Nineveh Region




Nineveh Region

Site Information

Country: Iraq
State: Nineveh, Nineveh Province
Location: 36° 21' 36" N - 43° 9' 46" E
Field Documentation Date(s): April 1st, 2007
Project Release Date(s): January 7th, 2009
Time Range: 6000 BCE - 600 CE
Era: Hassuna-Roman
Site Authority: Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage
Heritage Listing: World Heritage-Tentative
world map with location

Site Description

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The ancient walls of Nineveh form a rectangular shape approximately 1 mi by 3 mi (about 2 km by 5 km) enclosing an area 1,875 acres (750 ha) in size. The site is located 205 mi (410 km) north of Baghdad on the eastern bank of the Tigris River and is now within the developed area of the modern city of Mosul. The Khosr River bisects the site west to east as it flows into the Tigris, which runs parallel to the western ramparts. Two high mounds dominate an extensive lower town, and some of the lower mounded area was likely given over to agriculture, parks, or was simply left undeveloped in ancient times. The larger mound, known as Kuyunjik, is over 100 acres (40 ha) in size and rises about 90 ft (30 m) above the surrounding plain. The smaller mound known as Nebi Yunis is situated south of the River Khosr and, with Kuyunjik, formed part of the city's western fortifications. Occupied almost continuously from the 7th millennium B.C. well into the 1st millennium A.D., the ancient city achieved legendary status in the 7th century B.C. when the greatly expanded and embellished city became the imperial capital of the Assyrian empire under the king Sennacherib. In addition to figuring prominently in the Book of Jonah, Nineveh appears often in the written records of Egypt and other major contemporary powers as well as in the literature of subsequent epochs. As the last great capital of the world's first territorial empire, the site of Nineveh occupies a unique position in human history. The surrounding countryside was, and remains today, fertile and favored by rainfall, so large populations could be sustained by agriculture. Moreover, the site's significance was ensured by it's location at an easy river crossing and at a natural road junction within a vast regional transportation and communication network. Nineveh is one of the longest excavated sites in the world. The history of archaeological investigation dates back to 1847 when A.H. Layard, assisted by H. Rassam, began the first systematic excavations at the site. Subsequent excavations were undertaken by H. Rassam (1852-54, 1878-1882), W. Loftus (1854-1855), G. Smith (1873-1874), E.A.W. Budge (1889-1891), L. King (1903-1904), R.C. Thompson (1904-1905, 1927-1932). Many of these expeditions were sponsored by the British Museum. Early in the 1950s the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage began a limited program of excavation under the direction of M.A. Mustafa (1951-1958). Then, after another hiatus, a second major programme of investigation was initiated in a series of campaigns at the site headed by the Iraqi archaeologists T. Madhloom (1965-1971), Ghanim Wahida (1965-71), Farouk Al-Rawi (1967-71), A. Suleiman (1966-), A. as-Satar (1987), and M. Jabur (1971,1980,1989). The University of California at Berkeley Expedition to Nineveh, directed by David Stronach, investigated the site in 1987, 1989 and 1990 before the first Gulf war brought their work to a halt. In 2002, the Sennacherib's "Palace Without Rival" Project began a program of recording, involving the Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino per il Medio Oriente e l'Asia, led by Giuseppe Proietti, together with the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage of Iraq, the Iraq Museum, the Central Restoration Institute in Rome and the Director General for the Archaeological Heritage of Italy's Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities. Today, the Iraq SBAH, directed by Amira Eidan, leads the preservation of the site in conjunction with Salim Youniss Hussein, Director General of Antiquities, Nineveh Province, and Mozahim Mahmoud Houssien, Director of Excavations, Nineveh.
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History

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Nineveh Region

The earliest occupation at Nineveh has been found on the high mound known as Kuyunjik. Pottery recovered from a deep sounding in 1931-32 dated back to the Hassuna and Halaf periods (6500-5500 BC). By the Ubaid period (5500-4000 BC), the high mound was probably fortified by mudbrick walls on at least northern and eastern sides. During the period of from ca. 4000-3000 BC, the site seems to have been part of a flourishing commercial network linking the Tigris Valley with the Euphrates Valley and southern Mesopotamia. At this point, the entire mound of Kuyunjik may have been occupied. By the early 3rd millennium BC, it is likely that urban settlement had developed below the high mound as well. Two bodies of evidence support a lower town just north of Kuyunjik during the Ninevite 5 period (ca. 3000-2500 BC ). UC Berkeley excavations on Kuyunjik Mound (Kuyunjik Gully, area KG) indicate occupation outside of the perimeter wall during this period. Additionally, in the1960s, Ninevite 5 pottery sherds were recovered in an area just north of Kuyunjik mound during repair of a deep well about 80m southeast of the Mashki Gate. The spatial arrangement of upper mound with related lower town would subsequently become a signature of northern Assyrian town planning, characteristic of all Neo-Assyrian capital cities except for Assur. Other city builders apart from the Assyrians adopted this arrangement as well, but it seems to have been particularly well-suited to the Assyrian administrative and ideological tradition. The earliest coherent architecture found at the site were located beneath a building recognized as the Temple of Ishtar on Kuyunjik. It, too, appears to have been a temple, illustrating the long sequence of sacred significance held not only by that particular spot on the high mound, but by the city of Nineveh itself, as any long-time home to a temple of this goddess, so important in the Mesopotamian pantheon, would have held national significance. The first time the Temple of Ishtar is mentioned in a written work is in a text of Shamshi-Adad I (1813-1781 BC), which relates that the temple was being renovated as early as the time of Manishtushu, king of Akkad (2269-2255 BC), so it is likely that it existed since at least the early 3rd millennium BC. R. Campbell Thompson, the archaeologist who uncovered the possible remains of the Ninevite 5 temple, emphasized that an even earlier temple may have occupied the same location.

