Historical Overview of the Reigns of Tiglath-pileser III and Shalmaneser V

Tiglath-pileser III's Building Activities  

Tiglath-pileser III: Origin and Accession

The rise of Tiglath-pileser III to the Assyrian throne is recorded in the Eponym Chronicle. That text states that he became king in the month Ayyāru (II) of 745, the year following a revolt in the capital Kalḫu (746), a period during which the reign of Aššur-nārārī V must have come to an end. The fact that Tiglath-pileser rose to power during this disturbance and the fact that he mentions his ancestry only once, in a minor inscription (text no. 58), may suggest that he was a usurper who seized the royal throne by force, and not the designated successor. If the statement about his parentage on bricks from Aššur (text no. 58) is indeed true, then Tiglath-pileser was a son of Adad-nārārī III and the brother of his immediate predecessor, Aššur-nārārī V. Moreover, if that statement is correct, then the contradictory statement about him in one copy of the Assyrian King List (Grayson, RLA 6/1–2 [1980] p. 115) that claims he was "the son of Aššur-nārārī (V)" should be regarded as a scribal error. In sum, Tiglath-pileser was a member of the ruling royal family, but he had not been appointed crown prince, and thus he was not in line to be king. It is possible that he had been a high-ranking officer or courtier prior to seizing the throne, and that he became king somewhere between the age of forty and fifty; see the introduction to text no. 58 and Grayson, CAH2 3/2 pp. 73–74.

Tiglath-pileser III's Military Enterprises

Tiglath-pileser III conducted a large-scale military campaign in almost every year of his reign, and thus built a great empire in a single reign. In this regard, it is unfortunate that only one-third or less of the entire text of the Kalḫu Annals is preserved today. The gaps in those recensions of the Annals are, however, filled in by other annalistic and annalistic-style texts, especially those on a stele from Iran (text no. 35) and on a rock face at Mila Mergi (text no. 37), as well as by some accounts in his summary inscriptions (text nos. 39–53), the contents of which are presumably mostly extracted from the Annals. A chronological reconstruction of Tiglath-pileser's campaigns is possible because this information is preserved in the Eponym Chronicle and Babylonian Chronicle (see below for translations). The former lists in chronological order the targets of this king's campaigns, and the latter records some of the details of the individual expeditions. Using those two chronographic texts, we can follow with reasonable certainty the progress of Tiglath-pileser's conquests and territorial annexation, as shown in the chart below, filling in the many gaps in the Kalḫu Annals and in the extant summary inscriptions. For a more detailed description of his military campaigns, see for example, Grayson, CAH2 3/2 pp. 74–83; and Baker, PNA 3/2 pp. 1329–1331 sub Tukultī-apil-Ešarra no. 3.

