Marc Van De Mieroop. Котел Неневии в 612 году до н.э. 29.11.17

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9789088 904967
ISBN 978-90-8890-496-7
ISBN: 978-90-8890-496-7
Sidestone Press
edited by
L.P. Petit & D. Morandi Bonacossi
Symbol of Beauty and Power
‘Well, as for Nineveh, skipper, it was wiped out long ago. There’s not a trace
of it left, and one can’t even guess where it was ’ (Lucian, 2 nd century AD).
Nineveh, the once-flourishing capital of the Assyrian Empire, has
fascinated writers, travellers and historians alike since its complete
annihilation by allied forces in 612 BC. It was said to have been a great
and populous city with 90-km walls, stunning palaces and colossal
statues of pure gold. Since 1842 archaeologists have been investigating
the ruins of Nineveh, which are located on the eastern banks of the river
Tigris, near the modern Iraqi city of Mosul. The hundreds of thousands
of objects that have been collected tell an intriguing story of life and
death in a remarkable Mesopotamian city.
The edited volume Nineveh, the Great City contains more than 65
articles by international specialists, providing the reader with a detailed
and thorough study of the site of Nineveh. It describes the history of the
city, the excavations and the dispersed material culture that can today be
appreciated in more than 100 museums and institutes around the world.
Special attention is paid to the endangered heritage of Nineveh, which
recently faced destruction for the second time in its history.
This lavishly illustrated volume is intended to appeal to readers interested
in culture and heritage, as well as to students and professional academics.
Petit &

Morandi Bonacossi (eds)

Source reference:
Petit, Lucas P. & Morandi Bonacossi, Daniele (eds) 2017: Nineveh, the Great
City. Symbol of Beauty and Power , Papers on Archaeology of the Leiden Museum
of Antiquities 13, Leiden (Sidestone Press).

This is a free offprint – as with all our publications
the entire book is freel accessible on our
website, where you can also buDSULQWHGFRS\
or pdf E-book.

© 2017 Rijksmuseum van Oudheden; the individual authors
PALMA : Papers on Archaeology of the Leiden Museum of
Antiquities (volume 13)
Published by Sidestone Press, Leiden
Imprint: Sidestone Press
Lay-out & cover design: Sidestone Press
Photograph cover:
Detail of a relief showing King Ashurbanipal on a horse.
Nineveh, Iraq; N Palace, Room S; 645–635 BC; gypsum;
H 165.1 cm, W 116.8 cm; British Museum, London
(1856,0909.48/BM 124874). © The Trustees of the
British Museum.
ISBN 978-90-8890-496-7 (softcover)
ISBN 978-90-8890-497-4 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-90-8890-498-1 (PDF e-book)


Contributors 11
Nineveh, the Great City. Symbol of Beauty and Power 15
Lucas P. Petit and Daniele Morandi Bonacossi
Part I: Nineveh, Famous but Lost
1. Nineveh, Famous but Lost 27
Daniele Morandi Bonacossi
2. Nineveh in the Cuneiform Sources 29
John MacGinnis
3. Nineveh in Biblical, Ancient Jewish and the Earliest Christian
Traditions 32
Jürgen K. Zangenberg
4. Nineveh in Classical Literature 39
Menko Vlaardingerbroek
5. Nineveh in Western Art 44
Jan de Hond
6. Early Travellers and Nineveh 50
Paolo Matthiae
Part II: Investigating Nineveh : a Great Adventure
7. Investigating Nineveh: a Great Adventure 57
Lucas P. Petit
8. The Topography of Nineveh 58
Jason Ur
9. French Research at Nineveh 63
Ariane Thomas
10. The British Museum Excavations at Nineveh 69
John Curtis
11. Austen Henry Layard 74
Frederick Mario Fales

12. The Curse of the Tigris River 78
Lucas P. Petit
13. Archaeology, Politics and Espionage 80
Frederick Mario Fales
14. Max Mallowan and Agatha Christie Mallowan in Nineveh 84
David Stronach
15. Gertrude Bell and the Monuments of Nineveh 87
Lisa Cooper
16. Iraqi Excavations at Nineveh 91
John MacGinnis
17. The Nergal Gate: a Calamitous History 94
Layla Salih
18. Italian Research in the Nineveh Region: Archaeological
Investigation and Cultural Heritage Protection
and Management 98
Daniele Morandi Bonacossi
Part III: From Prehistory to the Arrival of the Neo-Assyrian Kings
19. From Prehistory to the Arrival of the Neo-Assyrian Kings 107
Daniele Morandi Bonacossi
20. The Prehistoric Roots of Nineveh 109
Marco Iamoni
21. The Ninevite 5 Culture at Nineveh 113
Elena Rova
22. Nineveh in the Second Millennium BC:
the Birth of an Assyrian City 118
Aline Tenu
Part IV: Neo-Assyrian Nineveh: the Largest City in the World
23. Neo-Assyrian Nineveh: the Largest City in the World 125
Lucas P. Petit and Daniele Morandi Bonacossi
24. Neo-Assyrian Town Planning 127
Mirko Novák
25. Water for Assyria: Irrigation and Water Management in the Assyrian
Empire 132
Daniele Morandi Bonacossi
26. The Rural Landscape of Nineveh 137
Daniele Morandi Bonacossi
27. The Neo-Assyrian Kings in Nineveh 142
Bradley J. Parker

