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We`ll start our count from the Middle Assyrian epoch, at the moment when the relations between a mitannian vassal Arrapkha and near-by Ashur evolve into an overt armed conflict. The troops of assyrian king Assur-uballit I raid into the lands of his eastern neighbor. The weapons from the arsenals of arrapkhan city Nuzi are distributed among the arrapkhan corpse, and the mitannian chariotry is dispatched here to aid [15: 34—35]. An open field battle between the Assyrians and the Mittanian-arrapkhan troops took place, probably, soon after these very preparations. The report on the chariotry which took part in this battle (58 chariots of the left wing, 26 chariots of the right wing) is found among the Nuzi archives. Neither date nor the place of the battle is known. However, the same documentation contains the tablets telling about the defendless lands and settlements of Tursha town, ravaged by assyrian contingents [15: 39 — 48]. To all appearance, these calamities were the result of the Assyrian victory in the above mentioned battle, which took place nearby. Thus, following Maidman, let`s name this clash «the battle of Tursha». The nuzian archives give obscure evidence of one more field battle of that time – more than hundred soldiers «did not return» from Zizza town [15: 52—60]. The Mitannians lost both the infantry and members of the chariot crews. Another Nuzi document tells about two clashes, with the involvement of chariotry, which took place at Silliya and Lubti — the towns in the eastern part of Arrapkha [15: 73].
The first middle Assyrian open field battle to have been sufficiently recorded is the battle of Sugagu, on Tigris river (between 1317—1308). In the babylonian «Chronicle P» it is said about a clash of Babylonian king Kurigalzu II and his assyrian rival Аdad-nerari: «He went to conquer Adad-nirari, king of Assyria. He did battle against him at Sugaga, which is on the Tigris, and brought about his defeat». The Assyrian version of the event (which is in the Standard Inscription of Adad-nirari) tells of quite another outcome: « Adad-nirari, … Grandson of Enlil-nirari, also vice-regent of the god Assur, who defeated the army of the Kassites …». As we see, the kassito–babylonian troops of Kurigalzu were defeated by Assyrian king Ellil-nerari. It appears, that it`s better to say about an Assyrian victory. The Assyrians were headed by Ellil-nerari. Thus, in the Babylonian chronicle Adad-nirari is mistakenly mentioned as a participant of battle at Sugaga instead of his grandfather Ellil-nerari. Anyway, the victory of Assyria in this battle is disputable.
The information in the Middle Assyrian inscriptions concerning the open field battles is very scarce. There is, for instance, an obscure hint at one more field battle of Ellil-nerari`s reign — the battle of Kilizi. However, its chronological correlation with the battle of Sugaga is not clear. Besides, it is not still clear if the battle happened to be or did not. The only clear point — the confrontation at Kilizi occurred during Ellil-nerari`s reign.
1308—1296. Arik-den-ili I, son of Ellil-nerari, was also experienced with conducting open field battles. In the so called «Chronicle of Arik-den-ili» it is said about the Assyrian king`s victory over an enemy unknown for us: «… At this time, with ninety of his chariots, he crossed the lower [...]. He killed six hundred men of Hi[…]». Further we learn about one more campaign and a victorious battle: «… of Halahhu, forever [...] he plundered. He killed 254,000 men. He inflicted a defeat on them. …».
1295—1282 — Adad-nerari I defeated Nazi-Maruttash, a king of Babylonia, at Ugarsallu.
1263—1234 — Shalmaneser I defeated the Hittites at Nihriya [14: 36; 10: 317].
1222—1215 — Tukulti-Ninurta I fights against Babylonian king Kaštiliašu IV. The winner is unknown [20: Сol.2, C 1*-2*; 14: 36].
1186—1182 — Ellil-kuduri-usur defeated by the Babylonians.
1133—1125 — Ashur-resh-ishi, if to believe the chronicle named after him, inflicted defeats upon his enemies. Sometimes, as in the case with Babylonian king Ninurta-nadin-shumi, at Arbela, it didn`t come to full-scale battle at all — this king simply fled from Assyrian army: «That year, Aššur-reš-iši, king of Assyria, took his soldiers and his chariots and marched on Arbela. Ninurta-nadin-šumi, the king of Karduniaš, heard of the march of Aššur-reš-iši, king of Assyria. He [recalled?] his troops. The forces and the king of Karduniaš fled [...] with hum [...] he sent [...] against [...] ». Probably, the babylonian retreat was the result of an Assyrian sudden onslaught. Later on assyrian king Ashur-resh-ishi defeated and dispersed a coalition of aramaean troops. Lastly, near the fortress of Idi he stopped the army of Nebuchadnezzer I. 40 chariots and a Babylonian general were captured.
