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Chapter 10 – Near Eastern cities of the Iron Age

Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses cities in the Near East during the Iron Age, with a focus on the urban centers of the most powerful states of the region, the Assyrians in northern Mesopotamia, the Babylonians in central Mesopotamia, and the Achaemenid Persians.



Study guide

  1. Are you learning the pictures (maps, plans, images)? Don’t leave this till the last minute. Work on this regularly, so the pictures seep into your mind and stay there, ready for recall.  A visual memory is important to cultivate.

  2. The names of Assyrian kings are daunting: strange, polysyllabic, and sometimes confusingly similar (Assurnasirpal and Assurbanipal). Penetrating Assyrian history and remembering basic events and dates are not easy. Break them down into manageable bits. We are exploring three cities (Kalhu, Dur-Sharrukin, and Nineveh); each was the creation of one particular king.  Learn the king and his city; this is your starting point.

  3. What features characterize the Neo-Assyrian city?  In your answer, refer to specific features of Kalhu, Dar-Sharrukin, and Nineveh.

  4. Characterize the style and subject matter of Assyrian relief sculptures. Why would they choose to decorate the palaces in such a way – when others, such as the Neo-Babylonians of the second half of this chapter, do not?

  5. Describe the city plan of Babylon in the sixth century BC.  How does it compare and contrast with the plans of Assyrian cities examined in the first half of the chapter?

  6. Compare and contrast the palaces explored so far in the book, in terms of functions that took place, the ground plan, and the decorative features. Examples to consider include: Persepolis; Neo-Babylonian and Neo-Assyrian palaces; the Royal Palace at Ugarit; the palace at Büyükkale, Hattusa; the Palace of Nestor, Pylos; the Palace of Minos, Knossos; and the Palace of Zimri-Lim, Mari.


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