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of ground to one of his favorites. In it he gives an expo-
sition of his land policy. If he says that he honored the
gods, we can hardly cite Sargon to the contrary, nor, if we
accept Sargon's testimony to the oppression of a pro-Assy-
rian party by his Chaldaean rival, must we forget that the
latter makes exactly the same charges against the party
which held Babylonia before his arrival ? Aside from these,
we have only a few commercial documents of the usual sort.
There are other sources which, though now in Greek dress,
actually seem to go back to cuneiform originals. Berossus
has a very uncertain reference to Merodach Baladan ;^^
there are references to that ruler and to a siege of Tyre
which may possibly be attributed to Sargon f^ while Ptolemy,
in his Almagest, furnishes us with a list of Babylonian kings

"Best published in F. Delitzsch, Assyrische Lesestiicke* 1900, 137 ff.
A good translation by A. Barta, Assyr. Babyl. Lit., 200 ff.

^ Published by F. Delitzsch, Beitr. zur Assyr., II. 258 if. Translated
by Delitzsch, /. c; Peiser and Winckler, Keilinschr. Bihl, III. 185 if.;
R. F. Harper, Assyr. Bah. Lit., 64 ff. Johns, Deeds, II. 232 would
place this much earlier since archaic metrology is used, but this hardly
will stand in the face of the way the data fit into our general situation.

"Berossus, Fragment 13= Jos. Ant. X. 2. 2.

*** Eusebius, Chron., ed. Schone, I. 27, 35. But see chap. IV. n. 62.


and further strengthens the chronology by the mention of
three ecHpses.^^

The other inscriptional sources are few. The Haldian
ones, so numerous at an earlier time, are now but a bare
half dozen in number. We have building inscriptions of
Rusash^^ and Argishtish IP^ as well as the Rusash in-
scription at Lake Gokcha^^ to show the extent of the empire.
Of real importance is the Topsana stele,^^ which sheds so
much light on the truthfulness of Sargon's scribes. As for
the Hittite inscriptions, we may still doubt if they have been
really deciphered, and even if they have, the actual gain is
small, while the knowledge that our Itamara the Sabaean
may be one of the Yatha'amars of the Sabaean inscriptions,
is no great advance.^*

Owing to their inclusion as a part of our sacred literature,
the study of the Hebrew documents is one of peculiar diffi-
culty. Those who hold the older and more conservative
views have ascribed large portions of the book of Isaiah to
this reign, while more radical critics have done likewise with
those sections they still allow to that prophet. Be it as it

"" Ptolemy, Almagest, IV. 5-

The Rusahina building inscription of Keshish G611, published with
an elaborate study of the work and of its remains, W. Belck, Zeitschr.
f. Ethnologie, 1892, 151 f., cf. 141 ff.; Sayce, Journal of Royal Asiatic
Society, 1893, 18, No, LXXIX. Lehmann, No. 127 in Sitzungsherichte
of Berlin Academy, 1900, 624. The Teishbash inscription of Van, pub-
lished in transliteration by Lehmann, /. c, No. 126.

*^ The Arjish inscriptions describing the building of reservoirs for the
Argishtish city, Lehmann, /, c, No. 130, 131.

*^ The rock inscription at Aluchalu on the south shore of the Gokcha
Sea, Sayce, op. cit., 1894, 713 if., No. LV. The conquest of kings of
twenty-three lands and the carrying of the people to Van is boasted
of. At this spot, a Teishbash temple was erected.

' Discussed by Lehmann, Zeitschr. f. EthnoL, 1899, 99 ff.) cf. also
Lehmann, Sitsungsherichte , I. c. No. 128.

* See more fully under the study of Arabian affairs.


may in regard to the Isaianic character of these oracles,
repeated readings with this end in view have left me unable
to locate with any assurance a single one in Sargon's reign.

