Ancient Near East - Sargon II

Updated: Jul 19

When Tiglath-Pileser III died, Hoshea at first remained loyal to Assyria, but later on, possibly as part of a general rebellion, he stopped paying tribute. This led to a military campaign in 726 B.C. by Shalmaneser V, who laid siege to Israel’s capital for three years and conquered it just before his death in 722 B.C. His brother and successor, Sargon II, claimed the victory for himself and turned the region into the province of Samaria.

The repercussions for Israel were great. The Assyrians deported a substantial number of people – 27,290 according to Sargon – and settled them in northeastern Syria and western Iran. People from other parts of the empire resettled the region of Samaria, creating a less homogeneous population that was more docile toward Assyria. While the northern parts of the original state, the provinces of Megiddo and Karaim, were left almost unpopulated, Samaria was developed economically through the creation of small villages and agricultural estates. The administration was restructured to fit Assyria’s needs. The capital was rebuilt and, along with a few other cities, it came to be the seat of governors who lived in residences built in the Assyrian style. Fortresses were constructed along the border to protect the province against incursions from the south and east. Legal transactions were now recorded in the Assyrian language and cuneiform script.

The Assyrians developed this region as a buffer state between their empire and the Egyptians and Arabs. During this time, word reached the court that a tribal chief named Merodach-Baladan had seized rule in Babylon. Sargon II left the capital city Kalhu at the head of the army and met the combined forces of Babylon and Elam in battle on the plains outside the city of Dur. Sargon II’s army was defeated by the Elamites and left the field. (The Babylonians arrived too late to have any effect.) With this defeat, he lost the city of Babylon and the regions of the south.

Sargon II returned to Kalhu and set his administration in order. In 717 B.C. he first conceived the idea of his own capital city built on virgin land and commissioned that it be built. The city would become Dur-Sharrukin, a central preoccupation of the king throughout his reign.

In the same year, Sargon II accused the king of Carchemish of intrigue with the enemies of Assyria and invaded the city with his entir