Ancient Assyria Palace

‘Palace Without a Rival’
At the beginning of the eighth century B.C. King Sennacherib ruled Assyria. He decided to build a palace at Nineveh. He wanted it to be the biggest and most elaborate of all Assyrian palaces. He called it the ‘Palace Without a Rival’. We know about the building of this palace because Sennacherib left many inscriptions describing the building of the palace in detail.

“At that time Nineveh, the city beloved of the goddess Ishtar, had become too small and badly built. But I Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, decided to carry out work according to th

Sennacherib chose a site for the palace close to the Tebiltu river, but there were already foundations of an older building there which the river had eroded.

Sennacherib wanted his palace to be built on solid ground so he had the course of the river changed.


“I forced people from many countries who did not respect me to make bricks. The old palace I pulled down completely.

The river Tebiltu, which had flowed by the palace and during floods had caused much damage, I changed its course to water farm land instead.”
Sennacherib had a platform built above the river’s flood level. The platform was the base for the palace.


“I made the platform of the old palace larger and higher. To make sure that the platform was not weakened over time or by flooding, I surrounded the foundations with great stones.”

It was time to build the new palace. Mud-brick, stone, and many precious materials such as cedar wood and ivory were used.
“Palaces of gold, silver, bronze, alabaster, ivory, cedar, pine for my royal residence I constructed. Beams of cedar and cypress, whose scent is pleasant and which come from the snow-capped Amanus Mountain, I placed there.

Cedar wood Doors of cedar, cypress and pine I covered with silver and copper, and I set them up to frame the doorways. “

The palace was decorated with huge columns of bronze or cedar. The cedar was brought to Assyria from forests on the mountains of Lebanon. Stone reliefs of magical spirits decorated walls in the palace. They protected the king from evil forces. Large stone statues of human-headed winged bulls and lions guarded the doorways. They were there to magically protect the king and his palace. Similar smaller statues also supported columns.


“I Sennacherib, the chief of all princes, who has knowledge of all crafts, made great pillars of bronze and colossal lions, open at the knees, such as no earlier king had made. Colossal bronze bulls covered with gold and colossal alabaster bulls I set up to frame the doorways. “

Huge slabs of alabaster were brought from quarries to line the walls of the palace.

They were put in place and carved with scenes of Sennacherib’s army, foreigners bringing tribute and the palace being built.


“With slabs of alabaster I surrounded the palace walls, I caused them to be a wond

When the palace was finished, Sennacherib surrounded it with a great park. He filled the park with many different types of plants and trees from lands across his empire.

He divided the land into plots which the citizens of Nineveh could use to plant orchards.


“I planted a great park beside the palace, like that of the Amanus Mountain, with all kinds of herbs and fruit trees which came from the mountains and from Babylonia. Because there wasn’t enough water, a canal was built from the mountains to the orchards.


“To increase the area for planting, I dug a canal with pickaxes and directed it through high and low ground … using irrigation ditches I led the water among the orchards.”

Finally, Sennacherib invited Ashur and other important Assyrian gods and goddesses to the city of Nineveh. He offered sacrifices to them and held a banquet to celebrate finishing the new palace.


“After I had brought the work on my palace to an end, I gathered into it Ashur, the great lord, and the gods and goddesses who live in Assyria. I offered them sacrifices and gifts.”