The following is the abstract of the thesis titled ”Heartland and Province: Urban and Rural Settlement in the Neo-Assyrian Empire” by Eleanor Barbanes from University of California.
The last phase of the Assyrian empire, beginning with the reign of Ashur-Dan II (934-912 BC) and lasting until almost 600 BC, left a unique and indelible mark on urban history. It was during this period that the Assyrian empire emerged as a formidable imperial power and, through enormous territorial expansion and political consolidation, came to dominate most of Mesopotamia and parts of Palestine, Egypt, Media, and Anatolia. The Assyrians’ control over this rapidly expanding empire was maintained through the establishment of a system administration based upon principles of political and economic centralization. In expanding the area of lands under their control and reorganizing the administration of the empire, the Assyrian kings radically transformed the cultural, political, and geographical landscape of Upper Mesopotamia. The radical transformation was accomplished by the implementation of the processes of urbanization.
According to Wheatley, urbanization “denotes the rate of change in the ratio of city dwellers to total population, which in practice means a change in the number and size of cities” (Wehatley 1972:623). The archaeological record of Upper Mesopotamia reveals that in the early part of the first millennium BC, there was a significant increase in the number, size, and the types of settlements occupied as compared to the Late Bronze Age. It is reasonable to assume that Neo-Assyrian administrative centralization necessitated a program of urbanization of the countryside in order to ensure the stability of security of the empire, and although there is no concrete evidence of such a program in historical sources, there are sufficient indications to suggest that Assyrian efforts at resettlement were intensified during the second half of the night century BC (Liverani 1992). Recent archaeological research concerning Neo-Assyrian settlement in the area of the study has produced a picture of a settlement system characterized by a multi-tiered hierarchy composed of numerous hamlets, villages, and provincial centers, with the prevailing capital city at the pinnacle of the hierarchical pyramid.