Although the heading of the twentieth chapter of Isaiah
refers to the Ashdod expedition, we are not justified in
accordingly attributing the oracle itself to this date, as will
be clear to any student of prophetical headings. On the
other hand, the heading itself, whatever the date of its in-
sertion, does reveal knowledge of the actual facts. We
have here an excellent illustration of the fact that a very
late insertion may nevertheless go back to a good early

The reference in the tenth chapter^ to the capture of
Calno and Carchemish, Hamath and Arpad, Samaria and
Damascus, clearly belongs to our reign. But the Greek read
a different text, and it may perhaps be suspected that here,
too, we have a later form based on early information. Of
the same type and period are the historical references in
the Assyrian speeches of Kings. Although attributed to
Sennacherib, they really fit better the situation in the time
of Sargon.^^

The account of the end of Samaria in its two parallel
forms^^ belongs at least in part to this reign. The basis of
this seems to be a contemporary or nearly contemporary ac-
count and, brief as it is, seems thoroughly accurate. As I
have already shown,^ we must accept its most important
statement, that it was Shalmaneser and not Sargon who
took Samaria. The embassy of Merodach Baladan has
always been a troublesome chronological difficulty.^^ The

II Kings 20" if ; 39^ ff.

'= Isaiah 10.

II Kings 18^; I9l^

"II Kings i7'-; 18*^"

^ Amer. Journal of Semitic Languages, 1905, 179 if.


great objection to placing it in Sargon's reign is the fact
that the current chronology would not permit Hezekiah to
be placed so far back. But this chronology is purely arti-
ficial and can hardly count. On the other hand, the time
Merodach Baladan had under Sennacherib was too small
and his position too precarious to seduce Hezekiah, whereas
it would be most natural for that prince to unite with the
Chaldaean who had just won the battle at Dur ilu against
the Assyrian who had already, or rather his predecessor,
put an end to the northern kingdom and was already threat-
ening his own. Perhaps, too, the account of Hezekiah's
Philistine wars^ may be connected with the Ashdod revolt
in 711 rather than with the Ekron troubles of 701."^^

It is with these materials that we must reconstruct the
history of Western Asia in the time of Sargon. As must
always be the case in the history of the past, there are many
deplorable gaps which we would gladly have filled. Yet,
when we consider the lapse of time, we must admit that
there is a remarkably large amount of material with which
to attempt this reconstruction. For the space of time, barely
sixteen years, and the extent of country, a good part of
Western Asia, we may challenge comparison with many a
period of classical or even mediaeval history. And there
are few periods of history, ancient or mediaeval, which
furnish so fine an opportunity for the exercise of the his-
torian's art as does this corner of the " sometime realm of

II Kings i8.

'^In general, it may be said that there is little contact between As-
syria and Judah in this reign and I have therefore reduced discussion of
Biblical questions to a minimum. It is only fair to state that during the
present year an elaborate study of Kings has been carried on in the
Semitic Seminary and that I hope later to publish some of my results.



Sargon the Younger, the man who formed the central
object of one of the most brilHant periods of ancient Ori-
ental history, might well boast himself a self-made man, for
in spite of his boasts of the three hundred and fifty kings
who ruled Assyria before him^ and of his mention of the
kings his fathers,^ it is certain that he was not of the blood
royal. What his real ancestry was we do not know. He
himself keeps a discreet silence on the subject. His son,
Sennacherib, secured a splendid ancestry, for he claimed
descent from the old mythical heroes, Gilgamish, Eabani,
Humbaba, and the like.^ This was evidently felt to be going
too far, for Esarhaddon already as crown prince* gives the
more modest genealogy which became standard.^ Accord-
ing to this, Sargon was a scion of the old half mythical house
of Bel ibni, son of Adasi.^

^ C. 45 ; B. 43 ; note the use of malki, " princes." Cf. also the use of
" Kings my fathers " by the usurper Tiglath Pileser, Annals 19.

^C. 48.

'Johns, Deeds, III. 413.

