History of the project

The Ashurbanipal Library Project was set up in 2002 as a long-term co-operation with the University of Mosul, Iraq. The first stage was funded by the Townley Group of British Museum Friends. Dr Jeanette Fincke produced a list of the 3,500 Library tablets in Babylonian script. In a second phase, Fincke turned attention to astrological fortune-telling texts from Nineveh in Assyrian script. The results of this work feature on a separate web-site, and are published in (2003/04), (2004), (2014).

A third phase of activity, again funded by the Townley Group, brought the invaluable help of Professor Riekele Borger, Emeritus Professor of Assyriology at the University of Göttingen. For 40 years he had been coming to the Museum, identifying and joining fragments from the library. He was compiling an updated catalogue of the tablets. As part of this collaboration, his results would be incorporated into our catalogue, as well as being published as a monograph in the traditional manner. Sadly, Prof. Borger passed away in December 2010 before he was able to complete his catalogue. Nevertheless, his meticulous work is an invaluable aid to scholars.

From 2009-2013, with the generous support of the Andrew Mellon Foundation, we produced high resolution digital images of all the Library tablets. Each image is a composite of up to 14 primary images, which represents a virtual unfolding of the 3D object into a 2D facsimile. All faces of each tablet are visible in a single image. Additional images of seal impressions were taken, since these require different lighting from the text. The images were released over the course of the project both on the British Museum Collections Online site and on the CDLI website. The complete set is now also made available here in our dedicated online catalogue.

Since 2014 our emphasis has been on updating and improving the catalogue. This catalogue serves as the foundation of new research on the composition and nature of the Library.

Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor, 'History of the project', Ashurbanipal Library Project, The Ashurbanipal Library Project, Department of the Middle East, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, 2019 [http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/asbp/abouttheproject/historyoftheproject/]

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