Nimrud is an ancient Assyrian city located south of Nineveh on the river Tigris in modern Ninawa
Governorate Iraq. In ancient times the city was called Kalḫu. The Arabs called the city Nimrud
after the Biblical Nimrod, a legendary hunting hero (cf. Genesis 10:11-12 , Micah 5:6 , and
1Chronicles 1:10 ).
The city covered an area of around 16 square miles (41 km2). Ruins of the city are found in modern
day Iraq, some 30 kilometres (19 mi) southeast of Mosul. The ruins are located in the District of
Al Hamdaniya, within 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) of the village of Noomanea. Nimrud has been suggested
as the site of the biblical city of Calah or Kalakh.
Assyrian king Shalmaneser I made Nimrud, which existed for about a thousand years, the capital in
the 13th century BC. The city gained fame when king Ashurnasirpal II of Assyria (c. 880 BC) made
it his capital. He built a large palace and temples on the site of an earlier city that had long
fallen into ruins.
A grand opening ceremony with festivities and an opulent banquet in 879 BC is described in an
inscribed stele discovered during archeological excavations. The city of king Ashurnasirpal II
housed perhaps as many as 100,000 inhabitants, and contained botanic gardens and
a zoologic garden. His son, Shalmaneser III (858–824 BC), built the monument known as the Great
Ziggurat, and an associated temple. The palace, restored as a site museum, is one of only two
preserved Assyrian palaces in the world, the other being Sennacherib's palace at Nineveh.
Nimrud remained the Assyrian capital until 706 BC when Sargon II moved the capital to Khorsabad.
It remained a major centre and a royal residence until the city was completely destroyed in 612 BC
when Assyria succumbed under the invasion of the Medes and the Babylonians.
The name Nimrud in connection with the site is apparently first used in the writings of Carsten
Niebuhr, who was in Mosul in March 1766..
King Ashurnasirpal II --
King Ashurnasirpal II who reigned from 883–859 BC built a new capital at Nimrud. Thousands of men
worked to build a 5-mile (8.0 km) long wall surrounding the city and a grand palace. There were
many inscriptions carved into limestone including one that said "The palace of cedar, cypress,
juniper, boxwood, mulberry, pistachio wood, and tamarisk, for my royal dwelling and for my lordly
pleasure for all time, I founded therein. Beasts of the mountains and of the seas, of white
limestone and alabaster I fashioned and set them up on its gates." The inscriptions also described
plunder stored at the palace. "Silver, gold, lead, copper and iron, the spoil of my hand from the
lands which I had brought under my sway, in great quantities I took and placed therein." The
inscriptions also described great feasts he had to celebrate his conquests. However his victims
were horrified by his conquests. The text also said "Many of the captives I have taken and burned
in a fire. Many I took. alive from some I cut off their hands to the wrists, from others I cut off
their noses, ears and fingers; I put out the eyes of many of the soldiers. I burned their young
men women and children to death." About a conquest in another vanquished city he wrote "I flayed
the nobles as many as rebelled and spread their skins out on the piles." These shock tactics
brought success in 877 BCE, when after a march to the Mediterranean he announced "I cleaned my
weapons in the deep sea and performed sheep-offerings to the gods."
Shalmaneser III --
King Arshurnasirpal's son Shalmaneser III continued where he left off. He spent 31 of his 35-year
reign waging war. After a battle near the Orontes River with a coalition of Syro-Palestinian
states he boasted:
I slew 14,000 of their warriors with the sword. Like Adad, I rained destruction on them. I
scattered their corpses far and wide, (and) covered the face of the desolate plain with their
widespreading armies. With (my) weapons I made their blood to flow down the valleys of the land.
The plain was too small for their bodies to fall; the wide countryside was used to bury them. With
their corpses I spanned the Arantu (Orontes) as with a bridge.
At Nimrud he built a palace that far surpassed his father's. It was twice the size and it covered
an area of about 12 acres (49,000 m2) and included more than 200 rooms.
In 828 BC, his son rebelled against him and was joined by 27 Assyrian cities including Nineveh and
Ashur. This conflict lasted until 821 BC, 3 years after Shalmaneser's death.
The site was first described by the British traveler Claudius James Rich in 1820, shortly before
his death. Excavations at Nimrud were first conducted by Austen Henry Layard, working from 1845 to
1847 and from 1849 until 1851    Layard believed at the time that the site was part of
Nineveh, and his excavation publications were thus labeled. At this point, the work was handed
over to Hormuzd Rassam, himself an Assyrian in 1853-54 and then W.K. Loftus in 1854-55. 
After George Smith briefly worked the site in 1873 and Rassam returned there from 1877 to 1879,
Nimrud was left untouched for almost 60 years.  A British School of Archaeology in Iraq team
led by Max Mallowan resumed digging at Nimrud in 1949. The work continued until 1963 with David
Oates becoming director in 1958 followed by Julian Orchard in 1963.   
Subsequent work was by the Directorate of Antiquities of the Republic of Iraq (1956, 1959–60,
1969–78 and 1982–92), Janusz Meuzynski (1974–76), Paolo Fiorina (1987–89) with the Centro Ricerche
Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino who concentrated mainly on Fort Shalmaneser, and John Curtis
(1989).  In 1974 to his untimely death in 1976 Janusz Meuszynski the director of the Polish
Center for Mediteranean Archaeology project, with the permission of the Iraqi excavation team, had
the whole site documented on film--in 35mm slide film and 120mm black and white print film. Every
relief that remained in situ, as well as the fallen, broken pieces that were distributed in the
rooms across the site were photographed. Meuszynski also arranged with the architect of his
project, Richard P. Sobolewski, to survey the site and record it in plan and in elevation. 
Excavations revealed remarkable bas-reliefs, ivories, and sculptures. A statue of Ashurnasirpal II
was found in an excellent state of preservation, as were colossal winged man-headed lions weighing
10 short tons (9.1 t) to 30 short tons (27 t) each guarding the palace entrance. The large
number of inscriptions dealing with king Ashurnasirpal II provide more details about him and his
reign than are known for any other ruler of this epoch. Portions of the site have been also been
identified as temples to Ninurta and Enlil, a building assigned to Nabu, the god of writing and
the arts, and as extensive fortifications.
The palaces of Ashurnasirpal II, Shalmaneser III, and Tiglath-Pileser III have been located. The
famous Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III was discovered by Layard in 1846. Layard was aided by
Hormuzd Rassam. The monument stands six-and-a-half-feet tall and commemorates the king's
victorious campaigns of 859–824 BC. It is shaped like a temple tower at the top, ending in three
steps. On one panel, Israelites led by king Jehu of Israel pay tribute and bow in the dust before
king Shalmaneser III, who is making a libation to his god. The cuneiform text on the obelisk reads
"Jehu the son of Omri", and mentions gifts of gold, silver, lead, and spear shafts.
The "Treasure of Nimrud" unearthed in these excavations is a collection of 613 pieces of gold
jewelry and precious stones. It has survived the confusions and looting after the invasion of Iraq
in 2003 in a bank vault, where it had been put away for 12 years and was "rediscovered" on June 5,