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Ezida (Kalhu)

a Pleiades place resource

Creators: Jamie Novotny Copyright © The Contributors. Sharing and remixing permitted under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (cc-by).
Last modified Jan 15, 2021 07:21 AM History
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When Kalhu (biblical Calah, modern Nimrud) became the principal administrative center of the Assyrian Empire in the ninth century BC, king Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883–859 BC) built (or rebuilt) numerous temples. One of those was dedicated to the god Nabû. Unlike most of the religious buildings constructed at Kalhu, the Ezida ("True House") was built in the southeast corner of the Citadel.

36.0970655912, 43.3303415509
    • Ezida (Akkadian, 720 BC - 540 BC)
    • bīt Nabû (Akkadian, 1000 BC - 540 BC)



The Nabû temple was one of the nine temples that the ninth-century-BC Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II claims to have (re)founded when he made Kalhu his primary royal residence (RIAo Ashurnasirpal II 030 lines 55–60); Ezida, a name that was adopted from this deity’s temple in Borsippa, is situated on the southeast side of the citadel mound. The building plan consists of two large courtyards on the east, the shrines themselves facing onto the inner court; there are also two smaller courtyards, a twin set of shrines, and a reception suite (Throne Room) in the northwest quarter of the building ("South-East Building" or SEB). The entire southern part of the temple was rebuilt by Adad-nārārī III, to whom the seventh-century rulers Ashurbanipal and Sîn-šarru-iškun attribute its foundation (or at least its last rebuilding); see RINAP online Ashurbanipal 007 x 88–90; and Sîn-šarru-iškun Cylinder B. Little is known about Adad-nārārī III’s work on Ezida from the textual record, but inscriptions of his were found on a slab in the main shrine and on colossal statues with folded hands, presumably divine attendants of the god. In addition, Bēl-tarṣi-ilūma, the governor of Kalhu, dedicated two further statues (also attendants) for the life of Adad-nārārī and his mother Sammu-ramat (Semiramis). Adad-nārārī appears to have (re)built the southern wing of the temple, although the original version of the temple (the northern section) was almost certainly 9th century in date (reign of Ashurnasirpal II).

The eighth-century-BC king Sargon II made repairs and alterations, as suggested by the upper wall decoration with recesses and rows of engaged columns in the style of the Nabû temple at Dur-Šarrukīn. The seventh-century-BC ruler Ashurbanipal, Assyria's last great king, reports that he rebuilt/restored part of Ezida, most likely the southern part of the temple, the wing worked on by Adad-nārārī III. Fragments of large decagonal clay prisms found in the debris from the collapse of the upper walls, which had fallen into the rooms soon after the fall of Kalhu, or in the rubble left by squatters or 19th century archaeologists who had dug through the fallen and standing mud brick walls, describe work on this temple. Ashurbanipal describes his work as follows: “[At] that time, the temple of the god Nabû which is inside Calah (and) which Adad-nārārī (III), son of Šamšī-Adad (V), king of Assyria, a king prior to me, had built, had become old. I cleared away its dilapidated portion(s) and I mixed beer and wine into (its) kalakku-mortar. Basket carriers moulded bricks while singing. I completely (re)built (this section of Ezida) from top to bottom while there was singing and joyous celebration. I roofed it with long cedar beams (and) [... I] decorated all its copings.” This work took place early in Ashurbanipal’s third decade as king. Aššur-etel-ilāni, Ashurbanipal’s son and immediate successor, made some repairs to the rooms on the east side of the north courtyard, an area that might have served as temple offices. Bricks of this son of Ashurbanipal attest to this. Aššur-etel-ilāni might have also made repairs to the smaller shrines NTS 1 and 2. Sîn-šarru-iškun, another son and successor of Ashurbanipal, also made repairs to Ezida, as attested by fragments of clay cylinders discovered in the ruins of the temple. Unfortunately, the building report of that inscription (Cylinder B lines 30–37) is badly damaged and little can be gleaned about this project of that Assyrian king. Despite this, Sîn-šarru-iškun boasts of laying some of Ezida's foundations and placing the statues of Nabû and Tašmetu back on their daises.

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Jamie Novotny, 'Ezida (Kalhu): a Pleiades place resource', Pleiades: A Gazetteer of Past Places, 2021 <> [accessed: 26 September 2023]

            {{cite web |url= |title=Places: 242008148 (Ezida (Kalhu)) |author=Novotny, J. |accessdate=September 26, 2023 3:08 pm |publisher=Pleiades}}