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Ashur – First Capital And Powerful Religious Center Of The Assyrian Empire

A. Sutherland  – AncientPages.com – The beginnings of the city of Ashur, (also known as Assur) date back to the third millennium. The city was located about sixty miles to the south of the city of Mosul, Iraq, where today, there is a small village named Shergat (or Qalat Shergat), built of stones and bricks taken from the ruins of the city of Ashur (Asshur).

Ruins of the Assyrian city of AshurRuins of the Assyrian city, Ashur. Image source

From the 14th to the 9th century BC, Ashur was a thriving city. It developed fast and became an important trade center with trade routes leading to Anatolia (modern Turkey). The city exported tin from western Iran, textiles in return for copper, and provided transport of timber from Syria. Many merchants frequently visited the city, and the inhabitants of Ashur themselves began to deal with trade, who even founded their own trade colonies.

Around 1800 BC, the Amorite ruler Shamshi-Adad I included Ashur into his domain, where it became a ceremonial center and the first imperial capital of the Assyrian Empire, unquestionably, one of the greatest of the ancient world.

In Genesis 10:11 we read: “Out of that land came forth Asshur and built Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Kalah…”  Asshur was the second son of Shem and a grandson of Noah, however, in this case, the name Asshur is often used to refer to the place where his descendants dwelled (Ezekiel 27:23, Numbers 24:22, 24).

Ashur (its name was at the same time, the name of a god) was not particularly large city; it had probably no more than 15,000 inhabitants and was situated south of Nineveh and on the western bank of the river Tigris, in northern Mesopotamia, corresponding to modern country of Iraq, northeastern Syria northwestern Iran and southeastern Turkey.

Assyrian’s Vulnerable Location

Assyria had a vulnerable location in the vicinity of the major trading and raiding routes connecting north and east and stretching from Anatolia in the north to Babylon in the south. All cities near Ashur, located on the eastern side of the Tigris valley, in the foothills of Zagros, were easily accessible to foreign intrusions or armed invasions of mountain tribes, so the Assyrians still had to be ready for combat.

Ashur, the chief god of the Assyrian pantheon in Mesopotamian religion, worshipped mainly in the northern half of Mesopotamia, and parts of north-east Syria and south-east Asia Minor (old Assyria Ashur, the chief god of the Assyrian pantheon in Mesopotamian religion, worshipped mainly in the northern half of Mesopotamia, and parts of north-east Syria and south-east Asia Minor (old Assyria).

It was crucial to build a perfectly functioned self-defense in order to survive both in cities and within the borders of the empire. And yet, the city of Ashur was better situated strategically and easier to defend.

Fortifications were massive and the strongest of them were built on the southern part of the city as it was definitely its most vulnerable point. From one side, the city was well-protected by the cliffs and later in front by an immense high wall with eight huge gates and a 15-meter-wide moat.

On the other three sites, the first capital of Assyria was almost invincible.

Ashur – Important Religious Center

The city was Assyria’s oldest capital, which was already known during Akkadian and Sumerian times. It was also an important religious center for worship of the supreme god Ashur, who became the national god of Assyria and protected the Assyrian kings. He was venerated along with Enlil and Ninurta, god of agriculture, scribes, hunting, and war. Several Assyrian kings had the god Ashur’s protection in their names.

Ziggurat at AshurRuins of ziggurat at Ashur. source

In the city, there was an early cult of the gods Adad, Assur and the goddess Ishtar. Ashur contained a large number of important religious buildings, and a handful of palaces (more exactly three of them and thirty four temples, based on ancient sources dated to 7th century BC).

Many ruined structures (many of them had never been excavated) include several major buildings such as the double-temple of Anu and Adad (the god of storms), another was that of Bel, the lord and of the Sumerian goddess of love and war, Ishtar, known to the Hebrews as Ashtaroth and the Starte of the Greeks. There are also ruins of the Old Palace with its royal tombs and several living quarters scattered across the city.

However, the most striking construction among the ruins of Ashur is the ziggurat, built of backed bricks on the top of a rectangular platform composed of several layers, dedicated to the god Ashur, as well as the ground temple nearby devoted to the same god and called “Temple of the Universe”. There are also temples devoted to the gods of the sun and the moon, and one with two towers sacred to Anu, god of the sky, and Adad, god of storms. Assyrian rulers were buried in vaulted tombs beneath palaces, ancient records say, but these places were already robbed in antiquity.

Mesopotamia in 2nd millennium BC

Mesopotamia in 2nd millennium BC. source

Many clay tablets and bricks, covered with cuneiform inscriptions about historical events, conquests, eulogies of rulers, were discovered in the excavated ruins of Ashur.

