Among the major events in the ancient Near East, none were more earth-shattering than the fall of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh. The demise of Nineveh was so important because it marked the end of the Assyrian Empire, which at its height stretched from Egypt in the west to Persia in the east and included most of Anatolia, the Levant, and the Arabian Peninsula.
The Assyrians ruled their empire with an iron fist. In doing so, we’re able to fleece their subject peoples of their precious minerals and resources, which they then used to build Nineveh and other cities in the Assyrian heartland. Eventually, the Assyrians’ enemies grew tired of the malevolent regime and so came together temporarily to cast off the Assyrian yoke. The great city of Nineveh was destroyed in the process.
The destruction of Nineveh left such a strong impression on ancient peoples’ psyche that it was written about for several subsequent centuries in the Babylonian cuneiform annals, the writings of Greek and Roman historians, and even in the Old Testament of the Bible. Nineveh’s fall was so important because, for a time, it was the greatest city in the ancient world as it served as a source of inspiration and awe for Assyrians and non-Assyrians alike throughout the region. The quality of the city’s temples and palaces were superb, and Nineveh boasted of one of the world’s first botanic gardens, which many scholars believe was the inspiration for the fabled “Hanging Gardens of Babylon.”