Many Assyrian inventions were so advanced that we make use of them today in one way or another. People from the 21st Century might not expect that daily life in such an ancient culture would include visiting a library, going to the doctor, or unlocking a storehouse with a key.

In truth, the Assyrians contributed much to the advancement of modern civilization. Learn more about Assyrians achievements they invented by reading our historically-expert article.

Some Quick Information About the Assyrian Empire

The Assyrian Empire was located in Mesopotamia, in the Fertile Crescent. Official Assyrian history began in roughly 2600 BCE, though Assyrian communities existed as early as 4000 BCE. Once a subjugated people, the Assyrians gained complete independence with the fall of the Akkadian Empire around 2154 BCE.

Though their status fluctuated, the Assyrian Empire existed in some form for around 2800 years. During the peaks of their power from around 1365–1056 BCE and 900-600 BCE, the empire eclipsed the Egyptians, the Hittites, the Babylonians, and many others. Like other great civilizations that grew too large, the Empire slowly dissolved, though its people never entirely disappeared.

The Assyrians were primarily a warrior nation, receiving their support from landed nobility. With all free male citizens required to serve, the Assyrian armies could include infantry, cavalry, archers, lancers, and charioteers. Many of their inventions and advancements centered around military advancement.

What Did the Assyrians Invent? Did They Actually Invent the Wheel?

Though no scholar dares to assume who first invented the wheel, the oldest intact example discovered so far is from Mesopotamia, the seat of the ancient Assyrian civilization. Research indicates that the Assyrians first used this wheel around 3600 BCE for making pottery. A few centuries later, they began using the wheel and axle to create oxcarts and chariots.

What Did the Assyrians Invent That Helped Them in Warfare?

Over the centuries, many military advancements were due to the contributions of Assyrians. They pioneered the use of bronze to cast stronger weapons and armor.

Then, they became the first civilization in the area to develop iron weapons, which gave them a further advantage. In time, their ironworking skills improved so that they could outfit more soldiers at a minimal cost.

After the Assyrians introduced the use of cavalry, chariots seemed the next logical step. While not as nimble as a single horse, chariots offered better protection and the ability to store extra weapons.

Since a warrior could drive a chariot on his own, adding a driver enabled him to focus more on the fighting, and he could hop off as needed without the fear of becoming stranded. Later, they improved on their idea by inventing spoked wheels, which made their chariots lighter and faster than those of their enemies.

The Assyrians also had the unique idea of creating an engineering unit separate from the armed forces. As a support system for the active soldiers, they performed tasks such as filling in moats, digging tunnels and trenches, and erecting ladders and ramps. They were beneficial when laying siege to a city.

Another important siege weapon was the battering ram. The Assyrians employed their innovative skills to create a wheeled, canopied carrier for the iron-tipped log. The wheels made it easier to position the weapon, while the canopy protected the soldiers from rocks and spears thrown from above.

What Were Assyrian Contributions in Language, Literature, and Art?

Declaring the oldest known language in existence is as problematic as stating who first invented the wheel, but the Assyrians were undoubtedly involved with some of the earliest language forms.

Around 3500 BC, the Sumerians in southern Mesopotamia developed the first recognized system of writing, called Cuneiform. In Northern Mesopotamia, the Babylonians and Assyrians spoke dialects of Akkadian. When they began to dominate the region around 2500 BCE, Akkadian replaced Sumerian as the common language.

With the adoption of Cuneiform as their written language, the Assyrians became avid record keepers, and they invented libraries to store their writings. One of the most important was the library of King Ashurbanipal, who collected over 30,000 clay tablets and fragments.

Much of their written texts involved history, medical and economic records, and of course, warfare. However, they also recorded epic tales from their religious traditions, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The Assyrian emphasis on warfare was also evident in their artwork, primarily depictions of battle painted onto ceramic vases and other clay vessels. One unique artistic technique employed by the Assyrians was carving detailed reliefs into stone, bone, or ivory. The most famous examples are the Nimrud Ivories, intricate scenes set into wooden frames or boxes.

What Were Assyrian Accomplishments in Mathematics and Science?

