REIGN OF ASSHURNAZIRPAL
WHEN Asshur Nazir Pal (885-860 BC) succeeded his father on the throne of Assyria he inherited opportunities rather than actual possessions. The kingdom over which he ruled from his capital city of Nineveh was comparatively small. Babylonia, while not physically so strong as Assyria, was, nevertheless, entirely independent under the reign of Nabu Apal Iddin (about 880 BC), who probably began to reign very shortly after Asshur Nazir Pal. The countries to the north which had been conquered by Tiglath Pileser I and again overrun by Tukulti Ninib were only tributary, and not really governed from Nineveh. Furthermore their tribute was not paid voluntarily, but only when an Assyrian army stood ready to collect it by force. The Aramaeans possessed the best lands in the upper Mesopotamian valley, and must be met on the field of battle. The opportunity was great, because none of these peoples were strong enough to oppose Assyria single-handed, and there was no present prospect of any sort of union between them. Asshur Nazir Pal was in every respect the man for this situation; no king like him had arisen before in Assyria.
Abundant historical material enables us to follow closely the development of his plans and the course and conduct of his campaigns. His standard inscription upon alabaster contains three hundred and eighty-nine lines of writing, and gives, in almost epic grandeur, the story of the truly imperial plans which he had made for Assyria. This longest and best known text is supplemented by no less than eight other texts, some shorter originally, some fragmentary. Some of these are repetitions, either in the same or varying phrase, and thus add to the certainty of the text which may be made from their comparison.
In the very first year of the king's reign his campaigns of conquest begin, and it is in the north that he must first tranquilize populations by destruction and savage butchery. The course of his march was first northwestward, apparently following closely the course of the Tigris for a short distance and then striking due north over "impassable roads and trackless mountains" to the land of Nimme, which we are to locate west of Lake Van, about the neighborhood of Mush. Here were found strong cities, meaning thereby cities fortified against invasion, which were soon captured, with the loss of many fighting men to the enemy. According to the Assyrian account the remainder of the defenders fled into the mountains, there to hide like birds until, after a three days' march, Asshur Nazir Pal overtook them "nested" amid the fastnesses and slew two hundred of them. Thence returning again into their country, he threw down the walls of their cities and dug them up, and set fire to the heaps of ruins. There was no reason to doubt that the survivors would pay tribute to Assyria, if indeed anything had been left them wherewith to pay after such a visitation. The memory of such discipline might be expected to abide, while the report of it was sure to spread rapidly, after the fashion of an oriental story, among surrounding tribes who might learn from it the wisdom of surrender and of tribute paying without an attempt at a defense of national or tribal liberty. So it fell out, for when Asshur Nazir Pal, leaving the waste behind him, went southwestward into the land of Kirruri, by the side of Mount Rowandiz, he found ready for his taking a great tribute of oxen, sheep, wine, and a bowl of copper, and an Assyrian governor was easily established over the land, to look rather after its tribute than its worthy governing. And while these events were happening the people of Gozan (between the Tigris and Lake Urumiah) and the people of Khubushkia, who lived west of them and nearer the old limits of Assyria, also sent a voluntary tribute consisting of "horses, silver, gold, lead, copper, and a bowl of copper." From such bloodless successes the king turned southward into the laud of Qurkhi of Betani (along the bank of the Tigris eastward of Diarbekir) and fought with a population who only fled to the mountains after a bitter defeat. They also were overtaken, and two hundred and sixty of their heads were built into a pyramid; their cities were wasted and burned, and an Assyrian governor was set to rule them. Bubu, the son of the chief of Nishtum, one of their cities, was flayed in the city of Arbela and his skin spread on the fortress wall.
