Building Activities

According to his inscriptions, Esarhaddon sponsored building activities not only in Assyria and Babylonia, but also in foreign lands conquered by him. Due to the fragmentary nature of some of the texts, the full extent of his accomplishments off the battlefield is not known. The present corpus mentions or records projects in Arbela, Aššur, Kalḫu, Nineveh, and Tarbiṣu in Assyria, and in Babylon, Borsippa, Nippur, and Uruk in Babylonia; this king also states that he rebuilt cities in the land Šubria that he had captured and destroyed when its king Ik-Teššup failed to comply with his requests.

Urban renewal and waterworks programs are mentioned for Babylon and Kalḫu; with regard to the former, its citizens were encouraged to resettle the city, build houses, plant orchards, and dig canals. The city walls and gates of Babylon were rebuilt and those of Kalḫu had their dilapidated sections renovated; Imgur-Enlil (Babylon's inner wall) was built in exact accordance to its former plan and Nēmed-Enlil (Babylon's outer wall) was lavishly decorated, making it a sight to be seen.

Royal residences and armories in the Assyrian cities of Baltil (Aššur), Kalḫu, Nineveh, and Tarbiṣu were strengthened with large blocks of white limestone, enlarged, and lavishly decorated. Among these are "Fort Shalmaneser" in Kalḫu, the Nebi Yunus arsenal and the House of Succession in Nineveh, and Egaltura ("Small Palace") in Tarbiṣu. Two, or possibly three, palaces were renovated and enlarged for the benefit of Ashurbanipal, Esarhaddon's designated successor to the Assyrian throne. In connection with his enlargement of the Nebi Yunus arsenal, which he describes in great detail, Esarhaddon reports that twenty-two kings from the West supplied timber and stone, as well as transported building materials and stone colossi to Nineveh.

The restoration of various Assyrian and Babylonian temples and shrines is the subject of numerous texts; many epithets of the king declare accomplishments related to these activities. In Babylonia, Esarhaddon worked on Esagil (the temple of Marduk), this temple's shrines and cellas, the ziqqurat Etemenanki, the processional avenue, and the ḫarû-temple of Nabû in Babylon; Ezida (the temple of Nabû) and the temple of the goddess Gula in Borsippa; Ebaradurgara (the temple of Queen-of-Nippur) and Ekur (the temple of Enlil) in Nippur; and Eanna (the temple of Ištar) and its cellas Enirgalana and Eḫiliana in Uruk. Closer to home, in Assyria, he sponsored work on Egašankalama (the temple of Ištar) in Arbela and the neighboring akītu-house in the town of Milqia; Ešarra (the temple of Aššur) in Aššur; and Emašmaš (the temple of Mullissu/Ištar), Ezida (the temple of Nabû), and the temple of the gods Sîn and Šamaš in Nineveh. A fragment of a display text suggests that he also sponsored work in Ḫarrān.

Erle Leichty

Erle Leichty, 'Building Activities', RINAP 4: Esarhaddon, The RINAP 4 sub-project of the RINAP Project, 2019 []

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