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The city covered an area of around Template:Convert/mi2. Ruins of the city are found in modern day Iraq, some 30 kilometres (19 mi) southeast of Mosul. The ruins are located in the District of Al Hamdaniya, within 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) of the village of Noomanea.
HistoryNimrud has been identified as the site of the biblical city of Calah or Kalakh. Assyrian king Shalmaneser I made Nimrud, which existed for about a thousand years, the capital in the 13th century BC. The city gained fame when king Ashurnasirpal II of Assyria (c. 880 BC) made it his capital. He built a large palace and temples on the site of an earlier city that had long fallen into ruins.
A grand opening ceremony with festivities and an opulent banquet in 879 BC is described in an inscribed stele discovered during archeological excavations. The city of king Ashurnasirpal II housed perhaps as many as 100,000 inhabitants, and contained botanic gardens and a zoologic garden. His son, Shalmaneser III (858–824 BC), built the monument known as the Great Ziggurat, and an associated temple. The palace, restored as a site museum, is one of only two preserved Assyrian palaces in the world, the other being Sennacherib's palace at Nineveh.
Calah remained the Assyrian capital until around 710 BC when first Khorsabad and then Nineveh were designated as the capital. It remained a major centre and a royal residence until the city was completely destroyed in 612 BC when Assyria succumbed under the invasion of the Medes and the Babylonians.
The name Nimrud in connection with the site is apparently first used in the writings of Carsten Niebuhr, who was in Mosul in March 1766. The name is probably associated with Nimrod the hunter (cf. , , and ).
King Ashurnasirpal II
King Ashurnasirpal II who reigned from 883–859 BCE built a new capital at Nimrud. Thousands of men worked to build a 5-mile (8.0 km) long wall surrounding the city and a grand palace. There were many inscriptions carved into limestone including one that said "The palace of cedar, cypress, juniper, boxwood, mulberry, pistachio wood, and tamarisk, for my royal dwelling and for my lordly pleasure for all time, I founded therein. Beasts of the mountains and of the seas, of white limestone and alabaster I fashioned and set them up on its gates." The inscriptions also described plunder stored at the palace. "Silver, gold, lead, copper and iron, the spoil of my hand from the lands which I had brought under my sway, in great quantities I took and placed therein." The inscriptions also described great feasts he had to celebrate his conquests. However his victims were horrified by his conquests. The text also said "Many of the captives I have taken and burned in a fire. Many I took alive from some I cut off their hands to the wrists, from others I cut off their noses, ears and fingers; I put out the eyes of many of the soldiers. I burned their young men women and children to death." About a conquest in another vanquished city he wrote "I flayed the nobles as many as rebelled and spread their skins out on the piles." These shock tactics brought success in 877 BCE, when after a march to the Mediterranean he announced "I cleaned my weapons in the deep sea and performed sheep-offerings to the gods."
King Arshurnasirpal's son Shalmaneser III continued where he left off. He spent 31 of his 35-year reign waging war. After a battle near the Orontes river with a coalition of Syro-Palestinian states he boasted:
- I slew 14,000 of their warriors with the sword. Like Adad, I rained destruction on them. I scattered their corpses far and wide, (and) covered the face of the desolate plain with their widespreading armies. With (my) weapons I made their blood to flow down the valleys of the land. The plain was too small for their bodies to fall; the wide countryside was used to bury them. With their corpses I spanned the Arantu (Orontes) as with a bridge.
At Nimrud he built a palace that far surpassed his father's. It was twice the size and it covered an area of about 12 acres (49,000 m2) and included more than 200 rooms.
The ancient site of Nimrud was first investigated from 1845 to 1851 by Henry Austen Layard (later Sir Austen Henry Layard), who regarded the site as a district of a supposed "Nineveh" urban region (hence the name of Nineveh in the titles of several early works about Nimrud; Layard did not misidentify the site as Nineveh as has often been supposed). His books Nineveh And Its Remains [Abridged and Titled Discoveries at Nineveh] and "Monuments of Nineveh" refer to this site. Subsequent major excavations were headed by Hormuzd Rassam (1853–54 and 1877–79), W.K. Loftus (1854–55), George Smith (1873), Max Mallowan (1949–57), David Oates (1958–62), Julian Orchard (1963), the Directorate of Antiquities of the Republic of Iraq (1956, 1959–60, 1969–78 and 1982–92), Janusz Meuzynski (1974–76), Poalo Fiorina (1987–89), and John Curtis (1989).
Excavations revealed remarkable bas-reliefs, ivories, and sculptures. A statue of Ashurnasirpal II was found in an excellent state of preservation, as were colossal winged man-headed lions weighing 10 short tons (9.1 t) to 30 short tons (27 t) each guarding the palace entrance. The large number of inscriptions dealing with king Ashurnasirpal II provide more details about him and his reign than are known for any other ruler of this epoch. Portions of the site have been also been identified as temples to Ninurta and Enlil, a building assigned to Nabu, the god of writing and the arts, and as extensive fortifications.
The palaces of Ashurnasirpal II, Shalmaneser III, and Tiglath-Pileser III have been located. The famous Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III was discovered by Layard in 1846. The monument stands six-and-a-half-feet tall and commemorates the king's victorious campaigns of 859–824 BC. It is shaped like a temple tower at the top, ending in three steps. On one panel, Israelites led by king Jehu of Israel pay tribute and bow in the dust before king Shalmaneser III, who is making a libation to his god. The cuneiform text on the obelisk reads "Jehu the son of Omri", and mentions gifts of gold, silver, lead, and spear shafts.
The "Treasure of Nimrud" unearthed in these excavations is a collection of 613 pieces of gold jewelry and precious stones. It has survived the confusions and looting after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 in a bank vault, where it had been put away for 12 years and was "rediscovered" on June 5, 2003.
Colossal statues moved to London
In 1847 after discovering more than half a dozen winged pair of colossal statues of lions and bulls also known as lamassu weighing up to 30 short tons (27 t) Henry Layard brought two of the colossi weighing 10 short tons (9.1 t) each including one lion and one bull to London. After 18 months and several near disasters he succeeded in bringing them to a British museum. This involved loading them onto a wheeled cart. They were lowered with a complex system of pulleys and levers operated by dozens of men. The cart was towed by 300 men. He initially tried to hook the cart up to a team of buffalo and have them haul it. However the buffalo refused to move. Then they were loaded onto a barge which required 600 goatskins and sheepskins to keep it afloat. After arriving in London a ramp was built to haul them up the steps and into the museum on rollers.
Additional 30 short tons (27 t) colossi were transported to Paris from Khorsabad by Paul Emile Botta in 1853. In 1928 Edward Chiera also transported a 40-short-ton (36 t) Colossus from Khorsabad to Chicago.
Threats to Nimrud
Nimrud's various monuments are currently threatened by exposure to the harsh elements of the Iraqi climate. Lack of proper protective roofing means that the ancient reliefs at the site are susceptible to erosion from wind-blown sand and strong seasonal rains.
- ↑ Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Mesopotamia: The Mighty Kings. (1995) p. 96–7
- ↑ Miller, J.M. & Hayes, J.H. (1986). A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 257-259.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Mesopotamia: The Mighty Kings. (1995) p. 100–1
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Mesopotamia: The Mighty Kings. (1995) p. 112–121
- ↑ Oliphant, Margaret The Atlas Of The Ancient World (1992) p. 32
- ↑ Jane Arraf (February 11, 2009). "Iraq: No Haven for Ancient World's Landmarks". The Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0211/p04s01-wome.html.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Nimrud|
- More images from National Geographic.
- Treasure of Nimrud rediscovered, article from the Wall Street Journal posted to a message board.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Calah.|