|Queen of Assyria|
Stele of the Assyrian queen Shammuramat, from Assur, Iraq, c. 809 BCE. Pergamon Museum
|Regent of the Neo-Assyrian Empire|
|Reign||811-808 BC or 809-792 BC|
Sammu-ram?t's name is spelled MÍsa-am-mu-ra-mat in Assyrian sources. It was rendered as or by Diodorus Siculus (II 4.6), who claimed that the name meant "dove" in the "Syrian" (probably Assyrian) language, which would indicate a derivation from the Akkadian word summatu, or even summu. Rabbinic sages understood her name as ?my r?m, "thunder of heaven". The modern scholar M. Weinfeld suggested a Phoenician background (?mm rmm, "high heavens"). Jamie Novotny has pointed out that her name could have either a West-Semitic or Akkadian structural background, with the former archetype being DN-r?mu/r?mat ("DN is exalted") and the latter DN-ram?t ("DN is beloved"). In both cases, the first part of the name should be considered as theophoric. Should it be West-Semitic, this first element may have been ?ammu (as W-Semitic /?/ was rendered as /s/ in Neo-Assyrian), should it be Neo-Assyrian sammu could be a variant of the deity dSa(-a-)mu (meaning "red").
Shammuramat was a wife of King Shamshi-Adad V and after he died in 811 BC, she ruled the Neo-Assyrian Empire as its regent for five years until her son Adad-nirari III came of age. She ruled at a time of political uncertainty, which is one of the possible explanations for why Assyrians may have accepted her rule (as normally a woman as ruler would have been unthinkable). In the city of Ashur, she had an obelisk built and inscribed, which read:
Stele of Sammuramat, queen of Shamshi-Adad, King of the Universe, King of Assyria, Mother of Adad Nirari, King of the Universe, King of Assyria, Daughter-in-Law of Shalmaneser, King of the Four Regions of the World.
The legendary Semiramis is usually considered a purely mythical figure; however, there is evidence in Assyrian records suggesting that she may, in fact, be a Greek reflection of Shammuramat. This identification is disputed. Another possibility is that she is given that title after death to reflect similarities with an earlier Sumerian deity. It has been speculated that ruling successfully as a woman may have made the Assyrians regard her with particular reverence, and that the achievements of her reign (including stabilizing and strengthening the empire after a destructive civil war) were retold over the generations until she was turned into a mythical figure.Georges Roux speculated that the later Greek- and Iranian- (Persian and Median) flavoured myths surrounding Semiramis stem from successful campaigns she waged against these peoples, and the novelty of a woman ruling such an empire.