Ashurbanipal (Akkadian: Aššur-bāni-apli; 'Ashur is the creator of an heir'), also spelled Assurbanipal or Ashshurbanipal, was King of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 668 BC to c. 627 BC, the son of Esarhaddon and the last strong ruler of the empire, which is usually dated between 934 and 609 BC.[1] He is famed for amassing a significant collection of cuneiform documents for his royal palace at Nineveh.[2] This collection, known as the Library of Ashurbanipal, is now in the British Museum, which also holds the famous Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal set of Assyrian palace reliefs.

In the Hebrew Bible he is called Asenappar (Hebrew: אָסְנַפַּר, Modern: 'Asnapar, Tiberian: 'Āsenapar - Ezra 4:10).[3] Roman historian Justinus identified him as Sardanapalus, although the fictional Sardanapalus is depicted as the last king of Assyria and an ineffectual, effete and debauched character, whereas three further kings succeeded Ashurbanipal, who was in fact an educated, efficient, highly capable and ambitious warrior king.[4]

ܐܫܘܪ ܒܢܐ ܐܦܠܐ
Sculpted reliefs depicting Ashurbanipal, the last great Assyrian king, hunting lions, gypsum hall relief from the North Palace of Nineveh (Irak), c. 645-635 BC, British Museum (16722368932)
King of the Neo-Assyrian Empire
Reign668 – c. 627 BC
Died627 BC
Aššur-uballiṭ II (?)
DynastySargonid dynasty
Assurbanipal als hogepriester
Ashurbanipal as High Priest
No known portrait image of Ashurbanipal exists from life. A likeness by artist and historian George S. Stuart created from his physical description found in historical records.

Early life

Ashurbanipal was born toward the end of a 1,500-year period of Assyrian ascendancy.[5]

His father, Esarhaddon, the youngest son of Sennacherib, had become heir when the crown prince, Ashur-nadin-shumi, was deposed by rebels from his position as a vassal for Babylon. Esarhaddon was the son not of Sennacherib's queen, Tashmetum-sharrat, but of the "palace woman" Zakutu, "the pure" (cf. Modern Standard Arabic زكاة [zakāt], "that which purifies"), known by her native name, Naqi'a. There are some suggestions Zakutu may have been an Israelite or Aramean concubine, while others point to her family origins being in the northern Assyrian city of Harran.[6] The only queen known for Esarhaddon was Ashur-hamat, who died in 672 BC.

Ashurbanipal grew up in the small palace called Bit Reduti (house of succession), built by his grandfather Sennacherib when he was crown prince in the northern quadrant of Nineveh.[5] In 694 BC, Sennacherib had completed the "Palace Without Rival" at the southwest corner of the acropolis, obliterating most of the older structures. The "House of Succession" had become the palace of Esarhaddon, the crown prince. In this house, Ashurbanipal's grandfather was assassinated by uncles identified only from the biblical account as Adrammelech, Abimlech and Sharezer. From this conspiracy, Esarhaddon emerged as king in 681 BC. He proceeded to rebuild as his residence the Bit Masharti (weapons house, or arsenal). The "House of Succession" was left to his mother and the younger children, including Ashurbanipal.

The names of five brothers and one sister are known.[5] Sin-iddin-apli, the intended crown prince, died prior to 672 BC. Not having been expected to become heir to the throne, Ashurbanipal was trained in scholarly pursuits as well as the usual horsemanship, hunting, chariotry, soldiery, craftsmanship, and royal decorum. In a unique autobiographical statement, Ashurbanipal specified his youthful scholarly pursuits as having included oil divination, mathematics, and reading and writing; he was able to read and write in Sumerian, Akkadian and Aramaic.

Royal succession

Detail of a stone monument of Ashurbanipal II as a basket-bearer. 668-655 BCE. From the temple of Nabu at Borsippa, Iraq, currently housed in the British Museum
Detail of a stone monument of Ashurbanipal II as a basket-bearer. 668-655 BC. From the temple of Nabu at Borsippa, Iraq, currently housed in the British Museum

Ashurbanipal succeeded his father Esarhaddon (reigned 681–669 BC) as king of Assyria and ruler of the Assyrian Empire in 668 BC. Esarhaddon had prepared for the accession of his son by imposing a vassal treaty upon his Persian, Median and Parthian subjects, ensuring that they accepted Ashurbanipal's dominance in advance. He had also rebuilt Babylon and set up another of his sons Shamash-shum-ukin to rule there, subject to his brother Ashurbanipal in Nineveh.

