For almost two centuries, from the early 9th to the late 8th century BC, the city of Kalhu was the centre of the world's mightiest empire. In the popular imagination Assyria is rightly acknowledged as being a very impressive military power. But even the best-equipped army cannot succeed without effective, intelligent leadership. Expert knowledge - of imperial administration, of the natural world, of the gods' intentions for Assyria - all contributed to the Assyrian king's ability to rule his territories. In these pages we consider the places, peoples, and writings that supported Kalhu's world dominance for such a long period of time.
Kalhu served as the capital of the Assyrian empire for nearly 200 years, from the early 9th to the late 8th century BC, but was also inhabited for many centuries before and after. In this section of the site we trace its history from prehistoric settlement to the Hellenistic period and beyond. We also look at the key buildings, inhabited by both people and gods, in which Assyrian imperial knowledge was created and communicated.
Many different types of people were involved in thinking and writing about the world in the Assyrian royal court. The king looked to his scholars for advice, ritual and healing. The scholars themselves depended on the king for continued patronage and favour. Senior administrators and scribes recorded the king's words and composed letters and inscriptions on his behalf. The gods announced their favour or disfavour through ominous signs and revelations, which had to be interpreted and responded to.
Assyria in the first millennium BC was a diverse country made up of peoples from all parts of the empire. This section explores the principal languages and scripts which were spoken and written in Assyria, and the contexts in which they were used. It also provides links to teaching resources on the Akkadian language and cuneiform script.31 Dec 2015