Ashur


Ashur
/ah"shoor/ for 1; /ash"euhr/ for 2, n.
1. Assur.
2. a male given name.

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Ancient religious capital of Assyria.

It is located on the Tigris River, 60 mi (97 km) south of Mosul, Iraq. The name Ashur was applied to the city, to Assyria itself, and to Assyria's principal god. The capital's site was originally occupied с 2500 BC and later became part of Akkad. By the late 12th century BC it was under Assyrian control. Its religious sanctity ensured its continuous upkeep until 614 BC, when it was destroyed by Babylonia. The archaeological site has yielded fortifications, temples, and palaces.

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▪ Mesopotamian deity
      in Mesopotamian religion, city god of Ashur and national god of Assyria. In the beginning he was perhaps only a local deity of the city that shared his name. From about 1800 BC onward, however, there appear to have been strong tendencies to identify him with the Sumerian Enlil (Akkadian: Bel (Enlil)), while under the Assyrian king Sargon II (reigned 721–705 BC), there were tendencies to identify Ashur with Anshar (Anshar and Kishar), the father of An (Akkadian: Anu) in the creation myth. Under Sargon's successor Sennacherib, deliberate and thorough attempts were made to transfer to Ashur the primeval achievements of Marduk, as well as the whole ritual of the New Year festival of Babylon—attempts that clearly have their background in the political struggle going on at that time between Babylonia and Assyria. As a consequence, the image of Ashur seems to lack all real distinctiveness and contains little that is not implied in his position as the city god of a vigorous and warlike city that became the capital of an empire. The Assyrians believed that he granted rule over Assyria and supported Assyrian arms against enemies; detailed written reports from the Assyrian kings about their campaigns were even submitted to him. He appears a mere personification of the interests of Assyria as a political entity, with little character of his own.

▪ ancient city, Iraq
also spelled  Assur , modern  Qalʿat Sharqāṭ 

      ancient religious capital of Assyria, located on the west bank of the Tigris River in northern Iraq. The first scientific excavations there were conducted by a German expedition (1903–13) led by Walter Andrae. Ashur was a name applied to the city, to the country, and to the principal god of the ancient Assyrians.

      The site was originally occupied about 2500 BC by a tribe that probably had reached the Tigris River either from Syria or from the south. Strategically, Ashur was smaller and less well-situated than Nimrūd (Kalakh) or Nineveh, the other principal cities of Assyria; but the religious sanctity of Ashur ensured its continuous upkeep until 614 BC, when it was destroyed by the Babylonians. A part of the city was later revived about the time of the Parthian conquest of Mesopotamia in the middle of the 2nd century BC.

      The inner city was protected by encircling walls (fortification) nearly 2.5 miles (4 km) long. On the eastern side Ashur was washed by the Tigris, along which massive quays were first erected by Adad-nirari I (reigned c. 1295–c. 1264). On the north side an arm of the river and a high escarpment afforded natural defenses, which were augmented by a system of buttressed walls and by a powerful sally port called the mushlalu—a semicircular tower of rusticated stone masonry, built by Sennacherib and probably the earliest known example of this type of architecture. The southern and western sides were protected by a strong fortification system.

      A catalog of Ashur's buildings inscribed during the reign of Sennacherib (704–681) lists 34 temples, although fewer than one-third of them have been found, including those of Ashur-Enlil, Anu-Adad, Sin-Shamash, and Ishtar and Nabu. Historically the most interesting temples are those devoted to the cult of the goddess Ishtar, or Inanna, as she was known to the Sumerians.

      In addition to the temples, three palaces were identified. The oldest of these was ascribed to Shamshi-Adad I (c. 1813–c. 1781) and was later used as a burial ground. Many of the private houses found in the northwestern quarter of the site were spaciously laid out and had family vaults beneath their floors, where dozens of archives and libraries were uncovered in the course of the German excavations. The irregular planning of the town indicates a strict respect for property rights and land tenure. Other aspects of Assyrian law, particularly those relating to women, are known from a series of tablets compiled between 1450 and 1250.

      Ashur was made a World Heritage site in 2003.

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Universalium. 2010.

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