The Burning Cauldron: The Neo Assyrian Empire Defended

Military Reform of 581 BCE
Sinbanipal upon his return to Assur, traveled directly to Kalhu, the city of the army of Assyria and therein, ordered the creation of a new set of reforms regarding the military.*

*A major point of note. As the reader may notice, the Assyrian monarch is becoming quite frequent and known for oft-made reforms. This is part of an evolving notion of kingship in Assyria, since the reign of Sinsharishkun. Sinsharishkun, would have many dislikes from his detractors, but he was also known as a king who made sweeping reforms and often made reforms, through a secular lens. In otherwords, in the traditions of Assyria, he was a progressive king in a sense, making new laws, new reforms and setting the stage. Rather, than relying upon the Great Gods and their order to develop chaotically, as many archaic Assyrian monarchs did, Sinsharishkun was a reformer, much like his great-great grandfather, Sinnacherib (705-681 BCE). Sinbanipal in much the same as his father, whom he attempts even still to emulate, as a reform king, creating the image of the 'Great Gardener' seeing to the correct rule and procedure within his realm, ever more.

The military reforms, were composed of in the same format as that of Sinsharishkun's reforms, that is, a series of affirmations. The importance of this form, is that it creates the gloss that such reforms always were so. This is important to note, as the Assyrian monarchy ultimately was hyper-conservative in many of its ideals, and as such, a reform is simply coming closer to what the Great Gods wished and as such, it is an affirmation rather than a reform, at least officially in Assyrian legal opinion.

The reforms were conveyed in a condensed form in the Nippur Correspondence, the Court registry of Assyria, and in an ultra-formal and religiously toned format in the Kalhu Codex and the Unbroken Chronicle of Babylon. We will use the condensed version:

'Great King, King of the Four Corners, King of the Universe, Lord over all Breeds/Races and the Ally of the Great Gods, Sinbanipal doth make an offering to the Great Gods and the steadfast and pious folk of the Lands. He offereth a sacrifice made, for a set of affirmations regarding the affairs, martial. A sacrifice duly made is rewarded well by the Great Gods, whose nose intakes the smoke from the burnt offerings and whose ears are a funnel for the praises of men. We shall thus, with the sacrifice, the offering made, conduct a set of affirmations with the due grandeur and the Hands of the Great Gods guiding the stylist. Pray, a tide of gladness comes upon thee, o people of the Pious and Steadfast Lands, whose hearts yearn for little more than servitude to the Great Gods, and whose Names we make embossed upon the face of the Lands. Doth we shall make the Names of the Family Renowned; no greater proof exists, than victory in combat.

An offering of affirmations. They are to be followed by all within the yoke of the Triad, the Holy Family and under the mighty grasp of His Majesty. A breaching of such, is to bring the ire of Nurgle upon thee. Doth the Great King have eyes to see and swords with which to puncture, a knife to sheer and a torch to set ablaze. Breach the limits and find thyself lacking, the evil shall come upon thee and death follows thus.

Affirmation I:

In the Lands under the Yoke of the Family, whose gaze is toward Duranki, correct military procedures is necessitated. In the Lands, there is leaders and generals, whose orders are followed. We expand in all directions, but the orders of generals in armies are to be followed and they are to in their edict and command mimic their Heavenly Masters, the Great Gods. Thus an affirmation is to be made, a set of armies are to be created from the existent armies of the empire and formalized for the service to the Great Gods. Each army is designated a general to lead them in the field, with submissive generals under him. These would have predesignated generals for which the soldiery were bound to follow. Furthermore, each is a standing army, that is administered by the general over it, with its own specific budget and an assigned region for which to conduct constant war.*

*Libbum shanue, meaning to diverge fronts. It refers to the notion of Maniuqappu's dreamed empire, wherein Assyria expands in all directions on many different fronts. traditionally, Assyrian warfare was extremely ritualized, and thus required single army formations for offensive campaigns. This was very effective for a time. However, with the creation of standing armies in 745 BCE, Assyria began waging more consistent military campaigns with less pomp and circumstance. In the reign of Sinbanipal, this increased enormously so, where the new model is one wherein the Assyrian army under the Great King utilizes most of his armies on the territories and give them free reign to attack enemies upon the exterior. Yet, also for official campaigns, the Assyrian king is permitted to take any army wherever it is and form into a greater super-army of sorts for particular campaigns. This has its weaknesses however, as it gives much more liberty to generals in the front and to the traditional Assyrian model, it is an affront to the rites of the Great Gods.

These, are as follows:

Key

Army Name//Region assigned//inherited title holder//standing soldier count//subordinate armies/army color
-------------------------
Army in the Service of Assur or Wing of Assur// Capitol Region of Assyria, Kalhu// King of Assyria// 50,000 warriors standing//White

-Kingdom of Moab
-Kingdom of Carchemish
--------------------------
Army in the Service of Marduk or Wing of Marduk// Central Karduniash, Babylon// King of Karduniash// 30,000 warriors standing//Red

-Governate of Elam

--------------------
Army in the Service of Ninurta or Wing of Ninurta// Northern Assyria, Assyrian Zagros, Ardini// King of Urartu// 20,000//Deep Grey

-Kingdom of Urartu
-Governate of Mannaea

----------------------
Army in the Service of Shamash or the Wing of Shamash// Arrapakha and the region of Marhashi// Protector General of the East// 15,000// Yellow

-Kingdom of Marilik

--------------------
Army in the Service of Sin or the Wing of Sin// Sumer or southern Karduniash, city of Ur// Grand Marshal of Karduniash// 15,000// Deep Blue

-High Priesthood of Dilmun
-Governate of Hagaru
-Kingdom of Ahzmanu (Ahsa)

------------------
Army in the Service of Ishtar or the Wing of Ishtar// City of Palmyra or Tima// Protetor General of the South// 15,000// Tan

-None

--------------------
Army in the Service of Dagon or wing of Dagon// City of Damascus, Southern Syria and Central Canaan// House Damashu*// 15,000// Orange/Burgundy/Amber

-Kingdom of Tyre
-Kingdom of Byblos
-Kingdom of Sidon

*A noble House of Assyria, in 581 BCE, headed by patriarch Mukilu-Assur (Assur Holds the Reigns)
---------------
Army in the Service of Gula// City of Ashkelon, Southern Canaan and Philistine// House Idrimulu*// 15,000// Pale Blue

-Kingdom of Judah

*Noble Assyrian House, in 581 BCE, headed by patriarch Anaku-Adad (Adad ordered).


-------------------
Army in the Service of Adad// City of Ankuwa, Land of Hatti and the Tabal// Field Marshal of Assyria// 15,000// Silver Grey or Light Grey

-Governate of Hatti
-Governate of Tabal
-Kingdom of Pala

*This effectively makes the field marshal position a completely hereditary position to the family of Dugul-Naboo
----------------
Army in the Service of Naboo or Wing of Naboo// City of Hamath, Syria, Quwe and Northern Canaan// House Hamitu*// 15,000// Green

-Kingdom of Habalu
-Northern Phoenician settlements
-Governate of Cyprus

*House Hamitu, Assyrian noble house, headed by patriarch Dariu-Zeru-azamaru (hate within the spear lasts eternal)
-----------------
Army in the Service of Ilawela or Wing of Ilawela// City of Nippur// Head Sentinel// 7,500// Bronze

-None

*Scouting army

----------------
Army in the Service of Nurgle or Wing of Nurgle// City of Nineveh// Head Guard of Assyria// 20,000// Ebony

-None


---------------------
*Thus giving the Assyrian empire, a peacetime soldier count of 228,000 warriors. If need be, the Assyrian and Karduniash kingdom could levy peasantry into the army and thus accumulate and army depending on the circumstance, of 330,000-400,000. A very formidable military system, the most formidable that the world had ever seen up to this point.

Affirmation II

Within the yoke of Assyria, we make a distinction based upon origins. Surely, the Great Gods created man for different circumstance and uses. We assert the traditions in this manner. This be that soldiers must wear armor, clothing and other ornaments pertaining to the culture of their mother. This includes deportees.

Affirmation III:

In regards to the cavalry troops in any army, only designated breeds may be permitted to hold the reigns of chariots or horses. These are as follows:

-Akkadian men
-Scythian and or Cimmerian men, whose custom is battle upon the back of horses.
-Designated nobles of a particular subject state.

Hence, no deportees may be permitted to be learned in the ways of the horse unless their custom is in horse breeding and riding. As the Great Gods formed their bodies and mentalities around the usage. Others yet still transgress. Any deportee who breaches this rule, and mounts a horse at the beginning of battle without necessity, is to be beheaded, as will be his commanding officer. Men of deportees origins however may be permitted to mount donkeys or camels or any other creature. Yet, an Akkadian man is not permitted to mount a donkey prior to battle, lest it be said of the men of Piety, that we ride upon a donkey.

Affirmation IV:

All soldiers, after appointment to their particular army, among the 12, will be assigned a bracelet with a particular designation. The designations will be a simple character making clear the army that they are conjoined to.

Affirmation V:

All armies will be given a symbol for a field card, for which will be used as a sign of morale. These are as such:

Ashur: A field sign with a winged disk and a bow perched atop it. With an inscription saying beneath: "Assur Fires a Dual Bow" (war aspect, Assur is master of life and death)
Marduk: A field sign with a chariot carried by a serpent and an mace perched atop. With an inscription saying beneath: "Marduk is the Vile Wind" (reference to his battle at Duranki against Tiamat)
Ishtar: A field sign with a great star, the North Star. With an inscription beneath saying: "Ishtar Is She Who Shrieks" (Ishtar in battle is the shrieker, who wades in blood)
Shamash: A field sign with a a sun and bolts of light pushing downward. With an inscription beneath saying: "Shamash Is the Consistent Warrior" (Shamash in a war aspect is a consistent and true soldier, loyal and fearless)
Sin: A field sign with a crescent moon and a hand raised upward beneath it. With an inscription beneath saying: "Sin is the Anomaly (shumma izbu)" (war aspect, Sin is unpredictable, hence an anomaly)
Ninurta: A field sign with a bison with a mace perched atop. With an inscription beneath saying: "Ninurta is the slayer of Millions" (Ninurta in war aspect is the slayer of monsters and his weapon, sharur is the sentient mace that is said to have killed millions of demons)
Gula: A field sign with a tower with a halo around its tip. With an inscription beneath saying: "Gula Is the Guardian of Duranki" (Gula is in a war aspect, the greater defender in sieges and the most patient warrior)
Adad: A field sign with a group of thunder bolts atop a bull with prominent horns. With an inscription saying: 'Adad is the Rage of the Tempest" (war aspect of Adad is his immense rage and the destruction wrought upon enemies that is total. Unlike Nurgle, Adad, has no interest in looting, only destruction)
Nurgle: A field sign with a scorpion and a torch perched atop the scorpion. With an inscription saying: 'Nurgle is the Black Flame' (Nurgle in his war aspect, is the looter and the harsh reality of battle. He is called the black flame due to his association with black and the being the god of fire)
Naboo: A field sign with of an Assyrian siege tower. With an inscription beneath saying: "Naboo is the Battle Plan" (The planner of the Gods, he makes all innovation possible in the realm of writing and mathematics, hence siege towers)
Dagon: A field sign with a crab grasping a fish and two fish on either side. With an inscription beneath saying: "Dagon returns innumerable" (the war aspect of Dagon, a wealth god, is that of inumerable multiplication of troops and the massed armies of Assyria; yet also the supply to wage war.)
Ilawela: A field sign with a drum and an eye perched above. With an inscription beneath saying: "Ilawela hath Saw" (War aspect, not too well known yet, presumably to scout and intelligence on the enemy, his epithet 'The Ear' alludes to this)
 
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I find the Assyrian tendency to insist that the various peoples they have conquered retain their own cultures and not act like Assyrians interesting in ttl. They seem very concerned that different peoples preserve their own traditions and not act too like Akkadians. Is this a tendency that they shared in otl? Is in motivated by a desire to preserve a distinction between Akkadians and the rest or some other reason?
 
Is this a tendency that they shared in otl?
Not really. According to Liverani at least, they usually insisted on Akkadian lifestyle as the one and only civilized way at all, and their deportation policies were specifically aimed at deculturation of the subjugated groups, among other things. They were assimilationists through and through.
This did not apply, however, to the wider tributary sphere outside the direct Assyrian administrative control (for example, Judah retained its distinctive religious and linguistic culture). Of course, this could work at the core of the empire, but this staunchly centralist approach would not allow stable control of the wider expanse they have ITTL. There were moves toward relaxation and increased "tolerance" of cultural diversity under the later kings IOTL, specifically in order to accomodate the wider territorial expanse and the more relaxed modes of control required, for example, in the (ultimately unsuccesful) efforts to enforce domination on Egypt.
So the basis for the shift in attitude shown ITTL were there. I would still expect Akkadianization to be promoted as long as possible, as well as what I would call "Akkadian supremacy"; certainly deep rooted cultural attitudes of the Assyrian elites would clash with any notion of equal dignity of the subjugated peoples. However, they seem to be moving a more pluralistic Imperial ideal whereby all peoples have their specificities to be preserved and coordinated by the centre, where the Chosen People dwells, to the Greater Glory of the Gods. This just applies to cultural difference the general Assyrian approach to economic activity and resource extraction.
 