Military accomplishments

Despite being a popular king among his subjects, he was also known for his cruelty to his enemies. Some pictures depict him putting a dog chain through the jaw of a defeated Arab king and then making him live in a dog kennel.[7] Many paintings of the period exhibit his brutality; however, Assyrian harshness was reserved solely for those who took up arms against the Assyrian king, and neither Ashurbanipal nor his predecessors conducted genocides, massacres or ethnic cleansings against civilian populations.[8][9]

Ashurbanipal inherited from Esarhaddon not only the throne of the empire but also the ongoing war in Egypt with Kush/Nubia. Ashurbanipal ended Egyptian interference in the Near East, destroyed the Kushite Empire, drove the Kushites/Nubians from Egypt, and conquered Egypt and Libya. However, the Nubians still had ambitions to regain control of Egypt and resurrect their empire.

Ashurbanipal sent an army against them in 667 BC that defeated the Nubian king Taharqa, near Memphis, while Ashurbanipal stayed at his capital in Nineveh. At the same time, some Egyptian vassals rebelled and were also defeated. All of the vanquished leaders save one were sent to Nineveh. Only Necho I, the native Egyptian Prince of Sais, convinced the Assyrians of his loyalty and was sent back to become the Assyrian puppet Pharaoh of Egypt. After the death of Taharqa in 664 BC his nephew and successor Tantamani invaded Upper Egypt and took control of Thebes. In Memphis, he defeated the native Egyptian princes and Necho may have died in the battle. Ashurbanipal sent another army and again it succeeded in defeating the Kushites/Nubians. Tantamani was routed and driven back to his homeland in Nubia and was never again to threaten Assyria or Egypt. The Assyrians plundered Thebes and took much booty home with them. How Assyrian rule in Egypt ended is not certain, but at some point, Necho's son Psammetichus I gained independence while wisely keeping his relations with Assyria friendly.

An Assyrian royal inscription tells how the Lydian king Gyges received dreams from the Assyrian god Ashur. The dreams told him that when he submitted to Ashurbanipal, he would conquer his foes. After Gyges sent his ambassadors to accept Assyrian vassalage, he defeated his Cimmerian enemies. But later when he supported the rebellion of the Egyptian rebels his country was overrun by the Cilicians.[10]

Assyria was by then master of the largest empire the world had yet seen, stretching from the Caucasus in the north to North Africa and the Arabian peninsula in the south, and from Cyprus and the east Mediterranean in the west, to central Iran in the east. Ashurbanipal enjoyed the subjugation of a myriad of nations and peoples, including Babylon, Chaldea, Media, Persia, Egypt, Libya, Elam, Gutium, Parthia, Cissia, Phrygia, Mannea, Corduene, Aramea, Urartu, Lydia, Cilicia, Commagene, Caria, Cappadocia, Phoenicia, Canaan, the Suteans, Sinai, Israel, Judah, Samarra, Moab, Edom, Ammon, Nabatea, Arabia, the Neo-Hittites, Dilmun, Meluhha, Nubia, Scythia, Cimmeria, Armenia and Cyprus, with few problems during Ashurbanipal's reign. For the time being, the dual monarchy in Mesopotamia went well, with Shamash-shum-ukin accepting his position as the vassal of his brother peaceably.[11]

For his assignment of his brother, Ashurbanipal sent a statue of the god Marduk with him as a sign of good will.[12] Shamash-shuma-ukin's power was limited. He performed Babylonian rituals, but the official building projects were still executed by his younger brother. During his first years Elam was still at peace as it was under his father. Ashurbanipal sent food supplies to the Elamites during a famine. Around 664 BC the situation changed and Urtaku, the Elamite king, attacked Assyria's colony of Babylonia by surprise. Assyria delayed in sending aid to Babylon. This could have been caused for two reasons: either the soothing messages of Elamite ambassadors or Ashurbanipal might simply not have been present at that time. However the Assyrians eventually attacked, and the Elamites retreated before the Assyrian troops, and in the same year Urtaku died. He was succeeded by Teumman (Tempti-Khumma-In-Shushinak), who was not his legitimate heir, so many Elamite princes had to flee to Ashurbanipal's court, including Urtaku's oldest son Humban-nikash. In 658/657 BC the two empires clashed again when the province of Gambulu in 664 rebelled against the Assyrians, and Ashurbanipal decided to punish them. On the other hand, Teumman saw his authority threatened by the Elamite princes at the Assyrian court and demanded their extradition. The Assyrian forces invaded Elam and fought a battle at the Ulaya river.[13]