When Assyria’s strategical value increased in the region, the capital of the empire was transferred from Ashur to Kalah and later to Nineveh about 880 BC, but Ashur still remained a highly prestigious city for a long time.

Civil wars tormented and significantly weakened the region, including  the city of Ashur, especially under the reign of Shamshi Adad (824-811 BC). Later, under the next kings who followed including Tiglath Pileser III (745-727 BC) and Ashurbanipal (668-627 BC), the city was rebuilt and its walls strengthened.

Ashur was finally captured and destroyed by the Babylonians in 614 BC and did not fully recover until the Parthian Empire controlled the city from the 1st century AD until the Romans sacked it in 257. Then, the city was populated again until the 14th century before Timur (1336-1405), the founder of the Timurid Empire (1370-1507) sacked the city and murdered its inhabitants.

The city today serves as an important example of the past Assyrian Empire.

Written by – A. Sutherland  – AncientPages.com Senior Staff Writer

Copyright © AncientPages.com All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of AncientPages.com

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References:

Kriwaczek, P. Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization

Claude Hermann Walter Johns, Ancient Assyria

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Ancient

“14 million years” old vehicle tracks discovered(Video)

Even if we have not found their tracks, there is an indeterminate number of civilizations scattered throughout the galaxy and the universe, and it would be feasible that, in the vicinity of our Earth there are some.

These civilizations could be in different phases of scientific, technological and social progress. Some just beginning their process, and others that have a breakthrough so spectacular that they have become travelers of the cosmos.

This is a controversial claim, since human civilization is only intended by conventional archaeologists to extend several thousand years, not millions of years. Not to mention the idea of ​​a prehistoric civilization advanced enough to have space vehicles.

There are petrified wheel tracks found in several places, including parts of Turkey and Spain, and were supposedly left by heavy all-terrain vehicles dating back 12 to 14 million years ago.

The wheel tracks cross the faults formed in the middle and late Miocene period (approximately 12 to 14 million years ago), suggesting that they are older than those failures, Koltypin said on his website.

At that time, the soil would have been moist and soft, like a malleable clay. Large vehicles sank into the mud as they passed over it. Tire grooves at various depths suggest that the area eventually dried up.

Koltypin said the vehicles still drove over while drying, and did not sink so deeply.

The vehicles were similar in length to modern cars, but the tires were about 9 inches (23 centimeters) wide.

He said that the geological and archaeological works that contain information about these grooves are few and far between. Such references generally say that the tracks were left by cars pulled by donkeys or camels.

“I will never accept it,” he wrote of these explanations. “I myself will always remember … many other inhabitants of our planet wiped from our history.”

Koltypin argues that the tracks could not have been left by lightweight trucks or chariots, since the vehicles would have been much heavier to leave these deep impressions.

He has conducted many field studies in several places and extensively reviewed published studies on local geology. He hypothesizes that a road network extended over much of the Mediterranean more than 12 million years ago.

These complete roads would have been used by people who built underground cities like that in Cappadocia, Turkey, which, according to him, are also much older than those of conventional archeology.

Petrified wheel grooves have been found in Malta, Italy, Kazakhstan, France and even in North America, Koltypin said.

One of the main clusters is located in Sofca, Turkey, with tracks covering an area of ​​approximately 45 by 10 miles (75 by 15 kilometers). Another is in Cappadocia, Turkey, where there are several pockets, one of which is 25 miles by 15 miles.

Conventional archaeologists attribute many of the clues to various civilizations in different periods of time. But Koltypin said it is not right to attribute identical roads, ruts and underground complexes to different eras and cultures.

Instead, he attributes them to a unique and widespread civilization in a distant era. Multiple tumultuous natural events, such as tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, floods and tectonic disturbances that have left large fractures in Earth, have removed much of the remains of this advanced prehistoric civilization, he said.

The surrounding underground cities, irrigation systems, wells and more, also show signs of being millions of years old, he said.

But, “without significant additional studies by large groups of archaeologists, geologists and folklore experts, it is impossible to answer the question… What do you think?

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Ancient

Laser technology reveals an Inca city “older than Machu Picchu”

Researchers have discovered new and fascinating information about an ancient settlement on the heights of the Peruvian Andes, which precedes the famous site of Machu Picchu.

Albert Lin, National Geographic explorer – in collaboration with archaeologists Adam Choqque Arce and Thomas Hardy – used a revolutionary technology known as LiDAR to discover the full extent of the city, which was inhabited by the Incas and the people that preceded them.