So stands the sickening record of the first year's campaign. This savage beginning augured ill for the new states which had sprung up since the days of Tiglath Pileser. What mercy was there to be found in a man of this quality? If years and vigor were his portion, it would be difficult to set a limit to his success as a conqueror, while the early placing of governors over communities which had surrendered seemed to imply that he had also gifts as an administrator. But we follow his story further. In the next year (884 BC) the king invaded Kummukh, perhaps to insure payment of the annual tribute, or there may have been signs of rebellion. There was more of conquering to do on the way, and then Kummukh was entered, apparently without a struggle. But before the king's purpose had developed, whatever it may have been, he was summoned to the banks of the Euphrates.
The Aramaean communities along the Euphrates had no central government. They lived under the old forms of city governments, some still independent, some dependencies of Assyria with Assyrian governors. Bit Khalupe was one of these subject communities located on the Euphrates, about halfway between the Balikh and the Khabur (modern Halebe), and the governor was Khamitai, an Assyrian subject. There was a rebellion here—so ran the intelligence brought to the Assyrians—the Assyrian governor was slain, and his place had been given to a certain Akhi Yababa brought from Bit Adini. It was summons enough. Asshur Nazir Pal showing thereby the mobility of his army, came southward along the course of the Khabur, halting at Sadikan (or Gardikan, the modern Arban) to receive tribute from an Aramaean prince, Shulman Khaman Ilani, and again at Shuma to receive like honor from Hu Adad, in silver, gold, lead, plates of copper, variegated cloths, and linen vestments. The news of his approach reached Bit Khalupe, and the faint hearts of the people sank in them. They surrendered, saying as they came from the city gates and took hold of the conqueror's feet, in token of submission: "Thou wiliest and it is death, thou wiliest and it is life; the will of thy heart will we perform." But even this abject surrender did not avail with such a man as Asshur Nazir Pal. He attacked the city and compelled the delivering up of all the soldiers who had joined in the rebellion. No mention is made of the treatment of the private soldiers, but their officers' legs were cut off. The nobles who had shared in the uprising were flayed, and their skins stretched over a pyramid erected, and apparently for this very purpose, at the chief gate of the city. Then the city, plundered of all its wealth and beauty, was left a monument of ferocity and a warning to conspirators. The unhappy Akhi Yababa was sent off to Nineveh, there to be flayed that his skin might adorn the fortress walls, while his place as Assyrian governor over Bit Khalupe was taken by Azilu. As in the former year, the story of this punishment went abroad. The rulers of Laqi and Khindanu hastened to send tribute to the conqueror while he was staying at Suri, while yet another Aramaean people, the Shuhites, sent Ilubani, their ruler, and his sons to carry a costly tribute direct to Nineveh.
Following these events there was a lull in the king's actions, while he stayed at Nineveh, as though there were no more lands to conquer. But news reached him of a revolt among Assyrian colonists planted by Shalmaneser I at Khalzi Lukha, under the leadership of one Khula. Again must the king march northward into lands always troubled. On this march the king erected at the sources of the river Supnat a great inscribed portrait of himself by the side of the reliefs of Tiglath Pileser I and Tukulti Ninib. Thence he moved northwestward to the slopes of Mount Masius, where Khula was captured, his men butchered, and his city razed. On the return march, in the country of Nirbi, the lowlands about the modern Dian Bekir, he took and devastated the chief city, Tela, which was defended by a threefold wall, slaying, three thousand of its fighting men. A little farther south the king approached the city of Tuskha, in whose site he apparently recognized an important vantage point, for he halted to restore it. The old city wall was changed, and a new wall built in massive strength from foundation to the coping. Within these walls a royal palace was erected, an entirely new structure. A new relief of the king's person, fashioned of white limestone, and inscribed with an account of the king's wars and conquests in the land of Nairi, was set in the city walls, to be studied as a warning by its inhabitants. The city thus rebuilt and restored was peopled by Assyrian colonists and made a storehouse for grain and fodder. The aim, apparently, was to use it as a base of supplies in military operations against the north and west. Some of the inhabitants of the land had fled, but upon payment of homage were allowed to return to their cities and homes, many of these in ruins. A heavy annual tribute was put upon them, and their sons were taken away to Nineveh as hostages.