About 1114 — In the beginning of his reign, in the land of Kummuhu Tiglath-pileser I defeated a united force of the Mushki. Later on, the army of Babylonian king Marduk-nadin-ahhe was defeated at Gurmarritu, on the Lower Zab. The Assyrians won the battle on the second try.
911—891 — Adad-nerari II defeated the Babylonians at Yalman Mountain [2: 346]. Later he defeated their army once again [20: 3. A 10—11].
882 — At Kinabu city Assurnasirpal II defeated the troops of land Nirbu [5: 253]. 881 — in the battle of fortress Вabite the Assyrians defeated the troops of a ruler of zamuan district Dagara. 1460 enemy warriors were eliminated. 879 — At Mattiatu (modern Midyat) the Assyrian king engaged the Nairi troops. Of all the Assurnasirpal`s battles in the land of Nairi it was one of the bloodiest — 2800 enemy troops killed. 878 — Assurnasirpal II besieged Suru (Zuru), a fortified city in the land of Suhi, on the Middle Euphrates, Its defenders led by king Sadudu and supported by an allied Babylonian contingent decided to fight the Assyrians — a fierce two-days battle followed. Finally, the army of Assurnasirpal II managed to nail the enemy to the Euphrates, and Sadudu with the rest of his warriors jumped into the river to save their lives. The city was captured. 878 B.C. again. — The lords of Suhi rebelled, united their forces and could muster quite a large army — 6-6,5 thousand warriors, including chariotry. In the land of Lakai near Haridu town, they fought the Assyrians in a gory battle. The Assyrians managed to overcome their foe, which, according to the annals, resulted in 6500 enemy warriors killed. In the same 878 B.C. the Assyrians defeated the troops of aramaean king Aziel at the town of Kipina and killed 1000 of his warriors. Aziel himself fled to «a rugged hill of Bizuru».
856 — Shalmaneser III, son and successor of Assurnasirpal II, defeated urartian king Aramu.
853 — A decisive clash, a «Battle of the Nations» of that epoch, took place in 853 (855) B.C. at Qarqar city, on the Orontes. The precise details of this epic battle aren`t known. On the one hand Shalmaneser III proclaimed of his victory and eliminating of 20,5 thousand enemy warriors [9: D. 64 — 66] but he had to halt his western campaign. In 841 B.C., having mustered a huge army he attacks Damascus. The damascan troops were defeated, but the city itself survived. 832 — Daian-Ashur, an Assyrian turtanu (commander), moves to the north. The Assyrians faced the Urartians in the battle which wasn`t victorious for any of the sides [9: D. 141—146].
823—811 — Shamshi-Adad V defeated the Babylonians led by king Marduk-balassu-iqbi [20: 3. 7—9].
780 — Shalmaneser IV sends an army led by turtanu Shamshi-ilu against urartian king Argishti I. The rivals met on the assyrian northern border, in the vicinity of modern Dehock, near ancient Andarutta mountain pass. The battle, if to believe Shamshi-ilu, ended in Assyrians` victory. However, it didn`t bring them any considerable success. The Assyrian turtan doesn`t tell about any urartians killed or captured — they could retreat. Shamshi-ilu didn`t try to stop them. And what about the version of events from urartian side? Argishti`s Khorkhoran inscription is silent about this unhappy for him battle. But according to the annals he managed to «repell Assyria» in the next year.
754 — Urartian king Sarduri managed to defeat the Assyrian army under king Ashur-nerari V.
743 — The troops of Tiglath-pileser III at a battle in Kummuhu/Commagene (between the districts of Kishtan and Halpi) reached a decisive victory over the coalition forces led by Mati`il of Arpad, «Sarduri of the land Urartu, Sulumal of the land Melid, and Tarqularu of the land Gurgum…». The Assyrians captured the enemy`s camp. 735 - The troops of Tiglath-pileser defeated Sarduri at the battle (?) of Urartu`s capital Turushpa: «I confined Sarduri … to the city of Turuspa, his sity, and inflicted a great defeat upon him before his city gates» [17: 41]. 733 — Tiglath-pileser III defeated the army of king Rezin (ass. Rahianu) at Damascus [17: 20]. In the same 733 B.C. the troops of Tiglath-pileser III defeated the troops (9400 men) of Arabian queen Samsi at Saqurri mountain; queen`s camp was seized [17: 42, 44].
