Introducing ancient Assyria

About this talk

What was life like in ancient Assyria? What was the role of religion and rulership across the Assyrian Empire? Talah Anderson’s research focuses on these topics and aims to answer these questions in this insightful introduction to ancient Assyria. Talah Anderson considers the growth of the Assyrian Empire and how this impacted the form of rulership used to maintain the empire, especially when the rulers were linked to the God Aššur. She then considers the significance of sources and the problems with studying ancient history where the resources could have been distorted or damaged over time. This talk and the following exercises will be particularly useful for students interested in History, History of Art, Religion, Oriental Studies, Classics, Politics, Philosophy and English.

Scroll down to access this fantastic talk and find the task set by Talah Anderson. Then, if you would like to increase your understanding of this topic, have a look at the further sources provided.

The Task!

Have a look at the different sources below, and consider the following questions:

  1. What are the common themes?
  2. What are the differences between the sources?
  3. What about the ancient past has been retained?
  4. Has anything about the ancient past been distorted from these sources?

Take a look at the sources in pairs (1a with 2a) when answering these questions. 1a and 2a are ancient sources whereas 1b and 2b take a more modern approach.

Further Resources

Further resources:

To learn more about the life of Ashurbanipal and the grandness of his palace, and how this related to his style of governance, watch this talk from the British Museum by clicking here.

If you want to learn more about the collections of ancient clay tablets and what we can learn from these sources have a look at the British Museum’s blog by clicking here.

To listen to some recordings of Old Babylonian, as well as see some translations of ancient texts into English, take a look at this page from SOAS University of London which you can access by clicking here.

For more of a challenge, you could read Eleanor Robson’s book Ancient Knowledge Networks for a more academic approach to seventh-century Assyria and the rulership of Ashurbanipal. A free version of the book can be accessed by clicking here.

Talah Anderson

Talah Anderson is a DPhil Oriental Studies student at the University of Oxford. Before coming to Oxford, Talah Anderson completed an MA(Hons) in Biblical Studies and Medieval History at the University of St. Andrews, before doing an MPhil in Assyriology at the University of Cambridge. Talah Anderson’s key areas of research are Assyrian studies, Mesopotamian visual representation and the role of religion.
You can find out more about Talah Anderson’s research and previous work by clicking here.