Tiglath-Pileser III (cuneiform: 𒆪𒋾𒀀𒂍𒊹𒊏
TUKUL.TI.A.É.ŠÁR.RA; Akkadian: Tukultī-apil-Ešarra, "my trust is
in the son of the Ešarra"; Hebrew: תִּגְלַת
פַּלְאֶסֶר, Modern Tīglat Pīl’eser,
Tiberian Tīgelaṯ Pīle’eser) was a prominent king of Assyria
in the eighth century BCE (ruled 745–727 BCE) who
introduced advanced civil, military, and political systems into the
Tiglath-Pileser III seized the Assyrian throne during a civil war and
killed the royal family. He made sweeping changes to the Assyrian
government, considerably improving its efficiency and security. The
Assyrian army, already the greatest fighting force in the world since
the time of
Ashur-uballit I (1366–1330 BCE), now became Assyria's
first professional standing army.
Tiglath-Pileser III subjugated much of the
Near East region; to the
south, his fellow
Babylonia and Chaldea, and further
south still, the Arabs, Magan, Meluhha, and Dilmunites of the Arabian
Peninsula. In the south west, Israel, Judah, Philistia, Samarra, Moab,
Nabatea fell. To the north, Urartu,
Scythia in the Caucasus Mountains, Cimmeria by the Black Sea, and
Nairi were subjugated, and in the north west much of eastern and south
western Asia Minor, including the Hittites, Phrygia, Cilicia,
Corduene and Caria. In the west, the
Cyprus and Aram (modern Syria), and the
Mediterranean City States of
Caanan were subjugated. To the east he subjugated Persia,
Media, Gutium, Mannea, Cissia and Elam, and later in his reign,
Tiglath-Pileser III was crowned king in Babylonia.
Tiglath-Pileser III discouraged revolts against Assyrian rule with the
use of forced deportations of thousands of people all over the empire.
He is one of the most successful military commanders in world history,
conquering most of the world known to the Assyrians before his death.
3 Biblical account
6 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Tiglath-pileser III, an alabaster bas-relief from the king's central
palace at Nimrud, Mesopotamia.
Formerly the governor of
Kalhu (Biblical Calah/Nimrud) and a
general, the usurper Pulu assumed his Assyrian throne-name
(Tiglath-Pileser) from two more-legitimate predecessors. He described
himself as a son of
Adad-nirari III in his inscriptions, but the
accuracy of this claim remains uncertain. He seized the throne in the
midst of civil war on 13 Ayaru, 745 BCE. As a result of
Pulu seizing the throne in a bloody coup d'état, the old royal family
was slaughtered, and the new monarch set
Assyria on the path to
expand the empire in order to ensure the survival of the kingdom.
Tiglath-pileser III stands over an enemy, bas-relief from the Central
Palace at Nimrud.
"A mutilated brick inscription states that he is the son of
Adad-nirari (III); however, the Assyrian King List makes
Tiglath-pileser (III) the son of Ahur-nirari (V), son of Adad-nirari
(III). This is quite a discrepancy for the King list places
Adad-nirari III four monarchs before Tiglath-pileser's reign and
depicts Ashur-nirari (V) as both his father and immediate predecessor
upon the throne. The list goes on to relate that
Shalmaneser III (IV),
Ashur-dan III (III) were brothers, being the sons of Adad-nirari
(III). Ashur-nirari (V) is also said to be a son of Adad-nirari (III),
implying brotherhood with
Shalmaneser III (IV), and Ashur-dan III
(III). The Assyrian records contain very little information concerning
Adad-nirari (III) and nothing about
Shalmaneser III (IV) or Ashur-dan
III (III). Significantly, an alabaster stele was discovered in 1894 at
Tell Abta displaying the name Tiglath-pileser imprinted over that of
Shalmaneser (IV), a successor of Adad-Nirari (III) and the third
sovereign prior to Tiglath-pileser (III). This find coupled with the
aforementioned absence of information relative to
Shalmaneser III (IV)
Ashur-dan III (III) strongly implies that Tiglath-pileser was a
usurper to the throne and that he destroyed the records of his three
immediate predeccessors—Ashur-nirari (V),
Shalmaneser III (IV), and
Ashur-dan III (III)."