*K. 13733 published ly Winckler, Forsch., II. 23.

' Negub Tunnel Ins., 5, Scheil, Recueil de Travaux^ 1895, 82; 81-6-7,
209, G. Barton, Proc. Amer. Orient. Soc, 1891, CXXX ; K. 2801 ,4- K.
3053 + D. T. 252 ; A. H. 82-7-14 unnumbered. These have been quoted
by G. Smith, Zeitschr. f. Aegypt. Sprache, 1869, 93 if., and by Winckler,
Sargon, XIII. n.^ and Hebraica, IV. 52 f.

" In the early days of Assyriological study, the genealogy was accepted
without protest. The untrustworthy character has been recognized by
Winckler, Hebraica, I. c, and others. To my mind, there can be no
doubt that it is made of whole cloth. G. Rawlinson, Five Ancient
Monarchies,* 1879, 11. 145 points out that, while Nabunaid frequently



As we do not know his family, so we do not know his
real name. On his accession he assumed that of Sharrukin,
better known to us, from its Biblical form, as Sargon. The
reason for this is clear. ThrcS thousand years before^
there had ruled in Agade a mighty monarch, Shargani by
name, whose power and wealth were still evidenced by the
inscriptions in the temples he had erected. Originally the
name seems to have meant "A god has established him as
king." ^ A later age had forgotten this meaning, and it had,

mentions his father though but a noble, Sargon does not, and suspects

that he was not even of good family. To this we can hardly say, with
Tiele, Gesch., 254, that Sennacherib never mentions his father, for he
actually does so in K. 4730. Possible conjectures are those of F.
Hommel, Gesch. Babyloniens und Assyriens, 1885, 679, that we may see
his father's name in the Habigal, the dynasty name of the Babylonian
royal lists, of Tiele, op. cit., 256, that he was a son of Ashur nirari, and
of G. Maspero, Passing of the Empires, 1900, 221, that he could actually
trace royal ancestors on the distaff side, since the daughters of the
king no doubt married into the noble houses. The facts do not agree
with the suggestion of Hommel, Gesch., 680, that Babylonian origin is
demanded by his Babylonian name. That he was born before 745, Tiele,
op. cit., 2S6, is quite probable, but it is extremely unlikely that he was
seventy years old when he became king, as Oppert, Studien und Kritiken,
1871, 71 10, Winckler, Zeitschr. f. Assyr., 1887, 392, may be right in
making the descent from an old King of Ashur a compliment to that city.

' Of course the date of Nabunaid is not exact and may be a century
or so out of the way. But I believe that it is approximately correct.
That there is a gap may well be due only to our lack of material.

' Sargon of Agade calls himself in his own inscriptions Shargani,
e. g., Keilinschr. Bibl., III. i. 100. In the Assyrian tablets, on the
other hand, the form usual with his namesake is given. This is one
of the signs for sharru, " king," plus GI.NA or DU = ukin, rarely u-kin.
For a few selected forms, cf. J. N. Strassmaier, Alphabetisches Verzeich-
niss, 1886, sub voce. A person named Sharrukinu occurs in Darius
20-3-6, Strassmaier, /. c. The name occurs as Sargon in Isaiah 20^, as
Sargon in Symmachus, and as Sargon in Aquila and Theodotion. The
Arna of the Septuagint seems an early error, aleady in the time of
Jerome, in Isaiam, ad loc, for Arka which must then of course be con-
nected with the Arkeanos of the Canon of Ptolemy which itself is but


by a process of folk etymology, come to mean " The estab-
lished king." ^ It was in this latter sense that the usurper
assumed it, and by the plays upon it in his own records
showed to the world his well-established rule.^^

