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Friday, January 10, 2020

Mystery: The Assyrian Monster Invasion

A map of the Assyrian Empire.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff located in the Middle East. Archaeological marvels like the Pyramids, supposed lost cities, religious artifacts, and much more. Geopolitical strife has made the region unfortunately a no-go zone for decades now and as such, discovering the truth to many of these mysteries is, for the foreseeable future, unlikely to happen.

The central focus of today’s story is one mystery that is likely to never be fully answered though. The Assyrian Monster Invasion is a case that reads like something out of a fantasy novel. A mesmerizing tale of killer monsters attacking a town that wreaked unbelievable havoc left and right. Let’s go on a hunt for some monsters.

The Automatic Predicted This: The Mystery of The Assyrian Monster Invasion

Hey, look at that: I used the hyperlink for something other than a video. I used it for a video of a song. I’m getting advanced in my 23-year-old ways.

Anyways, I’m citing today’s story from Michael Newton’s Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology, though a bit more information comes from the website “Roger Pearse” as a person in the comment’s section brought up this topic. It’s one of two places that actually covers this story (the other website being a post on Reddit—and I try my best to not cite that hellhole of a website unless it’s a last resort).

Our story takes us far back into the past to 774 A.D. in the Assyrian Empire (which consists of what is now Jordan, Syria, and Iraq) and is told to us via Denys of Tell-Mahre, a leader of the Syrian Jacobites As he put it: there was a “plague” (remember this for later) which was followed shortly thereafter by the appearance of “frightening and terrifying” animals that feared nothing and no one. They were described as being a little like wolves, but their faces were small and long. They also had “great ears” that were described as being similar to a horse’s and their hair was long and spiked, reminiscent of a pig’s hair.

These savage beasts are said to have eaten more than one hundred people in the Abdin Rock region alone. In other villages, they’re said to have between 20 and 50. Those who attempted to defend themselves and their families against them were doomed to die. These monsters feared no man; should one have attempted to pursue them, they’d neither cower nor flee. Rather, they’d face the man and attack them. Even then, it’s said that striking them wouldn’t injure the monsters. Should someone have lost their weapon during the confrontation, the beast would leap onto the man and tear flesh from bone; their limbs would be ripped from the body and eaten.

The monsters wouldn’t stay outdoors however. They would barge into houses and yards, making dogs fearful to bark (not that they weren’t already afraid to bark when they simply appeared). They would maul families and would even take away children before leaving with their new found human meals. The monsters would also climb atop The roofs of houses and break in through the upper floor windows to steal the children.

Due to these events, nobody dared to travel alone. In fact, nobody wanted to travel; it’s said that even in groups of two or three, men were fearful to travel anywhere. On top of this: local cattle would vanish; members of both goat herds and sheep flocks would vanish overnight. Everyone knew why and nobody dared to try and prevent it.

Then, as quickly and mysteriously as these attacks began, they stopped. The monsters that tormented Abdin Region and other villages ceased their attacks. To this day no one knows exactly why.

That’s the end of the story that’s known as the Assyrian Monster Invasion. Yep, that’s it. I wanted to cover this for Decemystery last year, but I felt that it was too short and too inadequate to use (besides, The Awful fulfilled the quota for poorly documented cryptids).

I tried for years to find out more on this story. The only time I did was some time ago—long before I even had an idea to make a blog. Due to this, I’ve forgotten what site it was on and I’m unable to find (let alone remember) it. Despite this, I’ll still make note of it.

So yeah, the written account[s] of this event sure won’t win any awards. Now granted, the story is over one thousand years old. You’re not likely to find much in that regard (especially when it wasn’t something large-scale like, say, the Black Death) and you’re even less likely to find something like bones that would point in the direction of a possible culprit. There are nonetheless some theories as to what exactly these monsters were, so let’s dig into them.


1. A warband letting loose wild dingoes

Let’s start with the theory that I’ve lost to time  I once again sincerely apologize for my clumsiness.

The idea here is that an Arabian warband got its hands on some dingoes—which are native to Australia—and let them loose prior to attacking the town. The reason for this theory is due to the statement that the monsters stole children. Dingoes have a reputation of stealing babies that’s led them bounties being placed on them in a few cases where babies were kidnapped.

Now admittedly, I don’t know if Arab countries had any form of contact with the aboriginal people of Australia at the time. My understanding of history at that time isn’t exactly anything to write home about. As such, make of this what you will. We have some more theories to go through.

2. Aaahh!!! They were real monsters!

The idea of real-life monsters is something that, on the surface, would seem silly. Alas, there are people who claim they’re real. I’m not talking about, say, Bigfoot, Megalodon, or the Kraken by the way. I mean something along the lines of Boogeyman.

