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In the seventh century BC the Assyrian monarch was the most powerful human being in the whole Middle East. Hundreds of letters, queries and reports survive from Neo-Assyrian capital of Nineveh in northern Iraq. They show scholars advising the Assyrian royal family on matters ominous, astrological and medical, often with direct impact on political affairs. Along with court poetry and royal prophecies, they give an extraordinary vivid insight into the actual practice of scholarship in the context of the first well-documented courtly patronage of scientific activity in world history.