|King of the Neo-Assyrian Empire|
|Reign||ca. 631 – ca. 627 BC|
Problems with source material
The reconstruction of the events occurring during Ashur-etil-ilani's rule has proven to be very difficult. One noteworthy problem is the complete absence of sources from central Assyria covering this time, and the lack of official recordings of events (e.g. royal inscriptions). The most important source for this period is the "Nabopolassar Chronicle", which, however, is quite fragmentary for this period.
The death of Ashurbanipal between 631 and 627 BC opened the way for a serious struggle for the control of Assyria between several pretenders which led to the downfall of the Neo Assyrian Empire. The contest may have begun a few years earlier during Ashurbanipal's lifetime. The development of the events, and even the number of parties involved is not known with certainty. It seems fairly certain that upon Ashurbanipal's death, allied hordes of Scythians, Cimmerians, Medes and Persians, taking advantage of Assyria's weakness due to internal strife, crossed the borders of the Assyrian Empire, destroying Ashkelon and raiding as far as Egypt. Calah (Nimrud) was burned, but the strong walls of Nineveh protected the remnants of the Assyrian army that had taken refuge there. When the raiders had passed on to other regions, a new palace was erected among the ruins of the neighbouring city. But its architectural poverty and small size show that the resources of Assyria were at a low ebb.
Dating his reign
According to the Harran Inscription of Nabonidus, Ashur-etil-ilani reigned for three years, but there is a contract from Nippur dated to his fourth year. It thus seems that he succeeded Ashurbanipal in 627 BC and ruled until 623 BC. This raises some problems over the dating of events from the Assyrian-Babylonian war.
Ashur-etil-ilani must therefore have succeeded to the Assyrian throne before 627 BC. It has been suggested that his reign overlapped with Ashurbanipal's. However, it is more likely that Ashurbanipal died before 627 BC because there is no evidence of a co-regency. Therefore, it has been suggested that Ashurbanipal died in 631 BC and that Ashur-etil-ilani was the Assyrian king until 627 BC. There are still issues over some dates which conflict with this conclusion, but these dates seem to best support the available evidence.
He was succeeded by Sin-shumu-lishir who deposed him.
- See for this discussion S. Zawadzki, The Fall of Assyria p. 39-41.
- N. Na'aman, ZA 81 1991.
- S. Zawadzki, ZA 85 1995 p. 71-73.
| King of Assyria
ca. 631–627 BC