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Fabian Vergara
Kimberly Lark
History 134
September 21, 2015
The Most Efficient Assyrian Weapon
The Assyrian empire was a Mesopotamian empire which arose from the city of Ashur and
eventually became one of the most feared empires of its time. Their flat, exposed land made
them an easy target. Invaders frequently swept down into Assyria from the nearby mountains.
The Assyrians eventually developed their warlike behavior in response to these invasions. They
had brutal tactics, a strong and well thought out political ladder, plenty of wealth, and they were
able to master the creation of iron items. While their bureaucratic system and weapons gave
them an edge, psychological warfare ultimately was their most important weapon because it
painted their overall image, and weakened the enemy without the need for physical
confrontation.
Psychological warfare simply is learning everything about your target enemy, their beliefs,
likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Once you know what motivates your
target, you are ready to begin psychological operations. The mentality of the Assyrians was
ruthless, so ruthless that the word Assyrian "became synonymous with cruelty to one's neighbor"
(Law 12). They would display torture and dismemberment outside of their conquered cities
reminding their enemies of their cruel nature. This tactic create harm on the enemy before they
even confronted them. On the opposite end of things, this mentality strengthened The Assyrian
soldiers. They projected this mentality on to everything that they abided by. Their art depicted

the suffering of their enemies after a conquest, their laws reinforced aggression, and even their
god augmented their thoughts for blood and war. An inscription from a king states "I took the
city, and 800 of their fighting men I put to the sword, and cut off their heads. Multitudes I
captured alive, and the rest of them I burned with fire, and carried off their heavy spoil."(qtd. In
"Psychological War in the Bible") This kind of mentality was transcended from generation to
generation, filling their soldiers with nothing but hatred and shifted their tactics from defensive
to offensive, conquer or be conquered.
The propaganda outside of battle that the Assyrians, had its limits. Once the time for battle
came, the psychological warfare continue in different forms. The military procedures usually
consisted of 3 steps. A website writes "They would first send their "cup-bearers"the
representatives of the kingto try and persuade a city to surrender without a fight."("The Might
of Assyria" para. 4). The soldiers would put pressure on the enemy by surrounding their cities
with great confidence and once in place they would shout at the people inside the cities. If the
enemy refused to surrender they would charge in and destroy everything in their path. The
defenders inside the city could neither send messages to allies asking for help nor obtain fresh
supplies or reinforcements. All they could look forward to was starvation, surrender, slavery or
death - and probably a horrible death at that."("War in Ancient Israel" para. 25). This tactic also
lowered the Assyrian casualty by minimizing the amount of threat that they went up against.
Assuming that the enemy attacked first or the Assyrians lost patience, the second phase began.
This consisted of the city being overthrown from its weakest point, infiltrated, then exploited
from within. Deportation was the third process in their military tactic when it came to conquering
an area. For those who survived the attack, the ultimatum was given. The villagers were then
spread across the land, allowing the Assyrians to smoothly impose their beliefs onto them

without much trouble. Because of the tremendous distances between the villagers and the
propaganda skewing the judgmental thinking of those who were captured, rebellion was
practically non-existent.
Once at its peak, beginning with Tiglath-Pileser I, the Assyrians managed to stay in power for
more than half a century, expanding almost 600,000 square miles. They managed to defeat
several big empires, such as Israelites, the Phoenicians, and even parts of the Egyptian Empire.
The psychological games that they played helped them paint the picture of bloodlust that they
urged. This makes them a worthy candidate of being one of the most vicious empires in history.

Work Cited
Law, Randall. Terror and Tyrannicide in the Ancient World. Terrorism, A History. Cambridge:
Polity Press, 2009.Print.
Psychological Warfare in the Bible. Bible Archaeology. Web. 22 September, 2015.
"The Might of the Assyrian Empire." Amazing Art Maze Puzzles. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.
"WAR in the BIBLE: The Army, Battles, Weapons, Siege Engineering." Bible Archaeology.
Web. 22 Sept. 2015.