Shammuramat – Queen of Assyria (Regent) – 811 BCE – 806 BCE

Hello my lovely readers! I am so sorry for the horrible delay but I am up and running again. Life just decided to happen and it was really difficult to get back into writing – as lame an excuse as that is. But enough of my less than impressive excuses for the delay, on to our next lady!

In this essay I will be talking about Shammuramat, the ancient Queen of Assryia and her potential deified entity Semiramis. Yes, it is rather awesome that some of these women transcended mortality and became actual deities, but more on this later!

Shammuramat (also known as Sammu-Ramat, Sammuramat) reigned as Queen of Assyria during the years 811 BCE – 806 BCE which may or may not be true depending on where you get your information. She is believed to have been the daughter of King Bau-akh-iddina, a Babylonian king. A war broke out between Assyria and Babylonia during the former’s time of expansion during the reign of, I believe, Shamshi-Adad IV, Shammuramat’s husband. The war ended in a treaty between the two nations, sealed by the marriage of a Babylonian princess to the King of Assyria and Babylonia was reduced to an Assyrian province. The marriage could have also been a way for the Assyrian king to legitimize his right to rule over the land of Babylonia. By marrying one of her princesses, Shamshi-Adad IV adopted the country under Assyrian rule, possibly trying to make the conquering into more of an adoption.

It was after the death of Shamshi-Adad IV that Shammuramat comes into the historical records as Queen. She is believed to have reigned for 5 years as regent before passing the throne to her son, Adad-Nirari III, who was too young to assume the throne at the time of Shamshi-Adad IV’s death. This is also, however, depending on where you get your information.

The reign of Shammuramat is believed to have been a time of recovery, prosperity, and growth. She is said to have led many successful military campaigns during her reign, expanding the empire far and wide. To show the status and power she held, Shammuramat erected a stele in the great city of Ashur and is believed to have been the first woman to rule without a man at her side in history. I do not make such a claim because of Queen Puabi who may or may not have been a queen and was not buried with a man but I digress. Adad-Nirari III is said to have been a great King and the Assyrian empire fell after his grandson.

So! Now that we have that out of the way time for some Words from Georgie! (Here we go!)

First of all I would like to mention that in my time of doing research I came across a great deal of inconsistencies and controversies concerning our leading lady. There is a lot of question among the academic community surrounding her reign and even her existence and there seems to be a clear split down the middle: either you believe she was real and possibly did at least half of what she is accredited with or you don’t believe she ever was queen or even existed. Georgie is on the ‘this could actually be real’ side and we shove off!

The first real discrepancy I noticed was that the dates of her reign and the length of her reign are not entirely agreed upon. She is thought to have reigned between 811 BCE and 806 BCE but there were some websites I visited that talked about her son, Adad-Nirari III, conquering neighboring city-states during this time period, not her. This happened quite a few times in my reading in which the texts are mixing her reign and his.

Now, Georgie believes this could have been intentional or unintentional (or people just writing the wrong dates in, who knows). Assuming the last option on the list is not what happened, Shammuramat could have been doing all these great things that were being passed off as Adad-Nirari III’s but at this point I must ask why? Could this have been a token of motherly affection? Maybe Shammuramat was going about on all these impressive ventures and allowing Adad-Nirari III to take credit for them as a way to help build his reputation as a great and powerful ruler. Since at the time most people probably never really saw their ruler directly, the majority of civilians probably would have no idea what he looked like or even if he was a child or not. If they thought he was a child he probably would have amassed many divine tributes as to the reason behind his power and might at such a young age.

This theory stands, in my opinion, as long as we can assume that Shammuramat was actually the mother of Adad-Nirari III and not the son of another wife or concubine. I sincerely doubt that if he were not her son she would be trying to build this great kingdom for her not-child to inherit but that is simply based on what I’ve learned from other royals with multiple wives with their eyes set on the throne for their child. So a good working theory: Shammuramat allowed the credit to be given to her son while she was out conquering the ancient world or she was forced to give her son the credit, but I doubt anybody could have made this woman do anything she did not want so back to the former!

Now, let’s talk a little bit about the empire that would have been inherited by Adad-Nirari III. If he would have assumed the throne at the time of his father’s death, Adad-Nirari III would have inherited an empire weakened by civil war. Shamshi-Adad IV died after his brother attempted to usurp the throne. The revolt was quailed and, I can only assume, his brother killed for treason against the crown.