While engaged in this work of reconstruction much tribute was received from neighboring states. Later in the year another district in the land of Nirbu, near Mount Masius, revolted, and was subdued in the usual manner. On the return journey to Nineveh the people of Qurkhi, the inhabitants about Malatiyeh, and the Hittites paid tribute to the apparently resistless conqueror. The next year (882) witnessed an uprising in the southeast led by Zab Dadi, a prince of the country of Dagara, to whom the people of Zamua also joined themselves. There was thus in revolt a considerable section of territory lying in the mountains east of the Tigris and between the Lower Zab and the Turnat (modern Shirwan) Rivers. Not satisfied with the attempt to escape annual tribute, these daring warriors thought to invade Assyrian soil. The battle with them, fought out in the lowlands, was an Assyrian victory, and the campaign ended in the receipt of a heavy tribute, and the taking of many cities, which, contrary to former custom, were not destroyed. This new method was, however, soon abandoned, for the next year (881) these people refused to pay their tribute, and their country was again invaded. This time savagery had its sway, and the cities were dug up and burned, while blood was poured out like water. It was now safe to advance through the broken land farther into the mountains for more plunder, but we are not able to follow the king's movements in this extended campaign for lack of geographical knowledge.
It is especially noteworthy that, though the usual destructions prevailed, there were again displayed some constructive ideas, for the city of Atlila, which had previously been destroyed by the Babylonians, was rebuilt and made an Assyrian fortress, with a king's palace, and with the Assyrian name of Dur Asshur. This completed, for a time at least, the subjugation of the eastern borders of the kingdom, and the king could establish a regular collection of tribute in the north. The wealth poured into Calah year after year in these raids must have been enormous. Herein lies the explanation of the possibility of maintaining a standing army and carrying on conquests of outlying territory. The Assyrian people could not have stood the drain of resources necessary for foreign conquest, nor could the merchants of Nineveh have borne a system of taxation sufficient to maintain armies so constantly on the march. It is noteworthy that nearly every campaign made thus far in this brilliant reign was for tribute gathering. The king was not yet ready for the attempt to add largely to his empire, nor even to extend widely the area of his tribute getting. Time for the training of his army was necessary, and funds had to be accumulated for the payment and equipment of his troops. Undoubtedly many adventurers from among foreign conquered peoples fought in the armies of Asshur Nazir Pal and found their compensation in such booty as they were allowed to appropriate. It remains, however, true that the cost of the military establishment must have been great, and the collection of tribute supplied this outlay. The king watched closely the collection of tribute, and nonpayment anywhere was the signal for a sudden descent on the offenders. "During the eponymy of Bel Aku (881 BC) I was staying in Nineveh when news was brought that Ameka and Arastua had withheld the tribute and dues of Asshur my lord" -so began this campaign of which we have just spoken, and so began many another. Herein we have an instructive commentary on the whole policy of Assyria for years to come. Let us recall the need of conquering the Aramaeans to secure commercial extension, and the need of the tribute to maintain an army capable of such conquest, and in these two motives, the one depending upon the other, we have the explanation of Assyrian history for this reign, and for not less than six reigns after it.
In the next year (880 BC) the king collected in person the tribute of the land of Kummukh, afterward pushing on through the land of Qurkhi, into the fastnesses of Mount Masius, for a like purpose, and finally returning to the fortress of Tushkha to continue his former building operations. That so large a part of the year is occupied with the careful and systematic collection of tribute foreshadows a great campaign of conquest toward which this storing up of supplies of money and material is a necessary preparation. Possibly the traders of Nineveh, profiting by the earlier punishment of the Aramaeans, were urging the king to wider conquests in the prosperous west, which would result in a still further extension of their trade. However that may be, the year 879 brought matters of immense importance in Assyrian history. The king first marched southwest to the Euphrates and the Khabur. The Aramaeans of Bit Khalupe had not forgotten their sore discipline, and paid their tribute at once. And in like manner one community after another gave their silver and gold, their horses and cattle, to their suzerain as he moved slowly down the Euphrates to Anat (modern Anath).
