The Assyrians were among the great empires of the Ancient World which, at its height, controlled a region stretching across Mesopotamia, and reaching further west into Egypt. This was among the oldest of the great Empires, preceding the neo-Babylonian revival, which would in turn be conquered by Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire. In this alone, the Assyrians have great historical significance.
In addition to their conquests, the Assyrians also rank among the great city-builders of the Ancient World. Furthermore, there are historical arguments that the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon, among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, may have actually been located in Assyrian Nineveh, rather than in Babylon. This should hopefully give some idea as to the tremendous splendor possessed by this Assyrian city.
The greatest legacy of the Assyrians is in the area of military achievement. A contemporary portrayal of the Assyrians is one of brutal military might. Looking back on the Assyrians today we can recognize how their efforts had a great impact on the military arts. The Assyrians were the first civilization to utilize a professional standing army, the largest in the history of the Middle East. They were innovators in the field of engineering for military purpose and even had a corp of engineers. The use of iron for military purpose gave the Assyrians a remarkable advantage over their enemies. The Assyrians also divided their military into specialized units based on skills (archers, cavalry, charioteers.)
With the wealth acquired by having an organized war machine, the Assyrians built well-developed cities and are credited with establishing one of the world's first libraries at Nineveh. The Assyrians were also pioneers in the area of glassmaking and aqueducts. Despite being known as a brute military empire, the Assyrians utilized their profits from war to make advances in technology and engineering.
The Assyrian Empire (or Neo-Assyrian Empire) is often considered the first true empire, becoming the most powerful in the world during its height during the 8th century B. C. For more than 300 years (from approximately 900 B. C. to 600 B. C.), it challenged Babylonia and Egypt as the greatest nation of the ancient world. The legacies left by the empire include the Aramaic language; the gods which were still worshiped for centuries afterward; Mesopotamian literature, such as the story of Gilgamesh; cuneiform script; and the cultures which lived on following the fall of Assyria to the Babylonians in 612 B. C. and its later incorporation into the Persian Empire.