Assyria was a major Semitic kingdom or empire of the Ancient Near East, existing in various forms during a period of approximately nineteen centuries from circa 2500 BC to 605 BC, spanning the Early Bronze Age through to the late Iron Age. Centered on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia(Iraq), the Assyrians came to rule powerful empires at several times. As a substantial part of the greater Mesopotamian "cradle of civilization", Assyria was at the height of technological, scientific and cultural achievements for its time. At its peak, the Assyrian empire stretched from Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea to Persia, and from the Caucasus Mountains to the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt.
Assyria is named for its original capital, the ancient city of Aššur (aka Ashur) which dates to circa 2600 BC (located in what is now the Saladin Province of northern Iraq), originally one of a number of Akkadian city states in Mesopotamia. In the late 24th century BC, Assyrian kings were regional leaders only, and subject to Sargon of Akkad, who united all the Akkadian Semites and Sumerian-speaking peoples of Mesopotamia under the Akkadian Empire, which lasted from c. 2334 BC to 2154 BC.