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Not really. According to Liverani at least, they usually insisted on Akkadian lifestyle as the one and only civilized way at all, and their deportation policies were specifically aimed at deculturation of the subjugated groups, among other things. They were assimilationists through and through.
This did not apply, however, to the wider tributary sphere outside the direct Assyrian administrative control (for example, Judah retained its distinctive religious and linguistic culture). Of course, this could work at the core of the empire, but this stuanchly centralist approach would not allow stable control of the wider expanse they have ITTL. There were moves toward relaxation and increased "tolerance" of cultural diversity under the later kings IOTL, specifically in order to accomodate the wider territorial expanse and the more relaxed modes of control required, for example, in the (ultimately unsuccesful) efforts to enforce domination on Egypt.
So the basis for the shift in attitude shown ITTL were there. I would still expect Akkadianization to be promoted as long as possible, as well as what I would call "Akkadian supremacy"; certainly deep rooted cultural attitudes of the Assyrian elites would clash with any notion of equal dignity of the subjugated peoples. However, they seem to be moving a more pluralistic Imperial ideal whereby all peoples have their specificities to be preserved and coordinated by the centre, where the Chosen People dwells, to the Greater Glory of the Gods. This just applies to cultural difference the general Assyrian approach to economic activity and resource extraction.
I find the Assyrian tendency to insist that the various peoples they have conquered retain their own cultures and not act like Assyrians interesting in ttl. They seem very concerned that different peoples preserve their own traditions and not act too like Akkadians. Is this a tendency that they shared in otl? Is in motivated by a desire to preserve a distinction between Akkadians and the rest or some other reason?

1. There was Akkadianization at the social and civil level definitely. However, militarily, assimilation was not promoted. It was seen for instance in the reign of Sargon II that he having 60 Israeli charioteers, to be a joke, for as the custom was, only men who were ostensibly Akkadian were warriors who could mount such prestigious vessels. Likewise, deportees were treated as communities within the Akkadian world, but not Akkadian. The military units from distinctive subject peoples are mentioned a different from the Akkadians. In fact, many of the deportee communities when requested for use, were termed by their cultural designation, such as Itu, Elamtu, Gambulu, Paqudu, Tabali, etc... This is important as it details how peoples living in the midst of Assyria were forced into a conscripted military system and never referred to simply as soldiers. Implying that they were never integrated as Akkadians and simply seen as ethnicity whose usage was as tools.

2. @Falecius is right. The idea is that originally, Assyrian state ideology revolved around the propaganda of Narim-Sin. That the world was united essentially under his rule, with few people outside of this realm. A forgivable understanding, yet becoming notably false. Even according to Liverani, Assyrian scribes and so forth, began to falter as time mvoed forward and they realized just how massive the world was, that conquest of such would require much more than they originally thought.

This understanding is important for the way Assyria is acting towards its subjects. Without dropping the notion of world conquest, the idea is to expand and conquer the world, not for the expansion necessarily of the Akkadian people, or the betterment of the world, but for the empowering of the imperial center. As the Kalhu Codex has enumerated much, the Imperial dogma is one of 'eyes affixed toward a single direction' that being the Great Gods and the Land with whom they Endowed with Kingship, Mesopotamia. Consequently, the idea is that the whole world must likewise, affix their gaze towards this land and thus, its people, who are the ideal masters, whose purpose is to show the way of the Great Gods as a holy people of sorts.

So, yes, the different peoples are being used as pawns and coordinated as pieces by which to issue forth a completion of Duranki. Maintaining differences, allows other cultures to be used as tools for specific tasks. Likewise, it maintains the imperial centre.

This does not mean that assimilation to a degree is not occurring. It simply means that the empire is attempting to assert a certain ultra-primacy of Mesopotamia while using all around it as resources and expansion vehicles. Do note, the trend towards protectorates surrounding the Mesoptamian heartland and how this plays into the notion of resource extraction and affixing eyes to a particular land... If all areas were made into a province directly by the Assyrian emperor, how else might the imperial centre be distinct? It is just as it was said, it is the notion that all of these lands are being conquered and coordinated by the Ideal Masters in the Centre, who export their power to other lands and extract their resources and authority and redistribute it into the centre. It is a very supremacist model, yet also somewhat stable and interestingly different than most other world conquest models in history.
 
Three incoming Invasions
580-577 BCE



582-579 BCE in Anatolia

After the tumultuous years of 585-583 BCE, a calmer situation and stability emerged in Anatolia that was maintained from 582-580 BCE. Whilst raids continued between the different states, including attacks upon the Odryssian kingdom by Assyria. These however amounted to little more than cattle rustling expeditions or attacks to burn farmland. Dugul-Naboo, who arrived in Hatti in the year 582 BCE, saw the acquisition of several hundred heads of Skudra cattle from the Odryssi and his Cimmerian allies had captured a similar number in raids into the Bithynian state in the north. Nevertheless, the Assyrian field marshal was seemingly unwilling to launch a serious invasion of the three kingdoms fort the moment.

Alyattes used the time he had to make grand political claims and assert his authority as successor to Sadyattes. Inscriptions became increasingly common outside of Sardis, despite the precedence set by Sadyattes of a Sardis centered realm. Alyattes in his part, extended inscriptions to many rockside surfaces across the southern and northern sections of his kingdom. The inscriptions made testament to Alyattes’ willingness to assert his authority into the rural areas of the country and to make assertive his claims to be a ruler ‘whose hands hath reached on high and on low.’ Little however had changed in his kingdom though despite the loss in territory. Much of the reforms were tempered and comprise was made with all of the remaining nobles and satisfied that the king was not in captivity, much of the riot and talk of rebellion was quelled and redirected in the northern counter to the Skudran states. Greek relations were also very poor, despite the peace of 584 BCE. Yet, trade seems to have resumed to some degree between the state of Athens and its affiliates with that of Lydia.

Regarding the addition of Arola and the Thyni to the Lydian realm, there seems to have been no issue early on. In 582-581 BCE, Alyattes makes copious mention of having subjugated and tamed Arola of the Dinuwa (Thyni as transcribed in Arzawa). Alyattes is described as a man whose power hath ascended beyond man and has tamed beasts and monsters. Such grandiose claims are well beloved in Sardis where the cult of the king is becoming strongest. Yet, in rural areas in the north, the effects of accepting Arola and his tribe have had consequences. Trouble arose between peasants, nobles and tribesmen as recorded in Sardian court documents.

These disputes were primarily the unwillingness of the Dinuwa to submit to communal royal properties and a preference to migrate, graze and steal. Nobles themselves simply disliked the notion of these people having permission to cross their land often and that these people possessed horses for which until then, nobility tended to be most privy to. In response to the situation, Alyattes promulgated an interesting and severe article in 580 BCE. This article was referred to as the ‘Edict on alien custom.’ It asserted into Lydian law, that a pact made with Arola, the king of the Dinuwa was a particular oath and connection between Alyattes himself to the Dinuwa, making him the overlord of the Dinuwa. Thus, it nullified obligations to their people in the same manner as that of the locals. However, it asserted that the Dinuwa were ordered to vacate lands occupied by royal owned lands and instead occupy Phrygia and act as lords therein, maintaining their customs in particular.

In the Odryssian kingdom, the local Skudra elites maintained their rule and customs as a minority population. Puraykames, supposedly the greatest warrior amongst the Skudra people seated himself originally in Gordion. However, in 581 BCE, moved his capitol city to the city of Ikonuwa in the lands of the Lukka, there, the city had been untouched by war and maintained a large local population and intelligentsia. It was there that Purayakames made his first inscription and his first claim of written kingship.

“Puraykames is a Giant of a man, he is the King of the Odrisuhi, King of Lukka and the Lord of Ikonuwa. May Tarantas (the thunder god) gift him power, may the ax of kingship be resounded through the land.”

Made in the rare Anatolian hieroglyphic script, it would be the first major written inscription and claim to kingship for Puraykames. It likewise, established himself as a giant and made mention of an important concept; ‘the ax of kingship.’ Puryakames was fostering a sort of warrior-king mentality of himself and asserted the warrior elite of his state as foremost. Yet, the lessening of conflict and the end of the recent years of adventure for his people, had weighed him in years. The king was already 59 years old and his sons readily battled over the throne in displays of courage in attempts at raids. Of his seven sons, three had perished in such courageous raids, one in a raid against Lydia and the other two in an attempt at capturing land from Assyria.

Of the remaining four, three were too young to be king, leaving only the 33 year old Pridabalas (He is strong as Oak). His ascension was asserted in late 580 BCE, when Puraykames I aged 60 passed and was succeeded by Pridabalas. Pridabalas from 580-579 BCE, was a staunched conservative. In life, he had little of the courage of his brothers or his father, yet he possessed a loyalty to the authority of his father and a filial duty. His battle experience was gained in battle as a bodyguard for his father on horse and in defensive skirmishes on the frontiers with Lydia and Assyria.

The memory of Puraykames was kept by Pridabalas, who upon ascension made an inscription in Ikunwa in mimic of Assyrian cylinders:

“I am the son of Puryakames, the giant warrior of the Odrisuhi. I am called by Gods and men alike, as Pridabalas, the Man whose ribs are that of oak and whose height ascends to the canopy of heaven. God Zalmoxis, the Lord of the double ax, hath assigned to me; alliance. Prosperity and glory wait for thee who makes friendly with the ally of Zalmoxis.”

However, in 579 BCE, tensions heated up along the Assyrian border. Pridabalas began launching overt attacks upon the Assyrian province of Hatti. These attacks were intended to discover if Assyria was occupied in the east. Assyria only defended itself and otherwise, permitted the Odryssian forces to escape in middle 579 BCE. Assuming that Assyria was unable to launch an invasion for the moment, Pridabalas gathered an army in his lands for an invasion upon the Lydian kingdom.

To the north, while the Lydians and Odryssians attended to internal affairs 582-579 BCE, Bithynia was still ready for war. Pirûkamon in an ambitious series of events beginning in 582 BCE, crossed the strait of Bosporos and attacked the city state of Byzantion. The city had assisted the Bithynian king in transport prior and had played an appeasement to the Skudra ever since, thus the city’s authority was diminished greatly, leading to little more than moral support arriving from Athens. Byzantion surrendered to Pirûkamon in short order after a three-month long siege, wherein the city was not looted but made into a tributary state by the Bithynian king. After this, the Bithynian army settled for the year and in late 581 BCE, conducted a series of raids and attacks into old Thracia pushing forth or integrating smaller Thracian tribes in the area. These attacks continued until Bithynian territory extended to the river Maritsa, where a peace deal was made between Solon of Athens and Pirûkamon of Bithynia, that the Bithynians would remain east of the Maritsa, north of Cheronese. Perinthos and Byzantion became Bithynian tributaries and Proconessus and Cheronese became allies and under the wing of Athens.

Pirûkamon likewise in 580 BCE, launched an incursion with his nobles and Greek mercenary into the further north, attacking and gaining loot from the city of Melsambria along the Black Sea coast. After this, Pirûkamon returned to Asia and settled himself in Nikomedia, the newly emerging capitol of the Bithynian kingdom.

To the east of Bithynia, the Assyrian realm was at a low scale war with the Odryssian kingdom, yet under some sort of agreement with the Bithynian state from 581-580 BCE. In 579 BCE, war loomed of a more important nature, leading to Assyrian decline of interest in the west. The victory of Zurab II over Rusas IV and his slaying, had shocked the Assyrian elites, who attempted to compensate the situation. Dugul-Naboo, stationed in Hatti, was ordered in May of 579 BCE to gather an army equivalent to the new Wing of Adad and march to the region of Pontus which to the Assyrian court, was referred to as Kaskanunu.

By 580 BCE, Scythian bands from the Budin tribe, had come to re-enter Pontus and the Trasncaucasian hill country. There they battled the local lords or served the Colchian king, Zurab II, who after 582 BCE, was paying a regular tribute of grain, gold and livestock to the Budin. The Cimmerian lords of the Pontus, were also attacked by these bands who gained tentative support from Zurab II, after the Cimmerian attacks upon Colchis in the prior year of 584 BCE. These battles saw the division of the Cimmerian clans in Pontus become firmly split into factions. Some clans supported the Assyrian empire and especially the Governate of Hatti and the kingdom of Pala. Some though were preferring the Colchian and Budin forces from the north and east, who opposed Assyrian hegemony. A third faction existed, yet was increasingly minor, that of a more traditionalist Cimmerian group, attempting to maintain authority in Pontus without submission to either side.

These factions battled between each other in 580 BCE, wherein the Cimmerian faction most associated with Colchis, emerged the clear victor. Several clans of Cimmerians fled south into Hatti in 579 BCE as a result. The most important of these fleeing clans, was a clan of Cimmerians led by a warrior named Kárshar-Merkishi (Announced Charge), who was defeated by his rivals in Pontus. His flight led him to the Hattian governance, where he was captured by Dugul-Naboo and taken to Carchemish where he was then transported to the rebuilding city of Washukanni where Sinbanipal met him alongside Assur-Shalushtu the Chamberlain of Assyria.

There, according to the Nippur Correspondence, Sinbanipal forced the Cimmerian lord to do prostration and the customary submission. After which, Sinbanipal proclaimed him a new subject, King of the Gimmri. According to what is noted from texts, the Assyrians had noted the rise of the Budin and their ability to utilize Cimemrian factions to conquer Pontus. As such, the Assyrians sought to create their own faction and conquer said lands and integrate Pontus into the Assyrian sphere, as a vassal state due for assimilation into the realm. As such, with the Cimmerian lord in the care of Sinbanipal, he forwarded him to Dugul-Naboo, who was given orders to take him and his clan and invade the Pontus lands with the Army of Adad. Meanwhile, Sinbanipal sent about orders to the lands of the empire, seeking to enforce the new rulings and to announce a new campaign to be had. Furthermore, Ipanqazzu, then stationed in Marhashi, was recalled to Kalhu. In his place, Adad-apal-Duranki alongside his army, the Wing of Ilawela, was dispatched to Marhashi as a sentry on the eastern border.

