"Assyria" can also refer to the geographic region or heartland where Assyria, its empires and the Assyrian people were (and still are) centered.
The modern Eastern Aramaic-speaking Christian ethnic minority in northern Iraq, north east Syria, southeast Turkey and northwest Iran are the descendants of the ancient Assyrians (see Assyrian continuity).
In prehistoric times, the region that was to become known as Assyria (and Subartu) was home to a Neanderthal culture such as has been found at the Shanidar Cave.
The region of Assyria fell under the successive control of the Medes, the Achaemenid Empire, the Seleucid Empire, the Parthian Empire, the Roman Empire, and the Sasanian Empire.
The Muslim conquest of Persia in the mid-seventh century finally dissolved it as a single entity, after which the remnants of the Assyrian people gradually became an ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious minority in the Assyrian homeland, surviving there to this day as the indigenous people of the region.
Assyria was also sometimes known as Subartu and Azuhinum prior to the rise of the city-state of Aššūr, after which it was Aššūrāyu, and after its fall, from 605 BC through to the late seventh century AD variously as Achaemenid Assyria, and also referenced as Atouria, Ator, Athor according to Strabo, Syria (Greek), Assyria (Latin) and Asōristān (Middle Persian).
At its peak, the Assyrian empire stretched from Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea to Iran, and from what is now Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus, to the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and eastern Libya.
Assyria is named after its original capital, the ancient city of Aššur, which dates to c.
2600 BC, originally one of a number of Akkadian city states in Mesopotamia.In the 25th and 24th centuries BC, Assyrian kings were pastoral leaders.Overview map of the Ancient Near East in the 15th century BC (Middle Assyrian period), showing the core territory of Assyria with its two major cities Assur and Nineveh wedged between Babylonia downstream (to the south-east) and the states of Mitanni and Hatti upstream (to the north-west).From the end of the seventh century BC to the mid-seventh century AD, it survived as a geopolitical entity, for the most part ruled by foreign powers, although the Neo-Assyrian Empire and successor states arose at different times during the Parthian and early Sasanian Empires between the mid-second century BC and late third century AD, a period which also saw Assyria become a major centre of Syriac Christianity and the birthplace of the Church of the East.Centered on the Tigris in Upper Mesopotamia (modern northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and the northwestern fringes of Iran), the Assyrians came to rule powerful empires at several times.Making up a substantial part of the greater Mesopotamian "cradle of civilization", which included Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, and Babylonia, Assyria was at the height of technological, scientific and cultural achievements for its time.