28. The Palaces of Nineveh 147
David Kertai
29. The Production and Use of Reliefs 153
Paolo Matthiae
30. Sennacherib’s Quarries and the Stones of the
Southwest Palace Decoration 158
Pier Luigi Bianchetti
31. (De)colouring Ancient Nineveh using Portable XRF Equipment 160
Dennis Braekmans
32. Nineveh in the Assyrian Reliefs 167
Davide Nadali
33. Nineveh and Neo-Assyrian Trade: an Active Hub
with Far-Flung Contacts 170
Diederik J.W. Meijer
34. Nineveh and Foreign Politics 174
Giovanni-Battista Lanfranchi
35. Sennacherib 179
Carlo Lippolis
36. Sennacherib’s Nineveh and the Staging of Atmosphere 184
Stephen Lumsden
37. Sennacherib’s Palace Garden at Nineveh, a World Wonder 188
Stephanie Dalley
38. The Lachish Reliefs 192
David Ussishkin
39. Ashurbanipal and the Lion Hunt Reliefs 198
Pauline Albenda
40. Language and Writing in Nineveh 201
Jan Gerrit Dercksen
41. Intellectual Life in Nineveh 205
Eckart Frahm
42. The Library of Ashurbanipal 208
Jeanette C. Fincke
43. Aramaic Epigraphs in Nineveh 212
Frederick Mario Fales
44. Demons, Deities and Religion 213
Barbara N. Porter
45. Ištar of Nineveh 217
John MacGinnis
46. Apotropaic Figures in Nineveh 219
Carolyn Nakamura

47. Music in Nineveh 224
Theo J.H. Krispijn
48. The Last Days of Assyrian Nineveh: a View from the Halzi Gate 228
David Stronach
49. The Sack of Nineveh in 612 BC 243
Marc Van De Mieroop
Part V: Nineveh after the Destruction in 612 BC
50. Nineveh after the Destruction in 612 BC 251
Daniele Morandi Bonacossi
51. Nineveh in the Achaemenid Period 253
John Curtis
52. Graeco-Parthian Nineveh 256
Rocco Palermo
53. Nineveh and the City of Mosul 260
Hikmat Basheer Al-Aswad
54. Monitoring Damage to Iraqi Archaeological and
Cultural Heritage: the Case of Nineveh 265
A. Bianchi, S. Berlioz, S. Campana,
E. Dalla Longa, D. Vicenzutto and M. Vidale
55. Deir Mar Behnam: the Destruction of Iraq’s
Christian Heritage 270
Bas Lafleur
56. Rekrei: Crowdsourcing Lost Heritage 275
Matthew Vincent and Chance Coughenour
57. Building a 3D Reproduction of the Southwest Palace
of Sennacherib 278
Boris Lenseigne and Naphur van Apeldoorn
Part VI: The Material Culture of Nineveh
58. The Material Culture of Nineveh 285
Lucas P. Petit
59. The Material Culture of Nineveh in France 287
Ariane Thomas
60. The Material Culture of Nineveh in Italian Collections 293
Daniele Morandi Bonacossi
61. Nineveh in the United Kingdom 298
Paul Collins
62. Nineveh in Berlin 303
Lutz Martin

63. The Material Culture of Nineveh in Belgium and
the Netherlands 309
Lucas P. Petit and Bruno Overlaet
64. The Material Culture of Nineveh in Collections in the
United States 313
Michael Seymour
65. Nineveh, Lady Charlotte Guest and The Metropolitan
Museum of Art 317
Yelena Rakic
66. The Iraq Museum in Baghdad 321
Carlo Lippolis
67. The Material Culture of Nineveh in Turkish Collections 324
Abbreviations 331
References 333
Concordance of Museums and registration numbers 349
Index 35 3

