Although the Biblical accounts of the Assyrians are among the most interesting and are often corroborated with other historical sources, the Assyrians were much more than just the enemies of the Israelites and brutal thugs. A historical survey of ancient Assyrian culture reveals that although they were the supreme warriors of their time, they were also excellent merchants, diplomats, and highly literate people who recorded their history and religious rituals and ideology in great detail.
The Assyrians, like their other neighbors in Mesopotamia, were literate and developed their own dialect of the Akkadian language that they used to write tens of thousands of documents in the cuneiform script (Kuhrt 2010, 1:84). Furthermore, the Assyrians prospered for so long that their culture is often broken down by historians into the “Old”, “Middle”, and “Neo” Assyrian periods, even though the Assyrians themselves viewed their history as a long succession of rulers from an archaic period until the collapse of the neo-Assyrian Empire in the 7th century BCE. In fact, the current divisions have been made by modern scholars based on linguistic changes, not on political dynasties.
The city of Nimrud was one of the Assyrians’ most important cities, and it has been known by many different names throughout its history. In ancient Assyrian, the city was called Kalḫu, a name first attested to in texts dating back to the 13th century BCE. In the Bible, it is known as Calah, and the city is now called Nimrud from an association with the Biblical figure Nimrod.
Nimrud is located in northern Iraq on the east bank of the Tigris River, about 20 miles south of modern Mosul and ancient Nineveh. An ancient Assyrian capital during the Neo-Assyrian period, the city has produced many glorious artifacts and provided countless insights into this ancient civilization, but the history of the city after the fall of the Assyrians has proven just as turbulent and interesting.