Shammuramat would have come on the scene in a time of great unrest among her people and would have had to solidify the nation. To put this into perspective: a Babylonian princess that was wed to Shamshi-Adad IV as a marital alliance between the nations was now supposed to bring stability to the empire after a civil war broke out between the two native princes . . . right! So this foreign woman that was pretty much sold – since she probably had a dowry with her at the time of marriage as well – was now supposed to rally together all the sleazy politicians and military leaders that probably all had their eyes on the throne and another on the child king, quail the rebellions, and ensure her life and that of her son’s. I am just reiterating this to really put it into perspective for you guys how much a lose-lose situation this woman was put into.

I am not sure how long after she became queen of Shamshi-Adad IV that he died but at this point I believe it is safe to assume that she probably had a few people whom she trusted in the courts and in the palace. Shammuramat may have taken the throne and reigned as regent in place of her son possibly to keep him safe from – I think it’s safe to assume – people that wanted to end his life and that of his mother’s. It is commonly seen throughout history that the more influential candidates, when something like this happens, off the competition and usurp the throne and begin their own dynasty. Military leaders would have been the first runner ups if the brother had already been killed.

To make this situation even more impossible – as if it wasn’t difficult enough as it was – she is said to have reigned for all of 5 years! Yes, just 5 years! So in those 5 years she stabilized the empire, conquered all these lands, erected her stele, and stepped down to let her son – who was probably barely old enough to understand what exactly was needed of him – rule the rest of the empire. This seems extremely farfetched to Georgie given that it probably took a minimum of 6 months to even reach some of the lands she is said to have conquered, not to mention the time the actual war took place and the amount of money she must have needed to fund these grand military campaigns. War is not cheap and neither is commissioning her stele and after a civil war had already weakened the nation, that is a lot of stress to put on an empire that you were going to hand over to a child that you, in theory love . . . unless you were trying to sabotage the entire thing but more on the ‘not stepping down’ later!

However, let’s momentarily ponder this notion as if it were an actual possibility (in case you have not noticed, I don’t think it is) and right now I’m trying to find the motivation behind trying to stabilize a foreign nation she was essentially sold off to. Do you think maybe the thought of returning to Babylonia crossed her mind? Possibly, I think; but after it was reduced to an Assyrian province, she probably did not have much to go back to, so she might have ruled that out. Besides, Babylonia might still have been hurting after going to war with Assyria and might not have fully recovered. Could her ruling been an act of motherly devotion or even honor? She could have wanted to make sure her son inherited a stable empire and eased the transition by doing it for him. She could also have had a great sense of honor and stood her grounds on the fact that she was pretty much in the right to rule the country her husband left behind whether she was a native or not. She was Queen and she was going to remain Queen and was not about to be kicked out of a nation she was forced upon simply because these power hungry jerk offs decided they wanted to kill her son and take it for themselves.

It could have also been a statement she was making about her people. Along with showing that she had a sense of honor and dignity she might also have been trying to show everyone that she did not come from a people that walked away when the going got tough because I am assuming, like most things, she met at least some if not a lot of resistance from the people around her. She could have been making a statement by standing firm and taking over the whole operation; I am your Queen and I will rule without a king whether you like it or not and I will be a badass while doing it!

I truly believe that her erecting her stele in the capital city of Ashur was her way of showing her intentions to make a difference and take a stance. It’s not a tiny thing either. It is not as big as the obelisks in Egypt but it is a pretty commanding slab of stone she had dragged and erected in the middle of a pretty important city. This also reflects the wealth of the country since commissioning any kind of building took money and if the empire was already hurting over the civil war, could we kind of assume that she may have had this erected after she stabilized the nation and brought back the spoils of war? Georgie says aye.

Let’s elaborate on the stele a bit more. The stele is clearly her way of showing her power and influence. The writing on the stele is evidence of the fact that she tried to really legitimize her claim to the throne by associating herself with many great Assyrian men. When she allegedly stepped down (note Georgie’s obvious skepticism) wouldn’t the new king have been inclined to take down the stele or at least write over it? I would think having a stele from a regent stand throughout your reign would be almost an undermining of authority or statement that said regent is as important as the king and I don’t think any king takes very kindly to that. So why would Adad-Narari III have let it stand? Here we have multiple Georgie speculations; hang on to your hats folks! Time for some Theorizing with Georgie!