More so it was in Babylon that he was referred to as Pulu and his son
as Ululayu. Pulu and both his sons taking up Assyrian names is
another suggestion that they were foreigners who had usurped the crown
Assyria at the revolt of Kalhu. The identification of Pul (2 Kings
Tiglath-Pileser III has been bolstered by the discovery
and interpretation of the Phoenician inscription from Incirli, line 5
of which reads: פאל מל[ך] אשר רב "Pu'lu, the great king of
Tiglath-Pileser III besieging a town
Assyrian power in the
Near East greatly increased as the result of
Tiglath-Pileser's military reforms (see "Reforms" below) and of his
campaigns of conquest. Upon ascending the throne, he claimed (in Annal
9, which dates to 745 BCE, his first regnal year) to have annexed
Babylonia, from "Dur-(Kuri)galzu, Sippar of Shamash, ... the cities
[of Ba]bylonia up to the Uqnu river [by the shore of the Lo]wer
[Sea]" (which referred to the Persian Gulf), and subsequently
placed his eunuch over them as governor. Also in his first year of
reign he defeated the powerful kingdom of
Urartu (Armenia), whose
hegemony under the rulership of
Sarduri II had extended to Asia Minor,
northern Mesopotamia, western Iran and Syria; there he found
unrivalled horses for his war-chariots. He also defeated the Medes
before making war on and conquering the Neo-Hittites,
Phoenicia. He took Arpad in 740 BCE after three years of siege,
annexed it as a province (over which he placed one of his eunuchs as
governors), and subjected
Hamath to tribute. Assyrian inscriptions
record in 740 BCE, the fifth year of his reign, a victory over
Azariah (Uzziah), king of Judah, whose achievements appear in 2
Chronicles 26. He also subjugated Damascus, the
Arabs under Queen
Israel and Sam'al's king Azriyau, who all paid him
tribute. In 737 and 736 BCE he turned his attention again to
Iran, conquering the
Medes and Persians and occupying a large part of
Iran. According to the royal inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser many
of the inhabitants were enslaved and deported to other parts of the
Assyrian empire, as commonly done by his predecessors. At sieges,
captives were slaughtered, and their bodies raised on stakes and
displayed before the city (illustration, right).
In October 729 BCE, Tiglath-Pileser assumed total control of
Babylon, capturing the Babylonian king
Nabu-mukin-zeri (ABC 1
Col.1:21) and having himself crowned as "King Pulu of Babylon."
Map showing Tiglath's conquests (green) and deportation of Israelites.
Tiglath-Pileser III discouraged revolts against Assyrian rule with the
use of forced deportations of thousands of people all over the
Biblical records describe how
Tiglath-Pileser III exacted 1,000
talents of silver as tribute from King
Menahem of the Kingdom of
Israel (2 Kings 15:19) and later defeated his successor
Pekah (2 Kings
Pekah had allied with Rezin, king of the
to the Assyrians as Yahu-khazi), of the Kingdom of Judah, who
responded by appealing for the Assyrian monarch's help with the Temple
gold and silver. Tiglath-Pileser answered swiftly. He first marched
his army down the eastern
Mediterranean coast, taking coastal cities
all the way to Egypt. This cut off his enemies' access to the sea.
Once this was achieved, he returned to the Northern Kingdom of Israel,
destroyed their army, and deported the Reubenites, Gadites, and the
people of Manasseh to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the Gozan river (1 Chron
5:26). He then installed an Israelite puppet king, Hoshea, (732–723
BCE) in the place of Pekah. He concluded this extensive campaign by
marching north and west, ravaging Aramaea, seizing Damascus, executing
Rezin, and deporting the survivors to Kir (2 Kings 16:9).
Beyond this, the Assyrian alliance was not beneficial to
Ahaz (2 Chron
Upon ascending the throne, Tiglath-Pileser instituted several reforms
to different sectors of the Assyrian state, which arguably revived
Assyria's hegemony over the Near East.
