Building Activities at Kalḫu, Kilīzu, Tarbiṣu, and Other Assyrian Cities

No contemporary inscriptions of Sennacherib record work at Kalḫu (modern Nimrud), but the concluding formulae of (an) inscription(s) of his grandson Ashurbanipal written on clay prisms deposited in the structure of the Nabû temple Ezida ("True House") there imply that Sennacherib (and Esarhaddon) had renovated parts of that temple.[78][79] At Kilīzu (modern Qaṣr Šemāmok), bricks and stone slabs state that Sennacherib had the city wall(s) constructed (text nos. 218–219). During the early part of his reign, Sennacherib renovated Egallammes ("Palace, Warrior of the Netherworld"), the temple of Nergal at Tarbiṣu (modern Sherif Khan) (text nos. 213–216, esp. text no. 213 lines 62–68); it has been suggested that this work was inspired by Sargon's ill-fated death in 705, which according to a text written in the time of Esarhaddon was caused by that king offending the gods.[80] The king records that he removed the dilapidated structure down to its foundation trench, built a 200×100 cubit (ca. 110×55 m) terrace, enlarged the structure of the previous temple, and rebuilt its superstructure. Afterwards, Nergal (and presumably his consort Laṣ) were escorted back into the temple during a festive ceremony.

Bricks reported to have been found at Beisan, Šibaniba (modern Tell Billa), Tell Yarah, Tulul al-Lak (or Lak-teppeh) may attest to building operations in those cities (text nos. 220–221).[81]


78 See also Frahm, Sanherib p. 276; Frahm, PNA 3/1 p. 1123 sub Sīn-aḫḫē-erība II.3.c.3'–7'; and Frahm, RLA 12/1–2 (2009) p. 20 §6.3.

79 See Borger, BIWA p. 165 CKalach x 112–114. For details on Ezida, see D. Oates, Iraq 19 (1957) pp. 26–39; Mallowan, Nimrud 1 pp. 231–285; Postgate and Reade, RLA 5/3–4 (1977) pp. 309–311 §13; Menzel, Tempel 1 pp. 97–103; D. Oates and J. Oates, Nimrud pp. 111–123 and 203–209; and Novotny and Van Buylaere, Studies Oded pp. 233–235.

80 Livingstone, SAA 3 pp. 77–79 no. 33; and Tadmor, Landsberger, and Parpola, SAAB 3 (1989) pp. 3–52. In addition to proposing that Sennacherib initiated construction on Nergal's temple at Tarbiṣu shortly after ascending the throne, E. Frahm (JCS 51 [1999] pp. 73–90) has suggested that the Assyrian scholar Nabû-zuqup-kēnu may have studied the passage about the spirits of the deceased in Gilgamesh Tablet XII in order to elucidate the consequences of Sargon II's death. He proposes that Sennacherib immediately transferred the royal court to Nineveh since the newly enthroned king may have feared that his father's unburied ghost was still present at Dūr-Šarrukīn (mod. Khorsabad). For a recent study on Sargon's death and its impact on Sennacherib, see Frahm, Sennacherib at the Gates of Jerusalem pp. 201–206.

81 Sennacherib may have also worked on a temple in the city Šabbu; see Kataja and Whiting, SAA 12 p. 23 no. 22.

A. Kirk Grayson & Jamie Novotny

A. Kirk Grayson & Jamie Novotny, 'Building Activities at Kalḫu, Kilīzu, Tarbiṣu, and Other Assyrian Cities', RINAP 3: Sennacherib, The RINAP 3 sub-project of the RINAP Project, 2019 []

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