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Central Building at 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 19, 2021 02:34 PM History
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Near the middle of the citadel of Kalhu (biblical Calah, modern Nimrud), the ninth-century-BC Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883–859 BC) constructed a building with a grand, south-facing entrance. This building, constructed east of the southeast corner of the Northwest Palace, might have been one of the temples built by Ashurnasirpal II when he made Kalhu the administrative capital of the Assyrian Empire. Alternatively, the Central Building might have served as a palace.

36.098365, 43.32865

palace, temple


The Central Building was excavated by Austen Henry Layard in 1845–51, Horzmud Rassam in 1853–54 and 1878–79, William Kennett Loftus in 1854, Sir Max Mallowan in 1951–52, and Janusz Meuszynski in 1975–76. 

The south-facing entrance was decorated with limestone wall-panels, some of which had winged spirits fighting animals or mythical beasts sculpted on them, and four human-headed, winged colossi (with the feet of bulls and lions); see the Learning Sites reconstructions for details. At least three free-standing monuments — including the famous "Black Obelisk" of Shalmaneser III (r. 858–824 BC), the "Rassam Obelisk" (from the time of Ashurnasirpal II), and an unfinished/crudely-carved statue of a eunuch/courtier — were erected in front of this important building.

The function of the Central Building, which Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883–859 BC) had constructed in the middle of the Kalhu citadel, is presently unknown. Some scholars have suggested that it might have been a temple, while other have proposed that it was a palace. 

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Jamie Novotny, 'Central Building at Kalhu: a Pleiades place resource', Pleiades: A Gazetteer of Past Places, 2021 <> [accessed: 25 February 2024]

            {{cite web |url= |title=Places: 942018830 (Central Building at Kalhu) |author=Novotny, J. |accessdate=February 25, 2024 9:32 am |publisher=Pleiades}}