“Defective”, “disorganised”, and “somewhat raw”? Reassessing the structure of the Ninurta Temple annals of Ashurnasirpal II

Ben Dewar – University of Birmingham

The Annals of Ashurnasirpal II from the Ninurta Temple at Kalḫu are an unusual example of an Assyrian royal inscription. Rather than possessing a tripartite structure consisting of titles and epithets, campaign accounts, and building account, the text is a mixture of the annalistic and ͞display͟ or ͞summary͟ styles of Assyrian inscription, with the campaign accounts interrupted by a summary section with an account of the construction of the Ninurta Temple. The result of this is that the text has been characterised in previous scholarship as raw, unrefined, and lacking in proper editing. This paper will examine the Annals in light of other, later inscriptions which contain building accounts in unusual positions within their structures. It will also take into account some theoretical considerations on the nature of narrative and its place within historiographical texts. I will argue that the building account of the Ninurta Temple was deliberately placed so as to divide the campaign accounts into pre- and post-building account sections. The more impressive achievements of the post-building account section are deliberately placed into a single, cohesive sequence of events which result from the construction of the Ninurta Temple. In doing this, Ashurnasirpal and his scribes emphasised the importance of this building to the king’s successful reign, and therefore to the reigns of his successors, should they properly maintain it.