During the Early Bronze Age (2234-2154 BC), the Akkadian Empire dominated Upper Mesopotamia, and Nineveh gained significance as an urban center from which imperial conquests were overseen. It is clear that the entire upper mound of Kuyunjik occupied, and it seems to have been during this time that the first real perimeter wall encircling Kuyunjik was constructed. Little is known of the site during the Middle Bronze Age (c. 2000-1600 BC), but it is probable that the settlement occupied only a relatively small area of Kuyunjik. The lack of information continues through the Late Bronze Age, with virtually a dark age from 1741-1365 BC, until the emergence of the Assur-uballit I (1365-1330 BC) and subsequent Middle Assyrian kings who reigned until about 1031 BC. In the inscriptions from certain kings, Nineveh is referred to as a royal city for the first time. Middle Assyrian kings beginning with Shalmaneser I (1273-1244 BC) erected palace complexes on Kuyunjik and continued to rebuild palaces and temples on the main mound as well as on a second high mound known as Nebi Yunus, which became the city's arsenal. Scant archaeological evidence remains from these buildings, but there is evidence that the lower town to north of Kuyunjik was substantially developed and defined in this period. Another dark age ensues at the site until the resurgence of the Neo-Assyrian kings. Beginning in 943 BC, but especially with the reign of Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC), successive kings embarked on new architectural projects and renovated older structures. By the beginning of the 1st millennium BC, Nineveh had probably obtained a size of 5 km. in circumference, comprised of Kuyunjik plus a large built up area on the north (cf. Stronach), or possibly encompassing Kuyunjik, Nebi Yunus, and the stretch of land in between (cf. Reade). By the time Sennacherib took the throne (704-681 BC) the empire dominated the Near East, from the Mediterranean to modern Iran, and from the Caucasus south to the Gulf. The extension and embellishment of Nineveh as the imperial capital served to accommodate a growing population, as well as being a hugely powerful embodiment of imperial might and prestige. During the time of Assurnasirpal II the Temple of Ishtar was completely rebuilt. He and his three successors erected separate palaces on Kuyunjik. Adad-Nirari III (810-783 BC) restored the Nabu Temple on Kuyunjik, and later kings established new temples and renovated the existing ones. Notable among thee is Sargon II (721-705 BC), who engaged in an extensive building program. Sennacherib, however, completely transformed the existing city from an important urban center to a legendary metropolis. The king's inscriptions memorialize his establishment of new streets, plazas, gardens, and three new palaces and numerous other buildings, all supported by a complex system of aqueducts and canals which brought water into the city from the countryside. His most famous palace was the southwest palace, known as the "Palace Without Rival" which spread over more than 350,000 square feet, and contained at least 80 rooms, typically decorated with stone sculptured reliefs. Sennacherib created a large arsenal on Nebi Yunus, and surrounded the entire city of 750 hectares (1,852 acres) with over 12 km of ramparts pierced by 15 monumental gates.

Sennacherib's successors, Esarhaddon (680-669 BC) and Ashurbanipal (668-627 BC) continued monumental building at Nineveh, though more limited in scale. Ashurbanipal amassed an extensive Library of over 24,000 cuneiform documents, with texts relating to many topics, from mathematics and natural sciences to royal correspondence. Nebi Yunus continued to be built upon, and the Assyrian conquest of Egypt was commemorated by one of the kings with a statue of the Pharaoh Taharqa in a central location on that mound.

In 612 BC, Nineveh was finally conquered by a combined force of Babylonians, Scythians, and Medes. Excavations by the UC Berkeley Expedition in the Halzi Gate, and by the University of Mosul Expedition at the Adad Gate, appear to document the violent destruction of the city. In each case, human and animal skeletons were found within the gateways covered in layers of ash and building debris, associated with artefacts dating from the Late Assyrian period. In parts of the ruined city there are indications that there was some degree of insubstantial, squatter-like occupation after the city's destruction. Nineveh never again attained real significance as an urban center. Post-Assyrian remains, from Hellenistic through to the Roman period are attested mainly from field scatter, and not from within any systematic investigation. The highest concentration of Hellenistic pottery found in the UC Berkeley Lower Town survey, conducted by Stephen Lumsden in 1990, was in a limited area just east of the bend in the Khosr river. Campbell Thompson's excavations from 1927-32 in the "flats below Kuyunjik" also recovered Post-Assyrian (Hellenistic and Parthian) pottery from an area near the Mashki Gate. In 627 CE Nineveh was mentioned as a place of battle between the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) and the Sasanian Empires. From the first half of the 7th century through to about 1700 CE the city of Mosul, across the Tigris River from Nineveh, was the main city of the province of Al-Jazira, northern Mesopotamia. Mosul was destroyed by the Mongol invasion in the 13th century, but experienced a revival during the Ottoman period when it once again becomes the provincial center. Throughout this period Nebi Yunus mound retained importance, with its shrine dedicated to the Prophet Jonah, a long-standing Muslim pilgrimage site.

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Kuyunjik Gully (Berkeley Area KG)

In the first half of the twentieth century there were two minor archaeological operations in the area of the eastern Kuyunjik gullies. In 1904 L. W. King began probing parts of the Kuyunjik mound. He sank shafts at 50 to 80 foot intervals and also dug a number of horizontal tunnels along the eastern edge. Evidence of one such excavation area with a partially filled tunnel extending from it, was discovered by the U.C. Berkeley team. In 1942 during World War II, M. Rowton did a sounding about 90 feet from the mouth of one of the eastern gullies. The sounding went to a depth of approximately 30 feet below the local level of the surface of the mound. He uncovered two early occupation levels, one of which contained Ninevite 5 pottery sherds. From Rowton's drawings his sounding appears to have been on the north side of the same bifurcated gully as that excavated by the U.C. Berkeley team. However, they could no longer find any visible traces of Rowton's sounding.

One additional and influential sounding at Nineveh should be mentioned at this point. In 1931-1932 Mallowan made a single deep sounding below the Ishtar temple near the center of Kuyunjik. This sounding, which went from the highest point on the mound down 27.5 meters to virgin soil, was the earliest attempt to obtain a complete stratigraphic sequence for prehistoric Assyria. Although the area of the sounding was limited Mallowan was able to identify five levels he termed prehistoric and these he designated as Ninevite 1-5.
The University of California, Berkeley Expedition excavated the central gully on the east side of the Kuyunjik mound (Area KG) in 1987, 1989 and 1990. In keeping with one of the purposes of the UCB project, that is, to expand our knowledge of early urban settlement in northern Mesopotamia, the original goal of this specific excavation was to expose intact what must have been an important Ninevite 5 settlement at Nineveh.

