Calah kā´lə [key] or Kalakh kä´läkh [key], ancient city of Assyria, S of Nineveh and therefore S of present Mosul, Iraq. Known as Calah in the Bible, it is the same as the ancient Nimrud, named after a legendary Assyrian hunting hero. Calah emerged as a famous city when Ashurnasirpal II chose (c.880 BC) the site for his capital. Excavations carried on since the mid-19th cent. have revealed remarkable bas-reliefs, ivories, and sculptures. Also discovered were the palaces of Ashurnasirpal II, Shalmaneser III, and Tiglathpileser III. Calah continued to be a royal residence even after Nineveh became the political capital. The famous black obelisk of Shalmaneser III was discovered in Calah by A. H. Layard in 1846. The excavated ruins of the city were looted and razed (2015) by the Islamic State during its uprising against the Iraqi government.
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