Shargani thus became a sort of patron saint to his name-
sake. He did not, it is true, claim descent from him. But
we do see a sort of a Sargon renaissance, a renewed interest
in everything touching the older monarch. For instance,
there had come down a great astronomical treatise, the
"Illumination of Bel," which was ascribed to Shargani.
This was introduced into Assyria and frequently copied in
this and succeeding reigns. To the same influence must no

arku, " the later," " the second." This last expression does not seem
to be used to distinguish him from Shargani in his own inscriptions, but
that it was used in his lifetime is proved by the dated documents given
in III. R. 2. It is interesting, in this connection, to notice that Ptolemy
evidently derived his information about Babylon through Egyptian
sources, as the names of the months show, while the Septuagint of course
was made under Egyptian influence. Why should the tradition current
in Egypt have used arku instead of Sargon's own proper name? De-
Saulcy, quoted Oppert, Ins. Assyr., 2 first identified Arkeanos with
Sargon, The best discussion of the name is still that by Schrader,
Assyrisch-Babylonische Keilinschriften, 1S72, 158 ff. Peiser, Mitth.
Vorderas. Gesellsch., 1900, 2, 50, explains the numerical play on his
name in C. 65 by suggesting that his full name, which, as it stands, is
certainly incomplete, was Ashur shar ukin. For the various specula-
tions as to who Sargon was, made prior to the decipherment of the in-
scriptions, cf. E. Riehm, Studien und Kritiken, 1868, 158 ff. For the
long accepted identity of Sargon and Shalmaneser, cf. F. Vigouroux,
La Bible et les Decouvertes Modernes^ 1889, IV. 137 if. For the
literature elicited by the proposal of A. H. Sayce, Bab. and Orient.
Record, II. 18 ff., to identify Sargon with king Yareb of Hos. 5", lo,
cf. Maspero, Empires, 222 n.

Oppert, Ins. Sarg., 8.

^ C. 50 ; on the basis of this text, Lyon, Sargon, X, and Tiele, Gesch.,
255, take the name to mean the " true, righteous king " while Winckler,
Sargon, XV explains it as " The King has set in order " referring it
to the evident desire of the king to show himself the restorer of the old
order of affairs.



doubt be ascribed the well-known archaism in art and in
religion, the care for Babylonia, perhaps even the founda-
tion of a new Dur Sharrukin in imitation of the earlier one
which had borne Shargani's name.^^

Perhaps the most artistic and interesting result was the
production of the Sargon legends, which, in all probability,
had long floated about in popular story and were now re-
touched for the glory of the usurper king. Of this litera-
ture, two specimens have come down to us. One is an
omen tablet which reports the deeds done by Sargon or his
son Naram Sin under such and such a sign of the heavens,
how three years were spent in the land of the setting sun,
how the sea of the setting sun was crossed and his image
erected, how Kastubilla of Kagala was defeated and the land
of Surri, and how a great city was built in his honor.^^

But if this is, after all, only a dry astrological text, the
other is one of the gems of Assyrian literature. The story
has often been told of how his father he did not know and
his mother, a woman of low degree, bore him in secret, how,
like the little Moses, the infant was placed in an ark of
rushes and entrusted to the water, how the water carried
him to the irrigator Akki who reared him and made him a
gardener until the goddess Ishtar came to love him and
gave him rule over the black-headed folk and granted him
victories over Dilmun and Dur ilu.^^

Beautiful as all this is, it is so clearly legendary that we
cannot wonder that the earlier scholars were inclined to
make him an entirely mythical personage. Even though

" So we may gather from the Michau Stone, I. 14 and from the ap-
pearance of the name in the list II. R. 50, I. 26 ; the reference to a
Dur Sharrukin in Bah. Chron., III. 46 is to the same place according
to Winckler, in Helmolt, History of the World, III. 1903, 102.

"IV. R. 34; translated Keilinschr. Bihl. III. i. 102 if. and often.

