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Coordinates: 36 ° 6 ′ 0 ″  N , 43 ° 20 ′ 0 ″  E

Relief Map: Iraq
Reconstruction drawing of the ancient Nimrud after Austen Henry Layard , 1853
Lamassu von Nimrud in the British Museum (around 1900)
Nimrud in January 2019
Relief in the ruins of Nimrud (January 2019)
Debris with cuneiform writing. (January 2019)

Nimrud is the modern name of the ancient oriental city ​​of Kalchu (Assyr. Kalḫu , Hebrew כֶּלַח Kelach , in pausal form כָּלַח Kalach , also Kalah, Calah ). Its ruins are located 30 km south-southeast of Mosul (present-day Iraq ) on the central Tigris in the Ninawa governorate . In the 13th century BC Founded in BC , Nimrud became the capital of the Assyrian Empire in the 9th century under King Assurnasirpal II . 612 BC It was destroyed by Medes and Chaldeans .


The name Nimrud is derived from the biblical king Nimrod . It is not known when the ruin was given this name. The first written mention of Nimrud goes back to Carsten Niebuhr , who visited the city in 1766. During the Assyrian period they were called Kalach / Kelach / Kalhu (cf. Gen 10: 11-12  EU ). The name Larisa appears at Xenophon .

Archaeological site

Excavation history

As early as 1846, Sir Austen Henry Layard made the first excavations, especially on the Acropolis . The remains of large palaces and fortresses came to light. Numerous alabaster reliefs and ivory carvings as well as obelisks and monumental figures were also found. In 1955, during excavations by Max Mallowan in the Nabû temple by Nimrud, cuneiform tablets with oaths for vassals and Assyrian rulers from 672 BC were found. BC, which are revealing for the Assyrian contract rhetoric and thus also for the Israelite federal theology , which it imitates.

Destruction by the Islamic State

At the beginning of March 2015, it became known that Islamic State (IS) terrorists had started using excavators to destroy the archaeological sites in Nimrud. In the ideology of the terrorist organization, the statues and images are considered idolatry that is incompatible with Islam . Archaeologists and ancient scholars around the world reacted with indignation and horror. The Director General of UNESCO , Irina Bokowa , described the destruction as an “attack on the Iraqi people” and as a “systematic destruction of the ancient human heritage”, which constitutes “a war crime”.

On April 12, 2015, a video was broadcast on the Internet that shows the demolition and what appears to be the complete destruction of the ancient city.

In the course of the battle for Mosul , there were initial reports on October 18, 2016 that the Iraqi army had retaken Nimrud. On November 13th the liberation of Nimrud was officially confirmed. Activists believed they could see from satellite images that during the final weeks of their rule between August 31 and October 2, supporters of the Islamic State were apparently leveling the Nimrud ziggurat with heavy construction machinery. The ancient city is considered almost completely destroyed.


The Northwest Palace of Assurnasirpal II.

Ivory carving British Museum ME 127412 , from the Northwest Palace

The Northwest Palace is located on the Citadel in the southwest of the city. It was built by Assurnasirpal II south of the Ninurta temple. It was excavated by Sir Austen Henry Layard , Sir MEL Mallowan , Janusz Meuszyński and the Iraqi Antiquities Service.

The building has never been fully explored as the western part has eroded over time. The minimum dimensions resulting from the excavated area are approx. 200 m (NS) × 120 m. The location of the main entrance is unclear; it could have been either in the north or in the east of the complex, from where it led to the large inner courtyard in the north of the building complex. Another courtyard was possibly upstream (cf. Kertai 2015, fig. 3 - 4). In the north, several commercial and administrative rooms were connected to the large courtyard. In the south it was bordered by the facade of the throne room. This was broken through by three entrances, each of which was flanked by the large orthostats, some in flat relief and some sculptured, which represented apotropaic door-guard figures, so-called lamassu . A pair of these figures is exhibited today together with some of the reliefs from Kalḫu in the British Museum in London, further specimens are in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin and in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The throne room had a size of 45.5 × 10.5 m and was decorated with relief orthostats that showed war, hunting and cult scenes. The throne pedestal was on the east wall. To the south, an inner courtyard was attached to the throne room, which was surrounded by groups of rooms, the largest of which can be interpreted as a royal chamber. These rooms were also decorated with stone reliefs. The actual residential wing of the palace stretched further south. In this area there were graves of Neo-Assyrian queens from the 9th and 8th centuries BC. To days.