Georgie Theory #1: Shammuramat did NOT step down from the throne after her 5 years as regent.

Alright! We finally get to the obvious fave-Georgie theory. I really do not think that Shamuramat stepped down from the throne when her son became “of age” – which is possibly the most vague statement I have ever heard. What did it mean to be “of age” in the 9th century BCE? But that is beside the point.

Shammuramat seems to have been the kind of woman that took control of a situation and cut out a path to going down in history as one of the most badass women to have lived in the ancient world – hence all those legends. A woman that leads military campaigns herself to far off lands and conquers all these peoples hardly seems like the type to be moved by motherly love or any kind of sentimentality. I would think that showing your enemies that you do love your family—as odd as that sounds – and being at the center of attention during a time of civil and political unrest would be unwise. Any contender for the throne of Assyria – military leader or sleazy politician alike – would jump on putting the king to be in danger and using the child to manipulate the mother. For a foreign woman to have held her office as queen successfully I think she would have tried to be as aloof to her son as she was to her enemies.

Giving herself a point of vulnerability would seem like a very foolish move, especially for a military strategist. I would like to think she saw her own royal court as a battlefield and had to shrewdly maneuver her way through the hoops to assure her survival and that of her son’s. To coddle her son would have given her too much to lose and if she would have allowed herself to become so attached to him would have been a politically suicidal move. Should he have been assassinated or kidnapped, her emotional tie to him would have had some affect on her ability to rule and would have been seen as a weakness. If she would not have made an error in her deadly game of manipulation, she may have grown careless and I do not think that a woman of this intelligence and cunning would have let herself be put in that kind of a predicament. But this could also be Georgie being overly calloused and overly paranoid though.

She cared about her son – I do not doubt that. He made it into adulthood and is said to have been a great monarch; that alone tells me that she was grooming him for the throne or at least that she cared enough about her adopted nation that she would not let some buffoon sit on the throne after she was gone. That does not take from the fact that a woman with that much drive and the desire to make an impact on her world does not seem to the be kind of woman to give up that life even for her son – who was probably still a child and nowhere near the political and military genius she was.

The only logical reason to me that Shammuramat would have stepped down as ruler – and even this seems unlikely – is that her ruling would have caused some unrest among her nation. This seems highly unlikely to me because she was out conquering nations during her regency; she was bringing wealth and expanding the empire after a civil war had destabilized it and I honestly do not know of anyone that would see this and have an issue with it . . . unless they had something to gain from her stepping down; enter sleazy politicians and anyone else that wants to be the ruler of Assyria.

Georgie Theory #2: Shammuramat and Adad-Nirari III married and ruled jointly.

Now, hold whatever object you want to throw at me for yet another adding-scandal-to-history moment of mine and hear me out! (Thank you in advance.) Incest is nothing new especially in the ancient world where going to family reunions was the prime time to find yourself your wife/husband to further strengthen your claim to the throne and keep the royal blood “pure”.

So! If we take this kind of logic and take examples from other ancient royals who married their siblings to either reinforce their claim to the throne or to stay in some form of power at all, the marriage between a mother and her son is nothing really out of the ordinary and would seem almost logical for a woman of her influence to make this move. (The only other one I think would have been to have the king to be disappear and never be seen from again but according to history that does not happen so moving right along.)

There is an inscription on the back of a Babylonian deity set up by Adad-Nirari III with an inscription that gives me some ground to stand on. The inscription reads: “For the life of Adadnirari, king of Assyria, its lord, and for the life of Sammuramat, the lady of the palace and its mistress.” Aside from making me leap for joy, this inscription really does give the implication that maybe her marrying her son is not too farfetched. Also, apparently, Semiramis is said to have had a thing for her son, going as far as having guards watch him while she was away fighting wars and all that good stuff a ruler does. However, back to some actual inscriptions!