Triple Invasions

Whilst Sinbanipal sought to enforce his new military edicts and also distribute information of his military exploits through inscriptions, multiple invasions of import were occurring. Firstly, the invasion of Pontus by Dugul-Naboo and the Wing of Adad. Secondly, the attack upon the Cyrene state by Wahibre of Egypt. Thirdly the beginning of war in the further east between the Medes and the Kamboja.

Dugul-Naboo’s invasion of Pontus was most precarious, but otherwise routine. Gaining his orders, Dugul-Naboo travelled to Ankuwa to prepare himself for the conflict. With winter approaching, Dugul-Naboo revealed to his sons and commanders, that the time of the invasion would be in March of 578 BCE, to avoid the cool winter. Until then, to prepare, Dugul-Naboo would send consistent raiding parties into Pontus to attack the enemy during the winter.

Dugul-Naboo, originally somewhat of a rebellious figure, suspected by the Kalhu codex of fomenting revolt, had been appeased by the regime of Sinbanipal. Maniuqappu had successfully managed to instill upon Sinbanipal a pro-noble sentiment, yet one that was not overtly conservative. Dugul-Naboo and his family had thus, in effect, been given by lineage the right to ascend to the title of Marshal of Assyria and also command by familial rule, the governate of Hatti. Dugul-Naboo was thus free to pursue his own agendas in the north at his own pace and willingness. However, Dugul-Naboo was much weathered in age, approaching 57 years, he was no longer as bold as he was in 600 BCE when he successfully conquered Hatti from Sadyattes. Thus, he had delegated much of the governance of Hatti to his son, Kadashman-Shamash, the effective governor of Hatti in Ankuwa.

The agenda of the governate of Hatti, had little changed since 590 BCE. Attracting merchants from the south and purchasing deportees to resettle into the land of Hatti and become assimilated into a growing Hatto-Hurri-Akakdian culture in the lands. Altered little too was the bureaucracy format, whereby local lieutenants acted as judges and police across the province. This situation adapted itself well to the notion set forth in the Reform of 581-580 BCE, wherein armies are designated regions of existence. Of any area or army, the Wing of Adad had the best mentality and framework for this notion.

Dugul-Naboo embarked upon internecine attacks upon the Pontus in the winter of 579 BCE, attracting the attention of Zurab II, who embarked upon protecting his Pontic allies to the southwest. For this matter, Zurab II marched his army southward with 20,000 warriors and invaded Urartu, striking northern locales in the kingdom. Ishpuini II responded by attempting to counter his northern aggressor by marching his ‘Wing of Ninurta’ north and managed to set the Colchian army to flight, yet were unable to stop the Colchian force from terrorizing the northern sections of Urartu. Ishpuini II did not pursue beyond his borders, rather returning to Tushpa near instantly, content that he had forced the enemy forth. This though assured Zurab II that Ishpuini II was not coordinating with Dugul-Naboo and that no attack from the Urartu should be expected whilst the Assyrians invade Pontus. Prthuva of the Budin in the far north had in the year 581 BCE, fought a short conflict with several tribes to his north, wherein the Budin gained a successful series of victories, establishing themselves as lords over several different clans north of them and drawing them as tributaries. While in the east, the Budin established friendly ties with their eastern cousins, the Scythian and the Sarmatian clans along the Volga and in Dagestan. The Budin people thus were in a strong position to assist their southern vassal of Colchis.

The main issue at play in this situation however was the conflicting interests of these two. According to later oral customs put to paper, the Budin viewed the Colchian king and its subjects as their slaves and close subjects. Budin requests of payment increased every month and the Budin king displayed his teeth constantly to Zurab II in the way of his travelling envoys:



“Greetings to thee, the King of Colchis, the Noble Lord of the Budini, Master of the Green Blades, hath made his presence known to thee…….Noble Prthuva, conveyeth to thee, Zurab II of Colchis, that he hath horses, bows, swords, maces, chariots and men whose eyes burn with fire. Noble Prthuva, hath made victories in the lands of his raising and made a renown. His court is filled with gold, silver, amber, bronze, slaves, donkeys, horses and beasts from lands afar. His craving is insatiable, yet his friendly disposition is gifted to those lower in the caste, should they make themselves the last. Our customs dictate that those lower, feed those stronger and those who adhere, doth they live longer...” -The Epic of Armatua (99 BCE)

This predatory relationship certainly ate at the pride of Zurab II, who increasingly began to snub his ally by sending often useless merchandise to the Budin, such as donkeys or dogs. To the Budin, these tributes were somewhat substantive as they empowered the Budin’s conception of cosmological prowess in combat. Looting and gaining tribute without battle was a noble undertaking. Yet, the poorer the tribute, the less likely that the Budin will be willing to protect their tribute sources at least overtly.

There too was division in Colchis as how to treat their supposed Budin allies and their Scythian comrades. Many in the kingdom feared the influence of the Budin and the possibility of draining the small treasury of the state in feeding the insatiable hunger of the Budin lords to the north. A seeming trope was being formed thus among the Colchian nobles and lords, that of the Scythians as being talented in battle, fearless and able to oppose Assyria, yet they too were hungry animals who were too enamored with taking tributes and in adhering to systems of castes and hierarchy often seemingly silly to the Colchian and Iberian nobles, whose hierarchies did not require flamboyant displays of wealth or the so-called Scythian valuables hoarding. Yet, the Colchian kingdom could not yet oppose the Budin outright, as the Assyrian menace loomed ever stronger and its hegemonic authority seemed to cover the very entirety of the world.

Thus, Colchian interests required the Budin friendship, yet the Budin needed nothing from Colchis, hence the toxic relation. The Budin were connected to a much wider Eurasian trading network and seated far from the power of Assyria. This is noted in several allusions made in oral texts of later eras, wherein Zurab II attempted to convince Prthava of the immenent threat of Assyria, to which the Budin Lord made note of his ‘power’ across the great plains of the north and that if Zurab II feared Assyria so, he should seek their aid rather than his.

The division of the Colchian and Budin in their ‘alliance’ would be critical for the future development of the region. Will their alliance and power in the north be able to be maintained or will their division lead to an Assyrian expansion northward? For either side, the journey will be grueling, to be sure.



In Egypt, a southern invasion was also in preparation. Wahibre had guaranteed the envoy of Assyria of his intention to become a tributary realm. However, in order to prove Egypt’s loyalty, this required a change in diplomatic policy for Egypt. Away from the supposed alliance with Greek states such as Sparta and towards a subservience to Assyrian geopolitical interests and a preference to Phoenician mercantile interests. Wahibre had made vast numbers of enemies with this turn in policy. While Psamtik II sought some form of appeasement, Wahibre completely submitted what little authority Egypt could have. Rapidly, conspiracy once more descended upon the court at Sais. Wahibre gathered an army made up of Phoenician mercenary and local Egyptian conscripts and prepared his invasion for January of 578 BCE.

Ahmose, the energetic general and hero of Napata, had discretely fled the capitol after learning of the Cyrene invasion. Ahmose claimed the necessity to see to the death of his grandfather, some 65 km from Sais southward. His real intention however, was clandestine meeting with certain nomarchs, Greek settler officials, a Spartan spy and other local notables. Such a meeting was unknown to Wahibre, who was a notably weak and fickle king and opprobrium by even his most ardent supporters in Sais. Nevertheless, if Wahibre was able to successfully complete his attack on Cyrene and establish Egyptian power there, surely Assyrian protection would come and thus destroy would-be contesters to his throne.

The Median Eastern Journey 585-579 BCE

Ainyava, the young king of the Medes, had settled his people in the lands of Aria, south of Kamboja. Much of his people had left north to the Dahae lands and a small amount returned to Assyrian domination in the west or to Persia under Cambyses I. However, the majority of the Median notables remained by his side and the royal clan of the Medes remained a strong force, with a fearsome if not tired army.

The Medes were a semi-sedentary people, who practiced intermittent pastoralism backed by agriculture that they learned in Marhashi. In Arachosia, this remained much the same, with Ainyava placing himself in a small settlement on the Arius River or in Median, the Harōiva and this settlement acted as an encampment for the Mede royalty and notables. It was called by them, Harōivabarahi or ‘He carried us to the Harōiva.’ The majority of the Medes however were living outside of this encampment in triabl settlements allotted by the king and his royal allies. These settlements and or areas of living, were stretched down the river Arius and with some pastoral movements east and south into Gedrosia and to the fringes of where Arochia meets the Indus.

Since the year 586 BCE, the Medes had been permitted to remain in the region, relatively peacefully by the Aryan states to their north and east, the states of Kamboja and Gandhara. Kamboja to the north was a powerful oligarchy of warrior elites, who at the moment were becoming more and more disgruntled with the Median arrival. For instance, Kamboja was already pressed for space to graze and lands to farm, the entry of the Medes as a competing force for these lands, diminished the already fearfully compact Kambojan realm. Within Kamboja, words were calling for war for the entirety of the year 586-584 BCE. Orations from a particular noble named Aoziṣṭhačitra (The most radiant, most splendid) were particularly in favor of a heated conflict with the Medes over grazing lands.

Aoziṣṭhačitra’s rhetoric was countered by more peaceful and or cautious of the lords in Kamboja. Gaočitra and Haritāśva two distinguished, if older nobles were significant as advocates of a peaceful and conciliatory faction in Kamboja. They argued that the Gandhara kingdom to the east would take advantage of any conflict and use it to attack Kamboja. Likewise, they made the case that the Medes could be used to battle the Gandhara in a later date as allies. There was too some level of knowledge in the Kamboja state that the Medes were defeated by an hyper aggressive regime to the west, called in Kamboja, the Babirāsa.

In Gandhara, the kingdom was ruled by a fickle and energetic king named Abjít (He conquers the water). His policy seemed to be one of, enticing the Kamboja to war with the Medes at any cost. His envoys to the Kamboja asserted the Aryan nature of the two kingdoms and of their roles as protectors of the region, lords of the Mountain Passes. Likewise, Abjít promoted an alliance with the Kamboja against the Median invaders and to assist the Kamboja in a southern expansion against said peoples.

This situation remained the status quo from 584-582 BCE, until Aoziṣṭhačitra came to gain the stronger position in Kamboja against some of the elder clansmen by way of series of incidents of dispute over horses. Median tribal affiliates had stolen horses from Kambojan herders along the southern sector of Bactria. Presumably, the Medes were sending parties northward to Bactria to steal horses in ana attempt to hide their actions. This scheme to hide the truth was uncovered when the herders tracked the thieves who had traversed back first into Assyria and then back into Median space. The situation was seen as an enormous offence and tension rose drastically between the two peoples

Abjít used the opportunity to formalize an alliance with the Kamboja and urge the Kamboja state to war with the Medes. This began to occur in 581-580 BCE, when countering raids began between the two states. Officially on friendly terms, independent Kamboja warrior elites began launching small cattle and horse rustling missions, incurring likewise counters from the south. Ainyava maintained the status of peace for some time, even paying a tribute to the Kamboja in the later section of 580 BCE, so as to avoid an outright attack. He used that time to raise an army and likewise gain some assistance from Medes crossing the border from the west to assist him. Ultimately, the Kamboja possessed a perfect opportunity to destroy the Medes in 580 BCE, but fumbled it and in 579 BCE, Ainyava revoked his tribute to be renewed in March of 579 BCE.

Kamboja followed this by launching an expedition of 27,000 warriors southward to enforce a hegemony over the Medes. This attack by Kamboja progressed well, as Median pastoral communes fled before the force led by Haritāśva of the Kamboja. Yet, the Medes under Ainyava struck after the Kamboja had traversed 29km down the Arius river. The battle along the Arius river, would become one of a series of battles along the Arius between the Aryan Kamboja and the Median state along the Arius in Arachosia. In brief, the Kamboja were defeated decisively by the Medes, who were able to unexpectedly outnumber and outplan the Kamboja, driving their army northward. Ainyava however, did not press his gains. Ainyava instead returned to his settlements and drew up an envoy to be sent to Gandhara and also sent forth spies to sneak into Persia and request aid from his kindred in Anshan.

In later 579 BCE, both of these attempts bred results. From Gandhara, Abjít promised to not assist Kamboja and even hinted at a possible joint incursion, if the Medes permit so. Assuring that the Gandhara in the least, would not protect the Kamboja. From Anshan, the Persian king Cambyses I, promised a secret assistance to the Medes in exchange for a tribute of horses from the east and the opening up of trade links. This was readily accepted and in the month of November, Ainyava prepared a force to set off to the north for an invasion of Kamboja and this time, he had the assistance of Persia and the assurances of Gandhara.

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Discussed invasions will be covered in the next update.
 
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Made in the rare Anatolian hieroglyphic script, it would be the first major written inscription and claim to kingship for Puraykames. It likewise, established himself as a giant and made mention of an important concept; ‘the ax of kingship.’ Puryakames was fostering a sort of warrior-king mentality of himself and asserted the warrior elite of his state as foremost. Yet, the lessening of conflict and the end of the recent years of adventure for his people, had weighed him in years. The king was already 459 years old and his sons readily battled over the throne in displays of courage in attempts at raids. Of his seven sons, three had perished in such courageous raids, one in a raid against Lydia and the other two in an attempt at capturing land from Assyria.
That is very old! An mistype?
Another good update. It would appear that Assyria is getting some pushback. It all seems very divided though. I don't think it likely that any of these border nations are likely to really equal it in power although they may force it to engage in a frustrating game of whackamole (then again considering how important victories are to them they may not find it frustrating). It seems that the last of the generation this timeline began with in Assyria are dieing off. It will be interesting to see what the succesors of Dugul-Naboo will do.
 
