ASSYRIAN ART, LITERATURE AND CULTURE

ASSYRIAN ART AND HAIRSTYLES

20120208-Louvre_assyrian_gate_DS.jpg
Assyrian Gate
The Assyrians produced colossal human-headed winged bulls. The most famous of theses were carved from alabaster and stood outside a palace gateway of the Palace of Sargon II at Dur Sharrukin. There were two of them. They each stood 16 feet high and weighed 40 tons. Assyrian a human-headed, winged bulls were called lamassu . They were often accompanied by four-winged deities called a apkallu .

New York Times art critic Holland Carter wrote: “Assyrian art is about winning through intimidation. The carved narrative reliefs...obsessively dwell on hair-raising battles and sadistic wildlife hunts. The half human raptor...was intended to advertise the aggressive otherworldly resources the king could command.”

Assyrian masterpieces at the British Museum include several wall reliefs depicting lion hunts and other activities of the day; bronzes like the “Bronze Head of Pazuzu” and clay cuneiform-inscribed talents that once adorned the palaces of rulers like Ashurnasirpal II (833-859 B.C. ) of Nimrud.

The Assyrians spread their art and culture throughout their empire. Art for Persia in particular has strong Assyrian influences. A 9th century Assyrian relief is the first known depiction of people shaking hands.

The Assyrians are regarded as the first true hair stylists. Their prowess at cutting, curling, dying and layering hair was admired by other civilizations on the Middle East. Hair and beards were oiled, tinted and perfumed. The long hair of women and the long beards of men were cut in symmetrical geometrical shapes and curling by slaves with curl bars (fire-hearted iron bars).

The Sumerians and Assyrians as well as Egyptians, Cretans, Persians and Greeks all wore wigs. In Assyria, hairstyles often defined status, occupation and income level. During important proceeding high-raking Assyrian women sometimes donned fake beards to show they commanded the same authority as men. Queen Hatshepsut, one of the few female pharaohs of Egypt, did the same thing.

The Assyrians laid the foundations for the Persian, Greek, Roman and Parthian empires.

Websites and Resources on Mesopotamia: Ancient History Encyclopedia ancient.eu.com/Mesopotamia ; Mesopotamia University of Chicago site mesopotamia.lib.uchicago.edu; British Museum mesopotamia.co.uk ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Mesopotamia sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Louvre louvre.fr/llv/oeuvres/detail_periode.jsp ; Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org/toah ; University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology penn.museum/sites/iraq ; Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago uchicago.edu/museum/highlights/meso ; Iraq Museum Database oi.uchicago.edu/OI/IRAQ/dbfiles/Iraqdatabasehome ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; ABZU etana.org/abzubib; Oriental Institute Virtual Museum oi.uchicago.edu/virtualtour ; Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur oi.uchicago.edu/museum-exhibits ; Ancient Near Eastern Art Metropolitan Museum of Art www.metmuseum.org

Archaeology News and Resources: Anthropology.net anthropology.net : serves the online community interested in anthropology and archaeology; archaeologica.org archaeologica.org is good source for archaeological news and information. Archaeology in Europe archeurope.com features educational resources, original material on many archaeological subjects and has information on archaeological events, study tours, field trips and archaeological courses, links to web sites and articles; Archaeology magazine archaeology.org has archaeology news and articles and is a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America; Archaeology News Network archaeologynewsnetwork is a non-profit, online open access, pro- community news website on archaeology; British Archaeology magazine british-archaeology-magazine is an excellent source published by the Council for British Archaeology; Current Archaeology magazine archaeology.co.uk is produced by the UK’s leading archaeology magazine; HeritageDaily heritagedaily.com is an online heritage and archaeology magazine, highlighting the latest news and new discoveries; Livescience livescience.com/ : general science website with plenty of archaeological content and news. Past Horizons : online magazine site covering archaeology and heritage news as well as news on other science fields; The Archaeology Channel archaeologychannel.org explores archaeology and cultural heritage through streaming media; Ancient History Encyclopedia ancient.eu : is put out by a non-profit organization and includes articles on pre-history; Best of History Websites besthistorysites.net is a good source for links to other sites; Essential Humanities essential-humanities.net: provides information on History and Art History, including sections Prehistory

Books: Curtis, John E., and Julian E. Reade, eds. Art and Empire: Treasures from Assyria in the British Museum. Exhibition catalogue. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. Kuhrt, Amélie. The Ancient Near East c. 3000–330 B.C., vol. 2, From c. 1200 B.C. to c. 330 B.C.. London: Routledge, 1995. Reade, Julian E. Assyrian Sculpture. 2d ed. London: British Museum Press, 1998.