The bifurcated central gully is approximately 50 meters long and from three to six meters wide at its base with nearly vertical sides at the inner end. In 1987 two squares were opened at the inner end of the gully that revealed eroded Parthian remains and further time was given to examining lower sloping surfaces where wash layers containing pottery of mixed dates were exposed. In the 1989 and 1990 seasons, excavations continued at the western or inner end. Cutting vertically through approximately 7.5 meters of occupational debris, the U.C. Berkeley team identified thirteen stratigraphic levels. Unfortunately, the deep sounding was unfinished at the end of the 1990 season and the last level uncovered was mid-Ninevite 5 in date.

During the 1989 season a city wall was exposed in Area KG and further stretches of the wall were later identified in adjacent erosion gullies. This perimeter wall that once guarded the southeast edge of the mound was constructed of large, roughly cut limestone blocks set in clay mortar. Three stone courses were preserved at the wall's highest point and traces of a mud-brick superstructure were found at the southern end. A terrace wall was found approximately two meters outside the city wall. It, too, was built of large limestone blocks although, in this case, a layer of slabs had been laid against the adjacent, sloping surface of the mound. Its purpose most likely was to reinforce the lower part of the city wall. Against the eastern face of the city wall, two mud-brick walls, perpendicular to each other, were found and may have once formed part of a buttressed facade. Next to one of the perpendicular walls a cache of ovoid unbaked clay sling bullets was found while the area between the city wall and the terrace wall included a deposit of ash.

Inside the city wall abutting its western face, a mud-brick wall had been built. Traces of a second parallel wall were found not far away. The space between the two walls was delineated by mud-brick paving while south of the larger mud-brick wall occupational debris had accumulated. They indicate that at this point mud-brick buildings extended all the way to the line of the city wall. These constructions can be dated to the Akkadian period (ca. 2330-2150 B.C.E.).

The presence of the Akkadian stone walls, which were potentially too dangerous and too time-consuming to remove, restricted the excavation of the Ninevite 5 levels beneath them. However, in the narrow space between the two walls and a small area to the east of the terrace wall, debris from industrial activity, mud-brick walls, as well as painted and incised mid-Ninevite 5 pottery sherds were uncovered.

Finally, although it was not possible to finish the sounding by the end of the 1990 season, the recovery of a small number of Uruk sherds indicates there are deeper occupation levels yet to be uncovered.
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UC Berkeley Area KS East

The initial discovery and excavation of the Eastern Building occurred in 1904 when R. C. Thompson joined L. W. King at Nineveh. They uncovered what they thought was a building that had been destroyed and its stones removed. They found a paved chamber toward the east with a mud-brick wall on its southwest side. In the pavement was a limestone block that projected a foot above the level of the pavement. It was bored transversely. Further west were traces of two single sections of pavement. These pavements consisted of blocks of limestone that had been laid on a platform of large baked bricks that were inscribed with the name of Sennacherib. King and Thompson also found a stone orthostat with relief carvings of the lower halves of apotropaic figures. They uncovered the remains of an inscribed bull colossus in situ and scattered pieces from another bull. They found a total of 11 fragments of the bull text that Thompson noted was similar to other Sennacherib building inscriptions. The text included a description of palace building stones and their apotropaic qualities. One of these fragments included the term bit nakkapti - a term which Thompson took to refer to a type of building and he suggested that this was the name of the structure they had discovered on the eastern edge of Kuyunjik.

In 1989 the University of California, Berkeley Expedition re-explored the vicinity of Sennacherib's Eastern Building (Area KS). They uncovered the major gateway with three large, wheel-rutted stone threshold slabs, three orthostats carved with apotropaic figures, the base of an inscribed bull colossus, a detached stone foot from another bull colossus and various other stone fragments, seven with inscriptions.

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Halzi Gate (Berkeley Area HZ)

In particular, the recent excavations revealed that the Halzi Gate was the scene of dramatic events during the final siege of Nineveh. The first indication of this was the narrowing of the entryway and the central corridor. The second was the discovery in the central corridor of more than twelve skeletons of individuals who had died violent deaths. Amongst the tangled skeletons the work revealed bronze and iron arrowheads, a piece of iron armor, the remains of a dagger, a spearhead and a pike as well as other small personal objects. The third was the fact that these bodies and objects were directly covered by ash and fallen burnt debris.

In the two seasons that UC Berkeley excavated in this area the plan of the outer portion of the gate with its curtain wall, buttresses, entryway and courtyard was determined. The excavations revealed the original high quality of the masonry, the inferior repairs to the central section of the eastern façade, the narrowed entryway and central corridor with its additional brickwork and blocking stones, skeletons and weapons distributed across the narrowed cobblestone floor of the passageway, the baked brick foundation boxes at the NE, SE and SW corners of the courtyard and two apotropaic clay figurines still in the foundation boxes in the NE and SW corners.

If we compare the Halzi Gate with two other excavated city gates, the Adad Gate on the north wall and the adjacent Shamash Gate on the east wall, information comes to hand. The plans of the Halzi Gate and the Shamash Gate proved to have been particularly close in that each projected outwards from the city wall and had an outer courtyard. In addition, the entrance to all three gates had been similarly narrowed for protection. Yet only the Adad Gate and the Halzi Gate yielded evidence that fighting during the final siege. The location of these two gates, the Adad Gate on the eastern section of the north wall and the Halzi Gate on the southern section of the east wall, suggests that those attacking the city purposely meant to draw the defending forces of the Assyrians into two widely separated locations, close to the north and south extremities of the elongated plan of the city.
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Project Narrative