"III. R. 4, 7; translated Keilinschr. Bihl. III. i. 100 ff. and often.


we now know that Shargani actually lived and was a great
ruler, we have no more right to assume that these legends
tell the truth than we have to describe the policy of Theo-
doric the Ostrogoth on the basis of the romantic adventures
of Dietrich of Berne. Knowing how legends grow up, we
should be inclined to suspect the account even if nearly con-
temporary. How much more so when it is separated from
its subject by perhaps as long an interval as that which
separates us from Sargon himself. The tablet of omens
comes from the library of Ashur bani pal and bears his
mark,^* while the legend tablet dates from the eighth cen-
tury.^^ But still closer is the internal evidence. Both Sar-
gon the Younger and the hero of these legends are alike in
having no royal ancestors. Both warred in Elam, and in
Syria, and at Dur ilu, and conquered Tilmun. Both crossed
the sea of the setting sun and both erected a stele in Cyprus.
The legendary hero refers to "my successor" (arku),'^^
and sure enough arku, " the second," is so common a title of
Sargon, that, in the form of Arkeanos, it has come down as
his name in the Greek-Babylonian list of Ptolemy.^^ All
this points clearly to our time as the date of fabrication.^^

" The actual name of the king is lost, but the formula is clearly that of
Ashur bani pal, cf. Hommel, Gesch., 301.

"So. G. Maspero, Dawn of Civilization, 1894, 597; Rogers, History,

" Legend 20 ; Arku frequently occurs as " later " but with names, only,
so far as I know, with Sargon.

" Cf. n. 8.

" G. Smith, Trans. Soc. Bibl. Arch., I. 47 = Records of the Past,^ V. 57
had already noted the fact that this is " clearly the text of an usurper "
and had pointed out the connection of name and city with the younger
Sargon to whom he ascribed the preservation of the legends. H. F.
Talbot, Trans. Soc. Bibl. Arch., I. 271 =^ Records of the Past^ V. 2, sug-
gested that it might have been copied from a statue and this has been
accepted as a fact by following writers. The most important of the
reasons for not believing in an early date for these legends, were set


What was the character of the man who, on the death of
Shalmaneser IV on the 226. of Tebet (December 28), 722
B. C, came to the throne ?^^ As compared with the charac-
ters in classical or in mediaeval Arabic history, it is difficult
to understand the personalities of the Assyrian rulers. Yet
the attempt may be made, for, in spite of the tendency to
conform every such ruler to a majestic, impersonal type of
the Assyrian rule itself, we can see a strong personality
here. And certainly strength of character must have been
one of the most important facts in the man who could usurp
the throne, hold it so well, extend its boundaries, and de-
velop it internally, and then hand it on to such men as his
successors. With strength we often associate coarseness
and ferocity. Judged by the standards of our own day,
Sargon was horribly cruel. Judged by those of his own, he
was as far from the barbarity of Ashur nagir pal as he was
from the comparative weakness of Esar haddon. And for
his cruelty he had his excuse. The Assyrian empire was
still in a precarious condition; indeed, it never again was
really safe, and firmness was absolutely needful. If it was
necessary for state reasons to flay a man alive, Sargon prob-
ably had no compunctions. That he was not merely a blood-
thirsty tyrant there is plenty of evidence to show. After
conquest he organized territory. If the administrative
system dates to Tiglath Pileser III or even earlier, he at
least carried out those designs, and so deserves the credit for
a fair amount of political sagacity.

forth by Hommel, Gesch., 305. Maspero, Dazvn, 599 has gone further,
rightly, in my opinion.

" The Bab. Chron., I. 29 if. merely states that Shalmaneser died in
Tebet and then that Sargon ascended the throne on the twenty-second
of the same month. There is, however, no reason here to assume, with
Oppert, art. Sargon, La Grande Encyclopedic, that Shalmaneser died on
the first and that there was an interregnum.


