Ashurnasirpal II’s Banquet Inscription

Found near throne room in Northwest Palace of Kalhu

[This is] the palace of Ashurnasirpal, the high priest of Ashur, chosen by Enlil and Ninurta, the favorite of Anu and Dagan [who is] destruction personified among all the great gods – the legitimate king, the king of the world, the king of Assyria, son of Tukult-Ninurta, great king, ligitimate king, king of the world, king of Assyria [who was] the son of Adad-nirari, likewise great king, legitimate king, king of the world and king of Assyria – the heroic warrior who always acts upon trust- inspiring signs given by his lord Ashur and [therefore] has no rival among the rulers of the four quarters [of the world]; the shepherd of all mortals, not afraid of battle [but] an onrushing flood which brooks no resistance; the king who subdues the unsubmissive [and] rules over all mankind; the king who always acts upon trust-inspiring signs given by his lords, the great gods, and therefore has personally conquered all countries; who has acquired dominion over the mountain regions and received their tribute; he takes hostages, triumphs over all the countries from beyond the Tigris to the Lebanon and the Great Sea, he has brought into submission the entire country of Laqe and the region of Suhu as far as the town of Rapiqu; personally he conquered [the region] from the source of the Subnat River to Urartu.

I returned to the territory of my own country [the regions] from the pass [which leads to] the country Kirrure as far as Gilzani, from beyond the Lower Zab River to the town of Til-bari which is upstream of the land of Zamua – from Til-sha-abtani to Til-sha-sabtani – [also] Hirimu and Harrutu [in] the fortified border region of Babylonia [Karduniash]. I listed as inhabitants of my own country [the people living] from the pass of Mt. Babite to the land of Hashmar.

Ashur, the Great Lord, has chosen me and made a prounouncement concerning my world rule with his own holy mouth [as follows]: Ashurnasirpal is the king whose fame is power!

I took over again the city of Calah in that wisdom of mine, the knowledge which Ea, the king of the subterranean waters, has bestowed upon me, I removed the old hill of rubble: I dug down to the water level; I heaped up a [new] terrace [measuring] from the water level to the upper edge 120 layers of bricks; upon that I erected as my royal seat and for my personal enjoyment 7 beautiful halls [roofed with] boxwood, Magan-ash, cedar, cypress, juniper, boxwood and Magan-ash with bands of bronze; I hung them in their doorways; I surrounded them [the doors] with decorative bronze bolts; to proclaim my heroic deeds I painted on [the palaces’] walls with vivid blue paint how I have marched across the mountain ranges, the foreign countries and the seas, my conquests in all countries; I had lapis lazuli colored glazed bricks made and set [them in the wall] above their gates. I brought in people from the countries over which I rule, those who were conquered by me personally, [that is] from the country Suhi [those of] the town Great [?], from the entire land of Zamua, the countries Bit-Zamani and [Kir]rure, the town of Sirqu with is across the Euphrates, and many inhabitants of Laqe, of Syria and [who are subjects] of Lubarna, the ruler of Hattina; I settled them therein [the city of Calah].

I dug a canal from the Upper Zab River; I cut [for this purpose] straight through the mountains[s]; I called it Patti- hegalli [“Channel-of-Abundance”]; I provided the lowlands along the Tigris with irrigation; I planted orchards at [the city’s] outskirts, with all sorts of fruit trees.

I pressed the grapes and offered [them] as first fruits in a libation to my lord Ashur and to all the sanctuaries of my country. I [then] dedicated that city to my lord Ashur.

[I collected and planted in my garden] from the countries through which I marched and the mountains which I crossed, the trees [and plants raised from] seeds from wherever I discovered [them, such as]: cedars, cypress, simmesallu-perfume trees, burasu-junipers, myrrh-producing trees, dapranu-junipers, nut- bearing trees, date palms, ebony, Magan-ash, olive trees, tamarind, oaks, tarpi’u-terebinth trees, luddu-nut-bearing trees, pistachio and cornel-trees, mehru-trees, semur-trees, tijatu- trees, Kanish oaks, willows, sadanu-trees, pomegranates, plum trees, fir trees, ingirasu-trees, kamesseru-pear trees, supurgillu-bearing trees, fig trees, grape vines, angasu-pear trees, aromatic sumlalu-trees, titip-trees…. In the gardens in [Calah] they vied with each other in fragrance; the paths [in the garden were well kept], the irrigation weirs [distributed the water evenly]; its pomegranates glow in the pleasure garden like the stars in the sky, they are interwoven like grapes on the vine; …in the pleasure garden…in the garden of happiness flourished like [cedar trees]….