All this resembles former campaigns, but now a sudden change appears. Attempting to collect tribute at Suru (another city of the same name as the capital of Bit Kbalupe), Asshurnazirpal finds the Shuhites, whose chief city Suru was, in league with the Kassite Babylonians in their resistance. The Babylonian king at this time was Nabu Apal Iddin, who began to reign in his ancient city probably very soon after Asshurnazirpal began to reign in Assyria. He was either a weak man or a man of extraordinary policy, or he would long before this have been in conflict with his northern neighbor. In the discontent of the Shuhites he saw a hopeful opportunity for injuring Assyria without too great risk to his own fortunes. He contributed to the revolt not less than fifty horsemen and three thousand footmen—a considerable contribution in the warfare of that century. For two days the battle raged in and about Suru before the Assyrians obtained the mastery. Asshurnazirpal punished this uprising in his usual way, by utterly wasting the city, slaying many of its inhabitants, and carrying away immense spoil. He is probably narrating only the simple truth when he says that the fear of his sovereignty prevailed as far as Kardunyash and overwhelmed the land of Kaldu. The Babylonian king, though he continued to reign for some time after this, gave no further trouble to Assyria. He was kept busily engaged in his own land in two important enterprises. The Aramaeans tribe known as the Sutu, whom we have met in this story in northern Babylonia, had centuries before wrought ruin at the ancient religious city of Sippar, where the worship of the sun god had its especial seat. With the destruction of the temples the worship carried on for so many centuries ended. The former kings belonging to the dynasty of the Sea Lands, Shamash Shipak and Kasshu Nadin Akhe, had tried in vain to prevent the total destruction of the temple and to reorganize its worship. Their efforts had completely failed, and the temple had now become a hopeless ruin, covered with sand of the near-by desert. Here was a work for the pious king. Dislodging the Sutu from the city by force of arms, Nabu Apal Iddin began the reconstruction and restoration of the fallen temple, and carried the work to a successful conclusion, setting up again the splendid old ceremonial worship of the sun. The inscription in which he has celebrated these deeds is one of the most beautiful monuments of ancient Babylonia. To carry them out fully he seems to have maintained the peace with Asshurnazirpal and his successor.
But if the success and severity of Asshurnazirpal caused the king of Babylon to occupy himself entirely with internal affairs, it had little effect on the hardy and daring Aramaeans, for scarcely had the Assyrian king returned to Calah when he was again called into the field by the revolt of the men of Laqi and Khindanu and of the whole Shuhite people. This time the king was better prepared for the work in hand, for he had boats constructed at Suru, and was therefore able to follow the fugitives to the river islands. The ruin of this campaign seems awful even after the lapse of centuries. The cities were utterly broken down and burned, the inhabitants butchered when they could be taken, and even the standing crops were destroyed that neither man nor beast might eat and live. It was no real compensation for such deeds that two new cities were founded, one on the hither bank of the Euphrates, named Kar Asshur Nazir Pal (that is, fortress of Asshur Nazir Pal), and the other on the far bank, called Nibarti-Asshur (that is, the ford of Asshur), for these could only be intended for military purposes, and not as a contribution to civilization or as abiding places for a ruined people. But the king was not satisfied that he had got at the root of the trouble, and the next year followed up his advantage with another campaign apparently intended to cut off any further rebellion at the fountain head. It seems probable that the real source of the energy and enthusiasm which sustained so many rebellions among the Aramaeans was the state of Bit Adini, on the Euphrates, above the mouth of the Khabur. The most powerful Aramaean settlements were here, and the capital city, Kap Rabi (great rock), was populous, well fortified, and defiant. If this city were taken, there would be hopes of crushing out completely the spirit of resistance.
