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The list of Assyrian kings is compiled from the Assyrian King List, an ancient Semitic Akkadian kingdom and empire in northern Mesopotamia (modern northern Iraq) with information added from recent archaeological findings. The Assyrian King List includes regnal lengths that appear to have been based on now lost limmu lists (which list the names of eponymous officials for each year). These regnal lengths accord well with Hittite, Babylonian and ancient Egyptian king lists and with the archaeological record, and are considered reliable for the age.
Prior to the discovery of cuneiform tablets listing ancient Assyrian kings, scholars before the 19th century only had access to two complete Assyrian King Lists, one found in Eusebius of Caesarea's Chronicle (c. 325 AD), of which two editions exist and secondly a list found in the Excerpta Latina Barbari.
An incomplete list of 16 Assyrian kings was also discovered in the literature of Sextus Julius Africanus. Other very fragmentary Assyrian king lists have come down to us written by the Greeks and Romans such as Ctesias of Cnidus (c. 400 BC) and the Roman authors Castor of Rhodes (1st century BC) and Cephalion (1st century AD).
Since the discovery and decipherment of cuneiform records, these "post-cuneiform" Assyrian King Lists are not considered very reliable or factual, but may contain minor historical truths that became heavily corrupted over the centuries. Some scholars argue further that they are either entire fabrications or fiction.
There are three extant cuneiform tablet versions of the King List, and two fragments. They date to the early first millennium BC—the oldest, List A (8th century BC) stopping at Tiglath-Pileser II (c. 967–935 BC) and the youngest, List C, at Shalmaneser V (727–722 BC). Assyriologists believe the list was originally compiled to link Shamshi-Adad I (fl. c. 1700 BC (short)), an Amorite who had conquered Assur, to the native rulers of the land of Assur. Scribes then copied the List and added to it over time.
The following kings are listed from the cuneiform tablets of the Assyrians themselves.
No regnal lengths are given for kings before Erishum I.
|Old Assyrian Period|
|Sulili||unknown 21st century BC||"son of Aminu"|
|Kikkiya||unknown 21st century BC||"son of Sulili"|
|Akiya||unknown 21st century BC||"son of Kikkiya"|
|Puzur-Ashur I||fl. c. 2025 BC||Founded new Dynasty, dedicated temples in Ashur, founded colonies in Asia Minor Contemporary of Ishbi-Erra of Larsa|
|Shalim-ahum||died 2009 BC||"son of Puzur-Ashur I"|
|Ilu-shuma||fl. c. 2008 - 1975 BC||raided Sumero-Akkadian City States in southern Mesopotamia|
Damage to the tablets in all three extant King Lists before Enlil-nasir II (c. 1420–1415 BC (short)) prevents the calculation of approximate regnal dates from Erishum I to this point. Additionally, three kings attested elsewhere from this period are not included in the standard King List. The remainder of the King List then has an unbroken chain of regnal lengths from Enlil-nasir II on. Disparities between the different versions of the King List for the reigns of Ashur-nadin-apli (c. 1196–1194 BC (short)) and Ninurta-apal-Ekur (c. 1182–1180 BC (short)) contribute to the debate over the chronology of the ancient Near East. Georges Roux and A. Leo Oppenheim provide dates in their King Lists, but these are open to debate
|Old Assyrian Period|
|Erishum I||fl. c. 1974-1935 BC|
(30 or 40 years)
|"son of Ilu-shuma"; Possibly contemporary of Sumuabum first ruler of Babylonia; He is said to have built the temple of Ashur|
|Ikunum||1934 - 1921 BC||"son of Ilushuma"|
|Sargon I||c. 1920 - 1881 BC||"son of Ikunum"|
|Puzur-Ashur II||1881 - 1873 BC||"son of Sargon (I)"|
|Naram-Suen (Naram-Sin)||1872 - 1818 BC||"son of Puzur-Ashur (II)"|