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That is very old! An mistype?
Another good update. It would appear that Assyria is getting some pushback. It all seems very divided though. I don't tjink it likely that any of these border nations are likely to really equal it in power although they may force it to engage in a frustrating game of whackamole (then again considering how important victories are to them they may not find it frustrating). It seems that the last of the generation this timeline began with in Assyria are dieing off. It will be interesting to see what the succesors of Dugul-Naboo will do.
Yes, a mistype, 59 years old.

Well, the Colchian state and its 'ally' the Budin do have the force with which to make the Assyrian realm become fatigued. However, Assyria, as you mention, may not mind grinding itself to pieces in such conflicts. A curious point here, that I hope others understood, was that the Budin and the Colchis alliance is weakening not due to a lack of opposition to the Assyrian state or an inability to do so, but due to cultural differences. The Budin view the Colchian state as an entity to be used to drain resources and as a pressure valve to send forth adventurous men as mercenary. Colchis however, views the Budin as an ally against Assyria. This difference may be the downfall of both realms. However, Zurab II and his Budin forces, proved their mettle, by defeating Urartu and Zurab II continues to apply pressure on Urartu in raids. This implies a change in ascendancy in the areas north of Assyria, from a prior Urartu position of ascendancy to that of a Colchian supremacy. Such a situation can only be redacted by a series of Assyrian offensives.

Any such offensive, will be grueling to be sure, as the attacks will need to destroy several areas of Colchian influence. One in Pontus, one in the Karas river valley, one in Iberia and finally into Colchis. Then there is the persistent Scythian problem. This Scythian problem could attract the Assyrian policy northward in an attempt to close-off the transit from the north into the Middle East. As I have mentioned, this is the perfect location for a new protectorate and an assumption of a firm border of authority. Yet, it brings a more aggressive form of war to the steppe, which as we know from China, causes the creation of more aggressive and dangerous steppe nomadic realms. Assyria is already creating dangerous countries with its actions, namely in Urartu, Colchis, Lydia, the Skudra and possibly the Medes in Arachosia.

Regarding whackamole, this is an important point. At what point does Assyria become exhausted? Egypt is a dubious country, most of Anatolia remains outside of Assyrian influence and the northern threats. All of these dangers, if converging upon a particular period of time, alongside internal unrest in Assyria, could cause a crisis akin to that near-disaster during the first three years of Sinbanipal, 603-600 BCE.
 
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The Second Assyro-Colchian War
579-575 BCE



Pontus and Colchis


In Pontus, the influx of Scythian warriors posing as mercenary had devastated the local order in the region. Since the year 609 BCE, the region was ruled by a collection of autonomous Cimmerian lords and tribal elites. These Cimmerian tribes raided areas around them frequently and existed as the last bastion of Cimmerian power that was not under foreign dominion.

In the later part of the year 583 BCE, the Colchian kingdom under Zurab II imposed influence upon the Cimmerian states after defeating some of the major Cimmerian warlords. This imposition of power was part of a general Colcho-Budin expansion in Transcaucasia, wherein Colchian influence exceeded Urartu for the first time in its history or since the beginning of the Urartu state in the year 861-857 BCE. Colchis for its part had conquered the entire length of the Karas river, asserted rule over Iberia, Barbashru and instilled its power over Pontus through the assent of a certain young prince of the Budin, a prince Gurganmoya. Guranmoya had essentially united the area of Pontus from 580-579 BCE, under his rule. He commanded an army of around 4,100 Scythian elite warriors drawn from across the Pontic Steppe which he had united by the age of 23 and was sent forth by his kin, Prthuva, the 43 year old king of the Budin to the south to prove his mettle. His host thus, was the largest of all the Scythian hosts and commanded the greatest respect in the region.

His alliance with his kinsmen in the steppe however waned upon his arrival and conquest of Pontus. Preferring his nearby friend, Zurab II, the Scythian prince acted as a close ally of Zurab II for the moment. Later texts would describe Gurganmoya as a man whose ambition and lust for power knew no bounds and his bonds to his kin were inferior to the goal of attaining universal power. Resentment is said to have especially gathered within him at the lack of respect given him in the lands of the Budin and Sauomatia. Supposedly, the young prince had been snuffed and disrespected as a lesser kinsman among the royal clan of the Budin, hence his essential banishment to the south.

Zurab II in contrast, was admittedly a fearsome man and strong fighter, a keen patriot. Yet, his ambition was relatively tame. Zurab II sought to defend his kingdom against Assyria and make moderate gains. In theory, Zurab II wished to subjugate Urartu and thence gain access to an attack on Assyria that would dissuade their further northern occasional invasions/looting.

Especially notable in the kingdom pf Colchis, beginning in the year 580 BCE, was a Hurrianization process and otherwise, a cultural fusion of the upper classes. As Urartu declined in power as related to Colchis, quiet numbers of Urartu bureaucrats fled their kingdom and moved north. Most of these were staunchly anti-Assyrian intellectuals, scribes and elites. These elites were almost completely Hurrian speakers, who carried with them prestige names and languages from their old country.

The Hurrian influx came with names of the old Bronze Age, exemplifying their conservatism and their long history as a people with a distinct culture. One such intellectual that stood out above the rest, arrived in December of 580 BCE, a certain Kirip-yuki, whose former position in Urartu was that of Secondary scribe. Kirip-yuki was a man of great learning who had memorized great numbers of cuneiform writing and was skilled in both his native tongue of Hurrian from Ardini and was able to compose texts in Aramaic, archaic Akkadian and the new form of ‘shorthand Akkadian’ now common in informal texts in Karduniash.

His arrival led to a new renaissance beginning in Colchis, as he was appointed Chief Scribe and Chancellor of Colchis, he was the obvious inaugural holder of said positions. Kirip-Yuki began for his part composing inscriptions and recording events in the prestige form of Hurrian from Ardini (Musasir, in the Assyrian kingdom), within the cuneiform script. Further, his underlings began work on another interesting situation, namely the adoption of a Hurrian shorthand in the way similar to the Akkadian shorthand that had become a new craze in Karduniash since 589 BCE.

Furthermore, Colchian elites, lacking the same prestige dialects, began to train themselves in Ardini prestige dialect, forth purpose of incorporating the dream of a greater realm in the region. How this would manifest would be seen in later decades, most notably, the naming of Zurab II’s heir, who was given the name Tashap-kildi, a clear Hurrian name. Nevertheless, in the year 579-577 BCE, the transition to a more literate kingdom was becoming a greater state initiative and some of the earliest inscriptions were created by the newly imported Hurrian scribal elite. These trends however would remain totally within the capitol city amongst the urban elites who saw to reform and change the city into one that would eventually resemble Tushpa of the south. Most of the kingdom would remain totally outside of this cultural transformation and literary cult then developing in the royal clan. Later scholars would speculate as to the reasoning of this event, as an attempt by the local elite to create an even stronger state to resist both the Scythian and Assyrian threats.

In past periods, much of the same development had occurred in Urartu. Previously the Valley of Van had lacked any formal writing system. When the consistent Assyrian attacks had pushed enough tribes into a critical mass around the Lake Van, matters came to a head with the creation of a unique mountain kingdom. Originally, this kingdom remained illiterate and or using Akkadian in a very overly formal style reminiscent of the Late Bronze Age. However, the ascent to power of the Ardini elite royalty in Tushpa, the adoption of a Hurrian tongue was made. While Hurrian was surely a language likely not fully native to Lake Van, it became the foundational glue in the state, which utilized a combination of Hurrian in the cuneiform and a formal version of Luwian composed in Anatolian hieroglyphics. As of now, the Colchian elites are in a beginning phase of the same process, namely the adoption of a Hurrian Ardini formal prestige language and likewise a tinkering with a Hurrian shorthand format, similar to the Akkadian shorthand now used for the famous Nippur Correspondence. Knowledge of which, is known only to Colchis due to the arrival of Hurrian scribes, whose connections to the new Assyrian hegemony, allowed a greater influx of new ideas otherwise held as secret.

Zurab II readily adopted these new ideas as a young, energetic and visionary king. Yet he had also not lost sight of traditions. His kingdom held two formal titles, namely ‘King of Egrisi or in the new formal Hurrian: Alusi Egrisu (ruler of Egrisu). However, in relation to his subordinate tribes in Iberia and Barbashru, he was called ‘warlord’ transcribed as ‘arniudishe’ or ‘he rules by act’ in the Ardini dialect. The way in which the kingdom operated was generally kept in the traditional mode of his father. Iberia, Barbashru and the Karash river Valley were held as vassals of the capitol city district and paid tribute through military service. However increasingly, tribute was paid also in the form of a new customs tax upon entry into the capitol city district, which was enacted in the year 581 BCE.

The capitol city of Aia was destroyed and or looted in the prior year of 584-583 BCE by Rusas IV but was surprisingly recovered splendidly by 578 BCE. Zurab II had brought much resources back into the capitol and redistributed loot from his invasion of Urartu back into the city and revitalized the small city. Scythian travelers from the north arrived frequently with gold, amber, furs, horses, bows and so forth. From the mountains, peoples of the Caucasian hills came with their wares from the forests, fur, metal ores and exotic creatures such as leopards, tigers, bears and so forth. The first major triumphant inscription of Zurab II was made in the year 579 BCE to commemorate the construction of a new holy site in the city of Aia for the god Armaz, it read as:



“Praise the God Armaz, the protector of the kingdom and of its people. Praise the God Armaz who hath risen a man to kingship and made his name known in the hills. I, Zurab, whose father was of like name, doth defend the gates and man the hills. I defend the city and maker offering to the one whose power appointed me. I dedicate this temple to Armaz, the Lord of the mountains and brother of Teshu, the Thunder God.” -Inscription of the foundation of the temple of Armaz, Aia 579 BCE.



Zurab II, as a progressive and innovative king yet had three major problems. Most minor, was the issue of the progressive change of his realm internally. This was altogether a smooth problem and only required his balancing of issues and defense of the realm. Respect of tribal custom was important, and it must be understood that the ideal of transforming Colchis, may only occur in Aia itself. Secondly, is the issue of his Budin overlords. Zurab II tolerates their humiliating power if Assyria remains a threat. Ultimately, Zurab II must maintain defense of his realm, even if it means tribute to the Budin. Yet, it is also draining on his legitimacy to pay tribute to such characters whose life is beyond the mountains. Thirdly, the biggest issue is how to thoroughly rebuff Assyria. After defeating and slaying Rusas IV, Urartu is certainly on the decline and potentially on the downward trend for the next century. Considering this, Assyria proper will take most of the new wars into the Colchian realm, attempting to force a submission upon Aia and loot the region. How to stop this, is the most important issue and if possible, counter Assyria and punish them. The latter is very unlikely however, as Colchis possesses little resources for campaigns further south than Tushpa and the further south, they will increase the potentiality for Assyrian counters of monumental sizes. Thus, the best chance is to defend and raid until a new ally can arise that will be able to destroy Assyria and Colchis can make its move and conquer Tushpa and assert a hegemony over the mountains and hills north of Assyria. Soon, Colchis would be tested and the viability of Zurab II made tested.



The Second Assyro-Colchian War



Dugul-Naboo who possessed the Wing of Adad was instructed to conquer Pontus and then assert hegemony over Colchis. He was given general freedom to do so at his leisure and with what resources he could acquire. Sinbanipal had made it clear in late 579 BCE, that his intention was for the general Assyrian campaign of universal nature, would target next Anatolia, this however was to be planned for the year 573 BCE. In the meantime thus, certain armies were ordered to enact campaigns to fulfill duties of Duranki. 578-577 BCE, Dugul-Naboo and his Wing of Adad into Pontus. 576-575 BCE, the Wing of Dagon was to launch an expedition into the Kingdom of the Odryssi, led by Mukilu-Assur (Assur holds the reins) and 574-573 BCE, Sinbanipal and several other wings would coordinate a general invasion of Anatolia.

Dugul-Naboo after his preparations and cursory attacks upon the enemy fronts through raids, invaded in 578 BCE. He left Kadashman-Shamash to rule Hatti in his place, while he marched with 24,000 warriors northeast. Among his army was general Assyrian soldiers, amounting to 10,000 warriors. These were subdivided into medium infantry, heavy ax infantry, heavy archers, horse archers and the Assyrian lancers. The other 5,000 in the Adad army is made up of deportees, primarily Philistines, Tabali spearmen, Scythians, Elamites and Paqudu. The remaining 9,000 are made up of Cimmerians from Pontus who joined Dugul-Naboo to retake their lands and a collection of mercenary and risen warriors entirely from Hatti. Thus, a collection of Greek, Hattian, and Thracian mercenary/levies.



Dugul-Naboo pushed into Pontus and engaged the enemy, Gurganmoya, who avoided his army, pulling his patrols north deeper into Pontus. Dugul-Naboo raided and pillaged the land thus, driving forth local sedentary people, who were either fleeing north as refugees or taken as slaves by Cimmerians and dragged south toward Ankuwa, given to deportees who led villages of peoples southward.