In his next campaign (877 BC) Asshur Nazir Pal besieged the city and took it by assault, in which eight hundred of the enemy were killed and two thousand four hundred made prisoners. This was followed by its complete destruction, and an end was therefore made of incitements to rebellion in Bit Adini. The effect on the remaining Aramaean settlements along the Euphrates was as marked as it was sudden. Others sent their unpaid tribute at once, and there was, during the reign of Asshurnazirpal, no further trouble over the prompt payment of the Aramaeans tribute. With this campaign Asshurnazirpal had not indeed ended forever the fitful struggles of the Aramaeans against superior force. These were all renewed again in the very next reign. He had, however, settled the question that there could be no strong Aramaean state in that valley. The Aramaean people must go elsewhere to make their contribution to history and civilization.
The time had come, therefore, when all the lands north, east, and west as far as the Euphrates which had paid tribute to Tiglath Pileser I were again paying it regularly to Asshurnazirpal. There were no more of these states left to tranquilize. Most of them had been dealt with cruelly, many had been devastated, and thousands of their inhabitants butchered with all the accompaniments of oriental savagery. These communities had not been added regularly to the empire to be governed by satraps or officers making regular reports to the king in Assyria and receiving instructions from him. If such had been the plan, the peoples who paid tribute would have been receiving some sort of return in social order and royal direction for the heavy tribute paid. They were receiving nothing in return. They had to look to themselves for protection against the forays of barbarians who inhabited the mountain passes about them. Such a status was not likely to be permanent. While their punishment had been too severe for them to venture again to excite the wrath of such a monarch, they might nourish their wrath and hope for a better day. Perhaps the next Assyrian king might be a weak man, and they would be able to throw off the yoke in his day. Meantime, while Asshur Nazir Pal held the reins of government, it would be well to pay the tribute and give no excuse for a raid. But with this quiescence of the tributary states the employment of his army became a serious question with Asshur Nazir Pal. He had made a fighting machine such as had not been known before. His men had been trained in adversity, toughened by hard marches, and brutalized by scenes of blood and fire. He could not disband it, for at once the tribute-paying states, unterrified by it, would throw off their dependence and the influx of gold would cease. He could not hold it in idleness, for such an aggregation of brutal passions would inflame the commonwealth and disturb the peace. The army would also soon lose its efficiency if unemployed, for the elaborate modern systems of drill for the conserving of health and the promotion of discipline were unknown. It is plain that these men must fight somewhere; but where should it be, and for what ulterior purpose? Ambition might answer to the king, for conquest and the extension of Assyrian territory, and greed might urge to further tribute getting, and commercial enterprise might clamor for the reopening of old lines of trade to the west through the territory of the Aramaeans. It was this last which prevailed, though the two former ideas had their influence and their share in the decision.
