- Tribute is the enforced delivery of goods, services, or people imposed on a country or region after a military defeat. In contrast to booty and plunder, which is amassed by soldiers during warfare, tribute payments are meant to be maintained over a period of time, usually as long as the victorious country is able to assert its power. They serve to acknowledge the superiority and hegemony of the victor. The earliest evidence for this practice in Mesopotamia dates from the first emergence of a centralized state during the Akkad period. Naram-Sin (reigned c. 2260–2224 B.C.) claims to have received tribute from the rulers of Subartu (later Assyria) and other unspecified “highlands,” but in Mesopotamia such practices were not very common until the imperial expansion of Assyria in the late second and first millennium.The Assyrians had a system of provinces and vassal states. While in Assyrian provinces Assyrian officials were in charge of raising and collecting taxes, vassal kings had to provide the equivalent contribution as rent for their thrones and extracted this from their people. The Assyrian administration at the capital kept careful watch over the regularity and extent of these payments. Refusal or inability to deliver was punished by retributive military action.
Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. EdwART. 2012.