A few inscriptions give information about the construction of the palace: The oldest dates from around the year 879 BC. Chr., It contains the description of door fixings and furnishings. Another inscription dated around 866 BC. Dated, lists different types of wood that were processed in different rooms and describes the door guard figures at the main entrances as "animals of the mountains and seas" (u2-ma-am KUR.MEŠ and A.AB.BA.MEŠ) . A stele that was found on the facade of the throne room provides information about the inauguration ceremonies and mentions various construction details (glazed tiles and wall paintings).

Under Shalmaneser III. Repairs and minor alterations were made to the palace, and later rulers also took care of maintenance. Sargon II. Is documented as the last builder. During his reign, the Assyrian capital was moved from Kalḫu to Dūr-Šarrukīn , the northwest palace in Kalḫu was then partly used as the residence of the royal family and partly as a warehouse for war booty and tribute payments.

In the rooms north of the large front courtyard, about 400 clay tablets from the reign of the kings Tiglat-Pileser III. , Shalmaneser V and Sargon II found. This palace archive consisted of administrative documents and royal correspondence. There were also some legal documents from the late 7th century BC. BC, which were burned by the fire in the course of the destruction of the city.

The residence of Assurnasirpal II represented a novelty in the Assyrian palace architecture, which was to become the archetype of the Neo-Assyrian palace. It is a division into a public and private area, which were separated from each other by the throne room. Another important innovation are the stone relief panels that were attached to the inner walls of the most important rooms. Their iconography and subject matter became a model for the later rulers. Through various legal and illegal excavations as well as divisions, the reliefs were distributed to various collections around the world. The reconstruction of its original location was therefore a difficult undertaking, but it is now considered complete.

Burnt Palace

The "Burnt Palace" is located west of the Nabû Temple and south of the "Governor's Palace". The main street leading to Gate E of the Acropolis probably ran between the two palaces. Since the building has not yet been fully developed, the size of the architectural remains can only be determined on the already excavated area: According to this, the palace was at least 90 m long and 30 m wide.

Originally in the 9th century BC. Built on older foundations, it was rebuilt twice over the years, probably under Adad-nērārī III. and Sargon II. Economic texts from the time of Asarhaddon or Assurbanipal attest to the continuity of use up to the 7th century BC. Chr.

When the palace finally burned down, on which its current name is based, new traces of settlement followed a short time later. The last remains of use from this area date back to the Hellenistic period.

The whole building consists of two units, each grouped around a courtyard. From the smaller, northern courtyard N, the larger main courtyard can be reached via three through rooms. A painted living room was attached to its south side. Numerous valuable objects made of ivory and glass vessels came to light within and around the room. The seals and parts of Sargon's royal correspondence also found there allow the assumption that administrative tasks were carried out there and that the palace even served as a royal seat for a time.

Fort Shalmaneser (military palace)

Shalmaneser III (858–824 BC) built a new royal palace in the south-east corner of the city, which rose south of the Erbil Gate on an approximately 13 m high terrace over the surrounding area. This heavily fortified complex, known as Fort Shalmaneser, extended over an area of ​​250 × 350 m and was one of the largest ancient oriental structures. In the west and north it was surrounded by an open area of ​​200 × 450 m, which does not show any traces of buildings or archaeological finds. The area seems to have been a large parade ground or parade ground. In the north and west, the area is bounded by large elevations, under which other buildings can be assumed.

The palace complex was divided into several areas, in the north was the entrance area and in the south the representative wing with the throne room and other royal rooms (treasury, living area with reception rooms).

The entrance area was formed by three forecourts, which were surrounded by stores and residential apartments. Their considerable dimensions indicate that they were designed for intensive traffic. The approx. 100 × 80 m large main courtyard was also suitable for large gatherings. A lettered throne base on its west side is an indication that mustering of troops in the presence of the king took place here. Documents from the archives of the palace superintendent ( rab ekalli ) were discovered in the rooms on the west corner of the courtyard .

On the south side of the main courtyard was the throne room with the associated rooms. On its eastern narrow wall was the throne base made of two large stone blocks, which was decorated with tribute scenes on the sides and depictions of the meeting of Shalmaneser with the Babylonian king on the front. On the terrace behind the throne room was a second large ceremonial group of rooms. To the west of the throne room, the queen's apartments were uncovered, which could be identified as precisely these from an administrative archive.