Since he gained the throne by the aid of the religious
party, we naturally expect to see something of a religious
type in his nature. This may have been only affectation,
but it more probably was genuine. The simple soldier who
owed his throne to priestly aid was certainly grateful. How
great an influence the priestly party gained in his reign may
be surmised by the reaction against it in the reign of his
son Sennacherib. To how great an extent Sargon was
really cultivated we may only conjecture. There were great
building enterprises, there was sculpture of a high type,
there was much literature produced. But all this was merely
to glorify the king, and we may doubt if the soldier cared
much for art for art's sake.

Thus, as we attempt to find individual characteristics, we
have a sense of failure. Even his sculptured portrait is of
little value, for it gives us only the conventional king.^^

The many conjectures previously made as to the way
Sargon came to the throne-^ are now rendered useless by
the discovery of a bit of clay.^^ Prom this we learn that
Shalmaneser had committed the unheard-of sacrilege of
laying tribute on the old sacred city of Ashur,^^ the cradle
of Assyrian power. Harran, too, the capital of that great
Mesopotamian kingdom which was united with Assyria in
a sort of personal union, was in the same evil case.^* The

^ Sargon and his wazir occur on the slab, Botta, Ninive, I. 12, also
in Maspero, Empires, 217. Cf. also the royal figure on the tile facing
of the harem walls at Dur Sharrukin, Place, Ninive, pi. 27, which seems
to me to be an authentic picture. The broad lips, pronounced nose,
large ears, and thick neck seem to show a certain coarseness, but he
certainly has a good forehead. The Cyprus stele also gives a conven-
tionalized portrait.

^^ These have now only a historical interest, cf. n. 8.

^ K. 1349, published by Winckler, Sammlung, II. i ; translated Forsch.,
I. 403 ff.


^' Cf. n. 27.


god, Ashur, became angry, overthrew Shalmaneser, and
presented the crown to Sargon.^^ Translated into plain
English, Sargon took advantage of the insult thus offered to
the pride and the pocket-book of the great cities, and, with
the aid of the priesthood, secured the throne. They had
their reward. During the whole reign the priestly party
was high in power, and a wave of religious reaction swept
over at least the palace circle,^^ while Ashur and Harran
were once more given their old privileges and governed
directly by the crown."

^ 34 f. Ashur was freed from tribute and. silver tablets set up. The
closing threat of revolution to whomsoever changes the place of this
work clearly refers to a future king, Winckler, op. cit., 406.

^ See under religion in chapter on culture history.

" The statements in regard to Ashur and Harran exist in two some-
what different recensions. The one, XIV. 5, D. 10-12, P. V. 9-1 1,
states that the freedom from taxation (zakut) of Ashur and Harran
which had long been forgotten and their constitution (kidinnutu) which
had fallen into abeyance, were restored. The other, P. IV. 9-13, B.
8-10, and, with inserted clause, Rp. 5, 7, 8 ; C. 5-6; Br. 9-10, 13-15,
calls Sargon the " restorer of the constitution of Ashur which had
fallen into abeyance, who over Harran has protection extended, and as
the man (gab, probably in the feudal sense) of the gods Anu and Dagan,
inscribed their freedom." How this freedom worked may be seen from
K. 5466 = H. 99, cf. Johns, Deeds, II. 174, where Tab gil esharra,
governor of the city of Ashur, complains that ever since the king freed
the city, the ilqu or feudal service of that place has been rendered use-
less to him. He now wishes to repair the palace but is unable and
sends to the king. From K. 1349, we see that the city of Ashur had
suffered under Shalmaneser but was restored by Sargon, and the same
no doubt, was true of Harran. Mez, Gesch. Stadt Harran, 1892, 28 /.
followed by Cheyne, art. Haran, Ency. Bibl., suggests that these privileges
were granted by Shalmaneser II and were then taken away after the
insurrection of 763. It is far more probable that they were a survival
of those it enjoyed as capital of the old Mesopotamian kingdom, Johns,
Assyr. Doomsday Book, 1901, 7, and that one of the indignities inflicted
upon it was the placing of an Assyrian governor in direct control of it.

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