Ancient Near East - Esarhaddon

Updated: Jul 19

Esarhaddon took the throne and defeated his brothers' factions during a six-week civil war. The two brothers themselves, after the assassination, fled Nineveh and sought refuge with the king of Urartu, Rusas II. He then had his brothers' families and associates executed. Once his rule was secure, he issued new decrees and proclamations. Among the first of these was that Babylon should be restored. Although the prophecies concerning the rebuilding of Babylon had said that the city would not be restored for 70 years, Esarhaddon manipulated the priests to read the cuneiform backwards, thus making 70 the number 11. In those eleven years, Esarhaddon rebuilt the entire city, from the temples to the homes of the people. To make sure everyone would remember their benefactor, he inscribed the bricks and stones with his name.

With Babylon restored, Esarhaddon set out expanding and improving upon his empire. The Cimmerians, a nomadic tribe to the north, were threatening his western borders and the Kingdom of Urartu, which his grandfather had defeated in 714 B.C., had risen again. His two brothers, who had killed their father, were still there under the protection of King Rusas II who, like the Urartu kings before him, had no love for the Assyrians. In order to keep the Cimmerians at bay, Esarhaddon entered into a treaty with the Scythians, another nomadic tribe known for their skill in cavalry warfare. Although he felt he needed their help, he did not trust them as allies.