How did the Assyrian and neo-Babylonian governmental structures lead to cultural assimilation in the Empires? What are some examples?

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An example of an Assyrian governmental structure that facilitated cultural assimilation was the king's palace. Take, for instance, King Assurnasirpal II's palace. The public areas of the palace were lavishly decorated; the walls were lined with magnificent bas-relief sculptures that emphasized the Assyrian army's might and the king's power. 

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An example of an Assyrian governmental structure that facilitated cultural assimilation was the king's palace. Take, for instance, King Assurnasirpal II's palace. The public areas of the palace were lavishly decorated; the walls were lined with magnificent bas-relief sculptures that emphasized the Assyrian army's might and the king's power. 

Each of the sculptured slabs portrayed images of Assyrian military might. Many showed Assyrian kings and their armies in the midst of besieging cities. These gruesome war scenes were meant to intimidate all who looked upon the walls of an Assyrian palace. The Assyrians often conscripted citizens from conquered states to fight on behalf of their king; these foreign citizens were assimilated into Assyrian culture through their participation in construction and engineering projects as well as through service in the Assyrian army.

Meanwhile, the Assyrian kings repaid the labor and loyalty of the conquered peoples with royal protection. Throughout the best days of the Assyrian Empire, these conquered citizens built countless palaces, temples, and public gardens on behalf of the Assyrian king. It was inevitable, then, that generations of these citizens would assimilate seamlessly into the world of their new masters.

Many of these citizens labored to ensure that the throne rooms and West Suites in Assyrian palaces portrayed suitable sculptures of Assyrian military power and resilience. King Sennacherib, for example, commissioned the labor of conquered peoples to rebuild the old city of Nineveh. Conscripted laborers were forced to erect grand palaces and temples in the city; these palaces were often decorated with precious stones and cedar wood. Additionally, the helpless laborers would have been forced to craft sculptures that portrayed the Assyrian armies conquering their beloved lands. This is one way that the Assyrians forcefully assimilated conquered peoples into their culture.

When the Neo-Babylonian empire took over from the Assyrians, palaces and temples were rebuilt. These public structures became even more magnificent in design, structure, and style. In fact, King Nebuchadnezzar II, possibly the greatest monarch of the Neo-Babylonian empire, used conscripted laborers to rebuild much of Babylon. He added a museum to his palace, and two of his greatest engineering accomplishments were the Ishtar Gate and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Ishtar Gate itself was decorated with images of Babylonian gods and goddesses, while the perimeters of the gate showed images of fierce lions, the animal most associated with King Nebuchadnezzar II.

So, Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian governmental structures led to cultural assimilation in two ways:

1) The two empires utilized the labor of conquered citizens in engineering and construction projects.

2) Through these projects, monarchs saturated their respective cultures with artistic and engineering representations of the dominance and hegemonic power of both empires.

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Although they possessed a reputation for cruelty in warfare, the Assyrians and neo-Babylonians were tolerant in accepting the various people under their empires. The Assyrians and neo-Babylonians effectively defeated their enemies by ruthlessly killing opponents with their vast and formidable armies and then demanding tribute from people they had vanquished. Once they had been conquered, however, defeated people were treated as equals in the empire. Neither the Assyrians nor the neo-Babylonians possessed the idea that there was a superior race or type of people.

For example, Adad Nirari II (c. 912-891 BCE) conquered the Aramaeans, some of whom were eventually integrated into Assyrian culture. When he conquered Babylon, he did not destroy the city but instead chose to intermarry his family within the Babylonian royal family, ensuring peace for the better part of the coming century. In addition, Assyrians and neo-Babylonians adopted the wisdom and knowledge of the people they conquered; for example, they built on the superior medical knowledge of the Sumerians to advance their own civilization. 

During the reign of Ashurnasirpal II (884-859 BCE), the Assyrian deity, Ashur, was brought with the conquering armies into distant temples. Over time, people in conquered regions began to recognize Ashur as the current incarnation of gods they had worshipped in the past. The belief in the ever-present nature of the deity helped unify the empire. 

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