|Erishum II||1818 - 1809 BC (damaged text)||"son of Naram-Suen"|
|Shamshi-Adad I||fl. c. 1809 - 1782 BC||"son of (local Amorite ruler) Ila-kabkabu, went to Karduniash in the time of Naram-Suen. In the eponymy of Ibni-Adad, Shamshi-Adad went up from Karduniash. He took Ekallatum, where he stayed three years. In the eponymy of Atamar-Ishtar, Shamshi-Adad went up from Ekallatum. He ousted Erishum II, son of Naram-Suen, from the throne and took it. Formed the first Assyrian Empire";|
|Ishme-Dagan I||1782 - 1751 BC||"son of Shamshi-Adad (I), inherited empire, warred inconclusively with Hammurabi"|
|Mut-Ashkur||1750 BC - 1740 BC||Vassal of Hammurabi of Babylon, son of Ishme-Dagan I, married to a Hurrian queen; not included in the standard King List, but attested elswhere|
|Rimush of Assyria||1739 BC - Circa 1733 BC||included in the alternative King List fragment, last part of name lost; (believed to be Rimush by Georges Roux) not included in the standard King List Was a vassal of Hammurabi|
|Asinum||Circa 1732 BC||grandson of Shamshi-Adad I, driven out by vice-regent Puzur-Sin because he was of Amorite extraction; not included in the standard King List, but attested in Puzur-Sin's inscription|
|Seven usurpers ruling in quick succession Circa 1731 BC - 1726 BC ruling after the ousting of the Babylonians and Amorites from Assyria:|
|Adasi||circa 1725 - 1701 BC||Completely drove Babylonians and Amorites from Assyria circa 1720 BC|
|Bel-bani||1700 - 1691 BC (10 years)||"son of Adasi"|
|Libaya||1690-1674 BC (17 years)||"son of Bel-bani"|
|Sharma-Adad I||1673-1662 BC (12 years)||"son of Libaya"|
|Iptar-Sin||1661-1650 BC (12 years)||"son of Sharma-Adad (I)"|
|Bazaya||1649-1622 BC (28 years)||"son of Iptar-Suen"|
|Lullaya||(1621-1618 BC (6 years)||"son of a nobody"|
|Shu-Ninua||1615-1602 BC (14 years)||"son of Bazaya"|
|Sharma-Adad II||1601-1599 BC (3 years)||"son of Shu-Ninua"|
|Erishum III||1598-1586 BC (13 years)||"son of Shu-Ninua"|
|Shamshi-Adad II||1585-1580 BC(6 years)||"son of Erishum (III)"|
|Ishme-Dagan II||1579 - 1562 BC (16 years)||"son of Shamshi-Adad (II)"|
|Shamshi-Adad III||1562 - 1548 BC (16 years)||" son of (another) Ishme-Dagan, brother of Sharma-Adad (II), son of Shu-Ninua"|
|Ashur-nirari I||1547 - 1522 BC (26 years)||"son of Ishme-Dagan II"|
|Puzur-Ashur III||1521-1498 BC||"son of Ashur-nirari (I)"; contemporary of Burna-Buriash I, Kassite king of Babylonia Fortified Ashur|
|Enlil-nasir I||1497 - 1484 BC (13 years)||"son of Puzur-Ashur (III)"|
|Nur-ili||circa 1483 - 1471 BC (12 years)||"son Enlil-nasir (I)" Became a vassal of the Mitanni Empire|
|Ashur-shaduni||circa 1471 BC (1 month)||"son of Nur-ili"|
|Ashur-rabi I||circa 1470 - 1451 BC (uncertain, damaged text)||"son of Enlil-nasir (I), ousted him (Ashur-shaduni), (and) seized the throne"|
|Ashur-nadin-ahhe I||circa 1450 - 1431 (uncertain, damaged text)||"son of Ashur-rabi (I)"|
|Enlil-nasir II||c. 1430–1425 BC||"his (Ashur-nadin-ahhe I's) brother, ousted him"|
|Ashur-nirari II||c. 1424–1418 BC||"son of Enlil-nasir (II)"|
|Ashur-bel-nisheshu||c. 1417–1409 BC||"son of Ashur-nirari (II)"|
|Ashur-rim-nisheshu||c. 1408–1401 BC||"son of Ashur-bel-nisheshu"|
|Ashur-nadin-ahhe II||c. 1400–1391 BC||"son of Ashur-rim-nisheshu"|
The dates up to Ninurta-apal-Ekur (c. 1182–1180 BC) are subject to debate, as some of the regnal lengths vary over the different versions of the King List. The dates given below are based on Assyrian King Lists B and C, which give only three years to Ashur-nadin-apli, and the same to Ninurta-apal-Ekur. (Assyrian King List A gives four years to Ashur-nadin-apli and 13 years to Ninurta-apal-Ekur.) This timeframe is also subject to the overall debate about the chronology of the ancient Near East; the short (or low) chronology is used here.
