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SARGON:

King of Assyria; died 705 B.C. He is mentioned in the Bible only in Isa. xx. 1; and his name is preserved by no classic writer. All modern knowledge of him dates, therefore, from the discovery of his palace at Khorsabad, twelve miles northeast of Nineveh, by Botta in 1843. This palace was a part of the city of Dur-Sharrukin, which Sargon built as a new capital for himself. It was lined with bas-reliefs presenting an illustrated account of his reign; and under the foundations of the city gates also chronicles on clay were found. From these and the chronological data of the Assyrian kingdom, an account of Sargon's reign, which extended from 722 to 705, can be reconstructed.

Sargon succeeded Shalmaneser IV. Whether he was of royal blood or not is a matter of dispute. Neither he nor his son Sennacherib claimed royal descent; but his grandson Esar-haddon claimed the king Bel-bani as a remote ancestor of Sargon (comp. "Journal of the American Oriental Society," Proceedings, May, 1891, p. cxxxii.). The fact that Sargon ascended the throne in the same month that Shalmaneser died indicates that he was looked upon as the natural successor of the latter. Before his accession he was general of the armies of Assyria. The name "Sargon" was probably assumed on his accession, in imitation of the famous Sargon of Agade.

When Shalmaneser died the Assyrian armies were besieging Samaria. In the first year of Sargon's reign Samaria fell; and at his command more than 27,000 of the inhabitants were deported, Babylonians and Syrians being brought to take their places. Under Merodach-baladan Babylon revolted, and was not reconquered until 709. In 720 Sargon sent an army into Palestine; and at Raphia he defeated Egypt and her allies. This gave him the mastery of the west. Between 719 and 708 he undertook many campaigns against and finally subdued Urartu in Armenia—a kingdom which had given his ancestors much trouble. During the same period he made several campaigns against the Moschi and Tabal in the Taurus Mountains. In 711 he sent his "Tartan" into Palestine to put down a coalition headed by Ashdod; it is this expedition which Isaiah mentions. In 709 he completed the conquest of Babylon, and was crowned king of that country, and in 708 his new capital and palace at Dur-Sharrukin were completed. In 705 he died a violent death; but the text which relates the event is so broken that the nature of the violence is unknown. He was surpassed in ability by Tiglath-pileser III., but was one of Assyria's greatest kings.

Bibliography:
  • D. G. Lyon, Keilschrifttexte Sargons, Leipsic, 1883;
  • Winckler, Keilschrifttexte Sargons, 1889;
  • Schrader, K. B. ii. 34-81;
  • Rogers, History of Babylonia and Assyria, 1900, ii. 148-182;
  • Goodspeed, History of the Babylonians and Assyrians, 1902, pp. 243-264.
J. G. A. B.
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