amurru I went up. In the Great Sea I washed my weapons and I made offerings unto the gods. The tribute of the kings of the seacoast, of the people of Tyre, Sidon, Gebail, Mahalata, Maisa, Kaisa, Amurru and Arwad, which lies in the midst of the sea…………..”
Notice that Assurnasirpal does not speak of conquering or looting Phoenician towns. He just collected the tributes and took logs of wood from the forests of the Lebanon and the Amanus. All the big Phoenician towns pay their tribute and that was all the damage.
The successor of Assurnasirpal is Salmanassar III (859-824 BC) and he intensified the plundering in a more systematic way. In his first years he is active in Que, Sam’al, Amanus etc, etc. That is north of Arwad. Again the Phoenician towns pay their tributes, but Arwad is not mentioned. Salmanassar acts very violently. He conquers towns and plunders countries. He is very proud of the amount of people his army has killed.
In 854 BC things are getting all the more serious for the southern states on the Levant, but they have prepared themselves. A big coalition has been made and the combined army of Israel, Hamath, Damas and others formed a power of at least 60.000 men. Even some Phoenician towns participated, under which was Arwad.
It happens that the main battle is fought at Qarqar on the Orontes (Arantu). ARA 611:
“Qarqar, his royal city, I destroyed, I devastated, I burned with fire. 1200 chariots, 1200 cavalry, 20.000 soldiers of Hadad-eser of Aram; 700 chariots, 700 cavalry, 10.000 soldiers of IrhulĂȘni of Hamath; 2000 chariots, 10.000 soldiers of Ahab the Israelite; 500 soldiers of the Gueans; 1000 soldiers of the Musreans; 10 chariots, 10.000 soldiers of the Irkanateans; 200 soldiers of Matinu-ba’il the Arwadite; 200 soldiers of the Usanateans; 30 chariots, [---]000 soldiers of Adunu-ba’il the Shianean; 1000 camels of Gindubu, the Arabian, [---]000 soldiers of Ba’sa, son of Ruhubi, the Ammonite, these 12 kings he brought to his support: to offer battle and fight, he came against me. (Trusting) in the exalted might which Assur, the lord, had given (me), in the mighty weapons, which Nergal, who goes before me, had presented (to me), I battled with them. 14.000 of their warriors I slew with the sword. Like Adad, I rained destruction upon them. I scattered their corpses far and wide, (and) covered the space of the desolate plain with their widespread armies………..”
Salmanassar boasts of a victory, but why is there no collecting of tributes and why is the city of Hamath not taken by Salmanassar? Only after 5-6 years he returns again to this region. Very probably the battle was a draw with also heavy losses for the Assyrians. The allied army withstood the Assyrians in the following years many times. It was a unique period. Never again the several states and towns in the Levant were so close in harmony against the deadly danger of the east! It lasted until 842/841 BC. Then finally Salamanassar was victorious, but he needed 120.000 men to achieve this. It lasted to 838 BC when there was again the case of tributes. Although his contribution was very low the Arwadian first known king Mattanbaal I participated active in this occasional coalition. He should have been proud of this.

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