Dates from 1179 to 912 BC, although less secure than dates from 911 BC onwards, are not subject to the chronology debate.
|Middle Assyrian Period|
|Eriba-Adad I||c. 1390–1364 BC||"son of Ashur-bel-nisheshu"|
|Ashur-uballit I||c. 1363–1328 BC||"son of Eriba-Adad (I)" Amarna letters correspondent with Pharaoh Amenhotep IV|
|Enlil-nirari||c. 1327–1318 BC||"son of Ashur-uballit"|
|Arik-den-ili||c. 1317–1306 BC||"son of Enlil-nirari"|
|Adad-nirari I||c. 1305–1274 BC||"son of Arik-den-ili"|
|Shalmaneser I||c. 1273–1244 BC||"son of Adad-nirari (I)"|
|Tukulti-Ninurta I||c. 1243–1207 BC||"son of Shalmaneser (I)"|
|Ashur-nadin-apli||c. 1206–1203 BC||"during the lifetime of Tukulti-ninurta (I), Ashur-nadin-apli, his son, seized the throne"|
|Ashur-nirari III||c. 1202–1197 BC||"son of Ashur-nadin-apli"|
|Enlil-kudurri-usur||c. 1196–1192 BC||"son of Tukulti-Ninurta (I)"|
|Ninurta-apal-Ekur||c. 1191–1180 BC||"son of Ila-Hadda, a descendant of Eriba-Adad (I), went to Karduniash. He came up from Karduniash (and) seized the throne."|
|Beginning with Ashur-Dan I, dates are consistent and not subject to middle/short chronology distinctions.|
|Ashur-Dan I||c. 1179–1133 BC||"son of Ashur-nadin-apli"|
|Ninurta-tukulti-Ashur||c. 1133 BC||"son of Ashur-dan (I), briefly"|
|Mutakkil-nusku||c. 1133 BC||"his (Ninurta-tukulti-Ashur's) brother, fought him and took him to Karduniash. Mutakkil-Nusku held the throne briefly, then died."|
|Ashur-resh-ishi I||c. 1133–1115 BC||"son of Mutakkil-Nusku"|
|Tiglath-Pileser I||c. 1115–1076 BC||"son of Ashur-resh-ishi (I)"|
|Asharid-apal-Ekur||c. 1076–1074 BC||"son of Tiglath-pileser (I)"|
|Ashur-bel-kala||c. 1074–1056 BC||"son of Tiglath-pileser (I)"|
|Eriba-Adad II||c. 1056–1054 BC||"son of Ashur-bel-kala"|
|Shamshi-Adad IV||c. 1054–1050 BC||"son of Tiglath-pileser (I), came up from Karduniash. He ousted Eriba-Adad (II), son of Ashur-bel-kala, (and) seized the throne"|
|Ashur-nasir-pal I||c. 1050–1031 BC||"son of Shamshi-Adad (IV)"|
|Shalmaneser II||c. 1031–1019 BC||"son of Ashur-nasir-pal (I)"|
|Ashur-nirari IV||c. 1019–1013 BC||"son of Shalmaneser (II)"|
|Ashur-rabi II||c. 1013–972 BC||"son of Ashur-nasir-pal (I)"|
|Ashur-resh-ishi II||c. 972–967 BC||"son of Ashur-rabi (II)"|
|Tiglath-Pileser II||c. 967–935 BC||"son of Ashur-resh-ishi (II)"|
|Ashur-Dan II||c. 935–912 BC||"son of Tiglath-Pileser (II)"|
Synchronisms between the limmu lists and absolute dates known from Babylonian chronology provide good absolute dates for the years between 911 BC and 649 BC.