“The people of Pontus wailed and howled for they had no part in war, yet the tides of war dictate their destruction and submission.” -Herodotus on the initial invasion of Pontus by Dugul-Naboo

Dugul-Naboo and his necessity to destroy he land and capture slaves and ravage villages, did however buy some time for Gurganmoya, who countered in late March of 578 BCE, with a flurry of attacks upon the Wing of Adad, followed by the imminent arrival of Zurab II who was set to arrive in April of 578 BCE. Dugul-Naboo however was able to attain many victories over his Scythian foes in the skirmishes that were engulfing central Pontus.

Light Scythian warbands jostled for supremacy over plains against Assyrian infantry lines backed by horse archers and chariots and long distance light bowmen. Scythian warriors were also set upon by Cimmerian warriors in the forests, where cavalry and dismounted men battled beneath the treetops. Often such battles were decided by display, with Cimmerian and Scythian warriors challenging each other to howls, dances, chants and displays of courage. Such displays by the Cimmerians were backed by Assyrian war machine tactics which ravaged the region. By the 4th of April, Assyrian forces had gained an enormous success, pushing the Scythians directly over the Gaymishaniya River (Lycus River of Pontus or in Armenian, the Kaylikedi), where Gurgamoya regrouped alongside Zurab II who intended to stop the Assyrian advance with utmost force.

Dugul-Naboo gathered his force south of the Gaymishaniya and prepared a crossing. Leaving a portion of his army beneath the river, his force made a crossing of the river on the 11th of April, wherein his army pushed north and was near immediately set upon by the coalition force of Zurab II and Gurganmoya. This led to the enigmatic battle of Gemusatu between the Assyrian force and the Scytho-Colchian army.

The Battle of Gemusatu

Dugul-Naboo appeared from the south, his army exchanged letters with Zurab II, who displayed a series of letters on papyrus to Dugul-Naboo reading as such:



“You are not the Great King of the Land of Assyria. You are but a slave to the King of your land. My name is Zurab, whose father was of like name. My name is renowned in the hills, whose rocks do proclaim the name and the peoples praise my reign. For what reason doth you come to make a shameful war on the land of my kindred? Did you believe the Warrior Zurab would permit you to aggress my kin without movement? Your foolishness will see your defeat, as we are a folk of hardy composition, of bold instinct and of brave prowess. Flee beyond the hills to your kennel and trouble the Land no more and I shall not follow thee. If your aggression is sustained, I offer a conflict in a location of choice, for which you may be shown the difference between servants and kings.”



Dugl-Naboo replied in a manner befitting an Assyrian bureaucrat:



“Impious man is you, for you claim kingship when such kingship is fit for the Great Gods alone. You ascribe slavery to me, it is true, for the warrior of the lands of my raising, are the hands, feet, and fingers of the Great Gods. They command and we do, They lead and we follow. An obedience not fit for the recalcitrant folk for which you derive, whose role is the destruction by the keen and firm blows of Adad. Whose light halo of splendid silver cutteth a swath through hills; doth you find that the tempest is impeded not by the firmament, rather the silver slice doth glean an opening in the thickened shelf. This warrior, whose service is to Duranki, will meet you in the location of your choice, permit the sword to make the talk and let our words end upon this line; be they replaced, the cry of the arrow and the hum of hooves.”

The armies stationed themselves in a hill called Gemusatu in Cimmerian. There, the army of Zurab II arrived with an army entirely of Scythian and local Colchian warriors. His Colchian warriors were efficient in many forms of war, ambush, mountain travel, and of battle with axes. In fact, among the Colchian warriors, there existed not a single sword as such swords were seen as taboo by the tribal levies of his people. Thus, his warriors on foot carried short axes with tough shields and a short dagger on their belt. Many of the infantry wore lamellar armor and bronze helmets. However, a larger percentage simply wore wool clothing and Scythian styled pants, often with stripes of different colors down the side. Likewise, boots were common among the elites, while barefeet was common for the infantry for which there was less experience or lacked the same lineage in the tribal customs.

Scythian warriors present however were entirely mounted, with light armor or clothing and carrying bows and arrow, alongside short axes, lances (held with two hands), and often two swords, a general cavalry blade of a thick and short build and a skinny curved sword (used for stabbing heavily armored dismounted warriors). Scythian warriors likewise carried into battle heads of defeated enemies, implying victory in the filed in previous skirmishes and displayed said heads prior to the battle through placing them on poles on the battle site opposite of the Assyrian field. Scythian warriors also shifted in their armor wearing, with some removing their armor for the battle ahead, donning a naked and exposed body for the impending combat, performing so-called dances with swords prior to said battle; customs often unfamiliar to the Assyrian army.

The battle began in an odd manner, unfamiliar to the Assyrian force in some ways. The Scythian army performed dances prior to the battle and in an instant, a Scythian lord, identified in later traditions as Gurgamoya appeared at the front of the lines. Carrying with himself a great concoction of drink and substances, primarily seeds of poppy, proceeded to remove his armor and mount his horse before making a great great call, charged forth with a raised broad ax. The Kalhu Codex remembers the situation as such:



“The horrid warrior appeared within their midst: a terrible aura was upont eh field of battle for the hour of reckoning had arrived. A fearsome warrior from amongst the enemy did make a call, he threw forth his cloth and his breastplate and made call befitting a demon. Clouded in the sky, with affixed dead of an enemy fighter upon his steed, the horrid fighter charged forth in a rage, a tempest of fury. As if Ishtar Herself had leveled the field, he set the army of Dugul-Naboo into chaos, for they said among themselves ‘who is the enemy that makes a call to war whilst armored with the sky? Mighest we try that our weapons affect him not!’ The horrid warrior did bring the army of the Field Marshal into ruin. The Great Gods know best, it is in Their hands both loss and victory.” -Kalhu Codex



“Gurganmoya, noblest kin of the war God, took heart, his mind was made hardened and assured. His enemy fearfully allured, he took a course toward the foe with an outstretched rod. Chants were upon his lips, for in rage he shot forth making mention = words of glory. His fury was rendered as a poured rage, he watered the fields of the enemy with flames. Once within contain = the master of the charge threw forth his fear, it gave way, war had rendered him renamed. For in battle we make a call to the heavens and proclaim, in war we swear an oath that fright shan’t constrain!”

-Variation of the Hymn of Gurganmoya, Saka language (Hurrian shorthand script [wink wink])



Gurganmoya strode forth with his cavalry and made a challenge for battle. Dugu-Naboo dispatched his lancers and ordered a march. The battle would proceed with the Scythain force of elites under Gurganmoya pulling forth bows and then taking temporary flight to fire their weapons. While the Colchian army attacked from the side, attempting to flank the Assyrians. The Assyrian army countered this with its heavy infantry which rebuffed the enemy warriors with their heavy axes, shields and the movement of a tight formation. However, the retreating Colchian warriors seemingly swept back, turned forth and pulling from pouches, barraged the Assyrian army in pursuit with a series of hardened clubs with extremely blunt force, hammering into heavy bronze and iron helmets, causing the Assyrian infantry to slow.

As a response, the Cimmerian cavalry charged forth alongside the Assyrian lancers to make a charge upon the Colchian army to slow and blunt a potential counter. In such a mayhem, the Colchian warriors pulled forth an unexpected weapon. While traditionally only carrying axes and spears, the warriors adopted a new weapon in battle, a series of thin rapier-like curved blades made of bronze. Those who carried these, took to the front lines and with boldened heart took the charge head on.

“The enemy force when charged, took the blow of the enemy horse as if an act in a play and instead of being hit by the horse and the lance, the warrior smashed against took to the ground and with bahseshu (emaciated blade) in hand, stabbed the unprotected chest of the horse driving forth the rider into the ground to eb assailed by the enemy.” -Nippur Correspondence

As series of these maneuvers was unexpected from the enemy and spoke to a particular strategy among the enemy learned in the steppes to defeat lancer charges. While few of the Assyrian warriors were lost in the charge, several of the braves of the lancers were felled by these blades and afterwards chopped into pieces in front of their comrades attempting to rally forth to save their lost cavalry.

The main casualty was the morale of the deportee soldiers who lost their heart immediately. According to the Kalhu codex, those without the mindset of Assur were made into stones by terror, they had been kissed by the scorpion of Nurgle, the Lord of Fear. Truly, the Kalhu Codex could not be more correct. Warriors who had been trained to fear the Assyrian lancers were trapped by fear upon the sight that these warriors could eb slain so rapidly, not to mention nobles among such.

The Cimmerian archers continued their fires however and, in the lull, and loss of morale, a series of archery combat occurred between eh two armies. This would last for an hour, until taking heart once more, Gurganmoya whose force had been in combat with the Assyrian horse archers or making periodic charges, made a more blunt charge into the Assyrian lines, already peppered with fear. This charge managed to alongside the loss of the heart of some of the cavalry and deportees, to force the Assyrian army to attempt to cautiously fall back and form a line about themselves. This however was halted after the Colchian warriors charged forth again, with Zurab II on chariot leading his force forth made its final move, while Gurganmoya struck from the wing in fury.

“The horrid warrior gorged himself upon the blood of the Slave warriors of the Servant. That warrior whose hunger is satiated by the blood of the weak, did make his mark upon the force of the Field Marshal, whose men were frozen as if trapped by an anchor attached to the earth. The horrid fighter was covered in wounds, his tattoos were splashed with blood, his long yellow hair was tightened yet his neck was the color of crimson and he had jumped forth from his stead after its neck was impaled by a lance. Even dismounted, the warrior and his men were captured in a dance of death, grasping at the enemies one by one.” -Kalhu Codex.



“Gurganmoya whence in the heat of the frontlines gain, found his stead impaled by a lance from the Assyrian line. Taking notice, he with a sword in hand, jumped forth from the horse onto the ground and let out a war cry and led his soldiers on foot challenging the Assyrians to a bout in the field.” –“The Grand History” year 245 BCE

Nevertheless, the Assyrian force was smashed and after some time battling further, the Assyrian force was driven from the field by the enemy. Zurab II continued to press the attack. Many of the Scythian warrior elite however, dismounted and took a nap upon the field of battle covered in blood. Lower caste Scythians however pressed a rapid charge to capture enemies. The Cimmerian warriors were able to generally flee rapidly without command approval and often fled northwest towards Pala. The majority however had to make an orderly retreat southward, however they were constantly set upon and forced to a more hurried retreat the following day. In the mayhem and carnage, lieutenants took command of the army and led their individual brigades in retreat across the river any way that they could. Cavalry were able to escape in their cadres likewise under lieutenants. Deportees were often captured or slew in the flight, their march not quick enough or their lesser training taking the better of them, fleeing into the forest to hide and becoming prey for the warriors of Colchis.

As the Assyrian army crossed the river and traveled south into the embrace of their settled allies in charge with occupation, the army was missing a most important person, namely Dugul-Naboo. Terror and fear erupted in the army, as its second—command, the third son of the Marshal, Turpan Naboo-Dinu-Bitruu (The law of Naboo is superb) took command and ordered the army to maintain its position in Pontus and deny the enemy a crossing. This worked and with envoys sent to Hatti, coming with reinforcements, the Colchian king Zurab II issued an offer for treaty with the Marshal in the field. His offer was to agree to a border at the Gaymishaniya river and in exchange, Zurab II would send the body of the Field Marshal without harm to the Assyrians. Naboo-Diu-Batru accessed the eunuchs in attendance and with Kadashman-Shamash who in turn sent word to the court in Nineveh.

Sinabnipal was in a rage at the news and resisted even considering a treaty. News from Egypt likewise had worried him and the court, however. Shimtu-shamie-Assur, the Cup-Bearer asserted firmly that the Colchian king possessed the Seal of the Wing of Adad and the insignia of the Great King. More important than pride was the recovery of these items, which would come with the body of the Field Marshal. Assur-shalushtu the Chamberlain also asserted this view and added that the kingdom could make due with the current gains and prepare for a more formal invasion in a later date, for issues nearby needed dealing with. Likewise, he asserted that the other wings were not fully prepared to work as unique units yet and thus would be blunted in their effectiveness.

The scribes of the Kalhu codex scoffed at this. They understood matters in a traditional manner. They remained relatively mild however, simply making note that Assyria in the past knew not a treaty and could never be bound by written word. If the King agrees to the treaty, he is shaming the Great Gods, for the Great gods value victory and conquest, not insignias and bodies of used vessels. However, this traditionalist mindset was in the minority at the court, which was dominated by secular-deification factions and the faction of nobles who did not want to permit the defacing of a high Assyrian noble in a foreign land.

As such, agreeing to the situation, Sinbanipal sent his Head Eunuchs to Ankuwa and thence to Pontus and there a treaty was agreed to and the exchange occurred. To the writers of the Kalhu Codex, this was a most shameful event and heralded the decline of the empire into one of human standards, losing its divine mission…



Colchis stood supreme, Zurab II had lessened his losses and gained enormous renown in battle and made a strong ally in Gurganmoya, who losing a portion of his lands, moved to Aia. There, he conspired with Zurab II, talk of treachery was in the air. Gurganmoya wanted the throne of the Budin, and Zurab II wanted an undaunted ally in the north to fight Assyria. What better paring than them?

-Note, this conflict and period of battle lasted from March 578 BCE, until December 578 BCE, so by the time of Gurganmoya’s arrival in Aia, the year is 577 BCE.
 
Dugul-Naboo dead. That is a bit of a shock. He must be one of the greatest figures in all Assyria. I wonder if he will get any special funeral. It will be interesting to see if, now he is dead, the semi-autonomous fiefdom he has carved out can survive. Does he have worthy sons to inherit?
 
