Iraq to Revive and Rebuild the Great Assyrian Library of Ashurbanipal

By: Ashur Sada

History can speak for itself but sometimes it needs more than that to stay alive and relevant. Assyrian history is rich, deep and popular enough to survive on its own but efforts by current historians, archaeologists and Assyriologists are still needed to explore, understand and appreciate its value even more.

Having said that, recent news of Iraq’s renewed effort to revive the great library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal was a welcome news for Assyrians and those interested in their culture worldwide.

The plan is build a library that mimics the old design but in a much larger form. In fact, the building is already finished, at the campus of the university of Mosul (the city where the former Assyrian empire once stood.) The library, as the picture below shows, has a unique design that took into consideration the buildings and designs of the ancient Assyrian culture.

The new building for the revived library of Ashurbanipal in Mosul, Iraq
The Ashurbanipal library was the first of its kind in history. The king collected as many clay tablets, containing various sources of knowledge, in this library. It had thousands upon thousands of pieces, a lot of which are housed at the London and various other museums around the world.  England and other countries around the world have in fact agreed to lend Iraq some of the pieces taken from this library as well as digital copies of the artifacts.

Also of significance, the project will be the biggest of its kind in the entire Arab world, both in design and resources.

We have been seeing a lot of projects and initiatives recently that bring more attention back to the contributions of the Assyrian civilization to the world, including this one to revive the Ashurbanipal library, the completion of an Assyrian dictionary that took 90 years to finish, the discovery of very important Assyrian tablets in Southeast Turkey and many more.  These important projects and discoveries, with the help of the internet and social media, will help in reminding the world about just how great the Assyrian civilization really was.

Assyria wasn’t just a military power and empire that once ruled the world for close to half a millennium.  Their other scientific, cultural and educational contributions were even more important in shaping and developing our world for the last 3,000 years.  While kings of the time only cared about annihilating each other and setting a legacy for themselves, the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal had other interests that were ahead of his time: build a library to house as much knowledge possible to advance knowledge and wisdom. He pretty much lay the foundation for the modern knowledge base, the printing press and most recently, the internet!

We appreciate the effort by Iraqi scholars and academics to pursue this project and I can assure them that such endeavors will bring Iraq back to the the front of the international community and restore its image as a cradle of civilizations.

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