Mesopotamia / Kings /
Assyria / Kings /
When his father Esarhaddon died, he left Ashurbanipal a kingdom that stretched from northern Egypt to Persia, but he also made his brother king of Babylonia. Ashurbanipal ruled his country from Nineveh.
Ashurbanipal is remembered as one of the most cultured rulers in the Mesopotamian region: He was literate in both Sumerian and old Akkadian scripts uncommon for rulers of the epoch and he supported the establishment of the first systematically organized library in the Middle East. This library contained tens of thousands of works, in the shape of tablets. Most were pre-scientific works trying to explain events in the world, but some works were even of scientific nature. There were also many religious texts (like the Gilgamesh), but even folk tales were admitted into the library.
From monumental presentations of Ashurbanipal, we see him in situations of hunting, archery and horseriding, but this could be propaganda for his qualities and abilities.
From contemporary accounts like his autobiographical works and correspondence we hear of a king who was very active in ruling, often dealing with detailed questions. He was personally involved in the appointments of governors and prefects, and he functioned as the real general contractor when building state houses and structures.
His queen was Ashur-sharrat, and he had his sons Ashur-etel-ilani and Sin-shar-ishkun made coregents of Assyria and Babylonia.
After Ashurbanipal the Assyrian kingdom started to fall apart, but this is not considered to be his fault. It was not weakness inside Assyria, but continuous attacks from hostile neighbours, that brought it down.
Ashurbanipal is most likely a central part of the legendary construction of alleged king Sardanapalus.
Confused? Try to find a good place to start learning about Mesopotamia in
Where to begin?