It was in the month of April of the year 876 that Asshur Nazir Pal began the great westward movement in which all his highest endeavors were to culminate. All else had been but preparation. The first part of his march, across the great Mesopotamian valley, was little else than a triumphal progress. Every one of the Aramaeans settlements on or near his route to the Euphrates sent costly tribute, consisting of chariots, horses, silver, gold, lead, and copper, most of which must be sent back to Calah, while the king marched on. When the Euphrates was reached it was crossed at its flood, in boats made of the skins of animals, and the city of Carchemish was entered. The glory of the city had departed. Once the capital of the great Hittite empire, now broken in power, it was now merely the center of a small state, of which Sangara was ruler. His policy was direct and simple. He was willing to pay down the sum of twenty talents of silver, one hundred talents of copper, two hundred and fifty talents of iron, along with chains and beads of gold and much other treasure, if he were simply let alone. Though deprived of its political influence, Carchemish was now an important commercial city. War could only destroy its commerce, and success against the renowned Assyrian conqueror was doubtful, if not absolutely impossible. National pride counted for nothing. The primary desire was to get the Assyrians out of the country as soon as possible; and well might they pay a heavy tribute to gain so great a boon as that. Neighboring states, fearing invasion and plunder, likewise sent tribute, and the king could move on farther westward. Crossing the river Apre (modern Afrin) after a short march, Asshur Nazir Pal came into the territory of another small state, called Patin, which was apparently Aramaean or partially so. The capital of the state was Kunulua, and the ruler was Lubarna, whose territory extended from the Apre to the Orontes, and thence over the mountain ridges to the sea near Eleutheros, with northern and southern limits not now definable. It was a rich and fertile country, and might well excite the cupidity of the Assyrian army. Lubarna offered no resistance to the invader, but was anxious only to expedite his progress, with presents truly regal in amount and in magnificence. The march was then southward across the Orontes to the city of Aribua, located near the Sangura River, which was a southerly outpost of Lubarna. Though Lubarna had so thoroughly submitted to the Assyrians in hope of getting them out of the country, Aribua was made an Assyrian outpost, colonists settled in it, and grain and straw, harvested by force in the lands of the Lukhuti, were stored in it. Whether the town was to become the capital of an Assyrian province or merely a base of supplies for possible hostile operations does not appear. And now there was no one to oppose the king's march north and west into the green slopes of the Lebanon. From beneath the historic cedars an Assyrian king again looked out over the Mediterranean, and with far greater hopes of securing a foothold there than any of his predecessors had ever had, whether Assyrian or Babylonian.
While this invasion was in some measure a raid for booty, it was more powerfully conceived and better disciplined than the others had been. When Sargon I had marched hither he passed through lands scantily populated with peoples, with whom he had little contact. There was no possibility of making an empire out of Babylonia and a province on the far western sea, with vast uncontrolled territories between. When Tiglath Pileser I came out to the same sea he had left great territories and populous communities between him and the homeland, and, like the early Babylonian, there could be no hope of making an empire out of two lands so widely separated. But Asshurnazirpal had measurably changed the situation. He did not, it is true, actually rule the entire territory from the Lower Zab and its overhanging hills to the Lebanon, but he had broken its spirit, and was received as its conqueror. In many places rule was exercised by governors, both native and Assyrian, whom he had appointed. In yet others there were towns peopled by Assyrian colonists, stored with Assyrian provisions, and defended by massive walls of Assyrian construction. The situation was indeed changed, and the result of this invasion might well be different. Asshurnazirpal knew the conditions with which he was confronted, and fully appreciated the opportunity for making a great empire. The Mediterranean was even then the basin upon which touched the greatest empire of the world; and the Egyptians understood the value of their geographical situation. The Phoenicians were already a powerful commercial people. The Hebrews formed an important center of influence in Canaan. What relation should Assyria come to sustain to these powers of antiquity? An augury of the answer to that question came as Asshur Nazir Pal halted on the Lebanon. The people of Tyre, of Sidon, of Tripolis, and of Arvad sent splendid gifts, a fatal blunder, for it was a confession of weakness, which would be noted and remembered by the Assyrians. It was a recognition of the power of the Assyrian arms, of which almost every Assyrian king boasts in the stereotyped phrase: "By the might of the terrible arms; and the Assyrians would bring forth yet greater daring as they remembered that the commercial rulers of the west feared their power too greatly to test it. And, worst of all, it was a confession to the world that these western peoples, who fronted the Mediterranean cared more for the profits of their commerce than for freedom. We shall see very shortly the results of this sending of gifts to the Assyrian king. Asshurnazirpal had achieved his present purpose in this direction. He did not go down to Tyre or Sidon to look upon the weaklings who paid tribute without seeing his arms, but turned northward into the Amanus mountains on an errand of peace. Here he cut cedar, cypress, and juniper trees and sent the logs off to Assyria. Somewhere else in the same district he cut other trees, called mekhri trees, which seem to have been numerous enough to give their name to the country in which they were found. These were taken back to Nineveh and offered to Ishtar, the lady of Nineveh.
