Free The Site Of The Ancient City Of Nimrud Research Paper Sample
Nimrud was famous city of the ancient world. According to historical documents and writings of Ptolemy and Xenophon the ancient city Nimrud which is also mentioned in the Bible is located on the banks of the river Tigris. It was the capital city of the powerful and technologically and culturally advance Assyrian empire. Truly cosmopolitan in character Nimrud attracted people from all-over the ancient world. Nimrud attracted businessmen from all over the world. The big and small businessmen and the business houses had strong and mutually prosperous business contacts, interests and investments in the city because Nimrud was a bustling the trade center of the ancient world. In addition to the trade and the commerce the city of Nimrud attracted tourists as well. Nimrud attracted tourists from all the regions of the earth because it a possessed a rich and thriving culture. The majority of the tourists to the city were scholars who visited the city of Nimrud to learn about the Assyrian culture and civilization. The city of Nimrud had spacious and multi-storied religious, official/public and private buildings. Nimrud was built according to an immaculate plan with all the civic amenities, like supply of pure water and the disposal of wastage, accounted for. Most of the other cities of the ancient world did not cater to the civic needs of their inhabitants as did the city of Nimrud which was far-ahead of its times in architecture and town/city planning.
The Assyrian empire had a very colorful and vibrant culture and the city of Nimrud was at the core of this civilization. The religion and the religious festivities were at the very heart of the Assyrian culture. Like the center of the cultural life the city of Nimrud was also the focal point of the religious life of Assyria. A very interesting aspect of the civilization of the city of Nimrud was that they had a god named Nabu. Nabu was the god of arts and literature . Possessing a god for arts and literature provides us with a unique peep into the lives of the people of Nimrud and the high regard they had for the written word. Even the Egyptian civilization cannot rival them in this respect though it would be wrong to say that the Egyptians were any less sophisticated but the credit does go to the dwellers of the city of Nimrud for their unequalled love for the finer things in life and what is more sublime than the love and the appreciation of the written word or literature.
Late 19th Century and early 20th Century archeologists excavated the ruins of the city of Nimrud about 30 kilometers or 20 miles from the south of the city Mosul and about 5 kilometers or 3 miles from the village of Selamiyah, which is located in the Nineveh plains within the northern Mesopotamia which is the modern day Iraq. The famous scholar and archeologist Layard in the 19th century initiated this process of excavation. The gradual excavation of the site continues to the present day.
According to the historical documents that were partly unearthed during the subsequent excavations and piecing together the various historical journals and or parchments maintained by the ancient Greco-Roman and later the Arabian scholars Nimrud was a major Assyrian city from the 1250 BC to 610 BC. The city of Nimrud strategically built at the north point where the river Tigris meets its tributary the great Zab. Nimrud approximately covered an area of 360 hectares or 890 acres (Reede1983). The first official archeological excavation of the site began in the year 1845 and continued till 1949. The important artifacts that were discovered during these excavations were moved to museums in Iraq while some of the artifacts were either officially or with the connivance of the smugglers were also sent to museums abroad or became part of private collections. In 2013 the government of United Kingdom established the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) with the motive to make Nimrud Project to collect the information about the important pieces as well as to identify and to record the history of the world’s collection of artifacts from the city of Nimrud (Reede1983). The important artifacts excavated from the site of the city of Nimrud city, were distributed to 76 museums all around the globe. The United States and the United Kingdom were the main beneficiaries of most of these officially distributed artifacts (Reede1983). According to the majority of prominent archeologists the city of Nimrud was named after the legendary Biblical hero and in actual fact the excavated ruins are of the Biblical city of Calah. The name of the city of Calah is mentioned in the Genesis 10 according to Henry Rawlinson which is the cuneiform proper name for Levekh. Further investigation proves that the city of Nimrud was founded by the Assyrian king named Shalmaneser during his reign from 1245 BC to1274 BC during the era of the middle Assyrian empire. (Harmansah 2013). Many historians including Julian Jaynes believe that the Biblical city of Nimrud was named after the great Assyria king Tukulti-Ninurta who was the son of Shalmaneser and ruled Assyria from 1207 BC to 1244 BC (Harmansah, 2013). Other historians though tend to disagree and believe that the name is derived from the Assyrian god Ninurta. The basis of their assertion is that the city of Nimrud was the major religious centre of Assyria. The King Ashurnasirpal of the Neo Assyrian Empire during the 859 BC to 883 BC made the Nimrud as the capital city of the empire after the expansion of the Assure city, the original capital of the empire. The king also built a large palace as well as lots of temples within the boundary of the city of Nimrud that had fallen within the degree of disrepair during the dark ages of the mid 11th Century (Harmansah, 2013). The city of Nimrud remained the capital city of Assyrian Empire during the time period of Shamshe-AdadV ,Adad-nirari III, Queen Semiramis , Adad-nirari III and then Shalmaneser IV and so on till the time of the king Shalmaneser V who ruled from 726 BC and 723 BC. The king Ashurnasirpal II during his regime from 883 BC to 859 BC also built a new capital at the Nimrud city in which thousands of men worked to build a 5 miles or 8 kilometer long wall that was surrounding the whole city as well as the grand palace (Harmansah, 2013).
