- (modern NIMRUD)Assyrian city some 30 kilometers south of present-day Mosul on the river Tigris. The site was the first to be extensively excavated by a British team, led by Austen Layard, from 1845 to 1851. Many further archaeological missions were conducted, mainly by the British, and since 1956 by the Iraqis. The last spectacular discovery was that of several Assyrian tombs, complete with quantities of gold jewelry. Although excavations have shown that the place had been inhabited in prehistoric times, it only became a site of some importance when Shalmaneser I (reigned 1274–1245 B.C.) began to build there. Kalhu became the capital of the Assyrian empire under Ashurnasirpal II (reigned 883–859 B.C.), a role it played for some 150 years until Sargon II moved the seat of government to Dur-Sharruken (Khorsabad). In its heyday Kalhu had a population of up to 100,000 people. Ashurnasirpal feted the inauguration of the city with a huge banquet. He and his successors built vast palacesand templesand surrounded the city with a 7.5-kilometer wall. The British archaeological teams unearthed not only architectural vestiges but also archives containing royal correspondence and administrative documents from the time between Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon, as well as the famous “Nimrud ivories” that were used to decorate furniture and architectural elements in the palaces. The Medesand Babylonians destroyed the city between 612 and 614, although parts of the site, which measured originally some 360 hectares, continued to be inhabited by villagers into the Hellenistic time.See also MALLOWAN, Max; RASSAM, Hormuzd.
Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. EdwART. 2012.