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Nineveh Region

The United States National Endowment for the Humanities has provided funding for a two-year digitization project directed by Eleanor Barbanes Wilkinson and David Stronach (UC Berkeley). With this grant, the Berkeley Expedition field records are serving as the basis for the first comprehensive reckoning of the past present and future of archaeology at Nineveh. All of the available Berkeley field records, as well as primary and interpretive data from other contributors, are currently being digitized, geographically coordinated within a three-dimensional matrix, and incorporated into a searchable database, which will then be made accessible to the public via the internet. Our objective is to establish the main context for meaningful analysis of currently unlinked sets of data from different areas of the site, allowing the fundamental data to be immediately accessible to researchers who would otherwise have to wait years for the reports to be published conventionally, if they were able to obtain them at all.
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Kuyunjik Gully (Berkeley Area KG)

The work of the U.C. Berkeley team in the Kuyunjik Gully provides new information on both the second and third millennium B.C.E. settlements at Nineveh, specifically the Akkadian and the Ninevite 5 periods. There is evidence for a substantial Akkadian occupation on Kuyunjik in the third millennium. This level may even have covered the entire mound as Akkadian mud-brick buildings were found to run right up to the inner face of the city wall. These discoveries regarding the Akkadian settlement are particularly important as Mallowan's deep sounding in the center of the mound was sunk from a post-Akkadian, Ninevite 5 level.

The U.C. Berkeley team's work in the Kuyunjik Gully also provides information about the Ninevite 5 levels in the third millennium that complements the material revealed in Mallowan's deep sounding. In addition their work revealed that there were places along the perimeter of the mound where the Ninevite 5 settlement apparently extended outside the line of the subsequent Akkadian city wall. This almost certainly indicates that the Ninevite 5 occupation took up all available space on Kuyunjik.
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UC Berkeley Area KS East

An important question regarding this enigmatic building is whether or not it was an extension of Sennacherib's Southwest Palace or whether it was a separate gate structure. Initially the U.C. Berkeley team thought it likely that the Eastern Building was part of the palace since its dimensions, added to that of the palace, matched the length given in Sennacherib's 694-693 B.C.E. building account (that of 914 cubits or approximately 500 meters). However, the measurements made during the 1989 excavations proved inconclusive. Another problem was that the bull colossi faced the wrong direction if they were part of the eastern entrance to Sennacherib's Southwest palace. They faced the southwest whereas if they had been part of the entrance to the palace they would have faced the northeast. The direction the bulls faced definitely makes more sense if the gateway was part of a separate structure. At all events, it does seem highly likely that this monumental gateway was part of the main approach to the palace, possibly the culmination of the paved road that ran from the Nergal Gate to Kuyunjik.

Finally, as a result of piecing together the eighteen fragments of the bull text it now is quite clear that the term bit nakkapti does not refer to the name of a building. Thus this building could not have been named such. Instead it refers to the power of one of the palace building stones to cure headaches.
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Halzi Gate (Berkeley Area HZ)

Prior to the work of the University of California, Berkeley Expedition at the Halzi Gate, there had been only one previous excavation in that location: that of Dr. Tariq Mahdloom in 1965. A narrow trench 8 meters long and 2 meters wide was cut in an east-west direction along the axis of the gateway. Although the trench did not reach the cobbled surface of the inner corridor it did reveal the narrow width of the central corridor in what we now know to have been its final form.

The U.C. Berkeley Expedition worked at the Halzi Gate in 1989 and 1990. Knowing that there had only been one brief excavation at the gate in earlier years, the object of the work was (1) to study the history of the gate through its various phases of construction and (2) to try to determine its role during the final siege of Nineveh in 612 BCE.
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Northwest Mound

Over the course of three seasons of exploration in the north sector of the city the UC Berkeley team attempted to document at least part of the history of settlement in this area. Ceramic finds from deep trenches previously cut by local farmers on the old town mound provided evidence of pre-7th century Neo-Assyrian levels of occupation and there appear to be levels of even earlier occupation lying beneath the Neo-Assyrian overburden. The northern boundary of pre-7th century Nineveh may well be indicated by the point where the ground drops off along the edge of the old town mound. But although Madhloom reported finding Hellenistic sherds in the highest part of the old town mound to the southeast of the Mashki Gate, the Berkeley team failed to encounter any signs of a Hellenistic occupation in this same vicinity. But in view of the presence of a thick layer of grey ash on the surface of the roadway that ran eastwards from the Mashki Gate, the latest level of this elite quarter of the city may well have been consumed by fire in 612 B.C.E.

Overall, the UC Berkeley team was able to begin defining the nature of one or two urban neighborhoods in the north sector of the city. Social stratification was indicated by the presence of two distinct residential areas: one of large, spacious habitations on the old town mound close to the citadel mound of Kuyunjik and the other of small, flimsy, crowded homes and work areas near the northwest angle of the city walls.
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Preservation

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Nineveh Region

Nineveh is currently controlled by the United States military, but the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage has continued efforts to protect and preserve the archaeological remains. The following quoted observations come from T.J. Wilkinson, May 2003: Nationalgeographic.com; and a report by Wilkinson and M. Altaweel to UNESCO, "Report on the situation of cultural heritage in Iraq up to 30 May 2003": Damage to the Kuyunjik Mound: "The Sennacherib SW Palace is near total destruction and needs immediate intervention. At Sennacherib's SW palace there were three forms of damage: a) general decay of the reliefs which appears to have taken place over the roughly the 10-year duration of the sanctions period and the two Gulf Wars", b) deliberate vandalism of reliefs in the two galleries on display, c) illegal digging in the floor of the chambers (specifically a small room at the SE end of the main hall) apparently for the purpose of recovering artifacts (gold or ivory?) from beneath the floors of the rooms" ["Photographic records were made of the damage to the palace reliefs."]. Damage to the walls and gates of Nineveh: "The Nergal gate museum at Nineveh was not broken into, (the would-be looters having failed to get in through the locked doors)." Damage to the Nebi Yunus area: "The area of Nebi Yunus was also undamaged." Overall, "Although there is a US military guard at Nineveh (on Kuyunjuk itself) these are currently only in place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. A storage facility at Nineveh as well as the Nineveh excavation house show no obvious loss of stone relief fragments and we were told that no artifacts remained in the excavation house. Remaining sculptures and walls need comprehensive conservation treatment. Furthermore, as evidenced by the Quickbird (satellite) image, nearly half of the top of the site is covered by modern residential development. Suzanne Bott, a conservation expert with the U.S. State Department’s Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ninevah, reported to the Christian Science Monitor, "There are new houses going up" and the construction of water and sewer lines for these homes is some of the most destructive action taking place. As such, the site is in immediate danger of being subsumed by the expanding metropolis of Mosul. Very little has been done at the site outside of the main mound of Kuyunjik and the city walls. The other mound, called Nabi Yunus (Prophet Jonah) is currently a Muslim dedicatory shrine site."
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Kuyunjik Gully (Berkeley Area KG)