Assyrian Art Masterpieces

20120208-Apkallu_Nimrud.JPG
Apkallu from Nimrud
Among the masterpieces of Assyrian art are 10-foot-high limestone panels with human-faced creatures with lion and bull bodies from the audience hall of the palace of Ashuraspal II at Nimrud; a 14.5-foot-high gypsum winged bull relief, with a human head, circa 710 B.C., taken from the Citadel gate at Duk Sharrukin near Nivenah; and an alabaster relief of a winged god taken from outside a palace door at the same site. A huge human-headed bull at the site was hacked into pieces by looters.

A gypsum piece from the 8th century B.C. depicts two muscular warriors with Semitic features, curled beards and pointed helmets. A frieze from Nivenuh of the last great Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal, shows him killing a lion with a spear while another lion tried to leap on a horse. An 8th century B.C. ivory plaquette of a winged griffin unearthed from Nimrud was a decorative pannel for furniture.

Treasures from the Assyrian period at the Iraq National Museum include an entire room devoted to ivories and gold ornaments from the 8th century Assyrian capital of Nimrud. Other objects from Nimrud include a cuneiform calendar dated at 850 B.C., consisting of daily instructions for the 7th month of the year; the Lioness killing a Nubian shepherd, an 8th century B.C. relief made of ivory and decorated with inlays of gold, carnelian and lapis lazuli.

Assyrian Bas-Reliefs

The Assyrians developed relief sculpture to a high art. Influenced by Babylonian art, Assyrian art includes sculptures and friezes of bloody battles, hunting scenes, human-headed bulls, fighting bulls and lions, winged bulls, processions of kings and deities, and a king spearing a lion. Human figures are flat two-dimensional like Egyptian figures but have more developed bodies and muscles and have elaborately-braided beards and hairstyles. Animals are life-like and filled with rippling muscles, motion and ferocity.

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Blessing genie of
Dur Sharrukin
Describing the reliefs from the palace of Ashuranasirpal II at Nimrud, Holland Carter, the art critic for the New York wrote: “Like most official art, these images adhere to a formula, but seen in isolation their stylized virtuosity stands out. The fringe of the birdman’s robe and the bulging calf of his leg are delicately executed. His ramrod pose has a courtly grace. In one hand he carries a purse-size bucket of holy water; in the other he dabs the air with a fruit that looks like a pine cone, as if removing a pesky stain from the wall.”

Reliefs of Ashuranasirpal II himself depict the king as warrior, priest and protector of Assyria. Each scene has a cuneiform text in Akkadian listing his many victories and accomplishments. Often he is accompanied by protective deities---bird heads, supernatural guardians and winged human figures---and stylized representations of the tree of life. At one time dozens of these large figures in stone reliefs lined the king’s throne room. Originally painted in bright colors, they were meant to intimidate visitors.

Describing a relief of Ashuranasirpal II from Nimrud displayed at Bowdoin College Museum Wendy Moonan wrote in the New York Times: “Beautifully carved in gypsum and nearly six feet tall, it depicts in profile a regal figure walking to the viewers right. He can be identified as a king because he wears a tall conical hat, a symbol of power and prestige. He wears a long embroidered cape, an elaborate earrings, a necklace and a bracelet with a large rosette, and carries a dagger and whetstone, He raises his right arm in a gesture of acknowledgment or greeting. His left hand holds a bow, the symbol of his patroness, the goddess of war and love. “

“But something is very wrong here, The king has been disfigured. His bow is broken in the middle. His right wrist and his Achilles tendons have been brutally slashed. His nose and ears are damaged, and one eye has been chipped out, The bottom of his beard has been hacked away.” It is believed the reliefs were defaced by the Medes after they captured Nimrud in 612 B.C. , more than 250 years after the reliefs were made. Some scholar believe it was a “magical attack as well as a symbolic disfigurement.”

Treasure of Nimrud

In the 1989 and 1990, four tombs, dated to the 8th and 9th century, believed to belong to queens (or at least consorts) of Ashurnasipal II were excavated in a royal palace in Nimrud. One tomb alone contained over 28 kilograms of gold. The items are the among the most impressive examples of Assyrian art---or for that matter ancient gold---ever found.

Archaeologists found 40 kilograms of treasures and 157 objects, including a golden mesh diadem with tiger eye agate, lapis lazuli; a gold child’s crown embellished with rosettes, grapes, vines and winged female deities; 14 armlets and arm band with cloisonne and turquoise; enameled and engraved gold jewelry; four anklets including, one gold anklet weighing a kilogram; 15 vessels, including one with scenes of hunting and warfare; 79 earnings; 30 rings; many chains; a palm crested plaque; gold bowls and flasks; a bracelet inlaid with semiprecious stones and held together with a pin; and rare electrum mirrors.

The jewelry was worn by royal consorts of Assyria’s rulers, A finely worked gold necklace features clasp in the shape of entwined animal heads. A finely wrought gold crown is topped by delicate winged females. There also chains of tiny gold pomegranates and earrings with semi-precious stones.


from the treasures of Nimrud


Ashurbanipal’s Library

Ashurbanipal's library was not the first library of its kind but it was one of the largest and one of the ones to survive to the present day. Discovered in the late 19th century, most of it is now in the possession of the British Museum or the Iraq Department of Antiquities. A collection of 20,000 to 30,000 cuneiform tablets containing approximately 1,200 distinct texts remains for scholars to study today.

David Giles of the University of Tennessee wrote: “The importance of Ashurbanipal's Library can not be overstated. It was buried by invaders centuries before the famous library at Alexandria was established and gives modern historians much information about the peoples of the Ancient Near East. The ancient Sumerian "Epic of Gilgamesh" and a nearly complete list of ancient Near Eastern rulers among other priceless writings were preserved in Ashurbanipal's palace library at Nineveh. Ashurbanipal's accomplishments are also of great importance to scholars of library history. As a scholar Ashurbanipal reached greatnesss. [Source: David Giles, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Library of King Ashurbanipal Web Page]

“Though this library was not the first of its kind, it was one of the largest and the first library modern scholars can document as having most or even all of the attributes one expects to find in a modern library. Like a modern library this collection was spread out into many rooms according to subject matter. Some rooms were devoted to history and government, others to religion and magic and still others to geography, science, poetry, etc. Ashurbanipal's collection even held what could be called classified government materials. The findings of spies and secret affairs of state were held secure from access in deep recesses of the palace much like a modern government archive.

“Each group of tablets contained a brief citation to identify the contents and each room contained a tablet near the door to classify the general contents of each room in Ashurbanipal's library. The actual cataloging activities under Ashurbanipal's direction would not be seen in Europe for centuries. Partially through military conquests and partially through the employment of numerous scribes there was significant effort placed into what modern librarians would call collection development. Thus, centuries before the library at Alexandria, a library with many of the characteristics of a modern institution was in existence.”


Sennacherib's palace


Prayer of Ashurbanipal to the Sun God Shamash

Prayer of Ashurbanipal to Shamash (the sun god) (A prayer for the well-being of Ashurbanipal):
O light of the great gods, light of the earth, illuminator of the world-regions,
... exalted judge, the honored one of the upper and lower regions,
... Thou dost look into all the lands with thy light.
As one who does not cease from revelation, daily thou dost determine the decisions of heaven and earth.
Thy [rising] is a flaming fire; all the stars in heaven are covered over.
Thou art uniquely brilliant; no one among the gods is equal with thee.
With Sin, thy father, thou dost hold court; thou dost deliver ordinances.
Anu and Enlil without thy consent establish no decision. [Source: piney.com]

Ea, (patron god of music) the determiner of judgment in the midst of the Deep,
depends upon thee. [literally "looks upon thy face"]
The attention of all the gods is turned to thy bright rising.
They inhale incense; they receive pure bread-offerings.
The incantation priests [bow down] under thee in order to cause signs of evil to pass away.
The oracel priests [stand before] thee in order to make the hands worthy to bring oracles.
[Source: I am] thy [servant], Ashurbanipal, the exercising of whose kingship thou didst command in a vision,
[The worshiper of] thy bright divinity, who makes glorious the appurtenances of thy divinity,
[The proclaimer of] thy greatness, who glorifies thy praise to widespread peoples.
Judge his case; turn his fate to prosperity.
[Keep] him in splendor; daily let him walk safely.
[Forever] may he rule over thy people whom thou hast given him in righteousness.
[In the house] which he made, and within which he caused thee to dwell in joy,

May he rejoice in his heart, in his disposition may he be happy, may he be satisified in living.
Whoever shall sing this psalm, (and) name the name of Ashurbanipal,
In abundance and righteousness may he rule over the people of Enlil.
Whoever shal l learn this text (and) glorify the judge of the gods,
May Shamash enrich his ...; may he make pleasing his command over the people.
Whoever shall cause this song to cease,
(and) shall not glorify Shamash (Sun God), the light of the great gods,
Or shall change the name of Ashurbanipal,
the exercise of whose kingship Shamash in a vision commanded,
and then shall name another royal name,
May his playing on the harp be displeasing to the people;
may his song of rejoicing be a thorn and a thistle.

Advice To an Assyrian Prince

The following text is written on a tablet from the libraries of Assurbanipal, and no duplicate copy has yet been found:
1. If a king does not heed justice, his people will be thrown into chaos and his land will be devastated.
2. If he does not heed the justice of his land, Ea, king of destinies,
3. Will alter his destiny and he will not cease from hostilely pursuing him.
4. If he does not heed his nobles, his life will be cut short.
5. If he doe snot heed his adviser, his land will rebel against him.
6. If he heeds a rogue, the status quo in his land will change.
7. If he heeds a trick of Ea, the great gods.
8. In unison and in their just ways will not cease from prosecuting him.
9. If he improperly convicts a citizen of Sippar, but acquits a foreigner, Shamash, judge of heaven and earth,
10. Will set up a foreign justice in his land, where the princes and judges will not heed justice
11. If citizens of Nippur are brought to him for judgement, but he accepts a present and improperly convicts them
12. Enlil, lord of the lands, wil bring a foreign army against him
13. to slaughter his army,
14. whose prince and chief officers will roam his streets like fighting-cocks [Source: Lambert, W. G. Babylonian Wisdom Literature. From the Oxford University Press edition published in 1963, reprinted in 1996 by Eisenbrauns. piney.com] .


synonym list from Ashurbanipal's library

15. If he takes silver of the citizens of Babylon and adds it to his own coffers,
16. Of if he hears a lawsuit involving men of Babylon but treats it frivolously,
17. Marduk, lord of Heaven and earth, will set his foes upon him,
18. And will give his property and wealth to his enemy.
19. If he imposes a fine on the citizens of Nippur, Sippar or Babylon,
20. Of if he puts them in prison,
21. The city where the fine was imposed will be completely overturned,
22. And a foreign enemy will make his way into the prison in which they were put.
23. If he mobilized the whole of Sippar, Nippur and Babylon,
24. And imposed forced labour on the people,
25. Exacting from them a corvée at the herald´s proclamation,
26. Marduk, the sage of the gods, the prince, the counsellor,
27. Will turn his land over to his enemy
28. So that the troops of his land will do forced labour for his enemy,
29. For Anu, Enlil and Ea, the great gods,
30. Who dwell in heaven and earth, in their assembly affirmed the freedom of those people from such obligations.

31, 32. If he gives the fodder of the citizens of Sippar, Nippur and Babylon to his own steeds,
33. The steeds who eat the fodder
34. Will be led away to the enemy´s yoke,
35. And those men will be mobilized with the king´s men when the national army is conscripted.
36. Mighty Erra, who goes before his army,
37. Will shatter his front line and go at this enemy´s side.
38. If he looses the yokes of their oxen,
39. And puts them into other fields
40. Or gives them to a foreigner, [...] will be devastated [...] of Addu.
41. If he seizes their ... stock of sheep,
42. Addu, canal supervisor of heaven and earth,
43. Will extirpate his pasturing animals by hinger
44. And will amass offerings for Shamash.
45. If the adviser or chief officer of the king´s presence
46. Denounces them (i.e. the citizens of Sippar, Nippur and Babylon) and so obtains bribes from them,
47. At the command of Ea, king of the Apzu,
48. The adviser chief officer will die by the sword,
49. Their place will be covered over as a run,
50. The wind will carry away their remains and their achievements will be given over to the storm wind.

51. If he declares their treaties void, or alters their inscribed treaty stele,
52. Sends them on a campaign or press-gangs them into hard labour,
53. Nabu, scribe of Esagila, who organizes the whole of heaven and eath, who directs everyting,
54. Who ordains kingship, will declare the treaties of his land void , and will decree hostility.
55. If either a shepherd or a temple overseer, or a chief officer of the king,
56. Who serves as a temple overseer of Sippar, Nippur or Babylon
57. Imposes forced labour on them (i.e. the citizens of Sippar, Nippur and Babylon) in connection with the temples of the great gods,
58. The great gods will quit their dwelling i their fury and
59. Will not enter their shrines.

Babylonian Proverbs from Ashurbanipal's Library


Birth of Sargon from Ashurbanipal's library

Some Babylonian Proverbs from the Library of Ashurbanipal
1. A hostile act thou shalt not perform, that fear of vengeance shall not consume you.
2. You shalt not do evil, that life eternal you may obtain.
3. Does a woman conceive when a virgin, or grow great without eating?
4. If I put anything down it is snatched away; if I do more than is expected, who will repay me?
5 He has dug a well where no water is, he has raised a husk without kernel.
6. Does a marsh receive the price of its reeds, or fields the price of their vegetation?
7. The strong live by their own wages; the weak by the wages of their children.
8. He is altogether good, but he is clothed with darkness.
9. The face of a toiling ox thou shalt not strike with a goad.
10. My knees go, my feet are unwearied; but a fool has cut into my course.
11. His ass I am; I am harnessed to a mule; a wagon I draw, to seek reeds and fodder I go forth. [Source: piney.com]

12. The life of day before yesterday has departed today.
13. If the husk is not right, the kernel is not right; it will not produce seed.
14. The tall grain thrives, but what do we understand of it? The meager grain thrives, but what do we understand of it?
15. The city whose weapons are not strong the enemy before its gates shall not be thrust through.
16. If thou goest and takest the field of an enemy, the enemy will come and take your field.
17. Upon a glad heart oil is poured out of which no one knows.
18. Friendship is for the day of trouble; posterity for the future.
19. An ass in another city becomes its head.
The idea is similar to Matthew 13:57: "A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house."

20. Writing is the mother of eloquence and the father of artists.
21. Be gentle to your enemy as to an old oven.
Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,
22. The gift of the king is the nobility of the exalted; the gift of the king is the favor of governors.
A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant incurs his wrath. Proverbs 14:35
23. Friendship in days of prosperity is servitude forever.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
24. There is strife where servants are, slander where anointers anoint.
Fear the LORD and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious, Proverbs 24:21
25. When you see the gain of the fear of god, exalt god and bless the king.

Precepts from the Library of Ashurbanipal

Thou shalt not slander, (but) speak kindly;
Thou shalt not speak evil, (but) show mercy.
Him who slanders (and ) speaks evil,
With its recompense will Shamash visit his head.
See Max Lucado and the Cosmic Christmas [Source: George A. Barton, “Archaeology and the Bible”,” 7th Edition revised, (Philadelphia: American Sunday School, 1937), pgs 506-507

Thou shalt not make large thy mouth, but guard thy lip;
In the time of thine anger thou shalt not speak at once.
If thou speakest quickly, thou wilt repent afterward,
And in silence wilt thou sadden thy mind.

Daily present to thy god
Offering and prayer, appropriate to incense.
Before thy god mayest thou have a pure heart,
For that is appropriate to deity.

I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him. Isaiah 57:19
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15
And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 5:8
Early in the morning shalt thou render him; he will judge thy burdens ,
And with the help of god thou wilt be abundantly prosperous.

Worship in Israel at the temple was corporate or civil-state worship by the king and priestly dignitaries for the wellfare of the nation. The individual might be incidental spectators but did not personally worship in these "like the nations" rituals. Rather, as Jesus demanded, worship was in spirit (mind) and in truth. Prayer was in "the closet" and giving was kept secret as it went from the giver to the poor. God wanted to speak to the worshippers through the prophets and dialog through individual prayer. However, Israel collected even daily and turned their "religious festivals" into pagan festivals "with and for the dead."

And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not Jeremiah 7:13
Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. Jeremiah 7:14
Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. Isaiah 5:11
They have harps and lyres at their banquets, tambourines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD, no respect for the work of his hands. Isaiah 5:12

In thy wisdom learn of the tablet;
The fear (of god) begets favor,
Offering enriches life,
And prayer brings forgiveness of sins.


Hanging Gardens


Hanging Gardens Were in Nineveh Not Babylon?

