A brief history of the Fertile Crescent 3000BCE – 570BCE (9)

Posted: March 22, 2016 in Ancient Near Eastern History, History
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Fertile Crescent (By 92bari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Fertile Crescent (By 92bari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

Once the capital Nineveh had fallen the Assyrians began to withdraw west and moved their capital west to Harran. When Harran was captured by the Babylonians in 610 BC the capital was once again moved, this time to Carchemish, on the Euphrates river. Egypt had by this time realised that the rising Neo-Babylonian empire was ever expanding in their direction and therefore at sometime around 610 they entered into an alliance with the Assyrian king Ashur-uballit II, and in 609 BC sent an army north to aid the Assyrians against the Babylonians. It is interesting to consider how late they left this decision. Carchemish was the Assyrians last stand, their last hope of survival and even if they had won there was little left of the Assyrian empire. To my mind the most likely scenario would be that by this time the end was inevitable even if they escaped it in 609.
The Egyptian army of Pharaoh Necho II marching north to aid the Assyrians was delayed at Megiddo by the forces of King Josiah of Judah. During the battle Josiah was killed and his army was defeated. But why did Josiah attack the much larger army of the Egyptians? Did he think that if the Assyrians were defeated then Judah would be freed from subjugation? Was this attack a deliberate delaying tactic to slow the Egyptian reinforcements down?
If so it partially worked as by the time the Egyptians arrived the Babylonians had forced the Assyrian army to withdraw across the Euphrates. The Egyptians and Assyrians came together on the west side of the river, crossed it and laid siege to Harran, which they failed to retake. They then retreated back towards Carchemish and the river Euphrates.
The Egyptian / Assyrian army met the might of the Babylonian army led by Nebuchadrezzar II, the son of Neblopolassor, near Carchemish where the combined Egyptian and Assyrian forces were soundly defeated. Assyria ceased to exist as an independent power, and Egypt retreated and would never again be a significant force in the Fertile Crescent.

Carved walls from the Palace of Carchemish (c1910) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Carved walls from the Palace of Carchemish (c1910) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


The Nebuchadrezzar Chronicle, now housed in the British Museum, claims that Nebuchadrezzar “crossed the river to go against the Egyptian army which lay in Karchemiš. They fought with each other and the Egyptian army withdrew before him. He accomplished their defeat and beat them to non-existence. As for the rest of the Egyptian army which had escaped from the defeat so quickly that no weapon had reached them, in the district of Hamath the Babylonian troops overtook and defeated them so that not a single man escaped to his own country. At that time Nebuchadrezzar conquered the whole area of Hamath.”

Carved panels from the Palace of Carchemish (c1910) [Public

Carved panels from the Palace of Carchemish (c1910) [Public

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