Dugul-Naboo dead. That is a bit of a shock. He must be one of the greatest figures in all Assyria. I wonder if he will get any special funeral. It will be interesting to see if, now he is dead, the semi-autonomous fiefdom he has carved out can survive. Does he have worthy sons to inherit?
Yes, Kadashman-Shamash is his inheritor and is the effective governor of Hatti and and former subordinate of his father. Implied in the Army Reforms recently, was that the family of Dugul-Naboo were to be designated as governors over Hatti. The Field Marshal in turn is the designated commander of the Army of Adad stationed and headquartered in Ankuwa. This means that Kadashman-Shamash will essentially inherit the title of Field Marshal, Governor of Hatti and commandership of the Wing of Adad. This is of course part of the shameful reforms implemented by Maniuqappu most hated by the traditionalist faction in court. Assyrian officials are livid over this breach in monarchical power and of the authoritativeness of Ninveh-Kalhu-Ashur. They too are unhappy about this situation of conceding peace with the Colchis state for the sake of bodily recovery and of the recovery of the seals and artifacts unique to the Field Marshal. Such court divisions are surely to cause problems in the future and the defeat in war will not look good on Sinbanipal. Traditionalists however lack effective power without Ipqu-Aya and thus are for the moment consigned to disgruntled and offensive gestures when compositing their literature.

Not covered is the Karduniash reaction. While this will be discussed, the Karduniash scribal elites are likewise a conservative bunch, who while accepting of the Assyrian state, only accept its preeminent position so long as Assyria is strong. If Assyria fails in its duties, it may be the course to whisper into the ear of the brother Marduk-zakir-shumi words of rebellion and ascension to the throne in Assyria and the creation of a Karduniash led empire. It is not impossible surely.

He is certainly a great figure. However, the major discussion that I will go into in the next updates, is how his life will be viewed based upon different sources in the Assyrian hierarchy. The Kalhu Codex of course despises him and referred to him once as a grey-eyed demon in an earlier update during the early reign of Sinbanipal. However, the military adore him, as do the nobility and the advocates of deification, especially the eunuchs. His building of a province in Hatti is perhaps his most laudable act, he will be remembered for setting the course of the Assyrian state forwarded through amicable and efficient governance in a northern province.

What is your opinion on the matter? Do you find Dugul-Naboo to be a hero or a prelude to dangerous precedence? Likewise, I am curious of your and other's view on the matter of Colchis and their Budin allies, if they truly can press the Assyrians further or outlast them in the defense. So far, Sinbanipal's defeats have all been suffered at their hands.
 
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What is your opinion on the matter? Do you find Dugul-Naboo to be a hero or a prelude to dangerous precedence? Likewise, I am curious of your and other's view on the matter of Colchis and their Budin allies, if they truly can press the Assyrians further or outlast them in the defense. So far, Sinbanipal's defeats have all been suffered at their hands.
I believe I've mentioned several times that I feel that the Assyrian Central goverment might come to regret the power they have given to Dugul-Naboo especially if it comes to set a precedent for the future. Of course this doesn't necessarily mean that it is a bad thing for the Assyrian polity as a whole. As the empire expands decentralisation may be necessary. However, this might prove detrimental to the role of the King. It is concievable that we might end up with a situation like that of the later Abbasid Caliphs or Zhou Dynasty where the Monarch is increasingly sidelined by overmighty subjects. Of course we are as yet a long way away from anything like that. The Assyrian Monarchs are still leading most of their own campaigns and taking a very active role in goverment. (If at some point we get a King who is content to leave warfare entirely to his genrals and nobles that will be a very bad sign. That would give the traditionalists something to really scream about.)

Of course even if this were to occur it wouldn't have to mean the end of Assyrian expansion. A great many Islamic conquests, if I recall correctly, were made by, semi-independent powers rather than directed by any direct order form the Caliphs. The Spanish conquered The Aztec Empire via Cortez acting against the will of the central goverment. But is might mean that the Assyrian empire could develop into a patchwork of states paying some lipservice to the King and united by a common religous imperative to conquer but otherwise largely independent. Like I said this is all very much in the future but things could develop in this direction.
 
The Campaign of Wahibre 578 BCE and the Review of 577 BCE New
579-575 BCE

The Campaign of Wahibre

In the year 578 BCE, Pharaoh Wahibre, the successor of Psamtik II led forth an expedition to the land of Cyrene for the sake of proving his loyalty to Assyria and also asserting a territorial expanse across the western frontiers. At current, the XXVI Dynasty in control of Egypt, originated originally from the land of Libya, and as such, traditionally these lands were firm powerbases of the XXVI Dynasty. However, under the reign of Psamtik I, the Dynasty permitted a mass migration into Libya by Greek colonists. This scene led to a long-term decline of Egyptian presence along the coast of Libya, referred to as Cyrenaica, as of 631 BCE.

The settlement, initially small was supported further by Necho II in his Hellenization phase, with Cyrenaica acting as an autonomous tributary for Egypt. To the south of Cyrenaica, Libyan tribes and states acted also as Egyptian tributaries, but of a greater and increasingly aloof autonomy. The situation was maintained under Psamtik II, who focused upon issues in the south pertaining to the Nubian kingdom, was uninterested in addressing the situation of the Libyan tributaries, whether Greek or indigenous. However, with the XXV Dynasty in Nubia broke into pieces (as of current, a certain Armatle-Ko the son of Aspelta, rules from Meroe and a rogue state in Napata is ruled by a king Senkamanisken II), Egypt may turn its eyes in different directions.

Assyrian demands of tribute and threatening aura had descended into Egypt during Psamtik II with a series of raids from the Southern Protectorate, forcing Psamtik II into paying tribute for a period of time. Yet, Psamtik II was also instrumental in the construction of an alliance with Sparta and the formation of a friendship range extending Egyptian influence north, whilst maintaining Hellenic presences in his kingdom. Psamtik II was thus a more realistic version of his father Necho II, willing to innovate to attain Egyptian power. Nevertheless, he failed to teach the same lessons to his son, Wahibre, who immediately in 580-579 BCE, readily agreed to submission to Assyria and as a consummation of such, agreed to launch an incursion into Libya on behalf of the Assyrian monarch. The act rubbed in the face of thousands of years of Egyptian tradition. Egypt had paid tribute before in order to divert an enemy, but never before had it submitted in vassalage to anyone. An act which angered every faction existing in Egypt, aside for the pro-Assyrian Phoenician faction.

As such, when Wahibre set forth for his invasion of Cyrenaica in early 578 BCE, his army was divided. Hellenic warriors had oddly disappeared days prior and his famed general Ahmose, had likewise left the city of Sais. Wahibre taking no heed, left forthwith alongside an army of Egyptians, Libyans, Nubians, and Phoenician mercenary. Wahibre exited Sais in February of 578 BCE and made haste towards Libya. There, he attained the suzerainty and vassal exclamations of the locals and travelling people. After this incursion, he transitioned northward to strike the Cyrenes along the coast.

Wahibre took a route toward the sea and once there, marched along the sea without ships to protect him or supply him westward. It was a walk taken by his ancestors from Libya for centuries and if not, one of the only skillful movements of Wahibre and of a good qualities, his agreement to allow Libyan tribal elites lead his force along the correct routes towards Cyrenaica.

The army under Wahibre, was a diverse set of warriors, as was common in Egypt in this period. Egyptian warriors made the largest portion, wearing as a base, a set of sandals, a skirt, and a type of head covering. Warriors of lowly status, wore little more than a shirt over their body and the skirt. However, soldiers of distinction, wore full heavy iron scale armor and Bronze helmets and headgear. The Egyptian infantry were also well armed, better so than many of their competitors. Egyptian composite bows were used on men on horseback and on chariots. Infantry also used large longbows which could be when set in place for a shot, creating of a powerful blow. These longbowmen were usually in a group of two, a lowly infantryman with a shield and iron ax to cover the heavily armored and experienced longbowman. The longbowman in question, also carried Assyrian styled iron swords and an Egyptian mace or club. The general infantry likewise carried weapons of ax, Assyrian style swords and maces for closest forms of combat. Spearmen were also among the Egyptian ranks, however such warriors were typically less important, wearing little in the way of armor, where in the Egyptian military, archers and more close-range infantry played a preeminent role in wars where cavalry was less commonly a trait of non-Egyptian foes in Africa.

Non-Egyptian soldiers in their army differed. Nubians were of a diverse character. Those within Wahibre’s expeditionary army wore loincloths and bands of leather and other fabrics wrapped across their body. These bands held weapons of use, daggers, arrows and a mace. Their weapons of choice were one of two, either a fearsome bow or strong hard woodened clubs. The Nubians were fearsome archers, every one of their warriors carried a type of bow, a set of rocks with which to throw and an assortment of weapons. More prestigious Nubian warriors existed, wearing heavy armor, but such warriors were not present with Wahibre. Libyan warriors often operated upon horseback as javelin throwing light cavalry and as light infantry and archers. The Phoenician mercenary acted in their part as medium armored infantry and archers, primarily of Itu extraction sent by order of Tyre, purchased from the Assyrian state. The army was however not very formidable, even for an Egyptian army of this period. Priro armies of Psamtik II and Necho II, far surpassed in quantity, equipment and power the army of Wahibre.

Cyrene on its part, was ruled by a king Battus II, a fearsome warrior king and famous in Greece as an ally of Hellenic culture and expansionism. His reign had began in the year 583 BCE and as such, he was still somewhat new to ruling. However, during his father’s reign, he had been sent to learn war in Athens and in the war against Lydia in Ionia. As such, he was not knew to the situation of battle or of leading soldiers. Upon learning that the Egyptians had set forth to battle his city, he called for war. Male citizens, many of whom were veterans of war in Ionia, rallied in a mass conscription of the population from the city and of the surrounding suburbs and countryside that was in development. A shipment of volunteers with their own armaments also arrived from the isle of Crete and Rhodes, intent upon protecting the Greek colony from the new Egyptian aggression.

The two armies met near the city at a well, known to the Greeks as Thaetis’ Well. There, the Greek army, outnumbered and attacked the Egyptians, whose travel led them to converge on the nearest set of wells for the feeding of their caravan. The Greek army set upon them in tighter formations than the Egyptians were used to and with shields raised and war cries, the Egyptian army trembled and was pushed back. Archer fire was the main worry for the Greek army, but the Greek force was able to march fast enough and without need for water or waiting, gained on the enemy before they could set a good formation, forcing the Egyptians into a prolonged infantry bout in close range. In this bout, the deficiency of Egyptian spearmen was made evident as they were cut down by the Greek citizens and volunteers.

The Cyrene warriors in fact tore a hole through the Egyptian center. Already lacking confidence in their king, the Egyptian army lacked the wit to remain in combat and took flight upon the first stages of defeat, some running to surrender, others taking flight and many more being cut down as they ran. Wahibre was driven from the field on his fabulous black stallion. His army had been beaten decisively and most of his force was surrendered, slain or defected. In his journey home, Libyan chieftains to the south rebelled and attacked his force several times in skirmishes, leading to more trauma and casualties. By the time he had reached Sais, his expedition was in shatters.

His shame in defeat would soon become worse, however. His defeat had been received well by his enemies in the court. Uniting different court factions in a united anti-Assyrian front, Ahmose declared Wahibre illegitimate and that he was to eb dethroned. Proclaiming rebellion, Ahmose marched upon Sais from Bubastis with a large army of Greek and Egyptian army. The formidable army was not to be trifled with in the slightest. Thus, in the month of October 578 BCE, Wahibre, with advice from his Phoenician allies, took flight on a merchant boat to the Nile Delta and from there he traversed to Tyre. Ahmose thus marched upon Sais, taking the city, he declared himself Pharaoh and King of the Two Horizons. Making himself Ahmose II, and the beginning of a new Dynasty had begun, the XXVII Dynasty with its first king being Ahmose II, a young general of only 26-27 years of age. He was a hero in Egypt from the victories against Aspelta and the hope of the Egyptian populace of all varieties.

Wahibre for his part made it to Phoenicia where he was sent in short order to Mari to be inspected by the Palace Herald, who ordered the Protector General of the South, Kanapalsuhu-Marduk to lead an attack and raid upon Egypt in an attempt to dislodge and frighten Ahmose II. Meanwhile, Wahibre was then sent in guard by Cimmerian warriors alongside his family possessions and closest allies to Assyria to have a meeting with the Assyrian monarch, Sinbanipal.

Terrible news from the region of Pontus however was more concerning than the arrival of Wahibre and his ousting. As such, Wahibre was sent to Ashur to be toured through the city by guards and priests.



The City of Ashur year 578-577 BCE


The theoretic capitol of the Empire, Ashur was the cult city of the Great God Assur. In times past, it was the premier city of the region and it commanded the dominant role in Assyria. Lending its name to the Assyrians state and acting as the heart of religious activity, it was of enormous ceremonial importance. It however, was a small city, ever since the Middle Bronze Age, the city had become little more than a ceremonial city, while the majority of activity in the empire was occurring in other major Assyrian cities, Kalhu, Nineveh, Ardini, Harran, Washukanni, Arrapakha, Arbela, etc…

It however was still the most prestigious city in the empire for housing the deity Assur and his abode, the Great Temple of the Triad, as it was being called in the year 577 BCE. Assur, the Great God, had from the Middle Bronze Age developed into a special deity in all manners. Originally, an expression of a champion god of Assyrian warrior spirit, in light of the famed Enuma Elish epic from Babylon, the peoples of Assyria had begun to manipulate the text in order to assert the appearance of Assur into the corpus. The way in which this came to be done was increasingly the formulation that Assur was a Triune entity. Upon the ascent of the Great gods, whose emergence was a mystery, the Primordial Gods, Anu of the sky, Enlil of the wind and Enki of the water and sea. These gods formed into a single Triad with which Assur comes to be, a God who exists upon the wings of the wind, set atop the face of the deep and whose hand is the sky. Hence, he is called formally, ‘Whole Heaven’ implying that his is the encompassing being of the Primordial universe.