243 part iv: neo-assyrian nineveh: the largest city in the world
49. The Sack of Nineveh in
612 BC
Marc Van De Mieroop
In the month Simanu of the fourteenth year of the Babylonian king Nabopolassar’s reign
(626-605 BC), that is to say, May/June of the year 612 BC, the king’s troops started to
lay siege to the Assyrian capital Nineveh. On their march to the north, they had joined
forces with the Medes from the Zagros Mountains of western Iran, men whose forefa -
thers had served as bodyguards to the Assyrian kings. The siege lasted three months.
On an unknown day of the month Abu (July/August) they managed to break through
Nineveh’s defences and turned the city into a ruin. The king of Assyria, Sin-šarru-iškun
(reigned c. 627-612 BC), died at that time, possibly in battle, and the victors carried
off a vast amount of booty. On 14 September 612 BC the Medes returned home, while
Nabopolassar used Nineveh as a base for further military action against the remnants of
the Assyrian Empire.
The sack of Nineveh was a crucial moment in the war between Assyria and its
former subjects, the Medes and Babylonians, which had started at least five years earlier.
Nabopolassar, who probably came from a prominent family that had collaborated with
the Assyrians, had established an independent dynasty in Babylon in 625 BC. After
ridding the region of Assyria’s influence, he started to invade its heartland in 615 BC. At
the same time the Medes also raided Assyria, capturing its ancient religious centre Assur
in 614/613 BC, after which they concluded an alliance with the Babylonians against
their common enemy. The Babylonian source reporting on this event states that ‘the king
of Akkad [ i.e. , Babylon] and Cyaxares [king of the Medes, reigned c. 625-585 BC] met
outside the city and concluded a mutual accord and a total peace’. The coalition sacked
the empire’s political capital two years later, but this did not put an end to the war. The
Assyrians resisted fiercely for several more years. Correspondence from provincial centres
shows that local officials sought troops to defend their cities (Parpola 2008, 86-95), and
the last Assyrian king, Aššur-uballit II (reigned 612-609 BC), still managed to recapture
territory in northern Syria in 609 BC. He received support from the Egyptians and
populations of the western Near East, and it took Babylonia another decade to impose
its will upon the territories Assyria had previously controlled. The attack on Jerusalem in
597 BC and the city’s destruction in 587/586 BC, described in the Hebrew Bible, were
part of this arduous process.
Babylonian sources give remarkably few details on these wars. The military history
of the Assyrian domination of the ancient Near East is easy to write, as the events are
exceedingly well documented in the empire’s accounts. The Babylonians did not write
such texts, however, focusing instead on non-military actions when they celebrated their
kings. Information about wars is found exclusively in terse chronicles that list military
clashes in a straightforward, non-celebratory fashion (especially Glassner 2004, 218-25).
The end of Nineveh does not really stand out in these accounts, but it was indeed a
very significant moment, which justifies the modern historians’ decision to use it as the
marking point of the end of the Assyrian Empire. Archaeological evidence and reflec -
tions on the city’s fall in Greek and Biblical sources confirm this view.

244 nineveh, the great city
Archaeology shows that the attack by the Babylonian and Medes was not unopposed
and confirms that a long siege took place. Excavations in the 1990s at the south-eastern
Halzi Gate showed that the 7 m-wide stone-lined entrance had been narrowed to 2 m
with mud brick blocks to limit access, a feature also noticed at two other gates (fig. 48.6;
Pickworth 2005; Stronach, this volume). The finds of skeletons illustrate the horrors
of the conquest: in the Halzi Gate, for example, were excavated the remains of twelve
individuals, among them a few adult males, but also adolescent boys, two children and
a ten-month-old infant. That they died as the result of battle is clear from the arrow -
heads, lance heads and spears discovered alongside them. Of course, such carnage must
have taken place whenever a city was captured, and we should not be too surprised that
the remains of innocent victims were found. We know, however, that Nineveh received
special treatment after the conquest.
The chronicle states that the city was turned into a heap of ruins, and early archaeo -
logical explorations of the site in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries show
that was indeed the case. In various places, 5 cm-thick layers of ash were discovered
(Stronach 1997, 313). Yet, the destruction was far from mindless and did not occur the
minute the city was taken. When we look closely at the remains of the stone reliefs that
lined the palace walls, we see that specific images were defaced, cutting out people’s eyes
and noses and, if present, the inscriptions that identified them (fig. 49.2). The targets for
such treatment were carefully selected, and included, for example, the Assyrian king and
queen, an Elamite collaborator with the Assyrians, and a soldier who was shown decapi -
tating the king of Elam; the focus on men who had harmed Elamites in the past suggests
that descendants of those people participated in the destruction (Reade 1976, 105).
The men who demolished the images did not use sledgehammers to smash eşverything
in sight, but ritually annihilated especially despised images to render them powerless
(Bahrani 1995). Most likely the Medes and Elamites focused on King Ashurbanipal,
who had sacked the capital city Susa of Elam in western Iran, while the Babylonians
directed their anger against King Sennacherib, who had annihilated Babylon. To identify
the correct people, they must have walked through the palaces and careful studied the
intricate reliefs, reading inscriptions when available. They did so before they burned
down the buildings.
Why was Nineveh so thoroughly destroyed? An unusual document written for
Nabopolassar gives us insight in the matter. It is a declaration of war in which the attacker
lists the former crimes of Assyria against Babylon: ‘You became hostile to Babylon, [the
Figure 49.2 (right page) Detail of
a relief showing a defaced soldier.
Nineveh, Iraq; room V, SW
Palace; 7th century BC; gypsum;
in situ until 201111É
reserved to Angelo Rubino, ISCR
(High Institute for Conservation
and Restoration, Rome),
MIBACT (Ministry for Cultural
Assets and Environments, Rome).
Figure 49.1 Fall of Nineveh made
by John Martin in 1829.

