The king of Assyria (Akkadian: ''šar māt Aššur''),' called the governor or viceroy of Assyria (Akkadian: ''Išši’ak Aššur'')' in the Early and Old periods, was the ruler of the ancient Mesopotamian kingdom of Assyria, which existed from approximately the 26th century BC to the 7th century BC. All modern lists of Assyrian kings generally follow the Assyrian King List, a list kept and developed by the ancient Assyrians themselves over the course of several centuries. Though some parts of the list are probably fictional, the list accords well with Hittite, Babylonian and ancient Egyptian king lists and with the archaeological record, and is generally considered reliable for the age. The ancient Assyrians did not believe that their king was divine himself, but saw their ruler as the vicar of their principal deity, Ashur, and as his chief representative on Earth. In their worldview, Assyria represented a place of order while lands not governed by the Assyrian king (and by extension, the god Ashur) were seen as places of chaos and disorder. As such it was seen as the king's duty to expand the borders of Assyria and bring order and civilization to lands perceived as uncivilized. Originally vassals of more powerful empires, the early Assyrian kings used the title governor or viceroy (''Išši’ak''), which was retained as the ruling title after Assyria gained independence due to the title of king (''šar'') being applied to the god Ashur. Later Assyrian kings, beginning with Ashur-uballit I (14th century BC) adopted the title ''šar māt Aššur'' as their empire expanded and later also adopted more boastful titles such as "king of Sumer and Akkad", "king of the Universe" and "king of the Four Corners of the World", often to assert their control over all of Mesopotamia. The line of Assyrian kings ended with the defeat of Assyria's final king Ashur-uballit II by the Neo-Babylonian Empire and the Median Empire in 609 BC, after which Assyria disappeared as an independent political unit, never to rise again. The Assyrian people survived and remain as an ethnic, linguistic, religious (most being Christians since the 1st–3rd centuries AD) and cultural minority in the Assyrian homeland and elsewhere to this day.


Incomplete king-lists have been recovered from all three of the major ancient Assyrian capitals (Aššur, Dur-Šarukkin and Nineveh). The three lists are largely consistent with each other, all originally copies of a single original list, and are based on the yearly appointments of ''limmu''-officials (the eponymous officials for each year, appointed by the king to preside over the celebration of the New Year festival). Because of the consistency between the list and the method through which it was created, modern scholars usually accept the regnal years mentioned as more or less correct. There are some differences between the copies of the list, notably in that they offer somewhat diverging regnal years before the reign of king Ashur-dan I of the Middle Assyrian Empire (reign beginning in 1178 BC). After 1178 BC, the lists are identical in their contents.' The king-lists mostly accord well with Hittite, Babylonian and ancient Egyptian king lists and with the archaeological record, and are generally considered reliable for the age. It is however clear that parts of the list are fictional, as some known kings are not found on the list and other listed kings are not independently verified. Originally it was assumed that the list was first written in the time of Shamshi-Adad I circa 1800 BC but it now is considered to date from much later, probably from the time of Ashurnasirpal I (1050–1031 BC). The oldest of the surviving king-lists, List A (8th century BC) stops at Tiglath-Pileser II (c. 967–935 BC) and the youngest, List C, stops at Shalmaneser V (727–722 BC). One problem that arises with the Assyrian King List is that the creation of the list may have been more motivated by political interest than actual chronological and historical accuracy. In times of civil strife and confusion, the list still adheres to a single royal line of descent, probably ignoring rival claimants to the throne. Additionally, there are some known inconsistencies between the list and actual inscriptions by Assyrian kings, often regarding dynastic relationships. For instance, Ashur-nirari II is stated by the list to be the son of his predecessor Enlil-Nasir II, but from inscriptions it is known that he was actually the son of Ashur-rabi I and brother of Enlil-Nasir.