This area of steep-sided gullies, formed by natural erosion, have exposed sections showing material from the Parthian period (ca. 140 B.C.-224 C.E.) down to the Early Hassuna period (7th B.C.) and several archaeological teams have investigated here.

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Halzi Gate (Berkeley Area HZ)

The discovery of an inscription of Sennacherib on the reverse side of one of the stone orthostats revealed that the Halzi Gate was indeed coeval with his construction of the walls of Nineveh. Sections of the curtain wall and Tower 3 of the gate illustrate the original high quality of late 8th/early 7th century Assyrian masonry. When the gate was partly rebuilt or repaired, especially on the eastern façade of the central section which includes Tower 4, the stonework proved to be of a much inferior quality. Repairs at the entryway occurred at least twice with the axial entrance and the adjacent portion of the central corridor being narrowed by stretches of mud-brick blocking from 7 to 2 meters. Then the entranceway alone was narrowed once again to a width of a little over 1 meter.
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Area Descriptions

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Nineveh
Bridge outside Halzi Gate
Bridges outside Shamash Gate
Kuyunjik
Ishtar Temple
Kuyunjik Gully (Berkeley Area KG)
North Palace
Sennacherib's Palace
UC Berkeley Area KS East
UC Berkeley Area KS West
Lower Town
Adad Gate
Armoury Gate
Assur Gate
Bit Hilani
Bridge Across Khosr River - at its entrance to city
Bridge Across Khosr River - in middle of city
Campbell Thompson excavations
Desert Gate
Halahhu Gate
Halzi Gate (Berkeley Area HZ)
Handuri Gate
Hermes Temple
Inscribed Horse Troughs
Kar-Mulissi Gate
Khosr River Wall I
Khosr River Wall II
Lower Town Project Survey Area
Madhloom soundings north of Kuyunjik
Mashki Gate General
UC Berkeley Area MG22 General
UC Berkeley Area MG22 Trenches
Mushlalu Gate
Nergal Gate
Northwest Mound
Palatial Building
Quay Gate
Shamash Gate
Shibaniba Gate
Sibitti Altar
Sin Gate
Tombs by Khosr River
Tombs north of Shamash Gate
Well Hole A
Well Hole B
Nebi Yunis
Area A
Mushlalu Gate of the Armoury
Area B
Mosque
Wall sections of Sennacherib
Wash House
Winged Bull

Nineveh

Nineveh Description:

The ancient walls of Nineveh, which are now within the expanded modern city of Mosul, enclose an area 1,875 acres (750 hectares), forming a roughly rectangular shape approximately 1 mi (2 km) by 3 mi (5 km) in size.


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Bridge outside Halzi Gate

Bridge outside Halzi Gate Description:

Indications of one or more constructions over a waterway were found here, described by T. Madhloom in Sumer 23 (1967).


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Bridges outside Shamash Gate

Bridges outside Shamash Gate Description:

Cut into the conglomerate in alignment with the gate, these features were recorded by T. Madhloom in Sumer 23 (1967): 77.


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Kuyunjik

Kuyunjik Description:

Excavations on this high mound have revealed a continuous occupation sequence spanning from about 6500 B.C. though 2500 B.C. along with a series of major palaces and temples.


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Ishtar Temple

Ishtar Temple Description:

The goddess Ishtar held great significance in the Mesopotamian pantheon, and this temple ensured Nineveh's importance as a national religious center throughout the millennia.


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Kuyunjik Gully (Berkeley Area KG)

Kuyunjik Gully (Berkeley Area KG) Description:

Where the Khosr River winds past the eastern edge of the high mound of Kuyunjik, natural erosion channels have formed deep, steep-sided gullies. These gullies have exposed sections with materials from the Parthian period (ca. 140 B.C.E.-224 C.E.) down to the Early Hassuna period in the seventh millennium B.C.E.


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North Palace

North Palace Description:

Situated on Kuyunjik to the north of the Nabu temple complex, this palace was built by Ashurbanipal and it was first identified and excavated by H. Rassam with W. Loftus in 1853.


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Sennacherib's Palace

Sennacherib's Palace Description:

Known to archaeologists as the South-West Palace, Sennacherib called this his palace without rival, and it was the site of the earliest systematic excavations at Nineveh, first by A.H. Layard in 1847, and subsequently by T. Madhloom in the 1960s with UC Berkeley's excavations in 1989 and 1990.


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UC Berkeley Area KS East

UC Berkeley Area KS East Description:

Sennacherib's Eastern Building, often referred to as the bit nakkapti, is on the eastern edge of the Kuyunjik mound on the Khosr River side. It is located just outside the eastern limits of Sennacherib's Southwest Palace proper (300 meters northeast of the façade of Sennacherib's throne room) and to the southeast of the Ishtar temple. Although greatly destroyed, this enigmatic building, which may have been a separate gate structure, had a monumental stone-paved gateway that included a pair of inscribed bull colossi, accompanying stone orthostats with reliefs and a paved chamber.


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UC Berkeley Area KS West

UC Berkeley Area KS West Description:

The western end of Sennacherib's palace, excavated by J. M. Russell, UC Berkeley, in 1990; first excavated by A.H. Layard in 1849.


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Lower Town

Lower Town Description:

Sometime before the end of the second millennium B.C., settlement at Nineveh spread below the mound of Kuyunjik, but in 704 B.C. Sennacherib expanded the city and surrounded the lower town with walls over 25 m thick and over 12 km in circumference.


