Photo by Wojciech Fedoruk.

Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) comprises the remains of the first capital of the Assyrian empire.

The city was the centre for worship of the god Ashur and the goddess Ishtar/Inanna. Ashur contained many important religious buildings and a handful of palaces. They show the evolution of the building practice from the Sumerian to the Parthian periods.

Community Perspective: Located near Mosul, it has been off-limits for decades. Thomas managed to visit in 2021 – the site hasn’t seen as much war damage as other Iraqi sites, but not much has been excavated.

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Thomas Buechler

Switzerland - 15-Nov-21 -

Ashur by Thomas Buechler

Ashur (Assur) was the first Assyrian capital and remained so for a long period (1400 to 608 BC). Located on the western banks of the Tigris River, just a bit north of the confluence with the Lesser Zab river, it became an important trading and religious centre with a large ziggurat. The city lies about 140km south of Mosul, and we visited the place on the first day of November 2021, coming from Baghdad on our way to Mosul. Our guide Hayder did his homework. The chief of security at this important archaeological site gave us an entry permit on the spot, and we were even driven around the premises in his private car. Here excavations have been done predominantly by German archaeologists, starting as early as 1903, about 4 years after Babylon. Not surprisingly that many of Ashur's artefacts and statues are kept safe far away, in Berlin's Pergamon Museum, some are in the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul. Good in that case, since the nearby Mosul Museum has suffered severe damage to its collections. Ashur was not destroyed by the ISIS extremists on the same magnitude as Nimrud, Hatra or Mosul/Nineveh, simply because only a few palaces and temples (10 out of 34) are fully excavated. But another threat comes from the Makhul Dam project, an ambitious plan of the Iraqi government, creating a 20 mile-long lake, most likely partially flooding the ancient city of Ashur. After a long pause due to the Gulf war, and political turmoil, construction of the dam has just started this year, according to Iraqi press releases. 

Site Info

Full Name
Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat)
Unesco ID
2003 - In Danger
3 4
Archaeological site - Near Eastern

Site History

2003 In Danger

Dam proposal; state of war in the country

2003 Inscribed


The site has 1 locations



The site has

Human Activity
Individual People
Religion and Belief
Visiting conditions
WHS on Other Lists
World Heritage Process