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The Design and Decoration of Neo-Assyrian Public Buildings



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Reade, Julian Edgeworth 


A. Scope and Sources of Dissertation: The title of this dissertation indicates its approximate scope, but could have been extended to paragraph length. The buildings discussed are those constructed, largely according to distinctive Assyrian traditions, in the central area of the empire, east of the Euphrates and north of Jebel Hamrin; foreign traditions, except when they influence Assyrian practice, have not been considered, but the earlier history of those Assyrian buildings which were founded long before the ninth century, and either survived into it or are directly relevant to later developments, has been discussed. We deal only with sites that have been excavated or identified, and we are concerned, throughout, with ground-plans and appearances, not with technical details of construction. We have also concentrated on problems, rather than on matters which are well understood. Primary sources employed here are the building inscriptions of the Assyrian kings. These sometimes exaggerate, but must generally be taken at their word. We have relied for translations almost entirely on the work of qualified assyriologists; it is usually possible to check one scholar's translations against another's, but we cannot and do not discuss the grammar. It has occasionally been possible to suggest new meanings for particular words. Other primary sources are photographs of objects such as the Assyrian sculptures; there are also, slightly less trustworthy but adequate for our purposes, the drawings made by nineteenth-century excavators of sculptures which are now lost. Many of these photographs and drawings have been published, often with a minimal text, and they have been used freely; numerous photographs of unpublished objeots, and drawings deriving from the Royal Asiatic Society, have also been at my disposal, but it has not been practicable to refer to unpublished material in the British Museum and at Istanbul. Our comments on the buildings at Kalhu, Nineveh, and Rimah embody personal observations, some unpublished. Excavation reports mix primary evidence and secondary deductions and the distinction, for reasons any excavator will appreciate, is not always clear. We have necessarily relied an excavation reports for much basic information, but a critical approach has been essential. Original suggestions, based on correlations of the archaeological and the textual evidence, concern chiefly the buildings at Nineveh, and some of those at Ashur and Kalhu. Some of the matters discussed in chapters VI-IX are common knowledge but previous scholars have dealt with them in a more general way or concentrated on particular details; this entire section is regarded as essentially original, but some qualifications may be made. Chapter VI, largely in its present form, has been available since 1964, some of its conclusions have been published, and a slightly shorter version of it appeared in a previous (1967) version of this dissertation; we understand that Mr. G. Turner, working independently, reached somewhat similar conclusions in an M.A. 'thesis presented at London in 1967; this has not been consulted, but references to an article by Mr. Turner in Iraq XXX (1968) have been included. Chapter VII includes many observations frequently made in histories of Assyrian art; innovations are principally found in sections F and I. Chapter VIII is concerned not with slab-sequences or aesthetic judgements, but with the ways in which Assyrian compositions, extending over several panels or slabs, in fact developed, how they were arranged and divided, and how therefore they should be interpreted; there is little previous work on this subject. Chapter IX collects together the relevant matter from previous chapters, and is again largely original.






Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
British Scool of Archaeology in Iraq; C. H. W. Johns Memorial Studentship; Stephen Glanville Memorial Award (King's College); Honourable Company of Grocers.