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Ninurta temple (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 13, 2021 03:59 PM 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. The most important of those was dedicated to the god Ninurta, the patron deity of city, which Ashurnasirpal had constructed between his palace and the ziggurat, a building also consecrated to Ninurta.

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Akkadian inscriptions of the ninth-century-BC Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883–859 BC) record that that ruler built (or rebuilt) temples to the deities Adad, Damkina, Ea-šarru, Enlil, Gula, Nabû, Ninurta, Sîn, Šala, and Šarrat-niphi, as well as to the Sebetti and Kidmuri; for example, see RIAo Ashurnasirpal II 030 lines 53–78a. Of those, only four have been positively identified during nineteenth- and twentieth-century excavations: the Kidmuri temple, the Nabû temple, the Ninurta temple, and the Šarrat-niphi temple

The Ninurta temple, whose Sumerian ceremonial name is not yet attested in Assyrian texts, was the most important religious building at Kalhu since it was dedicated to the city’s tutelary deity. The temple, the remains of which are still visible today in the northwestern corner of the citadel (located in the southwest corner of the city), abutted the ziggurat (which was also consecrated to Ninurta) and Ashurnasirpal’s palace (the Northwest palace). 

According to some Akkadian inscriptions (for example, RIAo Ashurnasirpal II 028 v 7b–13a), this temple was not only dedicated to Ninurta, but also to the god Enlil, which is a bit of an oddity. Various proposals have been made about where the Enlil temple was located (for example, Room 1, Room 5, and Room 6), but none of the suggestions so far are deemed (from a modern point of view) to have been sufficient enough to have been a temple of one of Assyria’s most important gods. For further details, see Reade 2002The temple complex has been partially excavated.

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Jamie Novotny, and Jeffrey Becker, 'Ninurta temple (Kalhu): a Pleiades place resource', Pleiades: A Gazetteer of Past Places, 2021 <> [accessed: 30 November 2023]

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