This inscription really leads me to believe that if they did not marry, Adad-Nirari III at least held his mother to same level of importance and power as him if he is calling her mistress of the palace, which title was normally saved only for the queen of the king. This would also kind of explain the conflict of dates that keep popping up and the question of her existence, which I don’t think should even be a question but alas. If Shammuramat took the throne with her son and they ruled jointly it would explain why her military accomplishments could have been credited to him and would also explain why legends say her rule lasted about 45 years. Adad-Nirari III was said to have ruled from 811 BCE-783 BCE (note the conflict of dates). That would be a reign of about 95 years! So aside from being horribly impressive – we’re getting into Ramesses II terms of ruling – that would also lend itself to the idea that he ruled with his mother. If she ruled for 45 years that would have given him 50 years to rule alone. He was much younger than his mother, presumably, and the time line kind of makes sense if you think about it like this.

If Shammuramat ruled jointly with him, unofficially or officially, from pretty much the day he was born, it would make his rule a little more reasonable. Please note: Ramesses II is believed to have lived to be about 90 years old, so it is possible and he did lead many military campaigns during his reign. For a king that may have been kept off the battlefield and more in the background, to live to be 90 is not too far of a stretch. This way he had 45 years to really grow up and become a seasoned military leader and another 50 after his mother/queen no longer ruled to continue the expansion of the empire.

Shammuramat is known to have been a great ruler that stabilized her nation and expanded the empire. If she was ruling with her son as his queen it would make more sense that her accomplishments be given to him and it would explain why her stele was not destroyed after she allegedly stepped down from the throne. This also makes more sense and explains the claim that she ruled as regent for 5 years before giving the throne to her son. She may have ruled as regent for 5 years and then not actually stepped down but instead given him the title of king and making herself his queen.

As odd as this sounds, it really makes sense from a political and military point of view. Shammuramat was a Babylonian princess that may have been married to Shamshi-Adad IV as an alliance agreement but also as a way to legitimize his right to rule Babylonia. If Adad-Nirari III took her as his wife as well it would strengthen his claim on Babylonia, since he was already in theory son of Shammuramat, and he would have gained a powerful asset and possibly ensured his life.

Shammuramat was an influential woman and probably not the kind of person you want to alienate or anger. Despite being a woman, if she did lead all those military campaigns and was that successful it would mean that she probably won the love of her people for stabilizing the nation and bringing wealth from her successful battles, but she also would have – in theory – won the loyalty of her army. The men at arms would have felt a deep loyalty to the ruler that personally led them in battle versus stood back and let others lead. This might also have been a strategic move that she made to win the loyalty of the military away from any potentially conspiring generals. For a new king and so young it would have been a very foolish move to estrange himself from someone as powerful as Shammuramat and might have even welcomed the thought of marrying his own mother. At least this way he did not have to worry over his wife’s family or even the wife herself trying to off him for the power to rule. Shammuramat already had the power and was not giving any of it up it seems.

I would not mind getting behind this idea simply because it gives Shammuramat the proper place, in my eyes, which is on the Assyrian throne. There is also no other mention of Adad-Nirari III’s wife aside from the inscription and is said that they were mythical spouses. This also gives more of a logical timeframe for all of her accomplishments. No I do not believe that she was able to conquer all these places in a span of 5 years. That sounds completely illogical unless, you know, aliens but that’s not exactly my area of expertise.

It is also said that Adad-Nirari IV valued and respected many Babylonian traditions. This was Adad-Nirari III’s son and theoretically Shammuramat’s grandson. However, if he placed so much value on Babylonian culture almost a century after it was made part of the Assryian Empire why would it have mattered? True it could have been a fascination and respect for the Babylonians – he might have been a historian. But I think it might also have been because his grandmother was from Babylonia and probably emphasized the culture and traditions from there to him. She might also have been even closer than a grandmother; if they had married, as Georgie is proposing, she would have been his mother and therefore directly influencing his upbringing. To see his mother put value on the traditions of her people would definitely have influenced any child and I do think this may have happened.

Georgie Theory #3: Adad-Nirari III was a puppet.

Okay let’s say for the sake of argument that Shammuramat did step down as regent after 5 years of ruling at which point her son would have succeeded her. Adad-Nirari III was probably very young and like putty and all he could probably do is try to imitate the acts of his father, grandfather, and very impressive mother.

