- (SIN-AHHE-ERIBA in assyrian; reigned 704–681 B.C.)Assyrian king. Despite the plentiful and varied sources for his reign, the sequence of events is still disputed. Sennacherib, whose name (“Sin has compensated [for dead] brothers”) suggests that he was not a first-born, was groomed for royal succession by his father Sargon II, and was entrusted with administrative duties from an early age. Even so, his succession after Sargon’s sudden death on campaign was not unproblematic and unleashed a series of revolts. The Egyptian pharaoh incited the kings of Sidon, Ascalon, and Judah to rebel against Assyrian rule, an uprising that was put down by Sennacherib’s general.Merodach-baladan had meanwhile returned to Babylon and assembled a large force of Chaldean, Aramean, Arab, and Elamite troops. Sennacherib marched to Babylonia, defeated the coalition, appointed a new ruler, Bel-ibni, and led a punitive campaign against the Bit-Yakin tribe in the marshes. He then replaced the unreliable Bel-ibni with his own son and continued to rout the southern tribes with the help of a fleet of Phoenician-built ships he had transported by land and river to the Persian Gulf.While he was busily engaged in the south, the Elamites invaded northern Babylonia and kidnapped his son, the regent in Babylon. This led to another series of clashes between Elamite–Babylonian coalitions and the Assyrians, while the son of his old foe Merodachbaladan had assumed the throne of Babylon. Sennacherib set siege to the city, which held out for 15 months, and vented his fury on the “holy city.” This deed was not only abhorred as sacrilege by the Babylonians but also caused much consternation in Assyria, where the gods of Babylon were held in high esteem.Sennacherib is also remembered for his ambitious building program at Nineveh, which he made into his capital. He was very interested in engineering and personally supervised the construction of aqueducts and transport of the colossal human-headed bulls that guarded the palace gates. He was also very fond of plants and collected a great variety of species from all over the empire to grace the gardens of Nineveh. He died a violent death, perhaps at the hand of one of his own sons.
Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. EdwART. 2012.