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Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser I

Under Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser I (1114–1076 BC), there was activity on all four of Assyria's frontiers.

Northern frontier

To the north and at the start of Tiglath-Pileser I's reign, a group of ~20,000 Mushki leapt from territory they had held for ~150 years northwest of the Tur Abdin and invaded Kadmukh. While Assyria had not acted against the Mushki prior, this was a threat to Assyrian security and Tiglath-Pileser I defensively counter-attacked immediately and succeeded initially. He seized 6,000 Mushki prisoners, releasing them as subjects of Assyria into the lands they had invaded and settled. This aided Assyria, as the Mushki helped agricultural production and also provided 120 chariots, teams of horses and presumably their accompanying personnel.

Kadmukh natives, siding with the Mushki, crossed to the north bank of the Tigris to attack an Assyrian fortress there. Tiglath-Pileser I pursued the rebels, and along the way encountered skirmishes with the Papkhu people, who spoke Hurrian and resided north of the Tigris. He also accrued a few more subjects, included the Kaska people who had lived along the Black Sea coast to the west and were likely glad to be accepted by a stable power. He explored the territory where the Papkhu and many other small kingdoms existed (there was no major kingdom in the area) in anticipation of his next move.

Tiglath-Pileser I next took his chariots and main army across the Tigris and northwards into Papkhu territory. His troops carried their chariots in impassible regions. Although the Papkhu tried to battle the Assyrians along the mountainside, they failed and Assyria massively destroyed Papkhu territory before marching onwards north of the Tigris and into eastern Anatolia. Tiglath-Pileser I's conquests are documented at only two sites in this region: the city of Melid whose capture he recorded, and also a rock he inscribed northwest of Lake Van and in the Melazgirt area: Tiglath-Pileser, strong king, king of the universe, king of Assyria, king of the four quarters, conquerer of the land Nairi from the land Tumme to the land Dayenu, conqueror of the land Habha to the Great Sea. He accrued booties of copper and bronze and tributes of thousands of horses, cattle, oxen and asses. Also, he deported captives to boost Assyria's working population. Simultaneously, he tirelessly developed Assyria's military chariots to unprecedented capacities.

Western frontier

Aramaean disruption of the Euphrates, a main artery for trade and communication, was a formidable threat. To chase off the Aramaeans for good, Tiglath-Pileser I had to cross the Euphrates 28 times over several years. Once the Aramaeans were off of Assyrian territory, Tiglath-Pileser I was able to leave the Euphrates alone and penetrate the Mediterranean coast. To reach the shore, he crossed former Hittite territory (north Syria) and, on a separate occasion, he trekked through Tadmor (in the heart of Aramaean territory). Once at the shore, he exhibited Assyria's fascination with the sea and excitedly took a boat ride. I made replicas in basalt of the nahiru, which they call a sea-horse, which with a harpoon, as an achievement of my own hand, I killed in the sea of Amurru-land at the command of...the great gods, my lords. It is unclear whether the sea-horse was a dolphin or whale.

Southern frontier

The Assyro-Babylonian border remained sensitive. After several normal borer clashes, Tiglath-Pileser I responded by forcing through northern Babylonia to even defeat Babylon. Rather than occupy the territory, though, he merely raided the area and then left as a show of his might. Babylonia's influence continued in Assyria, with Babylonian month names even replacing their Assyrian counterparts.

Tiglath-Pilser I, the naturalist

Like other Assyrian kings, Tiglath-Pileser I was fascinated by foreign animals. Like other kings, he accepted apes, crocodiles and other strange animals as tribute; Tiglath-Pileser I even built a zoo to house animals that were gifted to him and which he had captured. There was rich fauna amidst ancient Assyria, with texts mentioning hunting of bears elephants, wild ox (powerful beasts as tall as six feet at the shoulder), hyenas, lions (up to 800 at a time, as they were a danger), tigers, leopards, deer, wild, water buffalo, wild pigs, gazelle, sheep, lynx, cheetahs, wild asses and onagers. He even attempted to breed herds of two-humped camels that had been sent by merchants abroad, as mentioned in his son Ashur-bel-kala's Broken Obelisk. Assyrian kings also decimated the ostrich, although it has been rarely sighted in the 20th century CE.

Shrine Stone of Tiglath-Pileser I

The shrine stone shows the king Tigleth-Pileser I standing then kneeling in front of a tablet and stylus atop a shrine stone, attributes of Nabu, the god of writing. This maybe underscores a point about the closer veneration the Assyrians had for Bablyonian religion and culture. Nushku is the god of light, symbolized often by a lamp. These gods have to do with enlightenment and reflect the tremendous appreciation that Assyrians had for Babylonian intellectualism.