Elam was defeated in the battle in which, according to Assyrian reliefs, Teumman committed suicide.[14] Ashurbanipal installed Humban-nikash as king of Madaktu and another prince, Tammaritu, as king of the city Hidalu. Elam was considered a vassal of Assyria and tribute was imposed on it. With the Elamite problem solved the Assyrians could finally punish Gambulu and seized its capital. Then the victorious army marched home taking with them the head of Teumman. In Nineveh, when the Elamite ambassadors saw the head, one tore out his beard and the other committed suicide. As further humiliation, the head of the Elamite king was put on display at the port of Nineveh. The death and head of Teumman was depicted multiple times in the reliefs of Ashurbanipal's palace.[15]

Friction grew between the two brother kings, and in 652 BC Babylon rebelled. This time Babylon was not alone – it had allied itself with a host of peoples resentful of Assyrian rule, including Sutean, Chaldean and Aramean tribes dwelling in its southern regions, the kings of "Gutium", Amurru, and Meluhha, the Persians, the Arabs and Nabateans dwelling in the Arabian Peninsula, and even Elam. According to a later Aramaic tale on Papyrus 63, Shamash-shum-ukin formally declared war on Ashurbanipal in a letter where he claims that his brother is only the governor of Nineveh and his subject.[16] Again the Assyrians delayed an answer, this time due to unfavourable omens. It is not certain how the rebellion affected the Assyrian heartlands, but there was some unrest in the cities.[17] When Babylon finally was attacked, the Assyrians were victorious. Civil war prevented by further military aid, and in 648 BC Borsippa and Babylon were besieged. Without aid the situation was hopeless. After two years Shamash-shum-ukin met his end in his burning palace just before the city surrendered. This time Babylon was not destroyed, as under Sennacherib, but a massacre of the rebels took place, according to the king's inscriptions, with the Assyrians exacting savage revenge upon the Babylonians, Arameans, Chaldeans and Persians, together with an invasion of Arabia and the brutal subjugation of the Arab tribes to the south of Mesopotamia. Ashurbanipal allowed Babylon to keep its semi-autonomous position, but it became more formalized than before. The next king, Kandalanu, (an Assyrian governor) left no official inscription, probably as his function was only ritual.[18]

During the final two decades of Ashurbanipal's rule, Assyria was peaceful, and its dominance went unchallenged, but the country faced an underlying decline due to over-expansion, the lack of funds from its devastated colonies, and insufficient troops to govern its vast empire. Documentation from the last years of Ashurbanipal's reign is scarce. The last attestations of Ashurbanipal's reign are of his year 38 (631 BC), but according to the Greek historian Castor, he reigned for 42 years until 627 BC.[19]

After Ashurbanipal's death c. 627 BC he was succeeded by Ashur-etil-ilani (626–623 BC). However, Assyria soon descended into a series of internal civil wars that would ultimately lead to its downfall.

Library of Ashurbanipal

Assyrian royal lion Hunt14
The king, detail from the Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal

Ashurbanipal was proud of his scribal education. He asserts this in the statement: “I Assurbanipal within [the palace], took care of the wisdom of Nebo, the whole of the inscribed tablets, of all the clay tablets, the whole of their mysteries and difficulties, I solved.”[20] He was one of the few kings who could read the cuneiform script in Akkadian and Sumerian, and claimed that he even read texts from before the great flood. He was also able to solve mathematical problems. During his reign, he collected cuneiform texts from all over Mesopotamia, especially Babylonia, in his royal library at Nineveh, the Assyrian capital.[21] He commissioned copies of literary works from libraries around the kingdom in order to obtain "the hidden treasures of the scribe's knowledge."[22][23] The results were stored in what became known as the Library of Ashurbanipal. This idea of this knowledge being noted as hidden treasures would persist in coming ages. "...libraries would be increasingly revered as sources of knowledge and wisdom- spiritual, magical, and earthly- and whoever controlled books and libraries possessed a unique power." [24]

Nineveh was destroyed in 612 BC, but many of the library's clay tablets survived the devastation. Ashurbanipal's palace was excavated in December 1853 and the surviving contents of the library re-discovered.[25] Over 30,000 clay tablets and fragments were uncovered in the library,[26] providing archaeologists with a wealth of Mesopotamian literary, religious and administrative work. The library included hymns and prayers, medical, mathematical, ritual, divinatory and astrological texts, alongside all sorts of administrative documents, letters and contracts. Other genres found during excavations included standard lists used by scribes and scholars, word lists, bilingual vocabularies, lists of signs and synonyms, lists of medical diagnoses, astronomic/astrological texts. The scribal texts proved to be very helpful in deciphering cuneiform.[21]