Ideas such as this, had only intensified under the reign of Sinsharishkun and his predecessors and thus by the year 577 BCE, the Temple of the Triad. Wahibre would have visited this site and marveled at the devotion of the public, but also expectedly wondered as to the lacking of a sun deity as the primary figure of worship. Surely, Assyrian religious customs were peculiar to the Egyptians and others. In differentiation of most polytheistic cultures, the Assyrians, and their Akkadian universal cultural continuum, were at best henotheistic. They admitted existence of an infinite number of deities but asserted a collection of 12-13 deities as their Great gods, whose power is preeminent. Other deities, unless they were lesser deities of households or aspects/servants of the Great Gods, were thus seen as inferior and or sinful entities. This fueled the enmity of Assyrian and Karduniash foreign policy, as it perpetuated a religious aura of intolerance upon enemy peoples, justifying war upon them for religious sins and transgressions, notably denying the supremacy of the Great Gods, which was reasoned by the lack of tribute to Assyria.

Wahibre would remain in a hostel in Ashur under guard for many months. He would only be granted access to the Great King in January of 577 BCE when he was released and sent to Kalhu to meet with Sinbanipal. In the meantime, Kanapalsuhu-Marduk invaded Egypt in December of 578 BCE with a small raiding force from the Wing of Ishtar. The force entered through the Sinai and raided across Western Egypt. However, on the 26th of December, the force was defeated by Ahmose II in the field, driving the Assyrians east. Ahmose II did not counter raid and instead fortified his border zone. According to Herodotus, Ahmose II lacked the supplies with which to conduct an invasion of Assyria but did possess the ability to defend and fortify.

Assyrian Interests and the Review of 577 BCE

Not wishing to anger the traditionalists, Sinbanipal did not change the intended series of campaigns for the next years. Sinbanipal however encoded a review on the matter of the state and expansion which would occur likewise this time with Wahibre given an audience.

The review of 577 BCE was as any review of state affairs, a time for Assyrian dignitaries to insult one another and throw upon each other accusations. Often these reviews had gag orders on accusations, but the orders could readily be forgotten and there was little enforcement of such rules. Reviews and courts however were convened at times of crisis and indecision for the empire, wherein many important figures were to give their opinions and discuss the movement of the Assyrian forces. It was an important fixture of Assyrian kingship to oversee these reviews, as the king was not an absolute ruler in the traditional sense, whose decisions were law. Rather, he was one of a collection of men working towards the Completion of Duranki, ultimately owed to a custom of oligarchic republic that likely was the governance under Pre-1775 BCE Assyria. It was a battleground of factions; whose goals now were extremely divergent.

According to the Assyrian court registry, several topics were put forward and were lucidly discussed by the members of the court. Using Akkadin shorthand, called in Akkadian Egugishtu (meaning, the lazy writing board), the topics for discussion were made known in the registry by way of recording sets of edicts by Sinbanipal.

The proceedings were recorded as follows:

“Head Eunuch, the set of ten made a proclamation, heralding to begin ceremony and proceed to the designs of the Majesty. The ten made a loud call, they made their voice heard so that the court may be a place of calm and of contemplation. They invoked the Great God Naboo, beseeched him to make the midst a place of wisdom and of fair choice. A praise of further Great Gods was made, for the Lords of the Universe were made acclaimed in the midst of the court. The ten then motioned their finished oration by a bow and proceeded to commission the Great King to read from a tablet given him by Cupbearer, Shimtu-Shamie-Assur.



He read aloud, standing from his throne and spoke words pertaining to a topic for the court to discuss. Of which first, he made known the topic of the Kalku (Colchis) and their armies which had made themselves ascendant by some form of sorcery. He relayed a series of information and then beckoned the new Field Marshal, recently arrived and still in military garments, Kadashman-Shamash to reveal to the court the situation along the border.

Field Marshal spoke in a solemn yet formal voice, that spoke of battles:

‘Prior Field Marshal; defeated in battle, he was successful in capturing a distance of the enemy lands and securing the better part of the lands north of Hatti into the land of the Punhatiyu. Therein, he subjugated the Kaska, the Gimmri, the Mushki and so forth. However, crossing a river whom the locals pronounce as Kaskundaiyu, prior Field Marshal, was bested in combat and driven forth. Force in question, Wing of Adad, is remnant and extant, yet is stationed as of current in Ankuwa and ranging Hatti, significant casualties are avoided. As of moment, Qing of Adad, commanded by I, hath made defense of the realm wherein incursions by sinful foes is made apparent. Vassal state Pala, also has contributed to defense in coordinated fashion, making enemy movements hampered and the aura of terror doth too reach the sinful even still in the form of an impenetrable defensive wall of swords and daggers.’

After a moments pause, members of the court were permitted to make their words known by stepping into the midst. Chief Scribe, Assur-taklak (We approach Assur) stepped forward firstly. He said unto the court in a formal yet bellowing passion:

‘Great King, viceroy of Assur, recognize the losses as do the victories, for in war the lot of man is to see through experience the signs. Omens, signs of the Gods, are made so that we may make a change in our action and place them in accordance with the ways of the Great Gods. Is this not a sign for all to see, reforms made in the goodwill of Duranki, may come to naught, if they are not encompassed by the will of the Great gods. Ponder thus, that many of men have opined grand designs for the Completion of Creation. Yet, it is our path to assert not simply a goal, but a correct procedure of matters.

Assur leads the men of war into battle, he makes them follow and he commands by entering the field Himself. Assur is of deep renown, for He is a God who engages in battle with sword in hand and contents himself not with the comforts of a palace. Dine with him doth they whence battle is made complete, but in the moment of combat, Assur appears ever more. Let it never be said that Assur sends a man to battle in place of His most Majestic Shape.

We might remind the Great King and his illustrious court the same. That the King is to march into war himself, what good is the throne whence it is not foisted upon the tops of a battleground? Who prefers the seat of luxury in the palace, woe to thee whose seat is made in the palace, next to the fountain and whose throne becomes a prison and his children become ravenous with the love of unwarranted comfort. Better than the palace, is the aloft posture in the Vehicle of Destiny, the chariot which carries the kingdom to its destiny! Great King, understand, the failure of the campaign by prior Field Marshal, was one not of his human error, we repent of this mistake, dear Lady Gula! It is a mistake for us, that the Great King was not present, he must venture forth in the chariot of victory.

Remind him doth I, that the Kingdom is given him for the completion of a great goal. We in the Land of Piety, are given roles for which we are tied. Some march in the ranks, some farm the land, some give birth to warriors, some make the sacrifices, some heal the sick, some make great lengthy prayers, some train the horses, yet too, one leads the warriors aloft the chariot, whip in his hand and fire in his eyes. Comfort is not known him, save the victorious battle. All those who live in our land are with their role, all make an act of devotion, doth the farmer praise the Gods by the harvest, the fisher make his praise in the catch, the priest in the offering, the lady in the birth and even more so, the king makes his name known to the Great Gods and giveth them praise by ceding palatial comfort for the comfort of victory in war made by his hands alone!’



The court murmured and stepped forth Assur-Shalushtu, the Chamberlain who made a gesture and with a smile spoke:

‘Does the Head Scribe suggest that the Great King is ignorant of his words? Certainly, the Great King is all-knowing, he is familiar with the ways that you have outlined, for we too, the illustrious court surrounding him have known of these points. Expected to have preached a new idea, hath you? Nay, we do not expect the Head Scribe to be an innovator or to even see himself as such.

Rather, he speaketh upon old ways and customs, suggesting the manner of the world is the same. Reforms are made so as to make the Mission come to a conclusion with rapidity, for it is said:

“….the Great Gods have moved beyond the midst, they have endowed unto the Land of Piety the Mission, which is duty but is too a test of devotion.” -Derivative of the Enuma Elish

For the Great Gods, set us with status so that we may complete a particular duty. We are the gardeners of the Universe, whose role is attracting the Great Gods unto our sublime state and our work. For no other reason were we created than to expand, maintain and guard the Creation. How this is to be done is made not dogma. Rather, it is open for interpretation, surely this is known. Great Lord Naboo is said to cast stratagems for differed occasion. So too do we, for with a planned reform and recalibration, we make the matters clearer and we assert the way forward for the Mission.

Great King, listen not to the Head Scribe, he speaks of only what once was, not what is now. Listen rather to the Ideal Masters of the land, whose loyalty hath led the Kingdom to a pinnacle and reclaimed for us, our primordial might. Do have the consideration known to you and common in your acts.

Sayeth thus, the Chamberlain, he was followed by another speaker Ipanqazzu, the Head Guard, who has in age wore down, his beard grey and his hair greyed. His stomach however remained tightened and his military regalia was grandest. He said:



‘Great King, I have been in your company for many decades up to now. We have been through many trials, which were salvaged through the Will of the Great Gods and the power of our blades (the Head Scribe and the traditionalists cringed in desperation). To be frank, the Great God Sin hath led us through his turning face towards our current moment, he hath made it a clear path for us.

Victory and defeat in battle, is not only the discussion of priests and of scribes, it is to the terrain, the quantity of soldiers, the planning and so forth. Our Mission is given us, as the prior speaker made clear, yet it is something which is won in battle specifically by men and by the guided hand of the bureaucracy headed by the Great King. As the Great God Sin leadeth from afar, He gave the Sharur to Ninurta for the battle ahead, so too is the Great King an image of the Divine, leading from his abode of authority, leading others in the surge for the completion of the Creation. Truly, the Great King is more than a man sat aloft in the chariot or even more than a man fixed upon giving reforms for those of noble lineage, he is the image of the Divine Plan enacted upon the earth.

The defeat of prior Field Marshal is not indicative of the failure of our reforms or the necessity of the Great King to enter battle without need. I assure the Head Scribe, there are warriors whose hearts are filled with the storm and whose fury is that of the cyclone. Be not wary in this, for I assure you. Further, the reforms of 4170 (581 BCE) giveth the Great King the greatest army, to be used when a general campaign is proclaimed. Thus, you shall find the Great King aloft in his vehicle prepared for the engagement, sword brazen and whip scorching. The Pure Flame burns yet in the heart of Assyria, fear ye not, men of the Land of Piety, send myself to the front and I shall complete what Dugul-Naboo failed to do (a grimace arose in the face of Kadashman-Shamash).’

Interrupted thus soon by Kadashman-Shamash, the Field Marshal, he sayeth:

‘Speak less of your superiors, Head Guard, for they are those whose occupation you covet. Perhaps the loss in battle is an omen as to the sins of members of this court, whose tongue is easily loosened in the insult of their comrades.’

Calling into order the court, the ten eunuchs presiding the event calmed matters and permitted a speech set forth by the Great King:



‘I take the words of the advisors and allies seriously. They have all possessed in me an effect…. Yet the matters remain the same. How shall we proceed, regardless of the question posed earlier. Should the state move to an immediate war with the Kalku and hence rescind the planned campaigns?’



Erupting into fiery anger multiple sides engaged in a battle over the situation….”



In this dispute, the three court factions engaged in hostility. The traditionalists made it clear that calling off the prior planned campaigns would cause chaos unto the realm and ruin the eponyms for those years already outlined in the codex and the chronicle. Nobles and their allies, disliked changing course, as the planned campaigns entailed that they would be permitted to engage in lone campaigns without the Great King. Generally, the faction of nobles was a cartel of the strongest noble houses, each attempting to protect their interest and garner extra-royal campaigns for themselves in the pursuit of renown, loot, and power in the court. The Deification faction, represented by eunuchs, certain military men and so forth, advocated changing the plans on the whim, rescinding the treaty with Colchis, and attacking them with a full army led by Ipanazzu and his Wing of Nurgle.

Sinbanipal, unwilling to make the change to the treaty, agreed to maintain the planned campaigns. Reasonings are quite clear. The Deification camp are already his undying supporters, doing differently than their views on only a few issues will not harm his power. However, denying two opposing parties, especially the nobility, might cause rampant rebellious intent. Traditionalists will at least not condemn his act in secret and hence spread vicious rumors, this was a benefit. Further, by placating them, he may use their pull among the lower nobility and the religious elites to provide less fallback to the death of Dugul-Naboo.

Another issue at play in the meeting was Wahibre. The question was whether to send him off, restore his throne or so forth. Phoenician merchants leaned heavily on the Deification faction to the restoration of his throne. Kanisratu-Balutu-Assur, the Palace Herald advocated a plan:

That the Palace Herald would convene an operation to restore Wahibre to the throne, coordinating with the Wings of Gula, Ishtar and Naboo. This he claimed, would be completed in a process from 576-570 BCE. The nobles loudly proclaimed their support, while others were moderate. Traditionalists advocated that the King of Egypt be sent on his way and or sold to slavery and his wealth confiscated. Deification advocates cared little for either side, only urging the Great King to be strong and decisive. As the traditionalists were not too passionate, the Great King consented to the Palace Herald and gave Wahibre to this custody of the Palace Herald and wished him well.

