The Assyrians are a modern people living in northern Iraq and Syria as well as parts of Turkey and western Iran. They are the bona fide descendant of the ancient Assyrians,who between the 9th and 7th centuries B.C. - controlled an empire that covered most of civilised south western Asia and Egypt. They were known in the past for their military might, administrative efficiency, architecture and sculpture, and feared for their brutality.
They entered history as a Bronze Age trading people, based around their capital Assur, (south of what is now Mosul in northern Iraq) and part of the hegemony of their southern cousins based in Babylon. Assyrian trading posts from this period have been found as far a-field a western Turkey. In the later Bronze Age they were at various times within the ambit of Mitanni and Hittite influence; and when the folk-migrations known as the movement of the Sea Peoples in the late 12th century overturned the Hittites and weakened Egypt, the Assyrians – using iron weapons - began to move into the vacuum. Ninevah and Nimrud became co-capitals, although Assur remained the religious centre.
Their period of rapid expansion and widespread control began in the early 9th century with the military campaigns of Ashurnasipal II (r.883-859 B.C.) and at its greatest extent included present day Iraq, western Iran, all of Syria and the lands of the Hebrews, eastern Turkey and Egypt. They developed the art of siege craft (including the first recorded use of the battering ram) to levels not improved on until the Romans and organised their army in a way not seen before (including the use of demountable chariots for transportation over rough terrain. They used terror, capable administration, and enforced migration to control their vassals. Their domination was an endless succession of wars as they expanded or maintained their empire.
They were defeated by a revolt by a coalition of Chaldean-Mede vassals in 612 B.C. and their cities and war machine completely annihilated.
- See also: Assyrian Empire
Assyrians today face persecution from ISIS.More than 250 Assyrians have been kidnapped by ISIS since February 2015, including some from Syria currently being held for ransom. They became involved in the political turbulence in the area in the 1920s and 1930s caused by Soviet Russian expansion, and new nationalism in Turkey, Iraq and Syria. This was to bring about a diaspora of Assyrians to many parts of the globe including U.S.A. and various parts of the British Commonwealth.
The following entries pertain to the antecedents of the modern Assyrians and the Aramaic Church of the East and derivatives: