Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
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Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (Ashur is Guardian of the Sun) (883 - 859 BC) brought in the Neo-Assyrian Era.

Before Ashurnasirpal II, Assyrian rulers tried to "beat the bound" and restore Assyrian boundaries. Despite early kings' campaigns in the Mediterranean and up the Tigris to Urartu, Ashurnasirpal II was the first to exert Assyrian hegemony in these areas. However, Ashurnasirpal II did not engage Babylonia.

nimrud relief king ashurnasirpal ii875-860 BC relief of King Ashurnasirpal II with sword and staff from Nimrud, NW Palace Room S Panel 3 (possibly his private apartments). British Museum, ME 124563.

nimrud stele of king ashurnasirpal ii ashurnasirpals standard inscription9th cent BC alabaster stela from Nimrud of Ashurnasirpal II. Cuneiform inscription of king's titles and achievements. British Museum, ANE 118805. Images by L. M. Clancy.

TimeDescription

910 BC

Ashurnasirpal II born as a son of Tukulti-Ninurta II.

883 BC

Ascends throne after his father. Campaigns to secure borders in north, east and west.

881 BC

Starts a campaign against the rebel governor of Nishtun at eastern Arbela.

880 BC

Governor of Nishtun captured and publicly flayed.

879 BC

Revolt in northern Kashiari hills leaves vassal Amme-ba'ali dead. Assyria subdues rebels.

879 BC

Kalhu founded as new capital after years of rebuilding using slave enemy captives, under the palace overseer and eunuch Nergal-apil-kumu'a. This is a transformative event in Assyrian kingship and described there in more detail. Nergal-apil-kumu'a assembles a population for Kalhu that mirrors the makeup of the empire, with the palace serving as a meeting point with his vassals. Also, Kalhu was closer to trade routes in the empire's periphery.

867 BC

Mediterranean campaigns succeed. Phoenician kingdoms Tyre, Byblos and Sidon pay tribute.

859 BC

Death. Ashurnasirpal II is buried in Ashur and reunited with his god, while when his wife died she was buried in Kalhu at their palatial home. This continued with subsequent kings as a tradition.

Ashurnasirpal's Standard Inscription

The Standard Inscription of Ashurnasirpal is the wording carved across the center of every Northwest Palace wall-panel.

The Standard Inscription of Ashurnasirpal is a catalog of royal titles, claims, and achievements of Ashurnasirpal II. It is repeated on more than four hundred slabs from his paalce. The translation below is displayed on a plaque alongside Ashurnasirpal's reliefs at the British Museum. Certain narrow panels omit part of the inscription, but it is otherwise repeated over and over without significant variation in content around the entire room. However, the lines themselves on each panel were arranged in unique ways that seem to be due to individual scribal variations.

Palace of Ashurnasirpal, priest of Ashur, favorite of Enlil and Ninurta, beloved of Anu and Dagan, the weapon of the great gods, the mighty king, king of the world, king of Assyria; son of Tukulti-Ninurta, the great king, the mighty king, king of Assyria, the son of Adad-nirari, the great king, the mighty king of Assyria; the valiant man, who acts with the support of Ashur, his lord, and has no equal among the princes of the four quarters of the world; the wonderful shepherd who is not afraid of battle; the great flood which none can oppose; the king who makes those who are not subject to him submissive; who has subjugated all mankind; the mighty warrior who treads on the neck of his enemies, tramples down all foes, and shatters the forces of the proud; the king who acts with the support of the great gods, and whose hand has conquered all lands, who has subjugated all the mountains and received their tribute, taking hostages and establishing his power over all countries.

When Ashur, the lord who called me by my name and has made my kingdom great, entrusted his merciless weapon to my lordly arms, I overthrew the widespread troops of the land of Lullume in battle. With the assistance of Shamash and Adad, the gods who help me, I thundered like Adad the destroyer over the troops of the Nairi lands, Habhi, Shubaru, and Nirib. I am the king who had brought into submission at his feet the lands from beyond the Tigris to Mount Lebanon and the Great Sea [the Mediterranean], the whole of the land of Laqe, the land of Suhi as far as Rapiqu, and whose hand has conquered from the source of the river Subnat to the land of Urartu.

The area from the mountain passes of Kirruri to the land of Gilzanu, from beyond the Lower Zab to the city of Til-Bari which is north of the land of Zaban, from the city of Til-sha-abtani to Til-sha-Zabdani, Hirimu and Harutu, fortresses of the land of Karduniash [Babylonia], I have restored to the borders of my land. From the mountain passes of Babite to the land of Hashmar I have counted the inhabitants as peoples of my land. Over the lands which I have subjugated I have appointed my governors, and they do obeisance.

I am Ashurnasirpal, the celebrated prince, who reveres the great gods, the fierce dragon, conqueror of the cities and mountains to their furthest extent, king of rulers who has tamed the stiff-necked peoples, who is crowned with splendor, who is not afraid of battle, the merciless champion who shakes resistance, the glorious king, the shepherd, the protection of the whole world, the king, the word of whose mouth destroys mountains and seas, who by his lordly attack has forced fierce and merciless kings from the rising to the setting sun to acknowledge one rule.

The former city of Kalhu [Nimrud], which Shalmaneser king of Assyria, a prince who preceded me, had built, that city had fallen into ruins and lay deserted. That city I built anew, I took the peoples whom my hand had conquered from the lands which I subjugated, from the land of Suhi, from the land of Laqe, from the city of Sirqu on the other side of the Euphrates, from the furthest extent of the land of Zamua, from Bit-Adini and the land of Hatte, and from Lubarna, king of the land of Patina, and made them settle there.

I removed the ancient mound and dug down to the water level. I sank the foundations 120 brick courses deep. A palace with halls of cedar, cypress, juniper, box-wood, meskannu-wood, terebinth and tamarisk, I founded as my royal residence for my lordly pleasure for ever.

Creatures of the mountains and seas I fashioned in white limestone and alabaster, and set them up at its gates. I adorned it, and made it glorious, and set ornamental knobs of bronze all around it. I fixed doors of cedar, cypress, juniper and meskannu-wood in its gates. I took in great quantities, and placed there, silver, gold, tin, bronze and iron, booty taken by my hands from the lands which I had conquered. (Looklex Encyclopedia)

Queen Mullissu-mukanisat-Ninua

Mullissu-mukanisat-Ninua &emdash; meaning the goddess Mullussu is the one who brings together the people of the city of Nineveh &emdash; was the daughter of the king's cupbearer, one of the most prominent roles. We do not know if she became queen because of her father's role, or if he became cupbearer as the father-in-law of the king.

Palace Overseer Nergal-apil-kumu'a

Nergal-apil-kumu'a was appointed by Ashnurnasirpal II for many important tasks, and as palace overseer was essentially his most trusted official. He was a eunuch.

Studies

Looklex Encyclopedia (link)


British Museum