By Duncan Head
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Assyria was now unstoppable in pursuing its dream of expanding the Assyrian Empire. After breaking the power of the kingdoms of Arpad and Hamath in northern Syria as well as Urartu (eastern Turkey, Armenia), Tiglath-Pilaser set his sights on Damascus. 740–732 BC), had tried to bring both the royal houses of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah into an alliance to oppose Assyria. This time Pekah of Israel cooperated. 28 In 733 BC, Tiglath-Pilaser eagerly acceded to Ahaz’s request. He first struck towards the Phoenician coast to isolate Damascus from Israel then doubled back to Damascus.
It combined firm authority with local accountability and flexibility, probably the most successful example before the Romans’ arrival 300 years later. Once again it is difficult to obtain an impression of Damascus under the Achaemenids. Damascus’ political status did not endow it with any buildings which have survived. 6 It is reasonable to see the temple of Hadad, however, as the continued centrepiece of the city and it received a gift of a statue of Aphrodite Anaitis, according to literary evidence.
In these 150 years that marked the final stages of the ancient Near East, Damascus remained largely sheltered from the wider Mediterranean world beyond the Lebanon range. 2 Amrit temple (pl. LXIII ‘Temple d’Amrith’ from M. Dunand and N. Saliby Le Temple d’Amrith dans la perée d’Aradus, Paris: Geuthner 1985) paid merely nominal tribute to the Persians. The preoccupations of the Persian Empire remained in Asia Minor and the tussle over the relative spheres of influence of Greeks and Persians. 8 For the last time for nearly one thousand years, the political and economic agenda was set from the east by the last great empire of the pre-classical world, an empire whose roots were still planted in the steppe-lands of Asia.
Achaemenid Persian Army by Duncan Head