Nineveh nĭnˈəvə [key], ancient city, capital of the Assyrian Empire, on the Tigris River opposite the site of modern Mosul, Iraq. A shaft dug at Nineveh has yielded a pottery sequence that can be equated with the earliest cultural development in N Mesopotamia. The old capital, Assur, was replaced by Calah, which seems to have been replaced by Nineveh. Nineveh was thereafter generally the capital, although Sargon built Dur Sharrukin (Khorsabad) as his capital. Nineveh reached its full glory under Sennacherib and Assurbanipal. It continued to be the leader of the ancient world until it fell to a coalition of Babylonians, Medes, and Scythians in 612 b.c. and the Assyrian Empire came to an end. Excavations, begun in the middle of the 19th cent., have revealed an Assyrian city wall with a perimeter of c.7.5 mi (12 km). The palaces of Sennacherib and Assurbanipal, containing magnificent sculptures, have been discovered, as well as Assurbanipal's library, including over 20,000 cuneiform tablets. Monuments there were destroyed by Islamic State militants in 2015. The city is mentioned often in the Bible.

See S. Glubok, ed. Digging in Assyria (1970).

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