In 668 bc Ashurbanipal inherited the largest empire in the world, which stretched from the shores of the eastern Mediterranean to the mountains of western Iran. He ruled from his massive capital at Nineveh, in present-day Iraq, where temples and palaces adorned with brilliantly carved sculptures dominated the citadel mound, and an elaborate system of canals brought water to his pleasure gardens and game parks. Ashurbanipal, proud of his scholarship, assembled the greatest library in existence during his reign. Guided by this knowledge, he defined the course of the empire and asserted his claim to be ‘King of the World’.
Beautifully illustrated, this book features images of objects excavated from all corners of the empire and highlights the British Museum’s unrivalled collection of Assyrian reliefs, which bring to life the tumultuous story of Ashurbanipal’s reign: his conquest of Egypt, the crushing defeat of his rebellious brother, and his ruthless campaign against the Elamite rulers of south-west Iran.
Published to accompany a once-in-a-generation exhibition at the British Museum, I am Ashurbanipal: king of the world, king of Assyria gives an illuminating account of the Assyrian Empire told through the story of its last great ruler, and will highlight the importance of preserving Iraq’s rich cultural heritage for future generations.