33 Facts About Ashurbanipal


Much of the early years of Ashurbanipal's reign was spent fighting rebellions in Egypt, which had been conquered by his father.


The most extensive campaigns of Ashurbanipal were those directed towards Elam, an ancient enemy of Assyria, and against Shamash-shum-ukin, who gradually began to resent the overbearing control that his younger brother held over him.


Artwork produced under Ashurbanipal was innovative in style and motifs and is regarded to possess an "epic quality" otherwise absent from much of the art produced under previous kings.


The Assyrians won many battles under Ashurbanipal, campaigning further from the Assyrian heartland than ever before, but several of his campaigns achieved little strategic advantage.


Whether Ashurbanipal's policies led to the fall of the Assyrian Empire only two decades after his death is disputed in modern Assyriology.


The arrangement might have been intended to assuage the elder Shamash-shum-ukin's jealousy toward his younger brother Ashurbanipal, avoiding future rivalry.


One hypothesis is that Ashurbanipal's mother was Assyrian while Shamash-shum-ukin's was Babylonian, which might have disfavored him for the Assyrian throne.


Since the name Ashurbanipal means "Ashur is the creator of the heir", it was likely bestowed at this time, while his previous name is unnown.


Letters between the two heirs from this time show that Ashurbanipal managed the empire's intelligence network, gathering strategic information from abroad and compiling reports for his father.


The campaign lapsed while Ashurbanipal was succeeding to his father's throne, and many of the Egyptian vassal rulers joined the revolt to expel the foreign conquerors.


In Dananu's stead, Ashurbanipal appointed a noble called Rimutu as the new Gambulian chieftain after he had agreed to pay a considerable sum in tribute to the Assyrian king.


The extent to which the Assyrian army was involved in the Lydian campaign is unknown, but it appears that Gyges was disappointed with the help since he just twelve years later broke his alliance with Ashurbanipal and allied with the increasingly independent Egypt instead.


Kandalanu's realm was the same as Shamash-shum-ukin's with the exception of the city of Nippur, which Ashurbanipal converted into a powerful Assyrian fortress.


The new king, Indabibi, had an extremely brief reign and was murdered after Ashurbanipal threatened to invade Elam again because of the kingdom's role in supporting Shamash-shum-ukin and his other enemies.


The ancient Elamite capital was wiped off the face of the Earth and Ashurbanipal then continued with the destruction of Elamite settlements on a massive scale.


The detail and length of Ashurbanipal's inscriptions concerning the destructions suggest that the events were meant to shock the world, signalling the defeat and eradication of the Elamites as a distinct cultural entity.


In one of his final known inscriptions, Ashurbanipal, saddened and faced with his own mortality due to illness, lamented the state of his empire.


The final contemporary evidence for Ashurbanipal being alive and reigning as king is a contract from Nippur made in 631.


One possible way to justify a 42-year reign of Ashurbanipal is by assuming there was a coregency between him and Ashur-etil-ilani, but there had never been a coregency in prior Assyrian history and the idea is explicitly contradicted by Ashur-etil-ilani's own inscriptions, which describe him as becoming king after the end of his father's reign.


Three of Ashurbanipal's children are known by name, all sons:.


Libbali-sharrat might have lived for some time after Ashurbanipal's death in 631 since there is a tablet dating to Ashur-etil-ilani's reign referencing the "mother of the king".


Sargon II, the founder of Ashurbanipal's dynasty, is for instance known for several times forgiving and sparing defeated enemies.


Women were rarely depicted being harmed in Assyrian artwork, but Ashurbanipal's reliefs include some prominent exceptions to this rule.


Typically portraying himself as carrying both weapons and a stylus, Ashurbanipal's inscriptions make him out to be unlike the kings before him, exceptionally well-versed in literature, writing, mathematics and scholarship.


Deeply interested in the ancient literary culture of Mesopotamia, Ashurbanipal read complex texts in both Akkadian and Sumerian already in his youth.


The resulting Library of Ashurbanipal is regarded to have been the by far most extensive library in ancient Assyria and the first systematically organized library in the world.


Possibly influenced by Egyptian art, which did depict foreigners differently, Ashurbanipal's reliefs show Elamites and Urartians as stockier, Urartians with larger noses, and Arabs with long straight hair.


Tales of Ashurbanipal survived in the cultural memory of the Near East for centuries after the decline of Assyrian power in the region.


The most prominent later legend concerning Ashurbanipal was the long-lived Greco-Roman Sardanapalus legend.


The North Palace of Nineveh, constructed by Ashurbanipal, was rediscovered by the British-funded Assyrian archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam in December 1853.


Whether Ashurbanipal is to blame for the fall of the Assyrian Empire relatively quickly after his death is disputed.


In 1958, surrealist painter Leonora Carrington painted Assurbanipal Abluting Harpies, an oil on canvas at the Israel Museum depicting Ashurbanipal pouring a white substance onto the heads of pigeon-like creatures with human faces.


Parhad defended the statue as representing Ashurbanipal, though explained that he had taken some artistic liberties.