In the case of this theory, we’re looking at something that blurs the lines between the two. Ferocious, man-eating monsters mixed with something otherworldly; a plague of monstrous death brought upon by God.

Could this be the case? I guess it would depend on how you view the concept of monsters and a higher power.

3. Persians

Our third theory comes to us from Reddit. Yeah, I badmouthed the site earlier, but truth be told: it’s one of the easier places to go to for a consensus on stories like this. Reddit is a hivemind and as such, when I need a scapegoat for a story, I’ll go there.

Okay, joking aside (except for the hivemind part), this theory was on the only thread about the Assyrian Monster Invasion. From a user named NowParanormal, it reads as follows:

To me, it sounds like an invasion from a ‘special forces’ army like Persia used to use. They would dress up in costumes, or be grotesquely deformed, but ruthless in combat.

The stealing of children would be used to fill their own forces. And train them up as ruthless killers. These kinds of accounts could easily be misinterpreted by someone being invaded by these armies.

Plus, if you were an invading army. Wouldn’t you want everyone to think you were ‘supernatural’ too.

I cannot confirm if this is true or not as I can’t find a source (I did, however, find an article from The Guardian about loving the Iranian military; how topical of me!) and as such, I’m inclined to just roll with what NowParanormal said. If anyone who’s well versed on history can correct me, I’d appreciate it. Until then: I apologize for being rather lackluster on my information.

4. Hyenas

Our fourth, final, and most popular theory is that the monsters were hyenas. These creatures, while normally not ones for seeing humans as food, do tend to feed on the corpses of us Earthlings. After a friend of a friend who goes by Dr. Tarbtano on Discord forwarded some information, I acquired the following:

There is also one particular species that does have a tendency to be a man-eater: the Spotted Hyena, which can (and sometimes does) hunt humans as prey. The man-eaters are normally exceptionally large though. To shamelessly steal from Wikipedia to give an example: there was a pair of man-eaters in Mianje, Malawi back in 1962. They were weighed after being shot and were revealed to have been 72 and 77 kilograms (159 and 170 pounds).

To add to this: Spotted Hyenas tend to be women, children, and sick or infirm men. I can’t confirm if the men that were targeted by the Assyrian Monsters were either sick or infirm, but it’s stated that those who took up arms against them proceeded to drop their weapons. Whether this was due to them being weak from an illness—but there was that “plague” that was briefly mentioned in the story itself. Whether these men were the victims of it, I don’t know, but it’s possible that they were the ones who tried to stop the monsters.

All of that said: there are some things that do work against this theory. For starters: hyenas cannot climb. Their body isn’t designed for such a task. It’s built for endurance and raw power (they can crush and consume bones, teeth, and hooves). Given that the monsters allegedly climbed to the roofs of houses to abduct the children, I’m extremely doubtful that hyenas magically gained the power to leap stop roofs—or to build laughing ladders.

The second issue is that I’m not sure if hyenas are known for abducting children. Dingoes are—so much so that they’ve had bounties put on their canine heads for repeatedly stealing children in broad daylight. Hyenas, on the other hand, I don’t think are known for stealing. If I’m wrong about this, do correct me.

The third and final thing is that the monsters never laughed—let alone seemed to have made a sound that would be indicative of something that would make it apparent they were hyenas. I admit, this is likely just a nitpick, but one the fact nobody ever heard a calling sign of a hyena bothers me.

I digress though. Hyenas, with their history of having hunted humans, and with the plagues that’d recently hit, makes this the most likely theory. Weak, easy prey. Seems logical in my eyes, so let’s move on.

My Take

While the “climbing to roofs” aspect bothers me greatly, I can honestly brush it off as someone who was on their roof and mass hysteria caused someone to claim the monsters could climb. Now then, I’m inclined to say that the so-called “monsters” here were Spotted Hyenas. The plague that hit likely left a lot of people weak, the hyenas saw the populations as easy food, and hunted them until they were either killed by a warband, hunters, other animals, or simply went off elsewhere.

On one final note though: I do think it’s possible that this was a group of raiders though. It’s not unlike those who wish to strike fear into the hearts of the weak to want to look as menacing as possible.


This is definitely a unique story. While there have been cases of supposed monster attacks in the past (the New Jersey Devil has a rash of sightings in 1909 where it attacked people and animals), but those are typically cases of mass hysteria. In this case, I find myself more hesitant to brush aside that notion. Especially when some laughing animals inhabit the area.


  1. Yeah, I'mma going to go out on a limb here and say we're dealing with hyena attacks. I'm going to need some stronge evidence before I jump to 'monster!' and call in Josh Gates.

    (Also, you didn't credit Tarbtano for digging up that hyena habit stuff.)

    1. Thank you for the reminder! I knew I'd forgotten something. Fixed! :)