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Temple of Ninurta at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu) Maynard, Glynnis


The temple of Ninurta is located on the citadel of the Neo-Assyrian city of Kalhu (also known as Nimrud). Kalhu was an imperial capital from 883-706 BCE but had a longer history as an Assyrian city from around 1350 to 610 BCE. The temple was part of a wider architectural landscape of temple complexes and palaces on the citadel, first begun by Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883-859) but sustained and renovated by subsequent Neo- Assyrian kings and local governors. Located at the northern end of the citadel, the temple was immediately north of Ashurnasirpal II’s new palace, southwest of the Ishtar-Sharrat-Niphi temple, and southeast of a ziggurat, which was also dedicated to Ninurta. Although Ashurnasirpal II explicitly states in inscriptions on the temple walls that the structure is a temple to Ninurta, the composite nature of Assyrian deities at the time may have meant that Ninurta shared visual aspects with the Assyrian gods Enlil and Ashur. By the Neo-Assyrian period, Ninurta was a god of war and agriculture. This variability could have been reflected in elements of temple decoration, relief iconography, and cult statues located therein. Archaeological finds from Nimrud are located in museums in Baghdad and Mosul, as well as in at least 74 other museums worldwide. Many archaeological projects have excavated in this area of Kalhu, but the temple itself has not been fully excavated and published architectural plans do not agree upon the relationship of the temple to surrounding structures. Until recently, Ashurnasirpal II’s palace and main temples on the citadel, including the area of the Ninurta temple and ziggurat, were maintained as an archaeological park to encourage tourism and public engagement with the site. However, in 2015 Daesh destroyed the vast majority of unearthed structures on the citadel. Restoration projects are currently underway to recover the site.

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