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Adad Gate

Adad Gate Description:

Excavated and restored by the University of Mosul under the direction of F. Al-Rawi, this gateway revealed extensive evidence of destruction, probably from the final sack of Nineveh: see F. Al-Rawi, Field Notes; Adab a-Rafidain (1969); Sumer 22 (1966); Sumer 29 (1973); Sumer 37 (1981).


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Armoury Gate

Armoury Gate Description:

Excavated by Dr. Behnam Abu Soof in the late 1960s, when the main Mosul-Erbil road was being widened, but no plan or publications are available.


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Assur Gate

Assur Gate Description:

Gate partially excavated by the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage: see Iraq 43 (1981).


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Bit Hilani

Bit Hilani Description:

This building, with columns on sculptured stone bases, was discovered and excavated by M. Jabur in 1980: See Iraq 37 (1981) for preliminary details. Location approximate.


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Bridge Across Khosr River - at its entrance to city

Bridge Across Khosr River - at its entrance to city Description:

F. Jones recorded this feature in 1820 and in 1853, referring to it as possibly a pier, bridge, or a dam, and R. Campbell Thompson suggested it was a bridge in 1929; both archaologists agreed that it was probably Assyrian in origin: see Iraq 52 (1990). Location approximate.


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Bridge Across Khosr River - in middle of city

Bridge Across Khosr River - in middle of city Description:

During an effort to clear the flow of the Khosr in 1981, a number of limestone blocks were found by the Iraq State board of Antiquities and Heritage which appeared to be Assyrian in workmanship: see Iraq 52 (1990). Location approximate.


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Campbell Thompson excavations

Campbell Thompson excavations Description:

This area was excavated by R. Campbell Thompson and M. Mallowan, and is referred to as the flats below Kuyunjik; see Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 20 (1933). Location approximate.


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Desert Gate

Desert Gate Description:

On the location and identification of this gate, see J. Reade, Revue d'assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale 72 (1978).


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Halahhu Gate

Halahhu Gate Description:

Gate in the northeastern quadrant of the site. No excavation recorded.


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Halzi Gate (Berkeley Area HZ)

Halzi Gate (Berkeley Area HZ) Description:

The Halzi Gate was one of the largest of the fifteen known city gates of Nineveh. It was the southernmost gate of six gates on the long and well-fortified eastern wall. Built initially during the reign of Sennacherib (704-681 B.C.E.), the entrance and central corridor were later modified. The gate was constructed of well-dressed isodomic limestone masonry, rougher stonework and mud-bricks.
The plan for most of the outer portion of the Halzi Gate is now known. It was one of two known city gates that extended well beyond the line of the city wall. The eastern façade (more accurately northeastern) was 70 meters long with the entry point at its center. This façade, with its buttresses and recesses, had at least six, possibly eight projecting towers. From the entry point a corridor led to a large inner court that measured 45 meters from north to south and 19 meters from east to west. The walls of the court were lined with large, undecorated stone orthostats while the corners held foundation boxes and apotropaic figurines.


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Handuri Gate

Handuri Gate Description:

On the location and identification of this gate, see J. Reade, Revue d'assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale 72 (1978).


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Hermes Temple

Hermes Temple Description:

Discovered by M. A. Mustafa in 1954, this multi-chambered shrine contained a statue identified as Hermes, dated by the excavator to the Hellenistic period: see Sumer 10 (1954): 280-3 (Arabic) and Iraq 52 (1990): 69. Location approximate.


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Inscribed Horse Troughs

Inscribed Horse Troughs Description:

Three stone horse troughs with inscriptions including the name of Sennacherib were found here during the demolition of a section of the city wall just north of Nebi Yunus: see Iraq 5 (1989). Location approximate.


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Kar-Mulissi Gate

Kar-Mulissi Gate Description:

Gate at the point on the eastern ramparts where the Khosr River enters the city. No excavation recorded.


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Khosr River Wall I

Khosr River Wall I Description:

Planned but not excavated by J.D.A.P. MacGinnis and M. L. Scott in 1987, this wall is possibly the remains of a quay and a retaining wall: see Iraq 52 (1990). Location approximate.


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Khosr River Wall II

Khosr River Wall II Description:

Along with Khosr River Wall I, the only remaining stretch of wall visible on the banks of the Khosr within the city limits: see Iraq 52 (1990). Location approximate.


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Lower Town Project Survey Area

Lower Town Project Survey Area Description:

Directed by S. Lumsden, UC Berkeley, and initiated in 1990 this project comprised a surface survey of about 300 hectares of farmland north of the Khosr river, investigations of Well Holes A & B, and recording of other features of the intramural terrain.


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Madhloom soundings north of Kuyunjik

Madhloom soundings north of Kuyunjik Description:

In the late 1960s T. Madhloom excavated two soundings; one a few meters east of the Mashki Gate, and one just north of Kuyunjik: see Sumer 24 (1968). Location approximate.


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Mashki Gate General

Mashki Gate General Description:

Known as Gate of the Watering Places, this gate has been excavated and restored by the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage; See Sumer 24 (1968), 25 (1969); 26 (1970); 27 (1971); 29 (1973); 30 (1974); 31 (1975); Iraq 34 (1972).


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UC Berkeley Area MG22 General

UC Berkeley Area MG22 General Description:

In 1989 and 1990 the UC Berkeley team uncovered a residential area just inside the gateway probably from the time of Sennacherib's enlargement of the city during the 7th century B.C., with indications of occupation dating in the 9th century or earlier.


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UC Berkeley Area MG22 Trenches

UC Berkeley Area MG22 Trenches Description:

Excavations near this gate by S. Lumsden and L. Bedal, UC Berkeley, revealed a sequence of 3 successive buildings dated to the 7th century B.C., along with evidence of occupation both immediately before and after.


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Mushlalu Gate

Mushlalu Gate Description:

Gate on the eastern side of the city wall. No excavation recorded.


