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CHAPTER FOUR. World Hegemony, 900-300 bce

Paul-Alain Beaulieu

Subject Ancient History » Ancient Near East History

Period 3500 BCE - 1 CE » 1000 - 500 BCE, 500 - 250 BCE

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405160018.2007.00006.x


Between the ninth and the fourth century bce the Near East was ruled by a succession of states which fully deserve the label of “empire.” The first one was Assyria, which after a period of growth and crisis between about 930 and 745 bce achieved the true status of centralized empire under Tiglath-pileser III (745–727 bce ), eventually enabling the Sargonid dynasty (721–610 bce ) to exercise its hegemony over the entire region. The second one, Babylonia (610–539 bce ), immediately emerged from the ruins of the Assyrian empire and fell heir to most of its territory. The third one, the Persian or Achaemenid empire (539–331 bce ), replaced the Babylonian empire almost overnight in the autumn of 539 bce and grew to rule vast territories from Afghanistan in the east to Thracia in Europe and Nubia in northeastern Africa for a period of two centuries. Finally, after his conquest of the Persian empire Alexander the Great laid the foundations for an even larger Greco-Macedonian empire which quickly disintegrated after his death, but by the end of the fourth century the royal house founded by his general Seleucus had firmly established its rule over the core of Alexander's empire. The first question that arises concerns the very concept of “world hegemony,” especially how such hegemony was understood in the native political vocabulary of the Ancient Near East. The second issue is ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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