Safely assuming that he was probably not the most influential and did not have the vast knowledge and experience his war councilors did he would have been very easy to manipulate for the gain of any of the leaders trying to advance. At this point I think his mother would have been at his right hand and possibly have been taken under her wing if not be a complete puppet of hers.

By feeding him and grooming him in the way that she wished to rule she guaranteed the expansion of her nation and the success of her son as ruler, which was probably a nice perk – to not have given birth to a fool of a monarch. I would think a woman as powerful as her would sooner kill her incompetent son than hand over a nation she is trying to see prosper . . . but that’s just Georgie’s opinion.

If I chose to believe that Shammuramat indeed stepped down after a meager 5 years of ruling I think she would have used Adad-Nirari III as a puppet and manipulated him to do her bidding and pass her laws. If he was young I think he would have cooperated well enough.

Not to mention if Shammuramat planted the seed of betrayal and paranoia in his young heart and had him see everyone in the court except her chosen trusted ones as potential usurpers that wanted to take the throne from him, it would take a few years before he really formulated his own opinion of who he could trust or not. In the critical young years of his life, however, Shammuramat could have been there slowly nurturing that corrupt plant of paranoia and distrust in anyone but her. Because after all, a mother would not kill her son . . . under normal circumstances.

I know some of you guys reading this are probably thinking ‘Oh Georgie! So dramatic! What is this a soap opera?’ Well no, it’s not. It’s better; it’s history! And history is much less forgiving than a soap opera!

I am not painting Shammuramat as a caring woman, with a gentle heart that was able to coax the nation from certain destruction simply by being coy and sweet. I am painting Shammuramat as a cunning and shrewd woman that was able to work the system that did not allow a woman to be in power and make it so that she was in power and damn did she make it work! This woman was not soft and sweet and cuddly; she was a battle hardened warrior, like any other man or king. And like any other man or king she was probably very aware of the dangers of holding her position and probably had spies everywhere if not actually went in to spy herself because when you need something done, you gotta do it yourself.

The legends that exist of her as Semiramis also support the picture of a hardened woman that was cold, calculative, and manipulative. She is said to have been the first woman to really wear trousers to hide her feminine physique when traveling the country side and when in battle. A dress or any other feminine gown would not be suitable for mounting swift, strategic attacks against an enemy.

She is also said to have had a string of lovers – she would sleep with a different lover each night and in the morning have him executed or buried alive. Georgie does not really get behind the idea that Semiramis was a nymphomaniac but I’m sure during such stressful times sex would probably have been a great stress reliever. So I do think she did have lovers but I do not think she had a different one each night; that seems pretty farfetched in my eyes. Did she have them executed? Possibly, to prevent any other claims to her throne. But for all we know she was a sex crazed woman that knew what she wanted and battle made her hot with lust. So! To each his/her own!

There is also this next myth about her that, should it be true, really makes me question the bozos in charge of the palace. So in this myth she apparently asked her husband to be able to rule as regent for a day – some say 5 days – just to see how well she would do. Her husband, being possibly a gullible oaf and not seeing the cunning fox that was his wife for what she was, lets her and on the first day has him executed and she usurps the throne.

Now this story really highlights how clever Semiramis was and just how manipulative she could be. It really gives her credit as a strategist and in all seriousness if this is how it happened, well! Talk about guts! BUT! I must be a bit incredulous about this myth if only because she was not the actual ruler and honestly, any servant with half a brain would reason that the substitute ruler did not really have the authority to take the life of the legitimate ruler especially if said ruler was a powerful king like Shamshi-Adad IV.

On the other hand she may have been waiting and laying down her cards for the perfect moment to strike and was able to stage a coupe and overthrow the king. Other myths say she had the king assassinated so it’s not too grand a claim to say she got the throne by foul play. This is not to discredit or slander her in the least. Men and families had been doing this to each other for centuries. For a woman to carry this out simply means she had the charisma and drive to see her plan to the end. An all or nothing game play, risking your life for the throne of a great empire seems like a fair exchange and if she was already a military genius, this must have been just like planning a battle on the home front.

This would also put her in a spot of contempt and fear. For a female to rule a nation was unheard of and for her to have potentially done it through murder was probably something inconceivable to the “educated” class. They probably did not believe a woman to be capable of such master planning and might have been terrified to see that their new ruler had gotten away with it. This might also explain why she was given godly qualities.

