People > Sargon II
Sargon II, also known as Šarru-ukin was a king of Assyria during the Neo-Assyrian Empire between 722 BC and 705 BC and responsible for ushering in a new age of Assyrian prosperity and wealth. He named himself after Sargon the Great who had established the Akkadian Empire many, many centuries before. He is responsible for building a short lived beautiful capital city at Dur-Sharrukin, now known as Khorsabad in modern day Iraq.
Sargon II was the son of the previous king Tiglath-Pileser III and is believed to have seized power from his brother named Shalmaneser V in a political coup. It is believed that Sargon II was already middle aged when he seized power in Assyria and was assisted by his son and future king named Sennacherib. Following his ascension to the throne he also made his brother Sinahusur his grand vizier.
Military CampaignSargon was beset with wide-spread rebellions by at the beginning of his rule. Marduk-apla-iddina II, a chieftain of the Chaldean tribes in the marshes of the south, declared himself king of Babylon and was crowned king in 721 BC. In 720 BC, Sargon and Marduk-apla-iddina met in battle on the plains east of Babylon. Marduk-apla-iddina was supported by Elam. The Elamite troops were able to push back the Assyrian army, and he retained control of the south and the title of king of Babylon.In 717 BC, the Syro-Hittite city of Carchemish on the Upper Euphrates. Carchemish was a small kingdom situated at an important Euphrates crossing. Sargon violated existing treaties in attacking the city, but with the wealth seized was able to continue to fund his army.In 716 BC he moved against the Mannaeans, where the ruler Aza, son of Iranzu, had been deposed by Ullusunu with the help of the Urartuans. Sargon took the capital Izirtu, and stationed troops in Parsuash (the original home of the Persian tribe, on lake Urmia) and Kar-Nergal (Kishesim). He built new bases in Media as well, the main one being Harhar which he renamed Kar-Sharrukin. In 715 BC, others were to follow: Kar-Nabu, Kar-Sin and Kar-Ishtar — all named after Babylonian gods and resettled by Assyrian subjects.
Under the command of Sargon II the Assyrians were able to defeat and subdue the Kingdom of Israel by capturing the city of Samaria. Following the three year siege of the city Sargon II exiled all of the inhabitants of Israel and the incident became the basis for the legend of the Ten Lost Tribes.According to the Bible, other people were brought to Samaria, the Samaritans, under his predecessor Shalmaneser V (2 Kings 18). Sargon's name actually appears in the Bible only once, at Isaiah 20:1, which records the Assyrian capture of Ashdod in 711 BC.
In 710 BC Sargon II believed Assyria was strong enough to conquer the other regional power of Babylonia under the leadership of Marduk-apla-iddina II. He first moved one of his armies against the civilization of Elam under king Shutur-Nahhunte II to prevent them from assisting the Babylonians in the upcoming invasion. A second army under the command of Sargon II himself marched on the city of Babylon. First Sargon II moved against the city of Dūr-Athara which was renamed Dūr-Nabû and made the new capital of the province of Gambalu.
Following this victory he laid siege to Babylon and Marduk-apla-iddina II was forced to flee in 710 BC. The priests and civil servants all submited to Sargon II and he was able to restore control over Babylonia by Assyria. The following year in 709 BC Sargon II led the famous New Years Day Procession as the king of Babylon and he would continue to rule over the city until 707 BC.
Marduk-apla-iddina II fled Babylonia for Elam where he was forbidden entry. From here he took hostages in the ancient Sumerian cities of Ur and Uruk along with smaller other towns and villages before capturing his ancestral home at Dūr-Jakin. Here he reinforced the city by adding walls and digging a defensive canal to the Euphrates River. Sargon II pursued him to the fortified city and in 709 BC the Assyrians were victorious against the rebel forces but were unable to siege the city.
Sargon II offered an agreement to Marduk-apla-iddina II where he would spare his life if he demolished the walls and submitted to his rule. It is not known if the agreement was fulfilled since Sargon II returned two years later in 707 BC to take them down himself. Following the victory over Marduk-apla-iddina II, Sargon II and his son Sennacherib stayed in Babylonia in order to subdue the local Suti nomads, Aramaic tribes and the Chaldeans along with territories in Elam. During this whole time in the north the Cimmerians were growing in power and Assyria used this to gain many vassal kingdoms and states into their empire.
In 710 BC the seven Greek kings of Ia', also known as Cyprus submitted to Assyrian rule and the following year in 709 BC the famous king Midas of Phrygia became an Assyrian vassal to help ward off the invading Cimmerians. The next year in 708 BC the territory of Kummuhu (Commagene) became an Assyrian province and at this point Assyria had reached a new height of power and influence in the region.708 BC, Kummuhu (Commagene) became an Assyrian province. Assyria was at the apogee of its power. Urartu had almost succumbed to the Cimmerians, Elam was weakened, Marduk-apla-iddina II was powerless, and the Egyptian influence in the Levant had been thwarted.
Building ProjectsHuman-headed winged bull, found during Botta's excavation.A lamassu from the palace of Sargon II at Dur-Sharrukin.
Death in Battle
In 705 BC while on a military campaign to help push the Cimmerians out of his vassal kings territories in Media and Persia Sargon II died in battle. Following his defeat the Cimmerians were able to advance all throughout the region and continued to plunder both Urartu and Phrygia. Following his death he was succeeded in rule over the Neo-Assyrian Empire by his son named Sennacherib.