721 — The army of Sargon II came to shield the city of Der from an Elamite-Chaldean attack but was defeated by the Elamites of Humban-Nikash . However in 720 B.C., at the battle of Rapihu, Sargon won victory over Hanunu, king of Gaza, and an allied Egyptian contingent. Hanunu and the egyptian general were captured. 714 — The widely known Sargon`s victory over king Rusa of Urartu and Metatti the Zikertian at the battle of Uaush mountain. 710 — Marduk-apla-iddin defeated by the Assyrians in the Southern Babylonia.
702 — Sennacherib`s victory over an Elamite-Chaldean troops at the battle of Kish. 701 — The battle of Altaqu (Eltekeh) . Sennacherib crushed Ekronite-Egyptian troops. As he claims, «… Trusting in Ashur, my lord, I fought with them and inflicted a defeat in battle upon them. The charioteers and sons of the Egyptian kings, together with the charioteers of the king of Meluhha, I personally took alive in the midst of the battle».
693 — The allied troops of Nergal-ushezib and the Elamites were defeated at Nippur. 691 — At Halule town, on the bank of Tigris river, the Elamites of Humban-Immena and the Babylonians of Mushezib-Marduk began their attack but were countercharged, they halted and were surrounded. The Babylonian Chronicle, on the contrary, insists that the Assyrians withdrew from the field. Whatever the case, one thing is clear — it was a fierce battle; the rebels may had been defeated, but Sennacherib suffered such heavy losses, that couldn`t take an advantage of his victory — only in 689 B.C., after the death of the king of Elam, he managed to crush Mushezib-Marduk`s resistance.
679 — The troops of Esarhaddon defeated the Cimmerians at the Cilician Gates. 671 — Pharaoh Taharqa lost a battle (probably, several battles) and was hurled back from Memphis.
667 — During their first Egyptian campaign the Assyrians of Ashurbanipal defeated the Egyptian-Ethiopian forces of Taharqa in Karbaniti. Taharqa himself stayed in Memphis, the troops were led by one of his generals [16: BI 63. 70—79]. Later in 667: pharaoh Tanwetamani defeated the Assyrian garrison in front of Memphis walls and captured the city.
660—659 — An expeditionary force led by rab sha-reshi (chief eunuch) Nabu-sharru-usur crossed the Zagros mountains and set a military camp, but in the middle of the night was suddenly attacked by the troops of the mannaean king Ahsheri. However, the Assyrian soldiers pulled themselves up and defeated the enemy [16: BIII30]. Having annihilated the field army of the enemy, Nabu-sharru-usur marched without any problems all Mannea round. 655 — the widely known victory of Ashurbanipal over the Elamites and their allies at Tulliz town, on the bank of Ulai river. 652 — At Babylon, The army of Ashurbanipal managed to overcome the warriors of his insurgent brother Shamash-shum-ukin. The defeated enemy troops sheltered behind the city walls. Later in 652, at Der, the babylonian troops suffered one more defeat.
626, 12-th day of Tashritu — the Assyrians were defeated by the Babylonians (and the Chaldeans), who defended Babylon.
625 — The Medes led by king Phraortes were defeated on their way to the centre of Assyria.
624, August 9 — Sin-shar-ishkun at Banitu canal couldn`t defeat the Babylonian troops of Nabopolassar. 616 B.C., 12-th day of Abu (July 24) — The Assyrians and the allied Manneans were defeated at Gablinu town. In the same 616, month of Ululu – during the second battle of Gablinu Assyro-Egyptian force tried to defeat Nabopolassar but couldn`t do it and returned to Assyria. At the end of the year 616, in Addaru, the Assyrians were defeated by the Babylonians at Madanu and were repelled to the Lower Zab.
To sum up: the total list of open field battles given by the Assyrians is the following: 40 out of 60 cases we know are the Assyrian victories, 12 are «stalemates» and the events of obscure character, 8 – Assyrian defeats. These facts don`t let us recognize Assyrian army as an invincible one. The Assyrians lost open field battles, and not once. Numerous Assyrian foes were aware of it. The local political elites believed that providing that they were united and well prepared, the aggression of Аshur`s warriors could be repelled. Perhaps, this understanding was one of the impulses that provoked and inspired systematical anti-assyrian revolts which raged in the volatile periphery of the Empire — from the Mediterranean shores to the Iranian Mountains.
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