I do think that Semiramis is Shammuramat or at least was inspired by Shammuramat. I do believe that she existed as Queen because of her stele and her effort to make a connection to so many Assyrian greats and the inscription left behind by Adad-Nirari III. Nothing comes out of thin air, especially in the past when greater things happened than a woman ruling a nation. Yes it was a great accomplishment but there are greater mysteries of the ancient world that have even less true reason behind it – see the Nazca lines and the great pyramid of Giza. These historical landmarks really haunt us in the present and really show us that back in the day great things were accomplished and we don’t really know how. All we have is theories and to say that a woman could not have possibly born all these great legends based on her real accomplishments and doings in her life is like saying that there are no sea monsters at the bottom of the ocean simply because we cannot see them and crazy old sailor’s tales of the Kraken have no ground to stand on. (Which is NOT true at all. Have you seen some of those things down there?! They’re terrifying! Stuff of nightmares!)

Shammuramat did exist in my opinion and was a great woman that took hold of her nation when it needed a leader and carried the nation on her shoulder to fix it back together. She was willing to put herself in the danger of being a female ruler and was willing to become the king that Assyria needed – bringing wealth and prosperity to her people. Whether she stepped down and used Adad-Nirari III as a puppet, did not step down, or married him is a bit irrelevant to me. Her accomplishments were so great they were turned into a myth and was given a creation story worthy of a demi-goddess. I do not believe that ancient historians were simply blowing smoke the entire time they were talking about her. Back in the day, you probably did not have much time to make elaborate lies to gain something. Besides, she had been dead for quite some time, what would they have gained anyways?!

I know this post was long in coming and I know it was a lot more speculation and Georgie theories than usual and I’m sorry if you found it horribly unentertaining but honestly this is what I love to do. I love giving these people real lives with real personalities. Shammuramat was probably terrified when she took the throne; the entire ancient world was watching her and she had to make sure not to mess up. She probably forced herself not to fall in love with anyone and might have loved someone dearly but might have never acted upon it lest they be used against her. It must have been a difficult life but one that she saw was worth sacrificing everything for. What do you think she was like? Do you think she had a favorite servant? What must she have been like when planning out all of her military strategies? Can you see her supervising the erection of her stele; saluting the commoners as they bowed to her? Can you see her showing affection to Adad-Nirari III when he showed her the inscription he commissioned for her? Shammuramat took her world by storm and history has not forgotten her. Whether she was a powerful woman that came to the throne naturally or through the shadows, she is a woman that proves to us that if you are willing to fight for it and sacrifice for it like she did, you can have it. During a time when women barely had a name of their own, she stood up and took the reins of the most powerful empire of the time and led it into its golden age.

Thank you so much for reading guys! I really appreciate it! Follow me on twitter @georginareich89 or my blog! Expect a post every 2 weeks on Sunday! I truly appreciate your support and welcome any feedback! If you have a specific woman you want me to write about in history, let me know, and I will add that woman to my list when I get to her time period. I am going in chronological order here so I have a WAYS to go! I can’t wait to continue this journey with you guys and thank you so much for your support! Always with Love, Georgina.

P.S. There is also some further reading on people claiming she is the Whore of Babylon! You can read it here!


Kjeilen, Tore Shammuramat. Retrieved from:

Lewis, Jone Johnson Semiramis – Sammu-Ramat Semi-legendary Assyrian Queen. Retrieved from:

Mackenzie, Donald A. (2005, September 5). Myths of Babylonia and Assyria. Retrieved from:

Mark, Joshua J. (2014, September 16). Sammu-Ramat and Semiramis: The Inspiration And The Myth. Retrieved from:

Mark, Joshua J. (2014, August 18). Semiramis. Retrieved from:

N.A. (2002). Sammuramat (fl. 8th c. BCE). Retrieved from:

N.A. (2014, November 21). Sammuramat (Semiramis) Regent of Assyria. Retrieved from:

N.A. (2014, November 28). Adad-nirari III, King of Assyria. Retrieved from:

N.A. (2015). Adad-nirari III King of Assyria. Retrieved from:

N.A. (2015). Semiramis. Retrieved from:

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica (2015). Shalmaneser III King of Assyria. Retrieved from:

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