Nineveh was the famous capital of ancient Assyrian and one of the mightiest cities of all antiquity. It is situated on the east bank of the Tigris River just opposite modern Mosul. According to the Scriptures Nimrod was the founder of Nineveh.
11 "From that land he (Nimrod) went to Assyria and built Nineveh."
The ancient Hebrew prophets foretold of Nineveh’s destruction and utter desolation:
"Though Nineveh of old was like a pool of water, Now they flee away. 'Halt! Halt!" they cry; But no one turns back. Take spoil of silver! Take spoil of gold! There is no end of treasure, Or wealth of every desirable prize. She is empty, desolate, and waste! The heart melts, and the knees shake; Much pain is in every side, And all their faces are drained of color."
In fact Nineveh was so laid waste that it was considered a total myth of the Bible throughout most of the recent centuries, that is until it was discovered by Sir Austen Layard in the nineteenth century. The site of ancient Nineveh was extensively excavated and its occupational levels reach far back to the beginning of civilization.
The city itself, with the walls around it, was 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. It is interesting that the prophet Jonah described the "great city" of Nineveh as a "3 days journey" across, obviously referring to the whole territory as does other parts of the Bible. He must have passed through several cities at the time.
After examining the pottery that was excavated it is clear that Nineveh was a Sumerian city. It is mentioned in the cuneiform records of rulers such as Gudea (2100 B.C.) and Hammurapi (1700 B.C.). At Nineveh was the royal palace of Sargon II (722-702 B.C.) and he made it the capital of his empire. King Sennacherib (704-681 B.C.) made the city spectacular in his day (2 Kings 19:36) and built the worlds oldest aqueduct and a massive wall fifty feet high around the city. In 612 B.C. the armies of the Babylonians and Medes under Nabopolassar attempted to bring down the wall and after 3 months they almost gave up and God Himself caused a flood to break the walls and give them the victory. The Assyrian Empire finally came to an end in August, 612 B.C. as predicted by the prophet Nahum of the "bloody city."
The discoveries at the site of ancient Nineveh were breathtaking. Austen Henry Layard excavated the Kuyunjik Mound (Nineveh) in 1847, unearthing the magnificent royal residence of king Sennacherib in 1849 with its 71 rooms and the incredible sculptured walls. He also unearthed the palace and famous library of Ashurbanipal with its 22,000 inscribed clay tablets . The study of the archaeology of Nineveh reveals the wealth and glory of ancient Assyria under kings such as Esarhaddon (681-669 B.C.) and Ashurbanipal (669-626 B.C.).
The discoveries of ancient Nineveh have contributed a multitude of extra-biblical material that confirms that the Bible is indeed a book of history.
"Heaven and earth will pass away but My Word will abide forever."