After this, the Ten proclaimed the end of the meeting and review and gave a set of orders to those present to prepare for the coming small campaign into Anatolia led by Mukilu-Assur the General of the Wing of Dagon. Further, envoys from among the scribes were to be sent to the Colchis state to formalize a treaty between the two. However, this was less a treaty making operation, but an attempt at covert operations, using the scribes as covert operatives. They carried with them items of great wealth to eb given to the Colchean lords and attempt to gain a trade agreement with them. The intent behind this, to further the spying operation and pave the way for an Assyrian general invasion. For this role, arch-conservative scribes were the perfect tools. They were devoted to conquest of all enemies and were willing to deceive anyone. They too, were the group who had the closest ties to the traditional merchant population and interest in Assyria. Assyria was grooming Colchis for an invasion, this more than anything made the traditionalists grin with anticipation.
 
We might remind the Great King and his illustrious court the same. That the King is to march into war himself, what good is the throne whence it is not foisted upon the tops of a battleground? Who prefers the seat of luxury in the palace, woe to thee whose seat is made in the palace, next to the fountain and whose throne becomes a prison and his children become ravenous with the love of unwarranted comfort. Better than the palace, is the aloft posture in the Vehicle of Destiny, the chariot which carries the kingdom to its destiny! Great King, understand, the failure of the campaign by prior Field Marshal, was one not of his human error, we repent of this mistake, dear Lady Gula! It is a mistake for us, that the Great King was not present, he must venture forth in the chariot of victory.
This is suprising frank in its implied criticism of Sinbanipal. Good advice though. Although as the Empire grows larger and fights on more fronts it may become increasingly difficult for the Great King to take a personal role in battle.
Traditionalists advocated that the King of Egypt be sent on his way and or sold to slavery and his wealth confiscated. Deification advocates cared little for either side, only urging the Great King to be strong and decisive. As the traditionalists were not too passionate, the Great King consented to the Palace Herald and gave Wahibre to this custody of the Palace Herald and wished him well.
Sell him into slavery? What did he do to annoy them? It doesn't appear that the traditionalists have much of a concept of rewarding faithful service. This is the man that was willing to make Egypt a Vassal kingdom.

This is a interesting look at the factions. I think that although the traditionalists have mostly won this round they may grow increasingly frustrated with Assyria going forward. We have seen a great many reforms and I don't see them stopping.
 
This is suprising frank in its implied criticism of Sinbanipal. Good advice though. Although as the Empire grows larger and fights on more fronts it may become increasingly difficult for the Great King to take a personal role in battle.

Sell him into slavery? What did he do to annoy them? It doesn't appear that the traditionalists have much of a concept of rewarding faithful service. This is the man that was willing to make Egypt a Vassal kingdom.

This is a interesting look at the factions. I think that although the traditionalists have mostly won this round they may grow increasingly frustrated with Assyria going forward. We have seen a great many reforms and I don't see them stopping.
A positive of the Assyrian monarchical custom, was that court members could critique the king in a veiled sense. Much of this is derived from the still remnant understanding in court that the King is more of a viceroy or governor of the Gods, rather than a king by his own right. He was appointed, but not as an absolute term, but as a humbling process. Traditionalists and Deification wings differ most fundamentally in how they view this question. Traditionalist understanding is that every person in Assyria has a certain role as set by the Great Gods. Their praise is in the completion of their duties and to them, the King's role is frankly, sacrifice in battle as Ilawela did in the creation of mankind. Sargon II was praised so greatly by Assyrian scribes, not only due to his great piety and skill as a ruler/warrior, but also how willingly he put himself in harms way and thus ending ultimately in his death in battle. Death in battle wherein victory was achieved was honored on some level, as was generally the notion that the Great King is sacrificing himself in war.

You are correct when you speak of their rightness. The traditionalists fear ultimately that should the Great King spend time in Assyria and in the palace for too long, Assyria as a whole will become lazy and it will thus become weak. It is much akin to otl's view among the aristocracy of Rome, as to the decay of Roman martial spirit and of the fears of Empire. They wish for the King to make his way into the front as a battle-king and warrior who is not only present, but the foremost of the fighters, an example of the perfect hierarchy and order of Akkadian society, imagine the ideal abstract king for the traditionalists being the semi-mythic character Gilgamesh.

Regarding why the Traditionalists were so uncaring, it is a testament to their mentality. Traditionally in Assyrian kingship, there were two faces of Assyrian actions in relation to transgression or failure. One was forgiveness and the other punishment. Forgiveness was often invoked by an Assyrian monarch in the name of the Great Gods, that the Great Gods had deemed it so that the person in question was forgiven his sins after a submission in both act and deed. Men who were seeking forgiveness for a misdeed would come upon the king and or the city (any major city in Assyria) and proclaim the phrase, 'No more, please! No more!' implying that the terror of an eventual punishment was so harrowing to them that they were already in punishment, as such to seek forgiveness was to say 'no more.' This was the courtly custom, among other Akkadians, not only for foreigners.

It was the right of the Assyrian king or the person in question (in a legal sense) to forgive or pardon crimes, which were in the case of governmental crimes (including waging war against Assyria, rebellion, embezzlement, etc...) identified and rendered as sins against the Great Gods. As such, punishments were harsh. It is said in Assyrian texts that the persons who came to seek forgiveness were assailed by an 'aura of terror.' Forgiveness would come after this aura of terror in a cosmological sense, as such, a person seeking forgiveness would be denied forgiveness until he has been sufficiently taken by fear and or grief.

This forgiveness varied by king. Some kings forgive none and make grand statements to this effect. Others are littered with acts of forgiveness, benevolence (in Akkadian terms, to be frank, no Assyrian king was benevolent, they were all relatively fearsome and bloodthirsty in comparison to later monarchs in the same region) an so forth. Assurbanipal for instance is famous for being the most 'friendly' in terms of his forgiving of individual rebels. This was detested not only in Assyria but also in Babylon, where they understood this Assyrian monarch to presumably be a most irregular monarch. Assurbanipal is one of the only, perhaps only to be honest, Assyrian king that actively forgives rebels and corrupt officials. This speaks to Assurbanipal's character. He was a relatively lazy person for an Assyrian king and despite his piety, was a disgusted king by the Traditionalists, they would have preferred Assurhadon and his deification processes than a forgiving and soft/lazy king.

The other face of Assyrian reaction to transgression and failure, was punishment. Beyond the punishment that was the inducement of terror by an aura, the punishment exerted by the King was one of retribution, a religious duty to punish sins. Punishment was often the domain of the Great God Nurgle, the Lord of Domination, punishment and the flaying of skin. The Great King in the tradition practiced punishment and retribution for sins to a greater degree than forgiveness. Sins, failures and so forth could be punished by the flaying of skin the most common or some other conceived punishment derived from omens and haruspicy. Punishment of even loyal vassals for failures and inadequacy was known in Assyrian history, after all, loyal vassals were ultimately vessels to drain. This has fortunately for the empire been lessened, it yet still impacts the way in which Assyria operates.

Punishment and forgiveness mind you, is not only for individuals but applied collectively. Assurnasirpal II displays this perfectly as a quick example. In some cities, he is said to have punished the denizens therein. He described in his victory inscriptions over Syrian states and Phoenician cities, that 'I burned their children, they were thrown into a mass and charred, alongside their elder kin' this in Assyrian cosmology, was reasoned that the leaders of said children brought this punishment upon them by their sins, the great sin being resisting Assyria and thus the Great Gods. Assurnasirpal II however later, gives one of the few examples and glimpses into the humanity of Assyrian kings when in one of his campaigns, the children, widows and elderly are gathered to be burned and or exterminated, Assurnasirpal II explicitly inscribed that 'I pittied them and my anger relented and drove them away and did not punish them.' Likewise, the act of destroying a city, called leaving a heap, and the idea of destroying and rebuilding is also tied to retribution vs forgiveness. Assyrian kings such as Shalmaneser I made a claim to destroy a city and then rebuild it, such as Washukanni. Some Assyrian kings however, such as Tukulti-Ninurta I or Assurnasirpal II do not make such claims and only claim to have set cities alight or made heaps of destroyed buildings.

A third act of Assyrian cosmology of retribution, was that sinners would be punished for opposing Assyrian kingship even if not by the king himself. Hence we have Assyrian texts claiming that transgressors who escaped justice died through some sort of supernatural or radical omen. One certain Arab chief for instance, is said by the scribes of Assurbanipal to have been slain by a rat ( a single rat, a very fearsome rat, it must have been). This implied that the Great Gods slew him through a miraculous event. This is invoked usually when the Assyrian state is weak or that there is a sense of futility at apprehending the sinner(s).

Traditionalists would have preferred this Wahibre to be disposed of for his failure or left to his own. Assyria in their mind can conquer Egypt without him and assert it as a holding within the Empire, rather than a tributary or vassal state. They favored the way of Assurhadon, who conquered the country and gave it to military governance with the nobility of Egypt the Nomes managing it.


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Also, Samm, as the most common poster, I would ask, which faction do you find to be the most enjoyable and productive to the cause of Empire? This question is open for any other readers of course! Feedback is greatly helpful to the development of the tl, so do not be shy anyone.
 
Also, Samm, as the most common poster, I would ask, which faction do you find to be the most enjoyable and productive to the cause of Empire? This question is open for any other readers of course! Feedback is greatly helpful to the development of the tl, so do not be shy anyone.
That's difficult to say. The more reform minded factions will certainly be necessary if the empire is to hold its great conquests. The traditionalist faction is, to me at least, too dependent on continous great victories. However, one has to be careful when introducing reforms not to undermine the system that enabled Assyria to rise to where it is. It also seems to me that the traditionalist faction would be utterly unable to stabilize the empire once it reaches its maximum extent (or even conceive of such a situation occuring). Therefore under the control of the traditionalists Assyria has to either be expanding or collapsing. Of course its not like any of the factions are imagining an Assyrian empire reaching its limit at the moment but I imagine the leap would be easier for the other factions to make.

I am tempted to say that some sort of alliance between the nobles and the deification faction is likely at least in the long run. They both permit flexibility which may be necessary as the empire expands to unprecedented heights. I'm not sure if a great empire can be run in the long run on the principle of filling in eponyms for those years already outlined in the codex. Of corse the Deification camps emphasis on the power of the Monrch may clash with the nobility but we have seen historically that a monarch can be incredibly exalted in theory and yet leave room for powerful Nobles (indeed it is a common pattern). It would be interesting to see if the traditionalists try to strike back.
 
That's difficult to say. The more reform minded factions will certainly be necessary if the empire is to hold its great conquests. The traditionalist faction is, to me at least, too dependent on continous great victories. However, one has to be careful when introducing reforms not to undermine the system that enabled Assyria to rise to where it is. It also seems to me that the traditionalist faction would be utterly unable to stabilize the empire once it reaches its maximum extent (or even conceive of such a situation occuring). Therefore under the control of the traditionalists Assyria has to either be expanding or collapsing. Of course its not like any of the factions are imagining an Assyrian empire reaching its limit at the moment but I imagine the leap would be easier for the other factions to make.

I am tempted to say that some sort of alliance between the nobles and the deification faction is likely at least in the long run. They both permit flexibility which may be necessary as the empire expands to unprecedented heights. I'm not sure if a great empire can be run in the long run on the principle of filling in eponyms for those years already outlined in the codex. Of corse the Deification camps emphasis on the power of the Monrch may clash with the nobility but we have seen historically that a monarch can be incredibly exalted in theory and yet leave room for powerful Nobles (indeed it is a common pattern). It would be interesting to see if the traditionalists try to strike back.
Traditionalists of course arise from the Assyrian tradition wherein Assyria did interact as an hyper-aggressive state that also violently retracted at different times. So you are correct, their model of Empire is very fearsome, yet also chaotic. Ideally, you maintain the spirit of their ideas and their understanding of hierarchy, but leave some of the more chaotic elements. However, they will remain for some time yet, not necessarily always advocating the same ideas completely, but the scribal class is their bastion and to a degree, so is the merchant classes of Assyria proper and its most devout priests and commoners. Their fears though, are justified. Their main goal, is to maintain a consistently aggressive stance of Assyrian geopolitics and for the king to be a battle-king. This is a good influence, in my view within the court, as it may keep the monarch from being in the short term a lazy monarch like Assurbanipal, whose lazy attitude permitted the rise of the Scythians on his border and nearly the destruction of the empire entirely. To function in its positioning, Assyria requires a relatively active diplomacy and militarist agenda, it does not have the luxury of relaxation due to lower demography than many and a central location without natural defenses that some countries in atl have (to discuss one in a faraway land, the Zhou Dynasty comes to mind).

Indeed and this has been the court alliance at play during Sinbanipal's reign. The current state of the empire is the play at this. Traditionalists certainly dislike to changes, but they may be more worried about the recent construction of a mausoleum/temple for the royal house. To me, aside from rebellion, the greatest damage that the traditionalists can do is as diplomatic envoys, ruining peace treaties and other orders of the King so as to force him into a role that they like and also to keep Assyria at war.

It should be noted by the way, that the factions are quite well dispersed. All have a fair following somewhere in society. Deification faction of course has many of the military posts, the eunuchs, most importantly the 'Ten' the closest aides of the Great King (all of whom are eunuch military personnel whose training is in court customs + war), priests of Sin and a great number of the rural peasantry. Nobles are represented by the nobility and their tight ties across the Assyrian heartland and in Karduniash. Traditionalists are strongest among the merchants in Assyria, many of the priests, scribes and the diplomatic cores of Assyria.
 
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