Due to its focus on military strategy, the Assyrians’ achievements advanced the world’s expressions of mathematics and science. Besides a broad knowledge of basic math such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, they employed fractions, geometry, and cubic and quadratic equations. Higher mathematics enabled them to design large-scale building projects and keep detailed records.

The Assyrians used a base-60 number system. With this system, they could express the divisions of time as the 60-second minute and the 60-minute hour we still use today. This system also enabled them to divide a circle into 360 degrees, inventing longitude and latitude as tools of navigation and cartography.

Using higher math and scientific observation, the Assyrians followed the movements of the sun, moon, and stars. NASA even gives the Assyrians credit for discovering planets with the first telescope, called the Lens of Nimrud.

In time, they could predict eclipses and anticipate the locations of the celestial bodies throughout the year. These skills set the stage for the astronomical studies that flourished in later civilizations, such as Greece, India, China, and Central America.

Did the Assyrians Make Advancements to Medicine?

Assyrian accomplishments in medicine were also due to their frequent involvement in warfare. Soldiers were subject to a wide variety of injuries and illnesses. Through observation and experimentation, they improved the processes of diagnosis and treatment using topical and ingested substances. Their advances influenced the beginnings of formal medical practice in Greece and other civilizations.

In large cities such as Nineveh, Assyrian citizens regularly sought help from doctors, called “ashipu” in Aramaic. The ashipu kept detailed medical records about his patients and stored these tablets in libraries so that other doctors could learn from them.

Thanks to these records, we know that patients received crushed adaru-poplar seed as a remedy for headaches. Researchers have even discovered written records of administering antidepressants and the use of therapeutic massage.

How Did the Assyrians Influence Technology and Engineering?

The Assyrians can be credited with other technologies that aid in today’s daily living as well as warfare. Besides using a pottery wheel to improve the quality of their pottery, they developed glazes to strengthen the pottery and aid in decoration. In addition, the knowledge of glazing led to the production of glass itself.

They developed the use of looms to speed up the process of making cloth. When they were not hard at work or war, the citizens might have even played backgammon.

Assyrian Irrigation Systems

The Assyrians implemented systems of irrigation that solved the unique issues of each region. What they learned about the movement of water for irrigation led to the development of masonry dams.

In Nineveh, archaeologists have discovered a system of eighteen different canals used to improve water availability for all citizens. Canals such as these allowed the Assyrians to create an amenity for which modern man is very grateful: flushing toilets.

Other Assyrian Inventions

Other inventions of the Assyrians also play a part in daily life today. The oldest version of a pin tumbler lock and key was found in Nineveh, and it was dated to roughly 2000 BCE. They also invented an elaborate highway system with roads paved with stone.

Initially, the highway system enabled efficient movement of troops and speedy communication with all parts of the Empire. Naturally, their next step was to create a message service resembling the Pony Express, the precursor to the modern postal system.

Conclusion

Though these are only the highlights, it is easy to see the impact of Assyrian creations on the civilized world.

Here are some of the most crucial things that we mentioned with regards to Assyrian Inventions and the Assyrian Empire:

  • The Assyrian Empire had a significant presence around 2100-600 BCE, though it existed for much longer
  • The earliest wheel discovered is a pottery wheel found in Mesopotamia, dating back to 3600 BCE
  • Many of their inventions stemmed from their emphasis on warfare. Some examples include chariots, spoked wheels, engineering teams, and wheeled battering rams
  • The Assyrians were the first to use bronze weapons. Later, they were the first to generate iron weapons
  • They understood advanced mathematical concepts, which influenced many sciences such as navigation, cartography, and the divisions of time
  • They were skilled astronomers, and they likely created the first telescope
  • They kept vast libraries of Cuneiform tablets to preserve their knowledge
  • They understood and influenced methods of medical diagnosis and treatment
  • They pioneered innovations such as weaving looms, the lock and key, irrigation systems, and the game of backgammon
  • They created paved highways and started an early version of the Pony Express

With all of their inventions and improvements, the Assyrians will likely continue to inspire innovations for centuries to come.

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