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Nergal Gate

Nergal Gate Description:

Excavated and restored by the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage: see Sumer 12 (1956); Sumer 22 (1966); 23 (1967); Iraq 10 (1948).


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Northwest Mound

Northwest Mound Description:

The area south of the Sin Gate in the northwest corner of the lower town included a stretch of land that had been densely populated in Neo-Assyrian times. The Berkeley team excavated 300 meters to the south of the Sin Gate where the dwellings were small and crowded together. The artisans seem to have lived and worked in this area in as much as it contained kilns that were probably used for pottery and metal production. Directly south of the Sin Gate quantities of kiln slag were also observed, indicating that more than the Northwest Mound (NWM) was part of this industrial district. An additional discovery in the latest occupation level was a shallow pit with a child's grave.
Other features in the north lower town included the last vestiges of a Late Assyrian cemetery that was apparently exposed by chance in the 1970s in a location inside the north city wall near the Nergal Gate. There was also evidence of an important road that ran directly from the Nergal Gate to the northeast corner of Kuyunjik. Since the Nergal Gate was the only city gate to have a pair of lamassu guarding its exterior, and since a paved ramp led up to its outer entrance, the road leading from the gate to Kuyunjik could easily have been paved in its entirety. To add weight to this idea, a number of roughly cut, flat stones worn smooth on one side, were detected at two points near the presumed line of the road.


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Palatial Building

Palatial Building Description:

Described in Sumer 17 (1971), excavations here revealed a building with thick mudbrick walls, a courtyard, stone slabs and cuneiform tablets: see also Iraq 34 (1972). Location approximate.


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Quay Gate

Quay Gate Description:

On the location and identification of this gate, see J. Reade, Revue d'assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale 72 (1978).


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Shamash Gate

Shamash Gate Description:

Excavated and extensively reconstructed by the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage under the direction of T. Madhloom: see Sumer 21 (1965); Sumer 22 (1966); Sumer 23 (1967); Sumer 24 (1968); Sumer 25 (1969); Sumer 37 (1981); Iraq 34 (1972).


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Shibaniba Gate

Shibaniba Gate Description:

Gate in the northeastern quadrant of the site. No excavation recorded.


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Sibitti Altar

Sibitti Altar Description:

A stone altar with a Greek inscription was found here in, 1954, within an area which may have been a Hellenistic temple. See Sumer 10 (1954): 280-3, Arabic: Location approximate.


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Sin Gate

Sin Gate Description:

Excavated by the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage: see Sumer 21 (1965); Sumer 23 (1967).


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Tombs by Khosr River

Tombs by Khosr River Description:

Vaulted tombs, dated to the Parthian period (ca. 140 B.C.-224 C.E.), were recorded by the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage after part of the Khosr river bank collapsed during the 1960s: see Sumer 25 (1969). Location approximate.


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Tombs north of Shamash Gate

Tombs north of Shamash Gate Description:

About 100 m north of the Shamash Gate, a number of graves were discovered cut into the conglomerate: see Sumer 24 (1968). Location approximate.


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Well Hole A

Well Hole A Description:

One of two deep trenches, cut by local farmers on the old city mound next to Kuyunjik, investigated by the UC Berkeley team in 1989.


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Well Hole B

Well Hole B Description:

Three stone horse troughs with inscriptions including the name of Sennacherib were found here during the demolition of a section of the city wall just north of Nebi Yunus: see Iraq 5 (1989). Location approximate.


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Nebi Yunis

Nebi Yunis Description:

Nebi Yunis is a natural mound on the western edge of Nineveh, which probably served as the imperial arsenal during the Neo-Assyrian Empire, and it has been traditionally associated with the prophet Jonah.


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Area A

Area A Description:

Excavations in this area were initiated in 1954 by M. A. Mustafa; articles on the monumental gateway and excavated objects found here are published in Sumer 10 (1954), Sumer 11 (1955), Sumer 12 (1956), and Basmachi, Treasures of the Iraq Museum (1975-6).


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Mushlalu Gate of the Armoury

Mushlalu Gate of the Armoury Description:

This stone-paved, multi-chambered gateway guarded the road leading up to the town arsenal during the Neo-Assyrian period: see Iraq 52 (1990): 66, Sumer 10 (1954) and Sumer 11 (1955).


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Area B

Area B Description:

Part of the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage excavations in 1954, in this trench was found an area of baked brick paving laid in an L-shaped pattern, with one brick inscribed with the name of Sennacherib (704-681 B.C.).


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Mosque

Mosque Description:

At the summit of Nebi Yunis is a modern mosque, and the long-standing shrine dedicated to the prophet Jonah remains an important Muslim pilgrimage site.


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Wall sections of Sennacherib

Wall sections of Sennacherib Description:

This section of walling consisted of a course of limestone blocks resting on up to six courses of baked bricks, some of which were inscribed, Palace of Sennacherib, King of the World, King of Assyria: See Iraq 52 (1990):72. Location approximate.


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Wash House

Wash House Description:

In the mid-1970s, renovation of the washing facilities of the shrine at Nebi Yunis exposed four stone slabs showing a procession of men leading horses. Photos were archived in the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage: see Iraq 52 (1990): 72. Location approximate.


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Winged Bull

Winged Bull Description:

In 1986 work on Nebi Yunis southeast of the mosque revealed this sculpture of a bull, composed of limestone blocks and left unfinished: see Sumer 45 (1987-88) and Iraq 52 (1990): 71. Location approximate.


