Assyrian temples

The Assyrian empire arose between the ninth and seventh centuries BC, and it was the most powerful empire the Near East had ever seen, and included Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and parts of Egypt and the Levant.

Assyria, the first capital of the empire, was believed to be the physical manifestation of the god after whom the city was named, while the temple was referred to as his eternal residence.

The commercial boom in the Assyrian Empire and its impact on religious life

Assyria was a wealthy center for regional trade, lying along one of the main caravan routes, and formed a particularly profitable trading relationship with Anatolia (Turkey).

At the beginning of the second millennium BC, the Assyrian merchants had established a trading center in the city of Kanesh in central Anatolia, the most important trading partners of Assyria at .that time

This commercial boom had a great impact on interest in religion, building temples, and getting closer to deities for the sake of greater luxury and commercial prosperity.

More than 23000 Assyrian cuneiform tablets were discovered in the city of Kanesh.

These tablets helped to learn a lot about the city of Ashur prosperous history in that period.

The director of the archaeological site of Ashur. Slem Abdullah said that only a small part of this area which is supposed to have housed 117 Assyrian kings has been excavated

Interest in building temples and its impact on general conditions

In the ancient Assyrian era, its first periods were characterized by royal writings, with a special interest in building and rebuilding religious buildings (temples) because of their religious importance as a spiritual relationship between the king and the gods and its reflection on the people’s faith, as a stage of social construction and intellectual stability, strengthening the bonds of the individual. 

The Assyrians were part of the people of Mesopotamia, that is, creating a strong and solid social base, this helped, in a valuable way, to make Assyria one of the most powerful countries in the ancient Near East.

Salem-Akhom is considered one of the first rulers of this era, he has a text written on a piece of wax alabaster that was uncovered at the foundation of the south-eastern wall of the main courtyard of the Assyrian Temple, which reads: “Sale-Akhom, the deputy of the god Ashur, the son of Pazur Ashur. 

The god Assyria asked him for a temple and he built an eternal temple, this text is considered one of the oldest things mentioned about the ancient temple of the god Assyria in the city of Assyria as a memorial text, in addition to the existence of a name for this temple that might include the word palace, but it was damaged or removed.

 We also notice the presence of important sections or facilities within it. Forming this temple are the beer vat rooms and the store room.

In ancient times, the site had about six million clay bricks covered with sheets of iron and lead, “and now the great pile seemed to be melting like wax,” the magazine report says.

The Assyrian king Shalmaneser I (1263-1234 BC) founded a temple dedicated to the god Nebu (Nabu) in Assyria, and it was restored by Ashurreshish I (1132-1115 BC) and Hadad-nirari III (810-783 BC). 

Who encouraged the worship of Nebo (Nabu) in Assyria. Eventually, it was rebuilt by Sin-shar-ishkun (626-612 BC). This building was discovered in 1908 by the German team Walter Andrei.

Temple of Lebo (Nabu) and Tashmito

The building's dimensions are 68.70 x 55.30 metres, and it is organized around two courtyards, the first is located in the north and serves the entire temple, the prayer hall sector of the statue of the gods (the Holy of Holies) was accessed through a longitudinal room leading to the southern courtyard (28 x 11.80 metres), in the western wall of the latter, the doors of the two pre-prayer rooms (ante-cellae) and two prayer halls opened for the statue of the gods (the Holy of Holies), which were of similar dimensions (approximately 16.30 x 6.35 metres), a niche (niche) had been created at the western end of the two rooms, where a platform was erected, the latter, covered with stone tiles, housed statues of Nebu (Nabu) and his wife Tashmitu, however, nothing allows determining which deities occupied which prayer hall for the statue of the gods (the Holy of Holies).

A large part of the northwestern section of the temple was destroyed due to later construction operations, as a result, the interpretation of archaeological remains raises many debates, it could be a throne room similar to the one discovered in the temple of Nebu (Nabu) in Kalkhu (Kalh), or the "city council" of Assyria, an official institution where state documents were sealed, or also a temple dedicated to other gods such as Marduk, the father of Nebu (Nabu). ), or Ishtar. No tablet (tablet) was discovered in the temple.

The director of the Assyrian archaeological site, Salem Abdullah, said that only a small part of the history of this site, which is supposed to have hosted 117 Assyrian kings, has been excavated.

In this regard, he adds: “When these kings died, they were buried here,” but so far only three royal tombs have been identified, and then he wonders, “Where are the rest?” but then he confirms by .saying:

“Here, under our feet''

The dangers facing Assyrian temples now

The city was named after the god Ashur, the greatest of the Ashurian gods and his temple had existed since the twenty – fifth century BC.

The Ashurians considered this temple his eternal being, in these days is counted the most important place in the ancient city of Ashur.

The remains of it today are 3 large arches that terrorists tried to destroy by making a hole in it in 2015. 

Three years after the liberation of the region, a joint project was implement between the American university of Iraq and the Alef foundation, a group working to protect cultural heritage in war zones.

.The project contributed to the reconstruction of the gate

UNESCO designated Ashur a world Hertige Site in danger, warning    that the reservoir that belonging to a project of a new dam  could flood many nearby archeological sites. 

This project was halted after the overthrow of Sadam Hussien' regime in 2003.

But with fears of water shortages in area, the government in Baghdad revived the project. 

But with fears of water shortages in area, the government in Baghdad revived the project.

In April 2021 workers laid the foundation stone and excavators the   other construction machinery have appeared on the site since then.

Khaled khalaf al- jabouri head of the archeology department at Tikrit university estimates that more than 200 archeological sites near Shirkat are at risk of submission including the site of Ashur.

Many of the Assyrian archeological sites have been neglected, stolen and systemically vandalized such as demolishing and sabotaging gates and walls of the city of Nineveh carried out by the local Iraqi authorities in the city of Mosul.

The architecture one of the important part of material studies archaeology , but in Mesopotamia the buildings like temples , was suffered from some reasons , as politicals , religious and especially  the environmental and climatic conditions , make it in destruction and obliteration case , because of the most of these buildings was erected from a weaking and feeble materials , as a mud-brick , in spite of the ston is available in Assyria , so we are ignorance many of details especially some dimensions, measurements and elevations and about existing things or preparations ofthe construction operation , these details we are get it from a royal inscriptions which  Marcel J.Paulus ;“Traditional Building Materials in Ancient Mesopotamian . Architecture”, Sumer related with the kings architectural achievements in Assyrian temples, it sheds light too on an important aspects like the date of buildings and the names of those in the  old, middle and neo- Assyrian periods.

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