The dates for the very end of the Assyrian period are uncertain due to the lack of limmu lists after 649 BC. Some sources list Ashurbanipal's death in 631 BC, rather than 627 BC; Ashur-etil-ilani then reigns from 631 to 627, and Sin-shar-ishkun reigns until 612 BC, when he is known to have died in the sack of Nineveh.
|Adad-nirari II||912–891 BC||"son of Ashur-Dan (II)"|
|Tukulti-Ninurta II||891–884 BC||"son of Adad-nirari (II)"|
|Ashur-nasir-pal II||884–859 BC||"son of Tukulti-Ninurta (II)"|
|Shalmaneser III||859–824 BC||"son of Ashur-nasir-pal (II)"|
|Shamshi-Adad V||824–811 BC||"son of Shalmaneser (III)"|
|Semiramis (Shammu-ramat), regent, 811–808 BC|
|Adad-nirari III||811–783 BC||"son of Shamshi-Adad (V)"|
|Shalmaneser IV||783–773 BC||"son of Adad-nirari (III)"|
|Ashur-Dan III||773–755 BC||"son of Shalmaneser (IV)"; solar eclipse 763 BC|
|Ashur-nirari V||755–745 BC||"son of Adad-nirari (III)"|
|Tiglath-Pileser III||745–727 BC||"son of Ashur-nirari (V)"|
|Shalmaneser V||727–722 BC||"son of Tiglath-Pileser (III)"|
|End of the document known as Assyrian King List; the following kings reigned after the list had been composed.|
|Sargon II||722–705 BC|
|The dates of the last kings are not certain.|
|Ashur-etil-ilani||c. 631–627 BC||Involved in constant Civil War, weakening empire|
|Sin-shumu-lishir||626 BC||Usurper who also claimed Babylonia|
|Sin-shar-ishkun||c. 627–612 BC||Assyrian Empire collapses during his reign. fall of Nineveh|
|In 612 BC, Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, fell to the Medes, Babylonians, and Scythians; supported by the Egyptians, an Assyrian general continued to rule for a few years from Harran.|
|Ashur-uballit II||612 BC–c. 608/605 BC||Harran defeated by an alliance of Cyaxares of Media and Nabopolassar of Babylonia together with Scythia and Cimmeria, Assyrian-Egyptian force defeated at Carchemish in 605 BC|
Ctesias as court physician to Artaxerxes II, claimed to have access to the royal historical records. Ctesias' list of Assyrian kings was included in his Persica, a work covering the history of Persia, but the first 3 books were dedicated to pre-Persian Assyria entitled "The History of the Assyrians". How much of Ctesias' king list is factual history is still debated, while most scholars agree large parts are fiction, it is generally agreed that there is historical truth based on the probability his list was rooted in transmitted oral tradition. Classical scholar Robert Drews however has argued that Ctesias' list contains information from Babylonian tablets. Although Ctesias's entire work is lost, fragments of it are found preserved in Diodorus Siculus, Nicolaus of Damascus and Photius. From these fragments it is known Ctesias dated the founding of the Assyria to c. 2166 BC, by king Ninus, husband of Queen Semiramis, and 30 further Assyrian kings followed for 1300 years in succession to Sardanapalus (c. 866 BC).  Ctesias' list of 30 successors from Ninus (and Semiramis) to Sandanapalus is lost.
In the 1st century BC, Castor of Rhodes compiled an Assyrian King List, similar to that of Ctesias'. However fragments only remain in mutilated form, but it is known from these fragments that Castor's Assyrian king list started with Belus, but like Ctesias' included Ninus, also said to be the husband of Semiramis. However Ninus equates in Castor's list to the second king, not the first and is said to have ruled for 52 years. Castor further dated Belus to 2123 BC. A fragment from Cephalion, names Ninus' successor to be Ninyas, his son.
The Arab historian al-Ya'qūbī included in his Kitāb al-ta'rīkh written in 873 CE a list of kings of "Mosul and Nineveh" comprising four identifiable Assyrian kings: Palūs/Tiglath-pileser II (965-936), Ninūs/Tukulti-Ninurta II (890-884), Lāwasnasir/Assurnasirpal II (883-859) and Shamīram/Semiramis (810-806).