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705-681 BCE

Mesopotamia / Kings /
Assyria / Neo period / Kings /
Akkadian: Sin-akheeri

Assyria of Sennacherib

Relief of Sennacherib. Now in Louvre museum, Paris

From the court of Sennacherib
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(Dead 681 BCE) Ruler of Assyria 705-681 BCE, 24 years.
Among his main achievements was to make Nineveh new capital, just years after his father's new capital Dur-Sharrukin had been inaugurated. He adorned Nineveh with many great buildings including his new palace. He is attributed with constructing the first aqueduct in 690 BCE, leading water to Nineveh. Of the 13 km long city walls of Nineveh he built, parts of it remains visible today. Outside the city walls, great plantations were laid out, and he had the cotton plant introduced to Mesopotamia.
The military efforts of his reign had to focus on keeping the empire together from Babylonian and Chaldean rebels, and defending its borders, mainly towards Elam and Egypt.
Sennacherib is a prominent figure in the Old Testament, mainly in 2 Kings 17-19 and 2 Chronicles 32. With his siege on Jerusalem and deportation of several Jewish communities, he is very much a part of Jewish history.
It seems clear that he deliberately limited his military spending, in order to allow surplus resources to be allocated into his many building projects.
The relation to his father, the famous Sargon 2, seems conflicted: In addition to abandoning his father's capital, no inscription of Sennacherib has his father mentioned.

Before 705: Being son and crown prince of king Sargon 2, he is the effective ruler while the king is out on campaigns.
705: Sargon dies during a campaign against the Cimmerians, Sennacherib succeeds him without contenders to the throne.
703: Forces the troublesome ruler of Babylon, Marduk-apla-iddina 2 to escape. A local dignitary, Bel-ibni, is made new vassal king.
701: Rebellion in Judah led by king Hezekiah, supported by the Egyptians and Babylon. Sennacherib responds immediately, laying a siege on Jerusalem, which was not released until a great payment had been received. Large Jewish communities were resettled in other regions of the Assyrian empire.
700: A new rebellion by Marduk-apla-iddina, now in the southern marsh lands, is crushed. Marduk-apla-iddina escapes to Elam.
— Bel-ibni is found to be disloyal to the Assyrians, and replaced with his son Ashur-nadin-shumi.
694: Defeats a rebellion of the southern Chaldeans, but is attacked by Elam, that captures Ashur-nadin-shumi, taking him as a captive to Elam.
693: Rebellion at Nippur, and a campaign is launched into Elam.
692: Control is lost over Babylon, through the intriguing of Elam, allowing Mushezib-Marduk to assume power in Babylon.
689: After years of military campaigns, Babylon is defeated, and Sennacherib has the city destroyed to the point of making it uninhabitable.
681 January: Killed, most likely by one or two of his sons. A brief war of princes followed, before his youngest son, yet appointed heir, Esarhaddon secured the throne for himself.

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By Tore Kjeilen