Thursday, May 17, 2012

Librarian-Conqueror @ CSP library

You would probably not think that one of the world's first librarians was also the ruler of the world's then-Superpower.  

But such is the case!

Here are some interesting clips from the Wikipedia article on this cruel (the Assyrians were known for this) yet cultured man, Ashurbanipal (685 BC – c. 627 BC), evidently known in the Bible as Asenappar:
"He established the first systematically organized library in the ancient Middle East,[3] the Library of Ashurbanipal, which survives in part today at Nineveh

....He was one of the few kings who could read the cuneiform script in Akkadian and Sumerian, and claimed that he even read texts from before the great flood.... During his reign he collected cuneiform texts from all over Mesopotamia, and especially Babylonia, in the library in Nineveh....[19]

....The Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh is perhaps the most compelling discovery in the Ancient Near East. There have been over 30,000 clay tablets uncovered in Ashurbanipal’s library,[20] providing archaeologists with an amazing wealth of Mesopotamian literary, religious and administrative work. Among the findings was the Enuma Elish, also known as the Epic of Creation,[21] which depicts a traditional Babylonian view of creation.... Also found in Nineveh, The Epic of Gilgamesh[22]

....The library also included hymns and prayers, medical, mathematical, ritual, divinatory and astrological texts, alongside all sorts of administrative documents, letters and contracts. The discovery of these tablets in the mid-nineteenth century by Hormuzd Raasam provided the modern world its first detailed glimpse of the languages and literature of ancient Mesopotamia. Ashurbanipal had a fascination with the past, and during his forty-two year reign he sponsored the collection and copying of older texts for his library at Nineveh.[23]

....Other genres found during excavations included standard lists used by scribes and scholars, word lists, bilingual vocabularies, lists of signs and synonyms, lists of medical diagnoses, astronomic/astrological texts. The scribal texts proved to be very helpful in deciphering cuneiform.[19]
Concordia has a relief of Ashurbanipal, who is on a lion-hunt, that will be mounted in the basement of the library - we hope in the near future.  It closely resembles the picture below:

Image credits: ,, and

Please note: the library does not advise citing Wikipedia in scholarly papers!