External video
British Museum Room 10 lion hunting
Assyrian Art: Ashurbanipal Hunting Lions, Smarthistory

Ashurbanipal is considered by some library scholars as an archetypal academic librarian, in that his library set the course for how the libraries of today operate.[27] While the library at Ninevah was utilized by a select elite and Ashurbanipal himself, the basic purposes of the library and the services provided are similar to those currently seen in modern academic libraries.

Art and culture

The British Museum in London has the Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal, a set of Assyrian palace reliefs from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal, also excavated at Nineveh, depicting the king hunting and killing Mesopotamian lions.[28] In Assyria, the lion hunt was seen as a royal sport; the depictions were seen as a symbol of the king's ability to guard the nation.[29] The “Garden Party” relief shows the king and his queen having a banquet celebrating the Assyrian triumph over Tuemman in the campaign against Elam. The fine carvings serve as testimony to Ashurbanipal's high regard for art, but also communicate an important message meant to be passed down for posterity.[30]

The sculptor Fred Parhad (1947–) created a larger-than-life statue of Ashurbanipal, which was placed on a street near the San Francisco City Hall main square in 1988.[31][32] The sculpture shows Asurbanipal wearing a short tunic and holds a lion cub in his proper right arm. The figure stands on a concrete base, with bronze plaque and rosettes. The statue stands across from City Hall next to the Asian Art Museum and faces the San Francisco Library.

Robert E. Howard wrote a short story entitled "The Fire of Asshurbanipal" (sic), first published in the December 1936 issue of Weird Tales magazine, about an "accursed jewel belonging to a king of long ago, whom the Grecians called Sardanapalus and the Semitic peoples Asshurbanipal".[33]

"The Mesopotamians", a 2007 song by They Might Be Giants, mentions Ashurbanipal, along with Gilgamesh, Sargon, and Hammurabi.[34]

Ashurbanipal was used as the ruler of the Assyrians in the second expansion pack (Brave New World) for the game Civilization V.[35]

See also

References and footnotes

  1. ^ These are the dates according to the Assyrian King list, Assyrian kinglist
  2. ^ "Ashurbanipal - king of Assyria". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  3. ^ See other versions at Ezra 4:10
  4. ^ Marcus Junianus Justinus. "Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus". His successors too, following his example, gave answers to their people through their ministers. The Assyrians, who were afterwards called Syrians, held their empire thirteen hundred years. The last king that reigned over them was Sardanapalus, a man more effeminate than a woman.
  5. ^ a b c Northen Magill, Frank; Christina J. Moose; Alison Aves; Taylor and Francis (1998). Dictionary of World Biography: The ancient world. pp. 141–142.
  6. ^ Melville, Sarah C. (1999). The Role of Naqia/Zakutu in Sargonid Politics. Helsinki: Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project. ISBN 9514590406.
  7. ^ Luckenbill, D.D. Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia II. p. 314.
  8. ^ "It must be noted, however, that these atrocities were usually reserved for those local princes and their nobles who had revolted and that in contrast with the Israelites, for instance, who exterminated the Amalekites for purely ethnocultural reasons, the Assyrians never indulged in systematic genocides." (Georges Roux, Ancient Iraq, Third Edition, p. 291)
  9. ^ They have been maligned. Certainly, they could be rough and tough to maintain order, but they were defenders of civilization, not barbarian destroyers." (H.W.F. Saggs, The Might That Was Assyria, p. 2)
  10. ^ Roaf, M. Cultural atlas of Mesopotamia and the ancient near east 2004. pp. 190–191.
  11. ^ Georges Roux – Ancient Iraq
  12. ^ Frame, G. Babylonia 689-627. p. 104.
  13. ^ This is the name according to Assyrian sources; the river is today identified with either the Karkheh or Karun.
  14. ^ Banipal, Cem (1986). The War of Banipalian. Çankaya: Bilkentftp Press. pp. 31–52.
  15. ^ Frame, G. Babylonia 689–627 BC. pp. 118–124.
  16. ^ Steiner and Ninms, RB 92 1985
  17. ^ Frame, G. Babylonia 689–627 BC. pp. 131–141.
  18. ^ Oates, J. (2003). Babylon. p. 123.
  19. ^ Most important examples are the Harran inscription and the Uruk king list.
  20. ^ Cylinder A, Column I, Lines 31–33, in Smith, George. History of Assurbanipal, Translated from the Cuneiform Inscriptions. London: Harrison and Sons, 1871: pg.6
  21. ^ a b Roaf, M. (2004). Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East. p. 191.
  22. ^ Murray, Stuart (2009). The Library: An Illustrated History. Chicago: ALA Editions.
  23. ^ Coogan, Michael (2009). A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament. New York City: Oxford University Press. p. 292.
  24. ^ 1948-, Murray, Stuart, (2009). The library : an illustrated history. New York, NY: Skyhorse Pub. ISBN 9781602397064. OCLC 277203534.
  25. ^ Murray, Stuart (2009). The Library: An Illustrated History. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing. pp. 3–10. ISBN 9780838909911.
  26. ^ "Assurbanipal Library Phase 1", British Museum One
  27. ^ Briscoe, Peter; Bodtke-Roberts, Alice; Douglas, Nancy; Heinold, Michele; Koller, Nancy; Peirce, Roberta (1986). "Ashurbanipal' s Enduring Archetype: Thoughts on the Library's Role in the Future". College & Research Libraries: 121.
  28. ^ Ashrafian, H. (2011). "An extinct Mesopotamian lion subspecies". Veterinary Heritage. 34 (2): 47–49.
  29. ^ "Assyria: Lion Hunt (Room 10a)". British Museum. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  30. ^ "Garden Party relief from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal (Room S)". British Museum. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  31. ^ "Smithsonian Art Inventories Catalog – Ashurbanipal, (sculpture)". Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  32. ^ "Ashurbanipal Statue at the Main San Francisco Library in San Francisco". Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  33. ^ Price, R. M. (ed.): Nameless Cults: The Cthulhu Mythos Fiction of Robert E. Howard, Chaosium (2001), pp. 99–118.
  34. ^ Don Nardo, Babylonian Mythology. Greenhaven Publishing LLC, 2012. ISBN 0737766476 (p.88).
  35. ^ "Civ V's Brave New World expansion lets you conquer the world with trade or culture wars". Venture Beat. April 12, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2018.