In 2013, a leading Oxford-based historian announced that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were in Babylon –- but were instead located 500 kilometers to the north in the Assyrian city of Nineveh. David Keys wrote in The Independent: “After more than 20 years of research, Dr. Stephanie Dalley, of Oxford University’s Oriental Institute, has finally pieced together enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the famed gardens were built in Nineveh by the great Assyrian ruler Sennacherib — and not, as historians have always thought, by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. [Source: David Keys, The Independent, May 6, 2013 *=*]

“Detective work by Dr. Dalley –- published in a book by Oxford University Press — yielded four key pieces of evidence. First, after studying later historical descriptions of the Hanging Gardens, she realized that a bas-relief from Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh actually portrayed trees growing on a roofed colonnade exactly as described in classical accounts of the gardens. Further research by Dr. Dalley then suggested that, after Assyria had sacked and conquered Babylon in 689 B.C., the Assyrian capital Nineveh may well have been regarded as the ‘New Babylon’ – thus creating the later belief that the Hanging Gardens were in fact in Babylon itself. Her research revealed that at least one other town in Mesopotamia - a city called Borsippa – was being described as “another Babylon” as early as the 13 century B.C., thus implying that in antiquity the name could be used to describe places other than the real Babylon. *=*

“A breakthrough occurred when she noticed from earlier research that after Sennacherib had sacked and conquered Babylon, he had actually renamed all the gates of Nineveh after the names traditionally used for Babylon’s city gates. Babylon had always named its gates after its gods. After the Assyrians sacked Babylon, the Assyrian monarch simply renamed Nineveh’s city gates after those same gods. In terms of nomenclature, it was clear that Nineveh was in effect becoming a ‘New Babylon’. *=*

“Dr. Dalley then looked at the comparative topography of Babylon and Nineveh and realized that the totally flat countryside around the real Babylon would have made it impossible to deliver sufficient water to maintain the sort of raised gardens described in the classical sources. As her research proceeded it therefore became quite clear that the ‘Hanging Gardens’ as described could not have been built in Babylon.*=*

“Finally her research began to suggest that the original classical descriptions of the Hanging Gardens had been written by historians who had actually visited the Nineveh area. Researching the post-Assyrian history of Nineveh, she realized that Alexander the Great had actually camped near the city in 331BC – just before he defeated the Persians at the famous battle of Gaugamela. It’s known that Alexander’s army actually camped by the side of one of the great aqueducts that carried water to what Dr. Dalley now believes was the site of the Hanging Gardens. Alexander had on his staff several Greek historians including Callisthenes, Cleitarchos and Onesicritos, whose works have long been lost to posterity – but significantly those particular historians’ works were sometimes used as sources by the very authors who several centuries later described the gardens in works that have survived to this day.” *=*

Sennacherib, not Nebuchadnezzar, the Builder of the Hanging Gardens?

The bas-relief from Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh taht portray the hanging gardens appears to suggest that he — not Nebuchadnezzar — was the builder of the hanging gardens. “It’s taken many years to find the evidence to demonstrate that the gardens and associated system of aqueducts and canals were built by Sennacherib at Nineveh and not by Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. For the first time it can be shown that the Hanging Garden really did exist” said Dr. Dalley.” *=*


Palace of Sennacherib


David Keys wrote in The Independent: “The newly revealed builder of the Hanging Gardens,Sennacherib of Assyria - and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon who was traditionally associated with them - were both aggressive military leaders. Sennacherib’s campaign against Jerusalem was immortalized some 2500 years later in a poem by Lord Byron describing how “the Assyrians came down like a wolf on the fold,” his cohorts “gleaming in purple and gold.” [Source: David Keys, The Independent, May 6, 2013 *=*]

“Both were also notorious for destroying iconic religious buildings. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem and according to one much later tradition was temporarily turned into a beast for his sins against God. Sennacherib of Assyria destroyed the great temples of Babylon, an act which was said to have shocked the Mesopotamian world. Indeed tradition holds that when he was later murdered by two of his sons, it was divine retribution for his destruction of those temples. *=*

“Bizarrely it may be that the Hanging Gardens were the first of the seven ‘wonders’ of the world to be so described – for Sennacherib himself referred to his palace gardens, built in around 700BC or shortly after, as “a wonder for all the peoples”. It’s only now however that the new research has finally revealed that his palace gardens were indeed one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Some historians have thought that the Hanging Gardens may even have been purely legendary. The new research finally demonstrates that they really did exist. *=*

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Mesopotamia sourcebooks.fordham.edu , National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, especially Merle Severy, National Geographic, May 1991 and Marion Steinmann, Smithsonian, December 1988, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, BBC, Encyclopædia Britannica, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, World Religions edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); History of Warfare by John Keegan (Vintage Books); History of Art by H.W. Janson Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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