August 12, 2013

Istanbul Archaeological Museum: A note from an Assyrian king on the importance of city planning (cultural heritage)

King's Stele and Inscription (Nineveh)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Istanbul, Turkey - A Stele (705-681 BC) from Nineveh on the eastern bank of the Tigris River  (modern northern Iraq) shows Assyrian King Sennacherib praying in front of divine symbols. The inscription starts out with a declaration and affirmation of his power and ends with his opinion on the importance of keeping the rules of city planning (cultural heritage):
Sennacherib, the great king, mighty king, king of the universe, king of Assyria, king of the four regions (of the world), favorite of the great gods. (the god) Ashur and (the goddess) Ishtar have given me an invincible weapon and have opened my hand for the destruction of the enemies of Assyria. Trusting in their great might, I led my armies from one end of the earth to the other and brought in submission at my feet all princes, dwelling in palaces, of the four quarters 9of the world), and they assumed my yoke. At that time I enlarged the site of Nineveh, my royal city, I made its "market-streets" wide enough to run a royal road, and made (it, the road) shine like the day. The wall and outer wall I caused to be skillfully constructed and raised them mountain high. I widened it most to 100 great cubits (Ca.50m). In days to come, that there might be no narrowing of the royal road, (therefore) I had stelae made which stand facing each other. 52 great cubits I measured the width of the royal road, up to the Park Gate. If ever (any one of) the people who dwell in that city tears down his old house and builds a new one, and the foundation of his house encroaches upon the royal road they shall hang him upon a stake over his house.
Unfortunately for this Assyrian King, his city, the largest city in the world for fifty years was destroyed in 612 B.C. following civil wars in Assyria.