  • Barnett, R. D. (1976). Sculptures from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (668–627). London: British Museum.
  • Grayson, A. K. (1980). "The Chronology of the Reign of Ashurbanipal". Zeitschrift für Assyriologie. 70 (2): 227–245. doi:10.1515/zava.1980.70.2.227.
  • Luckenbill, Daniel David (1926). Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia: From Sargon to the End. 2. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Murray, S. (2009). The Library: An Illustrated History. New York, NY:: Skyhorse Pub.
  • Oates, J. (1965). "Assyrian Chronology, 631-612 B.C". Iraq. 27 (2): 135–159. doi:10.2307/4199788.
  • Olmstead, A. T. (1923). History of Assyria. New York: Scribner.
  • Russell, John Malcolm (1991). Sennacherib's Palace without Rival at Nineveh. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Further reading

External links

Preceded by
King of Assyria
668–c. 627 BC
Succeeded by

Ashur-etil-ilani was a king of Assyria (c. 631 BC – c. 627 BC). He succeeded his father Ashurbanipal.

Ashurbanipal (sculpture)

Ashurbanipal, also known as the Ashurbanipal Monument or the Statue of Ashurbanipal, is a bronze sculpture by Fred Parhad, an artist of Assyrian descent. It is located in the Civic Center of San Francisco, California, in the United States. The 15-foot (4.6 m) statue depicting the Assyrian king of the same name was commissioned by the Assyrian Foundation for the Arts and presented to the City of San Francisco in 1988 as a gift from the Assyrian people. The sculpture reportedly cost $100,000 and was the first "sizable" bronze statue of Ashurbanipal. It is administered by the City and County of San Francisco and the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Parhad's work was met with some criticism by local Assyrians, who argued it was inaccurate to portray Ashurbanipal holding a clay tablet and a lion, or wearing a skirt. The critics thought the statue looked more like the Sumerian king Gilgamesh; Renee Kovacs, a "scholar and self-stated Assyriologist", believed the sculpture depicted neither figure, but rather a Mesopotamian "protective figure". Parhad defended the accuracy of his work, while also admitting that he took artistic liberties.