The first of such reforms entailed thwarting the powers of the high
Assyrian officials, which during the reigns of his predecessors had
become excessive. Officials such as Shamshi-ilu, who was turtanu
(General) and a prominent official since the time of Adad-nirari III,
often led their own campaigns and erected their own commemorative
stelae, often without mentioning the king at all. Since his
earliest inscriptions (and thus from the beginning of his reign), he
gave regular mention of appointing eunuchs as governors of (newly
conquered) provinces; this removed the threat of provincial rule
becoming a dynastic matter. He also sought to reduce the power of his
officials by reducing the size of the provinces (in some cases the
northern provinces were increased to include newly conquered
territories), thus decreasing their resources, should they have
desired to incite a revolt. Subsequently, there were more provinces,
more governors (most of which were eunuchs), and less power per
The second reform targeted the army. Instead of a largely native
Assyrian army which normally campaigned only in the summer time,
Tiglath-Pileser incorporated large numbers of conquered people into
the army, thus adding a substantial foreign element. This force mainly
comprised the light infantry, whereas the native Assyrians comprised
the cavalry, heavy infantry, and charioteers. As a result of
Tiglath-Pileser's military reforms, the Assyrian Empire was armed with
a greatly expanded army which could campaign throughout the year. The
addition of the cavalry and the chariot contingents to the army was
mostly due to the steppe cultures lurking nearby to the north, which
sometimes invaded their northern colonies, using mainly cavalry and
See also: Neo-Assyrian Empire
Tiglath-Pileser III's conquests and reforms led to the establishment
of the Neo-Assyrian Kingdom as a true empire. He built a royal palace
Kalhu (the biblical Calah/Nimrud, the so-called "central palace"),
later dismantled by Esarhaddon. He had his royal annals engraved
across the bas-reliefs depicting his military achievements on the
sculptured slabs decorating his palace.
On his death he was succeeded by his son Ululayu, who took the name
Shalmaneser V and further campaigned in the Levant, defeated Egypt,
and captured Samaria.
Near East portal
Kings of Assyria
^ a b Lendering, Jona (2006). "Assyrian Eponym List (2/3)".
^ Tadmor 1994, p. 29.
^ a b c d Healy 1991, p. 17
^ Frye, Wolfram & Dietz 2016.
^ Howard 2002, p. 36.
^ Schwartzwald 2014, p. 24.
Babylonia and Assyria". The 1911 Classic Encyclopedia. Archived
from the original on 2008-01-27.
^ Nolen Jones, Dr. Floyd. Chronology of the Old Testament. Master
Books. p. 150.
^ Nemet-Nejat, Karen Rhea (1998). Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia.
^ Kaufman 2007, p. 7–26
^ Tadmor 1994, p. 43.
^ Luckenbill 1927, p. 84.
^ a b Roux, Georges. Ancient Iraq
^ Healy 1991, p. 21.
^ Shafer, A.T. (1998). The Carving of an Empire: Neo-Assyrian
Monuments on the Periphery, p.32–33
Frye, Richard N.; Wolfram, Th. von Soden; Dietz, O. Edzard (15 April
2016). "History of Mesopotamia". Encyclopædia Britannica.
Healy, Mark (1991). The Ancient Assyrians. London: Osprey.
ISBN 1-85532-163-7. OCLC 26351868.
Howard, Michael (2002). Transnationalism in Ancient and Medieval
Societies: The Role of Cross-Border Trade and Travel. McFarland.
p. 36. ISBN 978-0786468034.
Kaufman, Stephen A. (2007). "The Phoenician Inscription of the Incirli
Trilingual: A Tentative Reconstruction and Translation". MAARAV. 14
Luckenbill, D. D. (1927). Ancient Records of
Assyria and Babylonia.
Tadmor, Hayim (1994). The Inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III, King of
Assyria: Critical Edition, with Introductions, Translations, and
Israel Academy of Sciences and
Schwartzwald, Jack (2014). The Ancient Near East, Greece and Rome: A
Brief History. McFarland. p. 24. ISBN 978-0786478064.
Kaplan, Yehuda (2008). "Recruitment of Foreign Soldiers into the
Neo-Assyrian Army during the Reign of Tiglath-pileser III". In Cogan,
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of Assyria. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns. ISBN 9781575062204.
Tiglath-Pileser III of IV", Encyclopædia Britannica, 26 (11th
ed.), 1911, p. 968
King of Assyria
King of Babylon
Early Bronze Age
"Kings who lived in tents"
(ca. 2500 – 2000 BC)
"Kings who were forefathers"
(ca. 2000 BC)
"Kings whose eponyms are destroyed"
(ca. 2000 – 1900 BC)
Middle Bronze Age
Old Assyrian period
(ca. 1906 – 1380 BC)
(Seven usurpers: Ashur-dugul
Late Bronze Age
Middle Assyrian period
(ca. 1353 – 1180 BC)
Middle Assyrian period
(ca. 1179 – 912 BC)
(ca. 912 – 609 BC)