In contrast to the north-west palace of the Assurnasirpal, the complex was not decorated with stone orthostats in relief, but with figural and ornamental wall paintings. In addition, remains of glaze decorations were found on the walls.

Fort Shalmaneser was later by Adad-nērārī III. (811–783 BC), Tiglath Pileser III. (744–727 BC) and Sargon II (721–705 BC) were renewed. The largest renovation was carried out by Asarhaddon (680–669 BC), who used the palace as a military palace ( ekal mašārti ). The complex was built towards the end of the 7th century BC. Destroyed twice, what happened with the Medico-Babylonian campaigns against Assyria in the years 614 and 612 BC. Is associated.

Ninurta Temple and Ziqqurrat

The Ninurta Temple and the probably associated Ziqqurrat are located on the citadel north of the Northwest Palace. The temple consisted of a wide vorcella, measuring 6 × 13.60 m and a long cella measuring 7 × 20 m, as well as several utility rooms. Mallowan also assumes that a minor sanctuary existed in the space adjacent to the Vorcella to the north. Layard found a stele of Assurnasirpal II and a round sacrificial table with three lion's feet in it.

The door of the Vorcella was lined with two human-headed, winged gate lions that were about 4.5 m long and 5 m high. The forecella itself was decorated with wall paintings and the interior of the cella with glazed bricks.

The discovery of a stone slab in the cella, which, in addition to the dedication to the god Ninurta, was also inscribed with a report on the reign of Assurnasirpal, proves that the temple was dedicated to this god, the city god Kalḫus. In the corridor behind the main cella a container with numerous pearls and over twenty cylinder seals was found.

Connected to the temple, the ziqqurrat rose with a square base area of ​​60 m on a side. The original height of the temple tower was based on Layard

60 m estimated. Archaeologically, however, it has only been poorly developed, which is why little is known about its precise connection with the temple building. The stairway to the Ziqqurrat has also not been reliably reconstructed to this day. It stood on a terrace made of adobe bricks, the foundation made of stone blocks.

It is believed that the entire temple complex, along with other buildings on the Acropolis, was destroyed towards the end of the Neo-Assyrian Period (either 614 or 612 BC).

Nabû temple

The Nabû temple is located in the southeast of the citadel / acropolis of Nimrud . It is a large, trapezoidal complex with a side length of about 70 m, which includes both cult rooms and areas for various other functions.

In his inscriptions, Assurnasirpal II (883–859 BC) calls himself the founder, but the excavated structure was made by Adad-nērārī III. (810–783 BC) erected. Standing on a high terrace, it could be reached via a ramp in the north. This led to a forecourt from which the main courtyard could be entered. On the west side of the main courtyard was the main sanctuary, which consisted of two parallel Assyrian long- space temples NS 4 and NS 5 for Nabû and Tašmētu. An anteroom each led into the large and elongated cella, from which the elevated Adyton could be reached, whereby the temple for Tašmētu was somewhat narrower than that for Nabû. Around the main courtyard were a library, administration and utility rooms.

A small side courtyard with an adjoining throne room could be reached from the forecourt. The ruler was accommodated here when he was present in the temple for cult activities. There were two cult rooms next to each other in the same courtyard. This small complex is associated with celebrations during the New Year ( Akītu ) festival .

The finds in the complex include numerous clay tablets of religious, historical, literary and economic content, ivory and bronze fragments and some large statues that were interpreted as an exhibition in the passageways of the courtyards. On two statues flanking the entrance to the Nabû cult room, there were dedicatory inscriptions by the governor of Kalḫu, Bēl-tarṣi-iluma, for the life of King Adad-nērāri III. and his mother Šammuramât .