Assyrian royal titles typically followed trends that had begun under the Akkadian Empire (c. 2334–2154 BC), the Mesopotamian civilization that preceded the later kingdoms of Assyria and Babylon. When the Mesopotamian central government under the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2112–2004 BC) collapsed and polities that had once been vassals to Ur became independent, many of the new sovereign rulers refrained from taking the title of king (''šar''), instead applying that title to their principal deities (in the case of Assyria, Ashur). For this reason, most of the Assyrian kings of the Old Assyrian period (c. 2025–1378 BC) used the title ''Išši’ak Aššur'', translating to "governor of Assyria". In contrast to the titles employed by the Babylonian kings in the south, which typically focused on the protective role and the piety of the king, Assyrian royal inscriptions tend to glorify the strength and power of the king. Assyrian titularies usually also often emphasize the royal genaeology of the king, something Babylonian titularies do not, and also drive home the king's moral and physical qualities while downplaying his role in the judicial system.' Assyrian epithets about royal lineage vary in how far they stretch back, most often simply discussing lineage in terms of "son of ..." or "brother of ...". Some cases display lineage stretching back much further, Shamash-shuma-ukin (r. 667–648 BC) describes himself as a "descendant of Sargon II", his great-grandfather. More extremely, Esarhaddon (r. 681–669 BC) calls himself a "descendant of the eternal seed of Bel-bani", a king who would have lived more than a thousand years before him.' Assyrian royal titularies were often changed depending on where the titles were to be displayed, the titles of the same Assyrian king would have been different in their home country of Assyria and in conquered regions. Those Neo-Assyrian kings who controlled the city of Babylon used a "hybrid" titulary of sorts in the south, combining aspects of the Assyrian and Babylonian tradition, similar to how the traditional Babylonian deities were promoted in the south alongside the Assyrian main deity of Ashur.' The assumption of many traditional southern titles, including the ancient "king of Sumer and Akkad" and the boastful "king of the Universe" and "king of the Four Corners of the World", by the Assyrian kings served to legitimize their rule and assert their control over Babylon and lower Mesopotamia. Epithets like "chosen by the god Marduk and the goddess Sarpanit" and "favourite of the god Ashur and the goddess Mullissu", both assumed by Esarhaddon, illustrate that he was both Assyrian (Ashur and Mullissu, the main pair of Assyrian deities) and a legitimate ruler over Babylon (Marduk and Sarpanit, the main pair of Babylonian deities). To examplify an Assyrian royal title from the time Assyria ruled all of Mesopotamia, the titulature preserved in one of Esarhaddon's inscriptions read as follows:

Role of the Assyrian king

Ancient Assyria was an absolute monarchy, with the king believed to be appointed directly through divine right by the chief deity, Ashur. The Assyrians believed that the king was the link between the gods and the earthly realm. As such, it was the king's primary duty to discover the will of the gods and enact this, often through the construction of temples or waging war. To aid the king with this duty, there was a number of priests at the royal court trained in reading and interpreting signs from the gods. The heartland of the Assyrian realm, Assyria itself, was thought to represent a serene and perfect place of order whilst the lands governed by foreign powers were perceived as infested with disorder and chaos. The peoples of these "outer" lands were seen as uncivilized, strange and as speaking strange languages. Because the king was the earthly link to the gods, it was his duty to spread order throughout the world through the military conquest of these strange and chaotic countries. As such, imperial expansion was not just expansion for expansion's sake but was also seen as a process of bringing divine order and destroying chaos to create civilization. There exists several ancient inscriptions in which the god Ashur explicitly orders kings to extend the borders of Assyria. A text from the reign of Tukulti-Ninurta I (r. 1233–1197 BC) states that the king received a royal scepter and was commanded to "broaden the land of Ashur". A similar inscription from the reign of Ashurbanipal (r. 668–631 BC) commands the king to "extend the land at his feet". The king was also tasked with protecting his own people, often being referred to as a "shepherd". This protection included defending against external enemies and defending citizens from dangerous wild animals. To the Assyrians, the most dangerous animal of all was the lion, used (similarly to foreign powers) as an example of chaos and disorder due to their aggressive nature. To prove themselves worthy of rule and illustrate that they were competent protectors, Assyrian kings engaged in ritual lion hunts. Lion-hunting was reserved for Assyrian royalty and was a public event, staged at parks in or near the Assyrian cities. In some cases, the hunt even took place with captive lions in an arena.


As opposed to some other ancient monarchies, such as ancient Egypt, the Assyrian king was not believed to be divine himself, but was seen as divinely chosen and uniquely qualified for the royal duties. Most kings stressed their legitimacy through their familial connections to previous kings; a king was legitimate through his relation to the previous line of great kings who had been chosen by Ashur. Usurpers who were unrelated to previous kings usually either simply lied about being the son of some previous monarch or claimed that they had been divinely appointed directly by Ashur. Two prominent examples of such usurpers are the kings Tiglath-Pileser III (r. 745–727 BC) and Sargon II (r. 722–705 BC). The inscriptions of these kings completely lack any familial references to previous kings, instead stressing that Ashur himself had appointed them directly with phrases such as "Ashur called my name", "Ashur placed me on the throne" and "Ashur placed his merciless weapon in my hand".

