The purpose of this paper is to present several pieces of evidence concerning Samarians, Urartians and Nubians, most of them in the royal army of Sargon II, following the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C. and its submission to Assyria. The main evidence is new, and comes from a small group of administrative cuneiform tablets, conveniently labelled Horse Lists, which have been published as Nos. 99-118 in volume III in the series Cuneiform Texts from Nimrud (CTN III) edited by Stephanie Dalley and J. N. Postgate. The new evidence has drawn attention to certain passages in the royal inscriptions of Sargon, for which a few new readings, interpretations and deductions are here offered that throw some light on the treatment of Samaria and its people by Sargon. The new evidence can also be used to highlight two groups of men whose equestrian talents were imported and put to good use at the heart of the Assyrian royal army.
The material that has been assembled comes chiefly from the reign of Sargon II, but has a wider timespan than a single reign, for in many respects Sargon (721–705) can be shown to have followed the example of his illustrious predecessor Tiglath-Pileser III (744–727) ; and the evidence from texts continues down into the reign of Ashurbanipal. One aim of the study has been to break through the stereotyped phrases of Assyrian royal records, to show that in fact the Assyrians did not rule through tribute, booty and forcible deportation alone; they imported horses from Egypt by trade, and they employed foreign advisers and expert officers in their army. Another aim is to show in one respect how the royal inscriptions can be complemented with various legal and administrative records, and to demonstrate the value that each kind of source has for the other; published tablets from Nineveh, Nimrud and Tell Halaf have contributed supporting evidence to the better known, formal accounts of campaigns.