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Sin-shar-ishkun

Background

Sin-shar-ishkun was a king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire between 627 BCE and the collapse of the Assyrian Empire in 612 BCE following the Battle of Nineveh. He was the son of the last great king of Assyria named Ashurbanipal and was a weak and ineffective ruler that was unable to prevent the Revolt of Babylon which saw the complete decimation of Assyria as a political entity.

Sinsharishkun (Sin-shar-ishkun; Sîn-šarru-iškun, c. 627 – 612 BC), who seems to have been the Saràkos (Saracus) of Berossus, was one of the last kings of the Assyrian empire, followed only by Ashur-uballit II. Contents [hide] 1 Early years 2 Last Strike against Babylon 3 War in the Assyrian heartlands 4 In literature 5 References Early years[edit] He was the son of Ashurbanipal, and possibly the brother of the last Assyrian king, Ashur-uballit II (612–605 BC). He is the last king who has years attested in most Babylonian records. Little is known about this king due to the lack of sources for his time. It seems that he ascended the throne sometime around 627 BC. After the death of the powerful Ashurbanipal, the vast Assyrian Empire began to unravel, due to a series of bitter internal wars over who should rule. Sinsharishkun's rise to power was marred by severe violence, crippling internal civil war, and upheaval within the Assyrian Empire. He had to unseat the usurper Sin-shumu-lishir, after his older brother and predecessor, Ashur-etil-ilani, had previously been deposed by Sin-shumu-lishir. During this confusion, a host of Assyria's many colonies and puppet states took advantage of the anarchy to quietly free themselves from Assyrian rule, most the Chaldeans, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Scythians, and Cimmerians.[1] Last Strike against Babylon[edit] After temporarily defeating his rivals, Sinsharishkun faced a much larger threat. Babylon, a vassal state of Assyria for three centuries, took advantage of the anarchy within Assyria and rebelled under the previously unknown Nabopolassar, the leader of the Chaldean peoples of south eastern Mesopotamia, in 626 BC. What followed was a long war fought in the Mesopotamian heartland. Nabopolassar tried to capture Nippur, the main Assyrian center of power in Babylonia, but was defeated by Assyrian reinforcements. However Nabopolassar did manage to take the city of Babylon itself with the help of the Babylonian citizens, and was crowned king in the city circa 625 BC. Sinsharishkun, crippled by civil war in Assyria proper, then lost more ground before succeeded in recapturing Uruk in the far south in about 624 BC, only to quickly lose it again. Sin-shar-ishkun led a large army to Babylonia in 623 BC to finally crush the Babylonian and Chaldean rebels, however yet another major rebellion broke out in the Assyrian homeland. A relief army was sent back north, but promptly joined the rebels, so that the usurper could reach the capital Nineveh without interference, and claim the throne. Chronicles for the next few years are mostly absent due to the civil anarchy in Assyria, however eventually Sin-shar-ishkun was able to quell the latest homeland rebellion. Crucially, precious time was lost to solve the Babylonian problem, with Nabopolassar taking advantage to entrench himself as ruler of most of Babylonia. In 620 or 619 BC Nabopolassar successfully captured Nippur and so became the master of Babylonia. However, he was forced to contend with Sin-Shar-Ishkun's Assyrian armies encamped in the Babylonian heartlands attempting to unseat him for the next four years. War in the Assyrian heartlands[edit] This stalemate ended in 616 BC, when Nabopolassar entered into an alliance with Cyaxares, king of the Medes, who had also taken advantage of the unremitting civil wars in Assyria to free his Iranian peoples: the Medes, Persians and Parthians from the Assyrian yoke and form them into a powerful force. In 616 BC, this alliance of peoples, now also including the Scythians and Cimmerians felt strong enough to move the center of operations northward and launch an attack on the war ravaged Assyrian heartland. In the years that followed Ashur, Kalhu, and Nineveh were besieged and destroyed amid bitter fighting. The fate of Sinsharishkun is not certain, as the section of the Babylonian chronicle in which he is mentioned at the siege of Nineveh is damaged. It is likely that he was killed defending his capital during Battle of Nineveh (612 BC) by Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes/Persians and Scythians. Despite the loss of its major cities, an independent Assyria endured, centered on its last capital city of Harran under its last king Ashur-uballit II. However this too was overrun by the alliance in 608 BC, and a final victory was achieved at Carchemish in 605 BC. In literature[edit] The fictional discovery of the tomb of Sinsharishkun just before the outbreak of the First World War is the central topic of the novel Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth. References[edit] Jump up ^ Georges Roux - Ancient Iraq Na'aman, N., "Chronology and history in the late Assyrian empire"', Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, 81 (1991), 243-267. Zawadzki, S., The fall of Assyria and Median-Babylonian relation in light of the Nabopolassar chronicle, Poznan 1988. Unsworth, B., Land of Marvels: a Novel, Hutchinson, London 2009. Sinsharishkun of Assyria Neo-Assyrian Period Preceded by Sin-shumu-lishir King of Assyria 627–612 BC Succeeded by Ashur-uballit II

Assyrian King List

King Name Years of Rule Kingdom
Eriba-Adad I 1380–1353 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-uballit I 1353–1318 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Enlil-nirari 1317–1308 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Arik-den-ili 1307–1296 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Adad-nirari I 1295–1264 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Shalmaneser I 1263–1234 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Tukulti-Ninurta I 1233–1197 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-nadin-apli 1196–1194 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-nirari III 1193–1188 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Enlil-kudurri-usur 1187–1183 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ninurta-apal-Ekur 1182–1180 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-Dan I 1179-1133 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ninurta-tukulti-Ashur 1333 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Mutakkil-nusku 1333 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-resh-ishi I 1133-1115 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Tiglath-Pileser I 1115-1076 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Asharid-apal-Ekur 1076-1074 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-bel-kala 1074-1056 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Eriba-Adad II 1056-1054 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Shamshi-Adad IV 1054-1050 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-nasir-pal I 1050-1031 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Shalmaneser II 1031-1019 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-nirari IV 1019-1013 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-rabi II 1013-972 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-resh-ishi II 972-967 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Tiglath-Pileser II 967-935 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-Dan II 935-912 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Adad-nirari II 912-891 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Tukulti-Ninurta II 891-884 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-nasir-pal II 884-859 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Shalmaneser III 859-824 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Shamshi-adad V 824-811 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Shammu-ramat 811-808 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Adad-nirari III 811-783 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Shalmeneser IV 783-773 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Ashur-dan III 773-755 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Ashur-nirari V 755-745 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Tiglath-Pileser III 745-727 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Shalmaneser V 727-722 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Sargon II 722–705 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Sennacherib 705–681 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Esarhaddon 681–669 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Ashurbanipal 669–631 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Ashur-etli-ilani 631-627 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Sin-shumu-lishir 626 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Sin-shar-ishkun 627-612 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Ashur-uballit II 612-608 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources