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Assur, Iraq

ASSUR (Heb. אַשּׁוּר, Ashur), city situated on the west bank of the Tigris about two-thirds of the way between the confluence of the Great and Little Zab rivers; in the province of Mosul in northern Iraq. The ancient ruins are known as Qalʿat Sharqāt, which means "the Fortress of the Sharqātis." The Sharqātis are a local Arab tribe which, thanks to the experience acquired at this site, subsequently provided skilled labor for other excavations in the region. Reports about this imposing site overlooking the Tigris were brought back to the West by travelers early in the 19th century. Excavations were first undertaken by several British expeditions between 1847 and 1880 under the direction of A.H. Layard and H. Rassam, whose publications helped to arouse European interest in Assyriology. From 1903 to 1914 the site was systematically excavated by W.H. Andrae for the Deutsche Orientgesellschaft. That organization's reports provided a running account of the finds and furnished the definitive report on the site (W.H. Andrae, Anu-Adad-Temple in Assur, 1909). The statement in Genesis 2:14 that the river Tigris flows "east of Assur" is assumed by some to mean the city Assur rather than the country Assyria, since the Tigris actually passes west of the Assyrian cities named in Genesis 10:11–12. But the phrase may mean, rather, "in the eastern part of Assyria," since Assyria was often regarded as extending westward practically, or even actually, to the Euphrates (cf. Isa. 7:20; 8:7; 11:15–16).


B. Mazar, in: EM, 1 (1965), 754–60 (incl. bibl.).

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.