06 January 2022

Ashurnasirpal II was not a nice person

"When Layard roamed through the twenty-eight royal halls and chambers of his unearthed Nimrud... he still did not know the identity of the Assyrian king whose capital this was... Had Layard only been able to read the accompanying inscriptions he would have learned firsthand the brutal sadism of Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 B.C.):
“I built a pillar over against his city gate, and I flayed all the chief men who had revolted, and I covered the pillar with their skins; some I walled up within the pillar, some I impaled upon the pillar on stakes, . . . and I cut off the limbs of the officers, of the royal officers who had rebelled. . . . 

Many captives from among them I burned with fire, and many I took as living captives. From some I cut off their hands and their fingers, and from others I cut off their noses, their ears, and their fingers(?), of many I put out the eyes. I made one pillar of the living, and another of heads, and I bound their heads to posts (tree trunks) round about the city. Their young men and maidens I burned in the fire . . . 

Twenty men I captured alive and I immured them in the wall of his palace. . . . The rest of them [their warriors] I consumed with thirst in the desert of the Euphrates.”​
Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, by D. D. Luckenbill, 1926.
Cited by Ryan and Pitman in Noah's Flood.


  1. None of the rulers back in the day were particularly fun to be around. Putting up stelae boasting about the atrocities committed on enemies and their women and children was standard practice, as was deporting entire peoples to enslave them (e.g. the Israelites and Judaeans, but those are just the most famous examples).
    Incidentally, do you know of the podcast/Youtube channel Fall of Civilizations? Lots of interesting stuff like this.

  2. Sometimes it doesn't feel like it, but maybe the world is actually getting better.

  3. I can't help hearing this in Dan Carlin's voice. His episode of Hardcore History on the Assyrians (Judgement at Nineveh) was incredible, but having said that, every episode is fantastic.


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