The next major empire to take control of Mesopotamia was the warlike people known as the Assyrians. The Assyrians had lived in Mesopotamia for centuries when Hammurabi conquered the people, making them part of the Babylonian Empire. Around 900 BCE a line of rulers began training up an army with the goal of preparing for war. Soon the army began to expand the Assyrian territory.
The Assyrians were feared for their cruelty and military might. They used strong iron weapons and became skilled horseman. They also became highly effective at siege warfare. This technique had soldiers camp outside the city for many days repeatedly attacking until the defenses fell. The used battering rams to destroy walls and tall movable towers that could be rolled up to the walls and gates allowing soldiers to climb over the walls.
The empire was ruled by a series of powerful kings. The Assyrians used many of the same techniques of irrigation and farming to keep the region fertile and producing food. They also were the first in the region to begin using aqueducts. An aqueduct is a system of pipes or channels used to carry water into cities. The aqueduct system brought drinking water into the city of Nineveh from over 30 miles away.
The Assyrian empire lasted for almost 300 years. At its height, the empire extended from Mesopotamia to the area surrounding the Nile River in Egypt and to the Taurus Mountains in the north. Controlling such a large region became its weakness, stretching its army too thin. This issue left the Assyrians exposed and they found it difficult to fight off invading neighbors. In the early 600s BCE, Nineveh was plundered and the Assyrian empire was over.