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Sargon II, King of Assyria (721-705 BC)

Sargon II (Sharru-Kenu, 'legitimate King') was a son of Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 BC) and appears to have seized the throne from Shalmaneser V in a violent coup. Sargon's immediate concern was dealing with resistance inside Assyria. This instability at the centre of the empire led to a rebellion in Syria led by Yau-bi'di, king of Hamath. Sargon defeated this coalition and the flaying of Yau-bi'di was portrayed in detail on the walls of Sargon's palace in the new city of Dur-Sharrukin (modern Khorsabad) whose foundations were laid in 717 BC. However, in the south Sargon's forces were beaten in 720 BC by an army supporting the Babylonian king, Marduk-apla-iddina II (the biblical Merodach-baladan).

Sargon scarcely stopped fighting throughout his reign. A campaign in 714 BC weakened the powerful northern state of Urartu and from 710 BC he retook Babylonia, defeating Marduk-apla-iddina. This great triumph was followed by the celebrations of the completion of the new city of Dur-Sharrukin ('Fortress of Sargon'), north of Nineveh. But in 705 BC a military emergency in Anatolia required the king's personal participation and Sargon was killed in battle. He was succeeded on the throne by his son Sennecherib.

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