The Assyrian empire was located in Mesopotamia near the Euphrates River. Their reputation was so fierce that Jonah fled in fear when God commanded him to speak in Ninevah, Assyria's capital (Jonah 1:1?3).
Assyrian soldiers were equipped with the latest weaponry, including barbed arrows, catapults, and siege machines. They were known for ruthless battle tactics and horrific treatment of their captives.
To avoid resistance, the Assyrian army intimidated their enemies by inflicting great suffering on conquered lands. Only individuals with special skills and abilities were spared. The rest were put to death,often in very gruesome ways.
Assyrian kings prided themselves on their military conquests and often recorded their victories in writing (on tablets, clay cylinders, and obelisks). They also told stories of their conquests in pictorial reliefs that lined their palace walls.
Archaeologists have uncovered many of these Assyrian records recounting victories and plunder. They have found chilling information about the way Assyrians tortured their captives, including:
- flaying (cutting skin into strips and pulling it off a living victim)
- impaling (inserting a sharpened stake beneath the rib cage of a living victim, putting the stake into the ground so it stood erect, and leaving the victim until the stake pierced a vital organ causing the victim to die)
- burning people (especially babies and children) alive
- severing hands, feet, noses, ears, tongues, and testicles
- gouging out eyes.