The settlement lies in an archeological zone known as Wat’a – which means “island” in the local indigenous language – and is located at an altitude of 3,962 meters, which is equivalent to 1,525 meters higher than Machu Picchu, considered the expression maximum of the ancient Inca civilization.

“Access is very difficult,” Lin explained, in an interview with Newsweek. “You have to climb almost four thousand meters until you reach an eminently clear landscape and, since there are not many trees there, the sun does not stop burning throughout the journey.”

“Once you get to the place you find a great view. The surrounding mountains are really splendid. And the settlement itself, at the top of the mountain, offers a clear perspective of the different valleys arranged along the commercial route; maybe even the site that one day would become Machu Picchu. ”

The settlement of Wat’a had already been explored with conventional archaeological methods, which brought to light evidence of tombs, ceremonial plazas, residential areas and a large surrounding wall.

However, the study with LiDAR – the first to use this technology in that place – helped archaeologists identify many other features hitherto unknown.

In essence, LiDAR allowed the team to “see through” the dense undergrowth and the abundant cacti that populate the summit. The technology uses instruments installed in airplanes – in this case, drones – that send hundreds of thousands of laser pulses per second to the ground.

The data produced is used to create detailed three-dimensional maps that detail the topography of the area, in addition to any ancient artificial structure that is imperceptible to the naked eye.

Among its findings, the team of explorers was able to identify the characteristic terraced design of the Incas, as well as circular structures often related to pre-Inca villages.

“Suddenly, we removed all the vegetation and the mountain became a kind of terrace, similar to that of Machu Picchu. We also observe other terraces that go up to the summit, although on a much smaller scale and with less detail, ”Lin added.

“The site gives you the feeling that the pre-Inca, and the Incas themselves … moved mountains.” Like other Peruvian sites, Wat’a is very interesting because the Incas built the city on a previous pre-Inca settlement.

The researchers also point out that the site could be a kind of template for Machu Picchu, built in the mid-fifteenth century. “The place is very inspiring, since you can imagine it as an evolutionary stage that finally led to Machu Picchu,” Lin concluded.

The program “Lost Cities with Albert Lin” is broadcast on the National Geographic channel. What’s your opinion about it? Leave your comment below.

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Ancient

Archaeological finds associated with the Jewish king Herod

In the vicinity of Hebron is an amazing man-made hill, more than once becoming a place that has kept a large number of historical mysteries. It is as if the unique remains of the royal palace and the ruins of the Byzantine monastery, sunk into the top of the hill, have attracted hundreds of archaeologists for many years with their mystery. These monuments are the embodiment of the amazing fantasy of King Herod the Great, to whom the famous evangelist Matthew attributed terrible atrocities.

Archaeological finds

King Herod was a truly architectural genius who created fantastic buildings. Such buildings 2 thousand years ago were not built either in Rome or its environs. Even modern architects are unlikely to create something like this. And it’s not strange that Herod’s grave was in the mound built by him. Rather, even in a volcano whose crater was built up by its summer palace. To find the mysterious tomb of this king took a lot of time and effort.

The senate hall exploded with applause when Ehud Nazer, the luminaries of the archaeological school of Israel announced his find. The search for the tomb of Judah began in 1972, but there was no grave at the foot of the hill and on top of it. Such a welcome archaeological find was discovered behind a recess in the wall. From there, archaeologists recovered the wreckage of an ancient sarcophagus made of fairly valuable red stone.

Archaeological finds

The sarcophagus itself, like the premises of the mausoleum, were destroyed, probably by those who wanted to settle accounts with the king even after his death. Judging by the fragments of fragments and chips, the building collapsed intentionally, and with great enthusiasm. Thirty-six years of the reign of King Herod were marked by bloody executions and murders. Modern historians have not come to a common solution to the question, for which it was the cruel king who killed innocent people.

He killed Antipath’s own son, more than forty members of the Sanhedrin, as well as his wife Miriam. Before his death, the king went mad and, decaying alive, on the day of his death, issued a decree to kill hundreds of members of famous Jewish families, so that there would be a cry in every house. They hated this king with such force that even the secret mausoleum built by him during his life failed to save his remains.

Archaeological finds

Another find made was associated with the name of Herod. In 2007, archaeologists discovered in the vicinity of Jerusalem an ancient quarry created during the reign of Herod the Great. It was possible to establish the date of the quarry thanks to the ancient fragments of ceramic dishes and coins found here. Such an accidental find allowed scientists to find out where all the same material was extracted for the construction of the Second Temple.

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