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Governor's Palace at Kalhu

a Pleiades place resource

Creators: Jamie Novotny
Contributors: Jeffrey Becker
Copyright © The Contributors. Sharing and remixing permitted under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (cc-by).
Last modified Jan 18, 2021 10:38 AM History
This beautifully-decorated Assyrian palace is located just north of the Nabû temple Ezida, in the southeast quarter of the citadel of Kalhu (biblical Calah, modern Nimrud). The building likely served as the office and/or residence of several important individuals in the administration of the Assyrian Empire, probably including the governor of Kalhu. Numerous cuneiform tablets were discovered in three rooms north of the central courtyard. Because many of those Akkadian texts relate to the activities of several governors, British excavators in the 1950s dubbed the building the "Governor's Palace."

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This Assyrian palace was excavated by Sir Max Mallowan in 1949 and 1951. Only a 50 x 50 m area of the building has been explored. The audience chambers were decorated with painted, geometric patterns. 

The building was probably built by Shalmaneser III (r. 858–824 BC) since bricks inscribed with his name were found embedded in the palace's pavements. However, some scholars have proposed that these baked and inscribed bricks were leftover from Shalmaneser's work on Ninurta's ziggurat (located in the northwest corner of the citadel) and that Adad-nārārī III (r. 810–783 BC), the grandson of Shalmaneser, used those bricks to construct the Governor's Palace.

Numerous clay tablets discovered in the north wing of the building (Rooms K, M, and S) demonstrate that the building was the office and/or residence of several important individuals in the administration of the Assyrian Empire, perhaps including Kalhu's governor (although this cannot be proved with certainty). These texts, the so-called Governor's Palace Archive, date between 835 and 710 BC and suggest that the principal function of the building was moved elsewhere after Sargon II (r. 721–705 BC) transferred the royal court to Dūr-Šarrukīn. Despite this, the building appears to have remained in use until Kalhu was captured and destroyed in 612 BC. 

Squatters occupied parts of the building after the fall of the Assyrian Empire; some of its inhabitants were buried within the palace. In the Hellenistic Period, the central courtyard was used as a burial ground.

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Jamie Novotny, and Jeffrey Becker, 'Governor's Palace at Kalhu: a Pleiades place resource', Pleiades: A Gazetteer of Past Places, 2021 <> [accessed: 02 October 2023]

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