To individual buildings:


  • EA Wallis Budge, LW King (Ed.): Annals of the Kings of Assyria . tape 1 . British Museum, London 1902.
  • Muayad SB Damerji: Tombs of Assyrian queens from Nimrud , Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz 1999, ISBN 3-88467-042-5 .
  • Klaudia Englund: Nimrud and his finds. The way of the reliefs in the museums and collections. Leidorf, Rahden 2003, ISBN 3-89646-642-9 .
  • Kirk Grayson: Assyrian Royal Inscriptions 2: From Tiglath-Pileser I to Ashur-Nasir-Apli II . Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1976, ISBN 3-447-01730-9 .
  • Ernst Heinrich: The temples and sanctuaries in ancient Mesopotamia . In: Monuments of Ancient Architecture . tape 14 . de Gruyter, Berlin 1982, ISBN 3-11-008531-3 .
  • Ernst Heinrich: The palaces in ancient Mesopotamia . In: Monuments of Ancient Architecture . tape 15 . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1984, ISBN 3-11-009979-9 .
  • David Kertai: The Architecture of Late Assyrian Royal Palaces . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2015, ISBN 978-0-19-872318-9 .
  • Max Mallowan : Nimrud and its remains . Collins, London 1966.
  • Janusz Meuszyński: The reconstruction of the reliefs and their arrangement in the north-west palace of Kalḫu (Nimrud) (rooms: BCDEFGHLNP) . In: Baghdad Research . tape 2 . Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1981, ISBN 3-8053-0412-9 .
  • Joan Oates; David Oates: Nimrud. Revealed to Assyrian Imperial City. British School of Archeology in Iraq, London 2001, ISBN 0-903472-25-2 .
  • Samuel M. Paley, Richard P. Sobolwski: The Reconstruction of the Relief Representations and their Positions in the Northwest Palace in Kalḫu (Nimrūd) II . In: Baghdad Research . tape 10 . Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1987, ISBN 3-8053-0888-4 .
  • Samuel M. Paley, Richard P. Sobolwski: The Reconstruction of the Relief Representations and their Positions in the Northwest Palace in Kalḫu (Nimrūd) III (The Principal Entrances and Courtyards) . In: Baghdad Research . tape 14 . Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1992, ISBN 3-8053-1348-9 .
  • J. Nicholas Postgate, Julian Edgeworth Reade: Kalḫu . In: Real Lexicon of Assyriology and Near Eastern Archeology . tape 5 Ia-Kizzuwatna. de Gruyter, Berlin 1980, ISBN 3-11-007192-4 . Pp. 303-323.
  • John Nicholas Postgate: The bit akiti in Assyrian Nabu Temples . In: Sumer . tape 30 . Baghdad 1974. pp. 51-74
  • Ursula Seidl : Nabû. B. Archaeological . In: Real Lexicon of Assyriology and Near Eastern Archeology . tape 9 Nab-Nuzi. de Gruyter, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-11-017296-8 . Pp. 24-29.

Web links

Commons : Nimrud  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ... Nimrud, a ruined castle about 8 hours from Mosul , cf. Carsten Niebuhr: Carsten Niebuhr's travelogues to Arabia and other surrounding countries. Vol. 2, 1774, p. 353.
  2. Xenophon, Anabasis 3, 4, 7.
  3. Cultural site in Northern Iraq: IS destroys the historic city of Nimrud., March 6, 2015, accessed on March 6, 2015 .
  4. ^ Outcry as Islamic State bulldozers 'wreck' Nimrud, Iraq. BBC News, March 6, 2015, accessed March 6, 2015 .
  5. UNESCO Director General condemns destruction of Nimrud in Iraq. UNESCO, March 6, 2015, accessed March 6, 2015 .
  6. Broadcast: Tagesschau from April 12th, 2015 at 8:00 p.m., April 12, 2015, accessed on April 12, 2015 .
  7. ^ Iraqi Army Takes Control Over Nimrud During Mosul Liberation Operation . In: Sputnik International. October 18, 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  8. ^ "Islamic State": Iraqi army recaptures the ancient city of Nimrud . In: Zeit Online . November 13, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  9. Rainer Schreg: The Ziggurat from Nimrud was leveled! In: November 13, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  10. Destruction of cultural assets in Iraq: Barbaric Destruction Rage in Ancient Nimrud , Neue Zürcher Zeitung , November 17, 2016
  11. Postgate & Reade 1980, §§ 14-16; Heinrich 1984, 102-107; Kertai 2015, 18–48.
  12. RIMA 2, A.0.101.17.
  13. AKA, 186-187.
  14. ARI 2, § 677.
  15. Meuszyński 1981; Paley & Sobolewski 1987, 1992.
  16. Heinrich 1984, 143-145; Postgate & Reade 1980, 315-316.
  17. Heinrich 1984, 114-121; Kertai 2015, 58–73.
  18. ^ Postgate 1974.