245 part iv: neo-assyrian nineveh: the largest city in the world

246 nineveh, the great city
booty] of the lands you plundered and removed to Assyria. The property of the Esagila
[i.e. , the god Marduk’s temple] and Babylon you brought out and sent [to Nineveh]. You
killed the elders of the city’. Nabopolassar vouched to do the same to Nineveh: ‘I shall
avenge Babylon. The property of the Esagila and Babylon I shall bring down … The
wall of Nineveh, which is made of stone, by the command of Marduk, the great lord, I
shall pile up like a mound of sand. [The city] of Sennacherib, son of Sargon, child of a
domestic slave, conqueror of [Babylon], plunderer of Babylonia, its roots I shall pluck
out and the foundations of the land I shall obliterate’ (fig. 49.3; Gerardi 1986, 35-6).
He clearly refers to the sack of Babylon by Sennacherib, which took place in 689 BC,
some 75 years before the attack on Nineveh. No one lived to remember that event, but
people could still read Sennacherib’s description of it, which was especially vivid and
detailed. It had been a daring deed and Sennacherib’s Assyrian successors had struggled
with its aftermath, as it pitted the Assyrian against the highest god ofş the Babylonian
pantheon, Marduk. Nabopolassar portrayed himself as taking revenge for this misdeed
and he re-enacted what Sennacherib had done – or at least, he repeated Sennacherib’s
claims in his own writings. This we know, not from preserved Babylonian texts, but
from later accounts by Biblical and Greek authors, who must have had access to such
materials, as the details of their stories show.
The biblical prophet Nahum (it is unclear exactly when he lived) and the Greek
historian Ctesias, who stayed at the Persian court around 400 BC, both report that
Nineveh was flooded on purpose during the Babylonian attack. It is very difficult to find
a factual explanation for such a feat, however inventive modern scholars have been, and
it makes much more sense to read the statements as inspired by a piece of Babylonian
rhetoric in imitation of the Assyrian accounts of Babylon’s sack. In those, Sennacherib
had declared that he washed away Babylon from the face of the earth by diverting the
Euphrates River, and that he had returned its site to the primordial condition of watery
chaos. Nabopolassar must have claimed the same for Nineveh, even if this was physically
impossible. He did unto Nineveh as had been done to Babylon. Ctesias continued his
Figure 49.3 Clay tablet with
a stylized declaration of war.
A Babylonian king, most
likely Nabopolassar, accuses
the Assyrian king of having
become an enemy since he took
Babylonian temple treasures to
Nineveh. Babylon, Iraq; X-
V[ BC; clay; L 12.7 cm, W 9.8
cm; British Museum, London
(1882,0704.40/BM 554]É
© The Trustees of the British

247 part iv: neo-assyrian nineveh: the largest city in the world
story with a description of the death of Sardanapalus, that is, the last great Assyrian
emperor Ashurbanipal rather than the much less famous Sin-šarru-iškun (reigned c.
627-612 BC), who, according to the Babylonian chronicle, had died during the siege.
Sardanapalus prepared a gigantic pyre, heaped up all his gold and silver, and locked
himself into a chamber in its midst together with his concubines and eunşuchs, before
he set fire to the whole. This tragic end so fascinated European romantics of the early
nineteenth century that they fantasized about it years before the actual archaeological ex -
ploration of Nineveh (De Hond, this volume). Most famous today is Eugène Delacroix’s
painting from 1827, The Death of Sardanapalus , now in the Louvre, in which he let loose
his imagination, depicting the Assyrian as a Middle Eastern sultan reclining in apathy
on his lavish couch, surrounded by nude harem women (fig. 4.4). The reality must have
been quite different, but the sack of Nineveh was indeed an important event in the
history of the ancient Near East, one that through the ages rightly continues to intrigue.