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The Assyrian Empire page 2

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Assyria was already tottering to her fall when Asshurbanipal, returning in triumph to Nineveh after the Elam campaigns and an invasion of Arabia, had the pleasure of being drawn in his chariot by three captive Elamite kings and an Arab chieftain. The monumental records fail us for many years after 640. It is pretty certain that Asshurbanipal did not die before 626, and we know not whether he had one, two, or three successors before the final catastrophe. The downward course of Assyria was assuredly very rapid, probably hastened by civil war between rival claimants and by anarchical confusion. Babylon became independent, as we have seen, under Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar. It was the Medes that administered the death-blow to Assyria. About 640 the rising young nation revolted under Fravartish or Phraortes, as the Greeks called him, and crossed the Zagros range into Assyria. The invaders were routed, with the loss of their leader, but his son Kyaxares (in Median, Uvakshatara) reorganised the army and prepared to renew the struggle. He had first to deal with inroads of the Scythians, who overran Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine, and are believed by high authorities to have done much to shake the power of Assyria, and to have left visible tokens of their presence in the ruined condition of the palaces explored by Layard and Botta. Kyaxares is said to have rid Media of the Scythians by a mixture of bribery and of intrigues which set them at variance among themselves. He then strengthened himself for his attack upon Assyria by a judicious alliance with Nabopolassar of Babylon, and their united forces advanced against Nineveh in 608. The Assyrian king Sarakos (by his Greek name) held out for two years of a siege concerning which we have no details, and then the great capital fell, and the Assyrian empire ended its course of conquest and splendour in irretrievable ruin.

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