Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) are the remains of the first capital of the Assyrian empire from the 14th to 9th centuries BC. The Assyrian Empire took its name from the city of Ashur.
Ashur contained a large number of important religious buildings, and a handful of palaces. Documents from the 7th century BCE tell us about 34 temples and 3 palaces. Only few of these have been excavated.
The city was the centre for worship of the god Ashur and the goddess Ishtar/Inanna. Exploration of the site of Assur began in 1898 by German archaeologists.
Map of AshurLoad map
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.
2003 In Danger
Dam proposal; state of war in the country
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