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References:

    more
  1. Algaze, G. 1986. “Habuba on the Tigris: Archaic Nineveh Reconsidered.” Journal of Near Eastern
    Studies 45: 2, 125-137.
  2. Black, Jeremy.
    1987. “Excavations in Iraq, 1985-86.” Iraq 49, 242-243.
  3. Botta, P.E. and E. Flandin
    1849- Monument de Ninive. 5 Volumes. Paris.
    1850
  4. Finch, J.P.G.
    1948. “The Winged Bulls at the Nergal Gate.” Iraq 10, 9-18.
  5. Gut, R.V.
    1995. Das prähistorische Ninive. Zur relativen Chronologie der frühen Perioden
    Nordmesopotamiens I. Mainz am Rhein.
  6. Jacobsen, Thorkild and Seton Lloyd.
    1935. Sennacherib’s Aqueduct at Jerwan. Oriental Institute Publications 24. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  7. Jones, Felix.
    1855. “Topography of Nineveh, Illustrative of the Maps of the Chief Cities of Assyria,
    and the General Geography of the Country Intermediate between the Tigris and the Upper Zab.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 15, 297-397.
  8. Layard, A.H.
    1853. Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon. London: Murray.
    1849. Nineveh and Its Remains. Volumes I and II. London: XXX
  9. Loftus, W. K.
    1976. “Report of the Assyrian Excavation Fund, April 28th, 1854.” Sculptures from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh by R. D. Barnett. London:The British Museum Publications, Ltd., 71-75.
  10. Loftus, W. K. 1936. “Report to the Assyrian Excavation Fund, February 20, 1855.” The Stones of Assyria by C. J. Gadd. London: Chatto and Windus, appendix.
  11. Lumsden, Stephen
    1991. “Urban Nineveh: Investigations within the Lower Town of the Last Assyrian
    Capital.” Mar Šipri 4:1, 1-3.
  12. Lumsden, Stephen
    1999. “Neo-Assyrian Pottery from Nineveh. Studies in Iron Age Pottery.
    (Altertemskunde des Vorderen Orients, 10), eds. A. Hausleiter and A. Reiche, Münster, 3-15.
  13. Madhloom, Tariq A.
    1969. “Nineveh, 1968-69 Campaign.” Sumer 25, 44-49.
    1968. “Nineveh. The 1967-1968 Campaign.” Sumer 24, 45-51.
    1967. “Excavations at Nineveh, 1965-67.” Sumer 23, 76-79.
  14. Madhloom, Tariq and Ali Mahdi
    1976. Nineveh. Historical Monuments in Iraq41. Baghdad: Directorate General of
    Antiquities Baghdad (English).
    1972. Nineveh. Historical Monuments in Iraq 4. Baghdad: Directorate General of
    Antiquities Baghdad (Arabic).
  15. Mallowan, M.E.L.
    1933. “The Prehistoric Sondage of Nineveh, 1931-32.” University of Liverpool Annals
    of Archaeology and Anthropology 20, 127-186.
  16. Nashef, K.
    1990. “Archaeology in Iraq.” American Journal of Archaeology 96, 280.
  17. Postgate, J. N.
    1975. “Excavations in Iraq, 1973-74.” Iraq 37, 60.
    1972. “Excavations in Iraq, 1971-72.” Iraq 34, 143-144.
  18. Rassam H.
    1897. Asshur and the Land of Nimrod. Cincinnati: Curts & Jennings and New York: Eaton & Mains.
  19. Reade, J. E.
    1986. “Archaeology and the Kuyunjik Archives.” Cuneiform Archives and Libraries. Papers Read at the 30th Recontre Assyriologique Internationale, Leiden 4-8 July 1983. Edited by K. Veenhof. Leiden: , 213-222. XXX
    1978. “Studies in Assyrian Geography. Part 1: Sennacherib and the Waters of Nineveh.” Revue d’Assyriologie et d’Archéologie Orientale 72, 47-72, 157-175.
  20. Rich, Claudius James.
    1836. Narrative of a Residence in Koordistan and on the Site of Ancient Nineveh.
    London.
  21. Russell, John Malcolm.
    1999. The Writing on the Wall. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns.
    1997. “Sennacherib’s Palace Without Rival Revisited: Excavations at Nineveh and in
    the British Museum Archives.” Assyria 1995. Edited by S. Parpola and R. M.
    Whiting. Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 295-306.
    1991. Sennacherib’s “Palace without Rival” at Nineveh. Chicago: The University of
    Chicago Press.

  22. Scott, M. Louise and John MacGinnis.
    1990. “Notes on Nineveh.” Iraq 52, 63-73.
  23. Smith, George
    1875. Assyrian Discoveries. London: XXX
  24. Stronach, David and Stephen Lumsden.
    1992. “UC Berkeley’s Excavations at Nineveh.” Biblical Archaeologist 55, 227-233.
    1990. “Excavations at Nineveh.” American Journal of Archaeology 94:2, 311.
  25. Stronach, David.
    1994. “Village to Metropolis: Nineveh and the Beginnings of Urbanism in Northern Mesopotamia.” Nuove Fondazioni nel Vicino Oriente Antico: Realtà e Ideologia Edited by S. Mazzoni. Seminari di Orientalistica 4. Pisa: Giardini Editori e Stampatori, 85-114.
    1989. “When Assyria Fell: New Light on the Last Days of Nineveh.” Mar Šipri 2:2, 1-2.
  26. Sulaiman, ‘Amer.
    1971. Adab al-Rafidain 1, 45-97 (Arabic).
  27. Thompson, R. Campbell and M. E. L. Mallowan.
    1933. “The British Museum Excavations at Nineveh, 1931-32.” Liverpool Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 20, 71-186.
  28. Thompson, R. Campbell and R.W. Hamilton
    1932. “The British Museum Excavations on the Temple of Ishtar at Nineveh, 1930-31.”
    University of Liverpool Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 19, 55-116.
    1931. “The Site of the Palace of Ashurnasirpal at Nineveh, Excavated in 1929-30 on Behalf of the British Museum.” Liverpool Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 18, 79-112.
    1929a. A Century of Exploration at Nineveh. London: Luzac and Co.
    1929b. “Excavations on the Temple of Nabu at Nineveh.” Archaeologia 79: 103-148.
  29. Thompson, R. Campbell.
    1934. “The Buildings on Quyunjiq, the Larger Mound of Nineveh.” Iraq 1, 95-104.
  30. Turner, Geoffrey.
    1970. “Tell Nebi Yūnus: the Ekal Māšarti of Nineveh.” Iraq 32, 68-85.

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     - Tony J. Wilkinson
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     - Stevan Beverly
     - Pierre Bikai
     - John MacGinnis
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     - Mohammed Ali Mustafa
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