The name of the city of Nimrud was mentioned for the very first time in the writings of Carsten Niebuhr for a site that was in Mosul in the 1760s. This site was described in detail by the British traveler Claudius James Rich in the year 1820 only a few days before his death (Williams College Museum, 2012). Moreover, Rich wrongly identified the site with the city of Larissa recorded by Xenophon. According to Genesis 10 states went to Assuria from that land and built Nineveh as the city of Rehoboth as well as Calah or Resen as well (Williams College Museum, 2012). The four cities mentioned in the Bible have been the cause of a major debate concerning the actual city of Nimrud during most of the scholarly debates of the 19th Century (Williams College Museum 2012). The present site was confirmed as the actual ruin of the city of Nimrud by scholars William Francis Ainsworth in 1837 and by the historian James Phillips Fletcher in the year 1843, both of whom visited the present site and confirmed it as the city of Nimrud. Furthermore, Ainsworth and Rich have identified the present site with Larissa of Xenophon concluding that city of Nimrud was in fact the Biblical city of Resen. On the basis of Bo chart the identification of city of Larissa and of that of the city of Resen is based on etymological grounds carefully keeping into account the important changes that have occurred in the Greek, the Hebrew and the Arabic languages with the passage of time. Fletcher on the other hand identifies the present site with the Biblical city of Rehoboth. Fletcher bases his findings on the writings of the great Greek historian Ptolemy. Further, he argues that the historical person Ammianus Marceline has the same etymological meaning as Rehoboth in Hebrew language reinforcing his claims as to the veracity and the validity of the present site as being the old city of Nimrud.
The excavations during different time periods by the renowned archeologists at the present site of the city of Nimrud unearthed remarkably well preserved bas-reliefs and sculptures made of ivory. Of special mention are the excellently preserved statues of of Ashurnasirpal II depicted as a colossal winged man with the face of a loin guarding the palace entrance at the city of Nimrud (Mieroop1997). During the excavations a significantaly large number of inscriptions were also discovered. These inscriptions provide invaluable detailed information about the times and the character of the king Ashurnasirpal II. Most of the sites have different palaces of the king Ashurnasirpal II and different palaces of the Shalmaneser III and also Tiglath-Pileser III that are located within the map of the city of Nimrud. Apart from palaces, many temples have also been unearthed showing that religion played a pivotal role in the life of the people of the city of Nimrud. Majority of these temples are of the god Ninurta and Enlil. A temple dedicated to the god Nabu has also been discovered. Nabu was the god of arts and writing and this fact goes a long way to prove that the inhabitants of the city of Nimrud were highly civilized and took great care of and pride in the arts, the crafts and the literature (Mieroop 1997).
Layard also discovered more than half dozen pairs of the colossal guardian figures that are guarding palace entrances within the city of Nimrud. These include the lamassi statues with a male human head as well as the body of a lion or a bull with the wings of the body (Mieroop 1997). These statues are now exhibits at the museum of London(Williams College Museum 2012). Being exceptionally heavy special devices with pulleys and levers and in addition employing the brute strength of approximately 300 men were used by Layard to transport the valuable artifacts from the site of the city of Nimrud and from museums all over Iraq in order to transport them safely outside of Iraq which at present is embroiled in a bloody civil war, Layard initially tried to hook up the cart carrying these heavy statues and use a team of buffalo to move them but the experiment failed so instead these statues were loaded on barges and transported to the desired destination. According to Layard these barges required 600 goat and sheepskins to keep them afloat during the laborious journey (Williams College Museum 2012). In modern day London a ramp was specially built to transport them to the museum. The city of Nimrud has various monuments that had faced threats from exposure from the harsh elements of the Iraqi climate that subsequently led to their destruction. Lack of proper means of protection for these artifacts at the site was the main cause for shifting these precious artifacts around museums in Iraq, the United Kingdom and the United States ensured that they were preserved for posterity. The greatest threat to the historic city of Nimrud is from the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIL) because the historic site is in the area under their control since mid-2014. ISIL has desecrated and destroyed the historical mosque of the Prophet Jonah at Mosul. Furthermore, many other mosques and holy sites belonging to the Shias have also been reduced to rubble as ISIL is mainly a Sunni-Wahabi terrorist out-fit funded by the Sunni Saudi Arabia. Keeping with their ideology the ISIL in early 2015 has categorically announced that it intends to destroy the un-Islamic idols meaning thereby the valuable artifacts at the city site of the city of Nimrud a symbol of the pagan Assyrian empire. If the international community does not take positive steps in helping the Iraqi people to prevent the catastrophe that is in the making and irreplaceable loss that might well and is certain to occur at the hands of the fundamentalist Sunni-Wahabi terrorists that go by the name of the ISIL the humanity would lose some of the greatest artifacts of the ancient world. It is up to the academia, the media and the politicians to stop them from carrying their nefarious designs. If the international community does not act well in time the human race would lose an invaluable part of our shared heritage of the whole humanity.
Reede, J. (1983). Assyrian Sculpture, British Museum Publications, London, 13-30.
PSR 8: Banquet Inscription of Ashurnasirpal II
Harmansah, O. (2013). “City and Festival” in Cities and the Shaping of Memory in the Ancient Near East, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 102-134. (see link below)
British Museum Artifacts from Nimrud:http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/articles/n/nimrud_ancient_kalhu,_iraq.aspx
Digital Reconstructions of the place with a digital walkthrough: http://www.vizin.org/projects/nimrud/solution.html
History Channel: Ancient Warriors: http://youtu.be/vpKxRJDmnQI
BBC: The Lion Hunt Reliefs: http://youtu.be/cnWIk2zxaRM
Mieroop, M. (1997). The Ancient Mesopotamian City. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p.95
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