Backed by an unparalleled military force, Sargon II outwitted and outfought powerful competitors to extend Assyrian territory and secure his throne. As Sarah C. Melville shows through a detailed analysis of each of his campaigns, the king used his army not just to conquer but also to ensure regional security, manage his empire’s resources, and support his political agenda. Under his leadership, skilled chariotry, cavalry, and infantry excelled in all types of terrain against an array of culturally diverse enemies.
This book represents the first in-depth military study of the great Assyrian king. Drawing extensively from original sources, including cuneiform inscriptions, the letters of Sargon and his officials, archival documents, and monumental art, Melville presents Sargon’s achievements as king, diplomat, and conqueror. Contrary to the stereotype of the brutal Assyrian despot, Sargon applied force selectively, with deliberate economy, and as only one of several possible ways to deal with external threat or to exploit opportunity.
The Campaigns of Sargon II demonstrates how Sargon changed the geopolitical dynamics in the Near East, inspired a period of cultural florescence, established long-lasting Assyrian supremacy, and became one of the most influential kings of the ancient world.
Sarah C. Melville is Associate Professor of History at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. She is the author of numerous articles on Neo-Assyrian history and warfare and of The Role of Naquia/Zakutu in Sargonid Politics.
“This outstanding volume blazes a new trail into the world of Assyria’s military might by highlighting critical points in Sargon II’s reign. Sarah C. Melville explores Sargon II’s campaigns to paint a portrait of an amazing military machine that could adapt and win various types of battles in many different terrains against all types of enemies.”—K. Lawson Younger Jr., author of Ancient Conquest Accounts: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical History
“The Campaigns of Sargon II, King of Assyria, 721–705 B.C. is a singular achievement. Sarah C. Melville has brought to life an emperor whose military accomplishments rival those of later, better-known generals. She portrays a man in a time when people of influence did not want to be seen as deviating from past traditions. And yet Sargon clearly did.”—Daniel C. Snell, author of Life in the Ancient Near East, 3100–332 B.C.
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