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Sennacherib, king of Assyria (704-681 BC)

Sennacherib, whose name (Sin-ahhe-criba) means 'the god Sin has replaced the brothers', came to the throne of Assyria in 704 BC. The new king shifted the capital from Dur-Sharrukin (modern Khorsabad) to the ancient city of Nineveh, which he rebuilt in unparalleled splendour. This great palace, which Sennacherib describes in his inscriptions as 'without rival', is known today as the South-West Palace. Many rooms were decorated with alabaster wall reliefs.

Sennacherib was mainly preoccupied with trying to resolve the political situation in Babylonia, a region that had only recently been retaken by his father Sargon II. Sennacherib's main opponent was a local leader called Marduk-apla-iddina II (the biblical Merodach-baladan) who was supported by Elam. From 703-689 BC Sennacherib fought to control south Mesopotamia until finally, after a fifteen-month siege, the city of Babylon was captured and sacked. In 701 BC Sennacherib sacked the city of Lachish in Judah but failed to take the capital Jerusalem. His other campaigns in the southern Levant, Anatolia, and in the Syrian desert against the Arabs, were concerned with frontier security. In 681 BC Sennacherib was assassinated by two of his sons while he prayed in a temple. He was succeeded by another son, Esarhaddon.

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