Asshur (Assur) was the first capital of ancient Assyria. In fact the name "Assyria" is a derivative of the name "Asshur," and is used in ancient literature as a name for a god, a city, and a territory. The modern name of the site of ancient Asshur is Qala’at Sherqat and it is located on a hill which overlooks the Tigris River about 25 miles south of Tell Hassuna. Any trade that passed north south east or west usually passed through this ancient city.
The Ebla Tablets discovered in Syria reveal an enormous amount of the earliest history of this city. Austen Henry Layard began archaeological excavations at this site in 1847 which continue to this day. Many discoveries relating to the goddess Ishtar have been uncovered, along with numerous inscriptions, tablets, and pottery. Layard’s work unearthed many finds including a black basalt statue with an inscription from Shalmaneser III. In 1853 an assistant of Layard (Rassam) discovered the Rassam Cylinder which recorded that the great Ziggurat was erected in 1820 B.C. and was rebuilt by Tiglath-pileser I around 1110 B.C.). There were also rows of steles discovered of Assyrian kings from Adad-nirari I to Ashurbanipal, alomg with the tombs and sarcophagi of other kings.
King Sargon II moved the capital of Assyria from Asshur to Calah, then to Nineveh, and then to Khorsabad.
Also see Archaeological Discoveries
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