Date Eponym Chronicle K(alḫu) A(nnals) and Other Annalistic Texts Other Major Sources Major Events
745 Acc. Year
(1st palû)   
In the month Ayyāru (II), on the thirteenth day, [Tiglat]h-pileser (III) ascended the throne. [In the month T]ašrītu (VII), he marched to the (land) Between the River(s). KA: text no. 4 line 1–text no. 6 line 7; Text no. 35 i 36–4' Bab. Chron. Tiglath-pileser ascends the throne in the month Ayyāru (II). Campaign into northern and eastern Babylonia; defeat of the Aramean tribes near Dūr-Kurigalzu and east of the Tigris, as far as the Uqnû River, and their deportation to the northeastern provinces.
744: Year 1
(2nd palû)   
Against the land Namri. KA: text no. 6 line 7–text no. 9 line 2'; Text no. 35 i 5'–20' First Median Campaign: Parsua and Bīt-Ḫamban annexed; the submission of the Manneans.
743: Year 2
(3rd palû)
The land Urarṭu [was defea]ted at the city Arpad. KA: text no. 9 lines 2'–16'; Text no. 35 i 21'–43' Sarduri, king of Urarṭu, and his Anatolian allies defeated.
742: Year 3
(4th palû)
Against the city Arpad. Arpad besieged.
741: Year 4
(5th palû)
Against the same city. Within three years it was conquered. Arpad besieged.
740: Year 5
(6th palû)
Against the city Arpad. Text no. 35 ii 4' Fall and annexation of Arpad.
739: Year 6
(7th palû)
Against the land Ulluba. The fortress was seized. KA: text no. 10 lines 1'–8'; Text no. 37 lines 16–46 Campaign to Ulluba located on the Urarṭian border.
738: Year 7
(8th palû)
The city Kullani was conquered. KA: text no. 12 line 1'–text no. 15 line 5; Text no. 35 ii 5'–17'; Text no. 36 lines 1'–3' Unqi and Hatarikka annexed; tribute received from all vassal kings of the West, including Raḫiānu (Rezin) of Damascus and Menahem of Samaria.
737: Year 8
(9th palû)
Against the Medes. KA: text no. 15 line 5–text no. 17 line 12; Text no. 35 ii 25'–44'; Text no. 36 lines 4'–7'; Text no. 38 lines 1'–5' Second Median campaign: campaign deep into Media. Territories around Parsua and Bīt-Ḫamban annexed.
736: Year 9
(10th palû)
To the foot of Mount Nal. Text no. 36 lines 8'–10' Text no. 39 line 28; Text no. 41 line 27'; Text no. 49 obv. 11' Campaign to the foot of Mount Nal on the Urarṭian border.
735: Year 10
(11th palû)
Against the land Urarṭu. KA: text no. 18 line 1–text no. 19 line 7; Text no. 36 lines 11'–13' Text no. 39 lines 23–25; Text no. 41 lines 21'–26' Campaign into the heart of Urarṭu, as far as Ṭurušpâ, Sarduri's capital.
734: Year 11
(12th palû)
Against the land Philistia. Text no. 42 lines 8'–15'; Text no. 48 lines 14'–19' Campaign to Philistia and the Egyptian border.
733: Year 12
(13th palû)
Against the land Damascus. KA: Text no. 20 line 1'–text no. 21 line 16'//22 line 13' 2 Kings 16:5–8; Is. 7:1 Siege of Damascus. Campaigns against the Arabs and to Gilead and Galilee.
732: Year 13
(14th palû)
Against the land Damascus. 2 Kings 15:29, 16:9 Conquest and annexation of Damascus, Galilee, and Transjordan.
731: Year 14
(15th palû)
Against the city Šapīya. KA: text no. 23 line 1–text no. 24 line 7 Text no. 47 obv. 15–25 Defeat of the Chaldean tribes of central and southern Babylonia; siege of Šapīya.
730: Year 15
(16th palû)
(The king stayed) in the land (Assyria).
729: Year 16
(17th palû)
The king took the hands of the god Bēl (Marduk). Bab. Chron. i 19–23 Defeat of (Nabû)-mukīn-zēri, king of Babylon. Tiglath-pileser III ascends the Babylonian throne and participates in the akītu-festival in the month Nisannu (I) (of the Babylonian year 728). [5]
728: Year 17
(18th palû)
The king took the hands of the god Bēl (Marduk). The city/land Ḫi... [was conquered]. Tiglath-pileser III participates in the akītu-festival in the month Nisannu (I) (of the Babylonian year 727).
727: Year 18
(19th palû)
Against the cit[y ... Shalma]neser (V) [ascended] the [throne]. Bab. Chron. i 24–25 Tiglath-pileser III dies in the month Ṭebētu (X).

Tiglath-pileser III's Building Activities

Limiting our scope to the evidence originating from the royal inscriptions edited in this volume, and excluding contemporary royal correspondence and later evidence, Tiglath-pileser III's building activities were mostly concentrated at Kalḫu, where he built a palace towards the end of his reign. The palace was called the "Cedar Palace" (ekal erēni), according to the most detailed account of the project, which is preserved in the building report of text no. 47 (rev. 17'–36'), as well as in a fragmentary passage of the Kalḫu Annals (text no. 25). Its plan included a Syrian-style portico called a bīt-ḫilāni and its interior was decorated with a variety of imported woods. Cedar beams from the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon (Mount Sirāra) were used to roof the palatial halls. The walls of this palace, called the "Central Palace" by its first excavator A.H. Layard, were lined with large sculpted and inscribed stone orthostats; these slabs bore copies of the lengthy Kalḫu Annals (text nos. 1–34). Some of its floors and thresholds were paved with inscribed stone slabs. Unlike the walls, the floor slabs were inscribed with summary inscriptions (text nos. 39–43). Although no accounts of work on buildings other than the palace at Kalḫu are preserved in the extant corpus of Tiglath-pileser's inscriptions, he may have worked on Ezida, the Nabû temple there, since several tablets with texts of his were discovered in that building (text nos. 49 and 51–52); see Mallowan, Nimrud 1 pp. 237–239.

Tiglath-pileser also sponsored building projects at Aššur, the evidence for which is provided by several inscribed and stamped bricks discovered in the ruins of the temples of the gods Aššur and Adad (text nos. 58–60). Moreover, he states that he carried out construction in cities located in the periphery of the Assyrian empire and in newly annexed areas. Tiglath-pileser carried out construction work at Ḫadattu (modern Arslan Tash; text no. 53) in the west and at Aššur-iqīša, an Ullubian city northwest of Assyria, which he transformed into a provincial capital (text no. 39 line 29, text no. 41 line 30', and text no. 49 obv. 10'). Archaeological evidence, namely an inscribed basalt bull, confirms the former project, whereas the latter project is attested only in textual sources.


5 For the apparent contradiction between the Eponym Chronicle and Babylonian Chronicle, see Brinkman, PKB p. 241 n. 1547.

Hayim Tadmor & Shigeo Yamada

Hayim Tadmor & Shigeo Yamada, 'Historical Overview of the Reigns of Tiglath-pileser III and Shalmaneser V', RINAP 1: Tiglath-pileser III and Shalmaneser V, The RINAP 1 sub-project of the RINAP Project, 2019 [http://oracc.org/rinap/rinap1/rinap1introduction/historicaloverviewtiglathpileseriii/]

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