Atarsamain (also Attar-shamayin and Attarshamayin; "morning star of heaven") (Arabic: عثتر سمين‎) was an astral deity of uncertain gender, worshipped in the pre-Islamic northern and central Arabian Peninsula. Worshipped widely by Arab tribes, Atarsamain is known from around 800 BC and is identified in letters of the Assyrian kings Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal. Atarsamain may be identical with Allāt, whose cult was centred on Palmyra.

According to Dierk Lange, Atarsamain was the main deity in a trinity of gods worshipped by what he calls the Yumu'il Confederation, which he describes as a northern Arab tribal confederation of Ishmaelite ancestry headed by the "clan of Kedar" (i.e. the Qedarites). Lange identifies Nuha as the solar deity, Ruda as the lunar deity, and Atarsamin as the main deity associated with Venus. A similar trinity of gods representing the sun, moon and Venus is found among the peoples of the South Arabian kingdoms of Awsan, Ma'in, Qataban and Hadhramawt between the 9th and 4th centuries BC. There, the deity associated with Venus was Astarte, the sun deity was Yam, and moon deity was variously called Wadd, Amm and Sin.Atarsamain is twice mentioned in the annals of Ashurbanipal, king of the Neo-Assyrian empire in the 7th century BC. The reference is to a?lu (sā) a-tar-sa-ma-a-a-in ("the people of Attar of Heaven") who are said to have been defeated together with the Nebayot (Nebaioth/Nabataeans) and the Qedarites led by Yauta ben Birdadda, who was also known as "king of the Arabs".

Battle of Ulai

The Battle of the Ulai River (called in modern times the Kerkha or Karkheh River), also known as the Battle of Til-Tuba, in c. 653 BCE, was a battle between the invading Assyrians, under their king Ashurbanipal, and the kingdom of Elam, which was a Babylonian ally. The result was a decisive Assyrian victory. Teumman, the king of Elam, and his son Tammaritu were killed in the battle.

Book of Judith

The Book of Judith is a deuterocanonical book, included in the Septuagint and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian Old Testament of the Bible, but excluded from Jewish texts and assigned by Protestants to the Apocrypha. The book contains numerous historical anachronisms, which is why many scholars now accept it as non-historical; it has been considered a parable or perhaps the first historical novel.The name Judith (Hebrew: יְהוּדִית, Modern: Yehudit, Tiberian: Yəhûḏîṯ, "Praised" or "Jewess") is the feminine form of Judah.


Ilu-shuma or Ilu-šūma, inscribed DINGIR-šum-ma, son of Shalim-ahum was the thirty-second king of Assyria, c. 1900 BC (short chronology.) The length of his reign is uncertain, as the Assyrian King List records him as one of the "six kings whose names were written on bricks, but whose eponyms are not known", referring to the lists of officials after which years were named.

His son, Erishum I, is identified as the king who succeeded him and reigned for 30 years (or 40, depending on the copy of the Assyrian King List), followed by Ilu-shuma's other son, Ikunum. He titled himself "vice-regent of Assur, beloved of the god Ashur and the goddess Ishtar." The Synchronistic King List records, "eighty-two kings of Assyria from Erishum I, son of Ilu-shuma, to Ashurbanipal, son of Esarhaddon", in the concluding colophon.


Indabibi was a ruler of ancient Elam in 649 BCE and perhaps 648. He is sometimes referred to as Indabigash. He was the successor of Tammaritu II and the predecessor of Humban-Haltash III. Elam was located to the east of the more powerful Assyrian Empire, and the reign of Indabibi occurred during the reign of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (668 - c. 617).

In 649, then-Elamite king Tammaritu II was deposed in an uprising and fled to Assyria's king Ashurbanipal, at which point Indabibi took the throne. At this time, Ashurbanipal was engaged in a conflict with his brother, Shamash-shum-ukin, king of Babylon, who was attempting to gain control of the Assyrian Empire. Tammaritu II militarily supported Shamash-shum-ukin. During a battle, one of his generals, Indabibi, switched sides, and Tammaritu escaped to Nineveh in either 650 or 649. Thus began the brief rule of Indabibi over Elam.

Assyrian records give contradictory reports concerning Indabibi's relationship to Assyria: one source, written during Indabibi's rule records that Indabibi was an ally and "brother" of Ashurbanipal, while a source written two years later has a different opinion.As relations soured, Ashurbanipal send a demand that Indabibi extradite to him a number of rebellious subjects who were taking refuge in Elam. Indabibi delivered some of these, but withheld others. After Ashurbanipal sent a messenger to demand the extradition of the remaining subjects, but the message did not reach Elam.The Annals of Ashurbanipal record that Ashurbanipal declared was against Indabibi. As Ashurbanipal's armies approached Elam, the Elamites revolted and killed Indabibi in 648.Indabibi was then replaced by Humban-haltash III.

