(ancient NINUA)
   City in Assyria, on the left bank of the river Tigris, now situated on the outskirts of the modern city of Mosul. The ancient site comprises the ruin fields of Kuyunjik and Nebi Yunus. It was first discovered in the mid-19th century A.D. and excavated by French, British, and recently Iraqi archaeological teams (see BOTTA, Paul-Emile; LAYARD, Austen Henry; LOFTUS, William Kenneth; MALLOWAN, Max; RASSAM, Hormuzd).
   Nineveh is one of the oldest cities in Mesopotamia, but the prehistoric levels are only known from deep soundings that have revealed successive layers of pottery since the seventh millennium B.C. The first excavated architectural structure, a temple dedicated to the goddessIshtar, dates from the Early Dynasticperiod. It was rebuilt in c. 2260 by the Akkadian king Manishtusu. The Amorite ruler Shamshi-Addu I also left records of his building activities at the temple some 450 years later. The temple of Ishtar was thus the main attraction of the city, despite the fact that some Middle Assyrian kings built palaces there.
   Nineveh only became a capital when Sennacherib (reigned 704–681 B.C.) decided to abandon Dur-Sharruken and moved his residence and administration to Nineveh. He surrounded the city, planned generously on 750 hectares, with double walls 12 kilometers long, pierced by 15 gates. He was particularly concerned to secure an adequate water supply to the gardens and parks of the city and built for this purpose a series of ingenious canals and aqueducts. His successors Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal remained at Nineveh and built additional palaces lavishly decorated with wall reliefs. The royal archives, which were recovered from Ashurbanipal’s palaces at Kuyunjik, have yielded some 24,000 tablets.
   Nineveh, with its heterogeneous population of people from throughout the Assyrian empire, was one of the most beautiful cities in the Near East, with its gardens, temples, and splendid palaces. The Medes and Babylonians besieged Nineveh in 612, and the city fell three months later after a desperate struggle. Thereafter, only small areas remained occupied until Roman times.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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