The Assyrians were a Mesopotamian Semitic people with a capital at Ashur, named after the head of the Assyrian pantheon. At various times beginning in the twenty-fourth century B.C.E. the Assyrians were a major power in the Middle East, conquering large regions, including, for instance, Israel. The Assyrians, as did the Akkadians and Babylonians, followed the Old Sumerian religion with a few adaptations, such as Ashur. It was not until the fourth century C.E. that the remnants of the old Assyrian civilization adopted Christianity, which the Eastern Rite Assyrian Church practices in Syria and Iraq to this day.