Library of Ashurbanipal

The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal, named after Ashurbanipal, the last great king of the Assyrian Empire, is a collection of thousands of clay tablets and fragments containing texts of all kinds from the 7th century BC. Among its holdings was the famous Epic of Gilgamesh.

Ashurbanipal's Library gives modern historians information regarding people of the ancient Near East.

The materials were found in the archaeological site of Kouyunjik (ancient Nineveh, capital of Assyria) in northern Mesopotamia. The site is in modern-day northern Iraq, near the city of Mosul.

Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal

The royal Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal is shown on a famous group of Assyrian palace reliefs from the North Palace of Nineveh that are now displayed in room 10a of the British Museum. They are widely regarded as "the supreme masterpieces of Assyrian art". They show a formalized ritual "hunt" by King Ashurbanipal (reigned 668 – c. 631/627 BC) in an arena, where captured Asian lions were released from cages for the king to slaughter with arrows, spears, or his sword. They were made about 645–635 BC, and originally formed different sequences placed around the palace. They would probably originally have been painted, and formed part of a brightly coloured overall decor.The slabs or orthostats from the North Palace were excavated by Hormuzd Rassam in 1852–54, and William Loftus in 1854–55 and most were sent back to the British Museum, where they have been favourites with the general public and art historians alike ever since. The realism of the lions has always been praised, although the pathos modern viewers tend to feel was perhaps not part of the Assyrian response. The human figures are mostly seen in formal poses in profile, especially the king in his several appearances, but the lions are in a great variety of poses, alive, dying, and dead.The carvings come from late in the period of some 250 years over which Assyrian palace reliefs were made, and show the style at its most developed and finest, before decline set in. Ashurbanipal was the last great Assyrian king, and after his reign ended the Neo-Assyrian Empire descended into a period of poorly-recorded civil war between his descendants, generals and rebelling parts of the empire. By 612, perhaps as little as 25 years after these were made, the empire had fallen apart and Nineveh been sacked and burnt.

Neo-Assyrian Empire

The Neo-Assyrian Empire was an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire, in existence between 911 and 609 BC, and became the largest empire of the world up till that time. The Assyrians perfected early techniques of imperial rule, many of which became standard in later empires, and was, according to many historians, the first real empire in history. The Assyrians were the first to be armed with iron weapons, and their troops employed advanced, effective military tactics.Following the conquests of Adad-nirari II in the late 10th century BC, Assyria emerged as the most powerful state in the known world at the time, coming to dominate the Ancient Near East, East Mediterranean, Asia Minor, Caucasus, and parts of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, eclipsing and conquering rivals such as Babylonia, Elam, Persia, Urartu, Lydia, the Medes, Phrygians, Cimmerians, Israel, Judah, Phoenicia, Chaldea, Canaan, the Kushite Empire, the Arabs, and Egypt.The Neo-Assyrian Empire succeeded the Old Assyrian Empire (c. 2025–1378 BC), and the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365–934 BC) of the Late Bronze Age. During this period, Aramaic was also made an official language of the empire, alongside Akkadian.Upon the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC, the empire began to disintegrate due to a brutal and unremitting series of civil wars in Assyria proper. In 616 BC, Cyaxares king of the Medes and Persians made alliances with Nabopolassar ruler of the Babylonians and Chaldeans, and also the Scythians and Cimmerians against Assyria. At the Fall of Harran (609 BC) the Babylonians and Medes defeated an Assyrian-Egyptian alliance, after which Assyria largely ceased to exist as an independent state. A failed attempt to reconquer Harran ended the Assyrian Empire. Although the empire fell, Assyrian history continued; there are still Assyrians living in Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere, in the present day.

Neo-Babylonian Empire

The Neo-Babylonian Empire (also Second Babylonian Empire) was a period of Mesopotamian history which began in 626 BC and ended in 539 BC. During the preceding three centuries, Babylonia had been ruled by their fellow Akkadian speakers and northern neighbours, Assyria. A year after the death of the last strong Assyrian ruler, Ashurbanipal, in 627 BC, the Assyrian empire spiralled into a series of brutal civil wars. Babylonia rebelled under Nabopolassar. In alliance with the Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians, they sacked the city of Nineveh in 612 BC, and the seat of empire was transferred to Babylonia for the first time since the death of Hammurabi in the mid-18th century BC. This period witnessed a general improvement in economic life and agricultural production, and a great flourishing of architectural projects, the arts and science.

