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The Neo-Assyrian Empire was founded in the tenth century on a base of hoary antiquity. Native tradition traces the Neo-Assyrian royal line back to early rulers of the city-state Ashur and many of the customs and ideals of those times continued on to the first millennium. A full appreciation of Neo-Assyrian history is possible only with a proper awareness of this background and of the culture and history of Assyria's southern neighbours in the Babylonian plain. In these pages I shall first trace the political and military development of the Neo-Assyrian empire in chronological order (this chapter, and chapters 22–25 in Vol. Ill part 2). In a final chapter (26) I shall discuss, under the title ‘Assyrian Civilization’, such matters as the monarchy, administration, social structure, law, economy, warfare and hunting, religion, literature and libraries, art and architecture. In the chronological treatment general discussions of these matters will be avoided and I shall merely note briefly the more significant developments in appropriate places. Rather an exception to this is the building enterprises, for these can to a large extent be dated to specific reigns and so will be noted in the relevant sections.
SOURCES FOR THE NEO-ASSYRIAN PERIOD
The sources for the entire Neo-Assyrian period are relatively abundant. In particular the military events are better documented during this era than during any other time in ancient Mesopotamian history, thanks to the Assyrian annals and to the Babylonian chronicles. In addition, there is a sizeable corpus of letters from the royal chancellery for the last half of the eighth century and the first half of the seventh century, which adds a considerable amount of detail to our picture.
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