So ended, in the peaceable gathering of building materials, a remarkable campaign. Asshur Nazir Pal had succeeded brilliantly where his predecessors had failed. But as we look back over the entire campaign we can discern significant silence concerning one western people. There is no allusion to Damascus or to any of its tributary states. They were all left undisturbed, and a glance at the map reveals how carefully the Assyrian army had avoided even their outposts. To have attacked that solidly intrenched state would have been certain disaster, and Asshurnazirpal was wisely instructed in passing it by. Years must elapse before the Assyrians should dare attack it.
The campaign was noteworthy also in that there had been almost no savagery, no butchering of men, scarcely any ruthless destruction of cities. This better state of war was of course due to no change of method on the part of Asshur Nazir Pal, but simply to the almost entire absence of resistance. The former campaigns had terrified the world, and the fruits of severity were an easy conquest and the development of the peaceful art of building. The burning of cities and the slaughter of men were resumed in 867 in a small campaign through the lands of Kummukh, Qurkhi, and the oft-plundered country about Mount Masius. It was emphatically a campaign of tribute collecting, and the only matters of any political consequence were the appointment of an Assyrian governor over the land of Qurkhi and the carrying of about three thousand captives into Assyria. Such a leavening as that might influence the Assyrian people.
These renewed ravages ended the wars of Asshur Nazir Pal; the remainder of his reign was devoted to works of peace. But it would be a mistake to suppose that campaigning had occupied his entire attention during his reign, for undoubtedly the two chief works of his reign were executed partially during the very period when he was most busy with tribute collecting. These works were the rebuilding of the city of Calah and the construction of a canal. The former was necessary because the city which Shalmaneser I had built had been deserted during the period when Asshur was again the capital, and a short period of desertion always meant ruin to Assyrian buildings. Only the outer surface of its thick walls was built of burnt brick, the inner filling being composed of unburnt brick merely, so that a trifling leak in the roof transformed this interior into a mass of clay, speedily causing the walls to spring. Judging from the hundreds of references in Assyrian literature to the restoration of walls and buildings, it may justly be thought that the Assyrians were especially bad roof builders. Indeed their advance in constructive skill never kept pace with their progress in the arts of decoration. It is this anomaly which has left us without any standing buildings in Assyria, while vast temples still remain in Egypt. It is, of course, to be observed that Assyrian construction would doubtless have shown a different development had stone been abundant as a building material. As an offset to this, however, it must be remembered that brick is one of the most durable of materials when properly baked and laid, and that the Assyrians knew how to bake properly is evidenced by their clay books, which have survived fire and breakage and wet during the crash and ruin of the centuries. Besides the general reconstruction of Calah, Asshur Nazir Pal built himself a great palace, covering a space one hundred and thirty-one yards in length and one hundred and nine in breadth, which remained a royal residence for centuries. Its massive ruins have been unearthed at Nimrod, being the northwestern one of the three there discovered. His second great work was the construction, or reconstruction, of an aqueduct to bring an abundant supply of water to the city from the Lower Zab. The river bank was pierced near the modern Negub, and the water first conveyed through a rock tunnel and then by an open canal to the great terrace. Its course was lined with palms, with various fruit trees, and with vineyards, and well was it named Babelat khigal—the "bringer of fruitfulness".
In the year 860 BC the reign of Asshur Nazir Pal ended in peace. He had wrought great things for Assyrian power in the world, and the empire as he left it was greater actually and potentially than it had ever been before. Of the man himself the world can have no pleasant memories. No king like him in ferocity had arisen before him, and in Assyria at least he was followed by none altogether his equal. One searches the records of his reign and finds seldom anything more than catalogues of savage and relentless deeds. So rarely indeed does a work of mercy or peace brighten the record that it is a relief to turn the page.