I erected in Calah, the center of my overlordship, temples such as those of Enlil and Ninurta which did not exist there before; I rebuilt in it the [following] temples of the great gods…. In them I established the [sacred] pedestals of these, my divine lords. I decorated them splendidly; I roofed them with cedar beams, made large cedar doors, sheathed them with bands of bronze, placed them in their doorways. I placed representations made of shining bronze in their doorways. I made [the images of] their great godheads sumptuous with red gold and shining stones. I presented them with golden jewelry and many other precious objects which I had won as booty.

I lined the inner shrine of my lord Ninurta with gold and lapis lazuli, I placed at his pedestal fierce ushumgallu-dragons of gold. I performed his festival in the months Shabatu and Ululu. I arranged for them [the materials needed for] scatter and incense offerings so that his festival in Shabatu should be one of great display. I fashioned a statue of myself as king in the likeness of my own features out of red gold and polished stones and placed it before my lord Ninurta.

I organized the abandoned towns which during the rule of my fathers had become hills of rubble, and had many people settle therein; I rebuilt the old palaces across my entire country in due splendor; I stored in them barley and straw.

Ninurta and Palil, who love me as [their] high priest, handed over to me all the wild animals and ordered me to hunt [them]. I killed 450 big lions; I killed 390 wild bulls from my open chariots in direct assault as befits a ruler; I cut off the heads of 200 ostriches as if they were caged birds; I caught 30 elephants in pitfalls. I caught alive 50 wild bulls, 140 ostriches [and] 20 big lions with my own…

I received five live elephants as tribute from the governor of Suhu [the Middle Euphrates region] and the governor of Lubda [SE Assyria toward Babylonia]; they used to travel with me on my campaigns.

I organized herds of wild bulls, lions, ostriches and male and female monkys an dhad them breed like flocks [of domestic animals].

I added land to the land of Assyria, many people to its people.

When Ashurnasirpal, king of Assyria, inaugurated the palace of Calah, a palace of joy and [erected with] great ingenuity, he invited into it Ashur, the great lord and the gods of his entire country, [he prepared a banquet of] 1000 fattened head of cattle, 1000 calves, 10000 stable sheep, 15000 lambs — for my lady Ishtar [alone] 200 head of cattle [and] 1000 sihhu-sheep — 1000 spring lambs, 500 stages, 500 gazelles, 1000 ducks, 500 geese, 500 kurku-geese, 1000 mesuku-birds, 1000 qaribu-birds, 10000 doves, 10000 sukanunu-doves, 10000 other [assorted] small birds, 10000 [assorted] fish, 10000 jerboa, 10000 [assorted] eggs,…10000 [jars of] beer, 10000 skins with wine, …1000 wood crates with vegetables, 300 [containers with] oil, …100 [containers with] fine mixed beer, …100 pistachio cones, ….

When I inaugurated the palace at Calah I treated for ten days with food and drink 47074 persons, men and women, who were bid to come from across my entire country, [also] 5000 important persons, delegates from the country Suhu, from Hindana, Hattina, Hatti, Tyre, Sidon, Gurguma, Malida, Hubushka, Gilzana, Kuma [and] Musasir, [also] 16000 inhabitants of Calah from all ways of life, 1500 officials of all my palaces, altogether 69574 invited guests from all the [mentioned] countries including the people of Calah; I [furthermore] provided them with the means to clean and anoint themselves. I did them due honors and sent them back, healthy and happy, to their own countries.

Source: “The Banquet of Ashurnasirpal II,” translated by A. Leo Oppenheim, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 3rd ed. with Supplement, edited by James B. Pritchard (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), 558-561.

Taken from the following Internet site, now unavailable (28 Sept. 2004):