Archaeology of Ancient Assyria
Nineveh was the
famous capital of ancient Assyrian and one of the mightiest cities of all
antiquity. It is situated on the east bank of the Tigris River just opposite
modern Mosul. According to the Scriptures Nimrod was the founder of Nineveh.
11 "From that land he (Nimrod) went to Assyria and built Nineveh."
The ancient Hebrew
prophets foretold of Nineveh’s destruction and utter desolation:
"Though Nineveh of old was like a pool of water, Now they flee away. 'Halt!
Halt!" they cry; But no one turns back. Take spoil of silver! Take spoil of
gold! There is no end of treasure, Or wealth of every desirable prize. She is
empty, desolate, and waste! The heart melts, and the knees shake; Much pain is
in every side, And all their faces are drained of color."
In fact Nineveh was
so laid waste that it was considered a total myth of the Bible throughout most
of the recent centuries, that is until it was discovered by Sir Austen Layard in
the nineteenth century. The site of ancient Nineveh was extensively excavated
and its occupational levels reach far back to the beginning of civilization.
The city itself,
with the walls around it, was 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. It is interesting
that the prophet Jonah described the "great city" of Nineveh as a "3 days
journey" across, obviously referring to the whole territory as does other parts
of the Bible. He must have passed through several cities at the time.
After examining the
pottery that was excavated it is clear that Nineveh was a Sumerian city. It is
mentioned in the cuneiform records of rulers such as Gudea (2100 B.C.) and
Hammurapi (1700 B.C.). At Nineveh was the royal palace of Sargon II (722-702
B.C.) and he made it the capital of his empire. King Sennacherib (704-681 B.C.)
made the city spectacular in his day (2 Kings 19:36) and built the worlds oldest
aqueduct and a massive wall fifty feet high around the city. In 612 B.C. the
armies of the Babylonians and Medes under Nabopolassar attempted to bring down
the wall and after 3 months they almost gave up and God Himself caused a flood
to break the walls and give them the victory. The Assyrian Empire finally came
to an end in August, 612 B.C. as predicted by the prophet Nahum of the "bloody
The discoveries at
the site of ancient Nineveh were breathtaking. Austen Henry Layard excavated the
Kuyunjik Mound (Nineveh) in 1847, unearthing the magnificent royal residence of
king Sennacherib in 1849 with its 71 rooms and the incredible sculptured walls.
He also unearthed the palace and famous library of Ashurbanipal with its 22,000
inscribed clay tablets . The study of the archaeology of Nineveh reveals the
wealth and glory of ancient Assyria under kings such as Esarhaddon (681-669
B.C.) and Ashurbanipal (669-626 B.C.).
The discoveries of
ancient Nineveh have contributed a multitude of extra-biblical material that
confirms that the Bible is indeed a book of history.
"Heaven and earth will pass away but My Word will abide forever."
Archaeology of Ancient Assyria
Ancient Assyria and Archaeology
Paul Emil Botta
- French Archaeologist
Austen Henry Layard
- British Archaeologist
List of Later Assyrian Kings
The Ancient City of Nineveh
The Ancient City of Khorsabad
The Ancient City of Calah
The Ancient City of Asshur
Scriptures about Ancient Assyria
- Ancient Documents
- Heart Message and Devotional
Archaeology and Ancient Assyria