The Neo-Babylonian period ended with the reign of Nabonidus in 539 BC. To the east, the Persians had been growing in strength, and eventually Cyrus the Great conquered the empire.


Phraortes (from Old Persian: 𐎳𐎼𐎺𐎼𐎫𐎡𐏁, Fravartiš, or Frâda via Ancient Greek Φραόρτης; died c. 653 BC), son of Deioces, was the second king of the Median Empire.

Like his father Deioces, Phraortes started wars against Assyria, but was defeated and killed by Ashurbanipal, the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (668 – c. 627 BC).

All information about him is from Herodotus. According to him (1.102), Phraortes was the son of Deioces and united all Median tribes into a single state. He also subjugated the Persians and Parthians while still a vassal of the Assyrian kings Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, and began to conquer other nations of Ancient Iran. After a rule of twenty-two years (c. 675 – c. 653 BC), he fell in battle against the Assyrians, who reasserted their subjugation of the Medes, Persians and Parthians. However, some scholars assume that he ruled for fifty-three years, c. 678 – c. 625. Phraortes is commonly identified with Kashtariti, a chieftain in Media, although some scholars consider such an identification doubtful.


Quwê – also spelled Que, Kue, Qeve, Coa, Kuê and Keveh – was a "Neo-Hittite" Assyrian vassal state or province at various times from the 9th century BCE to shortly after the death of Ashurbanipal around 627 BCE in the lowlands of eastern Cilicia (also known as Hiyawa), and the name of its capital city, tentatively identified with Adana, in modern Turkey. According to many translations of the Bible, it was the place from which King Solomon obtained horses. (I Kings 10: 28, 29; II Chron. 1:16)

The species name of Cyclamen coum probably refers to Quwê.


Sardanapalus (; sometimes spelled Sardanapallus) was, according to the Greek writer Ctesias, the last king of Assyria, although in actuality Ashur-uballit II (612-605 BC) holds that distinction. Ctesias' book Persica is lost, but we know of its contents by later compilations and from the work of Diodorus (II.27). In this account, Sardanapalus, supposed to have lived in the 7th century BC, is portrayed as a decadent figure who spends his life in self-indulgence and dies in an orgy of destruction. The legendary decadence of Sardanapalus later became a theme in literature and art, especially in the Romantic era.

The name Sardanapalus is probably a corruption of Ashurbanipal, an Assyrian emperor, but Sardanapalus as described by Diodorus bears little relationship with what is known of that king, who in fact was a militarily powerful, highly efficient and scholarly ruler, presiding over the largest empire the world had yet seen.


Shamash-shum-ukin (Assyrian: 𒁹𒀭𒄑𒉢𒈬𒄀𒈾 Šamaš-šuma-ukin "Shamash has established an heir") was the Assyrian king of Babylon from 667–648 BC. He was the second son of the Assyrian king Esarhaddon.

Urtak (king of Elam)

Urtak or Urtaku was a king of the ancient kingdom of Elam, which was to the southeast of ancient Babylonia. He ruled from 675 to 664 BCE, his reign overlapping those of the Assyrian kings Esarhaddon (681-669) and Ashurbanipal (668-627).Urtak was preceded by his brother, Khumban-Khaldash II. Khumban-Khaldash made a successful raid against Assyria, and died a short time thereafter. He was succeeded by Urtak, who returned to Assyria the idols his elder brother had taken in the raid, and who thereby repaired relations between Elam and Assyria.He made an alliance with Assyria's Esarhaddon in 674, and for a time Elam and Assyria enjoyed friendly relations, which lasted throughout the remainder of Esarhaddon's reign, and deteriorated after Esarhaddon was succeeded by Ashurbanipal.During a famine in Elam, Ashurbanipal welcomed temporary refugees from Elam into his empire, and sent food aid to Elam itself. However, after a time Urtak, joining his forces with the Gambulu tribe of Arameans, attacked Babylonia around 665 BCE, and died shortly afterward. Urtak was succeeded by his brother Teumman, who was killed by Ashurbanipal shortly afterward.

White Obelisk of Ashurnasirpal I

The White Obelisk of Ashurnasirpal I is a large stone monolith found at the ancient Assyrian settlement of Nineveh, northern Iraq. Excavated by the British archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam in 1853, it is one of only two intact obelisks to survive from the Assyrian empire, the other being the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III. Both are now preserved in the British Museum.

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