OFFICIAL ACCOUNT OF THE REVOLT OF THE CITY OF SURU OF BIT-HALUPE

The following is an excerpt from the state archives of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. The documents deals with revolt by a city that was under Assyrian control against the imperial rule of the Emperor Ashurnasirpal in the seventh century BCE.

Remember our present theme of technology, and its essential characteristic of control. In this reading, the Emperor Ashurnasirpal describes how he lost political control of a city that he ruled. He also describes how he regained that control. You will find some strange names and unfamiliar words in this reading, but they are not as important at the moment as the events that are described and the methods used by the emperor to solve his political problem.

 

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Points to Ponder:

--This revolt began with rebels killing the imperial governor, Hamatai. What do you think this governor did as part of his job? In whose name did he rule? It is certainly true that Hamatai was a person, but was this governor a kind of technology that was used by the emperor?

--How did Ashurnasirpal end the revolt? What did he do to prevent further revolts? Can you identify a specifically political method, or technique, that he used?

--If you consider technology in the general sense of methods and tools for controlling your physical and social environment, do you think that this primary source illustrates a kind of technology?


The Revolt


While I was staying in the land of Kutmuhi, they brought me the word: "The city of Suru of Bit-Halupe has revolted, they have slain Hamatai, their governor, and Ahiababa, the son of a nobody, whom they brought from Bit-Adini, they have set up as king over them." With the help of Adad and the great gods who have made great my kingdom, I mobilized my chariots and armies and marched along the bank of the Habur.

During my advance I received much tribute from Shulmanuhaman-ilani of the city of Gardiganni, from Ilu-Adad of the city of Katna, -- silver, gold, lead, vessels of copper, and garments of brightly colored wool, and garments of linen. To the city of Suru of Bit-Halupe I drew near, and the terror of the splendor of [Ashur], my lord, overwhelmed them. The chief men and the elders of the city, to save their lives, came forth into my presence and embraced my feet, saying: "If it is thy pleasure, slay! If it is thy pleasure, let live! That which thy heart desireth, do!"

Ahiababa, the son of nobody, whom they had brought from Bit-Adini, I took captive. In the valor of my heart and with the fury of my weapons I stormed the city. All the rebels they seized and delivered them up. My officers I caused to enter into his palace and his temples. His silver, his gold, his goods and his possessions, iron, lead, vessels of copper, cups of copper, dishes of copper, a great horde of copper, alabaster, tables with inlay, the women of his palaces, his daughters, the captive rebels together with their possessions, the gods together with their possessions, precious stone from the mountains, his chariot with equipment, his horses, broken to the yoke, trappings of men and trappings of horses, garments of brightly colored wool and garments of linen, goodly oil, cedar, and fine sweet-scented herbs, panels of cedar, purple and crimson wool, his wagons, his cattle, his sheep, his heavy spoil, which like the stars of heaven could not be counted, I carried off.

Azi-ilu I set over them as my own governor. I built a pillar over against his city gate, and I flayed all the chief men who had revolted, and I covered the pillar with their skins; some I walled up within the pillar, some I impaled upon the pillar on stakes, and others I bound to stakes round about the pillar; many within the border of my own land I flayed, and I spread their skins upon the walls; and I cut off the limbs of the officers, of the royal officers who had rebelled. Ahiababa I took to Nineveh, I flayed him, I spread his skin upon the wall of Nineveh.

My power and might I established over the land of [Laqe]. While I was staying in the city of Suru, [I received] tribute from all the kings of the land of [Laqe], -- silver, gold, lead, copper, vessels of copper, cattle, sheep, garments of brightly colored wool, and garments of linen, and I increased the tribute and taxes and imposed them upon them. At that time, the tribute of Haiani of the city of Hindani, -- silver, gold, lead, copper, umu-stone, alabaster, purple wool, and [Bactrian] camels I received from him as tribute. At that time I fashioned a heroic image of my royal self, my power and my glory I inscribed thereon, in the midst of his palace I set it up. I fashioned memorial stelae and inscribed thereon my glory and my prowess, and I set them up by his city gate.


From Daniel David Luckenbill, ed., Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, vol. 1 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1968): 144-145.

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