Sargon II

Sargon II was a king of Assyria in the neo-Assyrian period [9th-7th centuries BCE], who ruled over much of the Near East between 721 and 705 BCE. He was the son of King Tiglath-Phalazar III and brother of King Salmanazar V, who preceded him on the throne. He was the second Assyrian ruler, after Sargon I of Assyria, to bear the name of "legitimate king". Sargon II was the model Assyrian ruler, and his reign, which is well documented, coincides with a period of political and economic expansion in Assyria. He was the ultimate warrior king and led more than a dozen victorious military campaigns across the Near East and along its periphery, and extended the borders of Assyria to the edge of Central Anatolia. He subdued vast kingdoms and made vassals of important rulers. In 714 BCE, he defeated the king of Urartu, Rusa I, on the slopes of Mount Wa'ush. Sargon II was also a builder king and one of the outstanding achievements of his reign was the founding of a new capital, Dûr-Sharrukîn, the fortress of Sargon, near the present-day village of Khorsabad in Iraq. After the Eighth Campaign, Sargon II reigned for another decade. He pursued an expansionist policy and conducted several military campaigns in Babylonia and the Levant. In 705, the elderly king launched another military campaign in southeast Anatolia. Cimmerian incursions had destabilised the local political situation and Sargon II intervened in support of a client kingdom. The king was defeated and killed in battle. His body was never found, depriving him of burial. His tragic end profoundly marked his contemporaries, especially his son and successor, King Sennacherib. The new king consulted divinatory priests and the oracles to understand why the gods had turned against his father. Although we do not know what answers Sennacherib received, one reason seems to have been Sargon II's odd habit of breaking oaths with other rulers.