Early Assyrian kings

As in the Sumerian king list, it is possible that some of the rulers listed below were contemporaries rather than predecessors and successors of each other.' No dates are provided by the Assyrian King List for kings preceding the Old Assyrian Empire, making the lengths of the reigns of these kings (many of which may not have existed at all) unknown.' "Kings who lived in tents" The intention of the author of the list, describing the first (probably all fictional, note the rhyming names) seventeen kings as "kings who lived in tents", was probably to indicate them as nomadic kings of the Assyrians.' Considering them "living in tents", these rulers (if they were real in the first place) probably did not govern the actual city of Aššur itself.' It is possible that the conclusion of this section on the king list would have indicated an end of the nomadic period of Assyrian history and the foundation of Aššur. The sixteenth king, Ushpia, was designated by later Assyrians as the founder of the temple dedicated to Ashur in Aššur.' "Kings who were ancestors" The meaning of "kings who were ancestors" is unclear, this section is also the only section of the Assyrian king list to be written in reverted order for reasons unknown. The list mentions "ten kings who were ancestors" but includes the final king of the "kings who lived in tents", Apiashal, as one of them, possibly an error.' To avoid repetition, Apiashal has been left out of the previous section in this list. "Kings named on bricks whose eponyms are unknown" The kings listed in this section would probably have been early rulers of Aššur. King Kikkia is mentioned by later kings as having restored the inner city wall of Aššur.' In addition to the three kings listed here, three further kings are listed as "kings named on bricks whose eponyms are unknown" in the Assyrian king list, but they are in this list presented in the following section due to their dynastic relationship to later kings.

Old Assyrian kings (c. 2025–1366/1353 BC)

Dynasty of Puzur-Ashur

The period beginning with Puzur-Ashur I's reign is sometimes referred to as the ''Dynasty of Puzur-Ashur''.' Puzur-Ashur's line saw the beginning of true Akkadian names in the Assyrian royal line as opposed to earlier names which may have corresponded closer to Hurrian names.'

Dynasty of Shamshi-Adad

Also referred to as the period of Amorite domination over Assyria.'

Seven usurpers

After the end of Shamshi-Adad's dynasty, seven competing claimants reigned for a total of just six years. Ashur-dugul appears to have ruled throughout most of the period, making the extent of the rule of the other usurpers unclear.'

Adaside dynasty (c. 1700/1680–745 BC)

The Adasides ruled Assyria from the middle of the Old Assyrian period to the dynasty's fall (and replacement by the Sargonid dynasty) in the middle of the Neo-Assyrian period, ruling for nearly a thousand years. From this section and onwards, the list records the dates of royal reigns in both the Middle chronology (indicated with MC) and Short chronology (indicated with SC), competing chronologies of ancient Mesopotamian history. The Middle Chronology tends to be favored by modern researchers.'

Middle Assyrian kings (1365/1353–912 BC)

Adaside dynasty (continued)

Neo-Assyrian kings (912–609 BC)

Adaside dynasty (continued)

thumb|right|The Neo-Assyrian_Empire_in_the_reign_of_[[Tiglath-Pileser_III_.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Tiglath-Pileser III">Neo-Assyrian Empire in the reign of [[Tiglath-Pileser III ">Tiglath-Pileser III">Neo-Assyrian Empire in the reign of [[Tiglath-Pileser III

Sargonid dynasty (722–609 BC)

See also

* [[List of kings of Babylon]] – for the Babylonian kings * [[List of Mesopotamian dynasties]] – for other dynasties and kingdoms in ancient Mesopotamia * [[Sumerian King List]] – for legendary and historical Sumerian kings, rulers of Mesopotamia before the Assyrians and Babylonians * Adiabene – a later Assyrian/Syriac kingdom from 15 to 116 AD * Osroene – a later Assyrian/Syriac kingdom from 132 BC to 214 AD, ruled by kings of Arabic origin




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Web sources

* * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:List Of Assyrian Kings Assyrian Assyrian Kings Assyrian Kings Assyria, Kings of