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Northwest Palace at Kalhu

a Pleiades place resource

Creators: Gabriel Mckee Copyright © The Contributors. Sharing and remixing permitted under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (cc-by).
Last modified Jan 05, 2021 08:36 AM History
An impressive and ornately-decorated palace constructed at Kalḫu (modern Nimrud, biblical Calah) by the ninth-century-BC Assyrian ruler Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883–859 BC), likely completed between 865 and 869 BC. This multi-winged palatial complex served as the primary residence and chief administrative center of the Assyrian Empire until Sargon II (r. 721–705 BC) moved the imperial capital to Dūr-Šarrukīn in 706 BC. The Northwest Palace, the name given to it by its excavators (since it was built in the northwestern part of Kalḫu’s citadel), remained in use until the very end of the Assyrian Empire (612 BC). The southern half of the building also functioned as the burial place of prominent royal women, including Mullissu-mukannišat-Ninua, the wife of Ashurnasirpal and the mother of Shalmaneser III.

36.0990738405, 43.3275427602

palace complex, architectural complex


Early in his reign, Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883-859 BC) had a grand palace constructed in the northwestern quarter of the citadel of Kalḫu (modern Nimrud, biblical Calah), which was located in the southwest corner of the city. This extensive palatial complex covered an area 28,000 m2 (200x130 m). The Northwest Palace, which was referred to by Sargon II (r. 721–705 BC) as the Juniper Palace (ēkal duprāni), was designed around three or four courtyards. All of the public areas were sumptuously decorated with sculpture and inscriptions. 

The southern wing of the building severed as the burial place for Assyrian queens. In 1989, four vaulted, mud-brick tombs were discovered deep under the floors of Rooms MM, 49, 56 and 57. Five Assyrian queens (identified from inscriptions written in their names), together with their most precious belongings and jewels, were buried here. In chronological order, these important women were: Mullissu-mukannišat-Ninua, wife of Ashurnasirpal and mother of Shalmaneser III (Tomb III, under Room 57); Hamaya, wife of Shalmaneser IV (Tomb III); Yabaʾ, wife of Tiglath-pileser III (Tomb II, under Room 49); Banitu, wife of Shalmaneser V (Tomb II); and Ataliya, wife of Sargon II (Tomb II).

During the reign of Esarhaddon (r. 680–669 BC), stone from the Northwest Palace, as well as from the Central Palace (of Tiglath-pileser III) and the palace of Adad-nārārī III, was removed in order to provide building material for a new palace being constructed in the southwestern corner of the citadel. Although the Assyrian royal family no longer lived in the Northwest Palace in the seventh century BC, this grand palatial complex continued to be used until the fall of the Assyrian Empire. After the Kalḫu’s destruction by the Medes in 612 BC, locals made repairs to parts of the Northwest Palace and lived in it for a significant period of time, until the once-grand palace fell into complete disrepair.

The Northwest Palace at Kalhu was targeted for intentional destruction by terrorist organizations in April 2015. ASOR's reporting documents the destruction of the site.

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Gabriel Mckee, Jeffrey Becker, Jamie Novotny, and Tom Elliott, 'Northwest Palace at Kalhu: a Pleiades place resource', Pleiades: A Gazetteer of Past Places, 2021 <> [accessed: 11 December 2023]

            {{cite web |url= |title=Places: 439136375 (Northwest Palace at Kalhu) |author=Mckee, G. |accessdate=December 11, 2023 2:22 pm |publisher=Pleiades}}