<h1>The Mighty Assyrian Empire Emerges From the Dust</h1> <div id="pnlArticleMetaData"><span class="authors">by Good News</span> <span class="reading-time">Estimated reading time: 3 minutes.</span> <span class="posted-date">Posted on <strong>24-Apr-2002</strong></span> </div> <div id="pnlArticleTeaserText">Perhaps archaeology's most dramatic find among the treasure troves of the past was the remains of the ancient Assyrian Empire. </div> <span id="ArticleSpan"><P>Perhaps archaeology&rsquo;s most dramatic find among the treasure troves of the past was the remains of the ancient Assyrian&nbsp;Empire.</P> <P>Assyria first appears as an empire early in the second millennium B.C. The remains of a ziggurat, or temple tower, from that era still stand near the site of its ancient&nbsp;capital.</P> <P>In the ninth century B.C., Assyria developed into an aggressive and powerful empire. By this time, about 40 years after the reign of Solomon, Israel had split into two distinct kingdoms&mdash;Israel and Judah (1 Kings 12:16-24). Led by able and ruthless monarchs, the Assyrians began to menace and eventually conquer their neighbors. They eventually subjugated the whole of the Fertile Crescent from Mesopotamia to Egypt. According to the Bible, by the late eighth century they crushed the kingdom of Israel and invaded the southern kingdom of Judah, conquering its major cities and besieging its capital, Jerusalem (Isaiah 36:1-2).</P> <P>Did this really happen, or is it a fable? Remember, many scoffers at one time disputed even the existence of the Assyrian Empire. But it was no myth. As the debris of centuries was removed from Nineveh, the capital, dramatic proof of the Assyrian invasion was laid&nbsp;bare.</P> <P>Assyrian records of these events quote King Sennacherib of Assyria boasting of his devastating invasion of Judah: &ldquo;Forty-six of [Hezekiah&rsquo;s] strong walled towns and innumerable smaller villages ... [I] besieged and conquered ... As for Hezekiah, the awful splendor of my lordship overwhelmed him&rdquo; (Erika Bleibtreu, &ldquo;Grisly Assyrian Record of Torture and Death,&rdquo; <EM>Biblical Archaeology Review</EM>, January - February 1991, p.&nbsp;60).</P> <P>By the time of Jesus Christ and the apostles, no physical evidence of Nineveh could be seen. Lucian of Samosata (A.D. 120-180), a Greek writer, lamented: &ldquo;Nineveh has perished. No trace of it remains. No one can say where once it existed&rdquo; (Magnus Magnusson, <EM>Archaeology of the Bible</EM>, 1977, p. 175). Such a lack of visible remains led some scholars of the 19th century to express skepticism that Nineveh or any part of the Assyrian Empire even existed, much less dominated a significant part of the&nbsp;world.</P> <P>Indeed the only historical source in those days that verified the existence of the empire was the Bible. The Old Testament histories and prophecies spoke about Assyria. Jesus proclaimed the existence of Nineveh as a historical fact (Matthew 12:41).</P> <P>Yet some scholars disputed the testimony of Jesus and the prophets; that is, until &ldquo;one spectacular decade in the middle of the nineteenth century ... [when] Austen Henry Layard and Paul Emile Botta rediscovered in northern Iraq the ancient remains of three Assyrian cities [including Nineveh] and evidence of the military panoply that had crushed all resistance from the Tigris to the Nile. The Assyrian empire ... in all its awesome power had been resurrected through archaeology&rdquo; (Magnusson, p.&nbsp;175).</P> <P>The skeptics were silenced. There was nothing they could say. The excavations at Nineveh and other cities in the area yielded a staggering wealth of evidence that confirmed many details of the Bible account. <EM>GN</EM></P> <P>(The text of the preceding article is excerpted from Is the Bible&nbsp;True?)</P></span>
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