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Archaeological Sites in Mesopotamia - Assyria, Babylon & Persia (Modern Iraq & Iran)

Julian Spriggs M.A.

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Israel Archaeological Sites Mesopotamian Archaeological Sites
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Mesopotamian archaeological sites

This page shows the location of the major cities of the Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian empires. These are located in the modern nations of Iraq and Iran.

For each location, there is a brief description of the city and its place in history. For each location there are a number of links. The first is to the Wikipedia page. There are two links to Google maps, one showing the general geographical location, and the other showing an aerial view of the archaeological site, if it has been excavated. Many of these sites are UNESCO World Heritage sites, so the link to these is included.

The following locations are described. The name of each location is a link to information about the site further down the page.

Assur (Assyria)
Balawat (Assyria)
Calah or Nimrud (Assyria)
Carchemish (Hittite)
Ecbatana (Persia)
Khorsabad (Assyria)
Nineveh (Assyria)
Pasargadae (Persia)
Persepolis (Persia)
Susa (Persia)
Ur (Babylon)

Assyrian Empire

1. Assur

Assur was the capital of the Old Assyrian Empire during the second millennium BC, until it was conquered by the Babylonians under Hammurabi. During the neo-Assyrian Empire the capital was moved to other cities, first of all to Calah, then to Nineveh. The ruins of Assur are on the west bank of the River Tigris about 30km (20 miles) south of Mosul in Iraq, and are now a UNESCO World Heritage site, but have been damaged during the recent conflicts.

Wikipedia Road map View of site UNESCO

2. Calah or Nimrud

This was the site of the palace of Ashurnasirpal II (883 - 859 BC), originally discovered in 1845 by Henry Austin Layard, who is known as the father of Assyriology. It is situated approximately 30km (20 miles) south of the Iraqi city of Mosul. Many of the wall panels are now displayed in the British Museum in London.

Wikipedia Road map View of site

3. Khorsabad

Khorsabad is about 15km (10 miles) north-east of Mosul, Iraq. The palace was built by Sargon II to commemorate his military conquests. The old capital of Calah, or Nimrud, remained a military centre.

Wikipedia Road map View of site

4. Nineveh

Nineveh was the ancient capital of Assyria. It lies within the modern city of Mosul in northern Iraq. Sennacherib restored the capital back to Nineveh, and built himself a palace here.

Wikipedia Road map View of site

5. Balawat

Balawat was a smaller town north-east of Nimrud (Calah). It is the site of the ancient Assyrian city of Imgur-Enlil, meaning 'Enlil agreed'. The city was founded by Ashurnasirpal II, with construction continuing under Shalmaneser III.

The reconstructed gates from a royal building built by Shalmaneser III in 845 BC in Balawat are displayed in the British Museum. The bronze bands are decorated with scenes of battle, including the Battle of Qarqar.

Wikipedia Road map View of site


Carchemish was the location of a significant battle in 605 BC, which is mentioned several times in the OT. It marked a change in the dominant world power from Egypt to Babylon, when Neco of Egypt was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Following this battle Judah came under the control of Babylon.

Jeremiah used this battle to date his prophetic word to Egypt, "Concerning Egypt, about the army of Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates at Carchemish and which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah" (Jer 46:2). King Josiah confronted the Egyptian army on its way to Carchemish, and was killed at the Battle of Megiddo, even though Neco stated that he was not at war with Judah (2 Chr 35:20-24).

In the 13th century BC Carchemish had been an important Hittite centre, and continued to be occupied by the Hittites until the final remnant of that empire was wiped out in 605 BC. The gold decorations of the last king of the Hittites is displayed in the British Museum.

The site of Carchemish is on the west bank of the River Euphrates on the Turkish side of the border between the modern nations of Turkey and Syria, near the Turkish town of Karkamis.

Wikipedia Road map View of site

Babylonian Empire

1. Babylon

The ancient city of Babylon was built on both sides of the River Euphrates.

It became the capital of the neo-Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar, and the location of the exile of the Jews from Judah (2 Kg 25, 2 Chr 36). The prophet Daniel became prominent in the court of Babylon.

The ruins of Babylon are near the Iraqi town of Hillah, about 85 km (53 miles) south of Baghdad.

Wikipedia Road map View of site UNESCO

2. Ur

Ur was a major city of the Sumerian empire. The ruins of Ur are near the town of Nassriya in Iraq, west of the River Euphrates. Originally situated at the top of the Persian Gulf and an important port, because of silting, it is now well inland. Ur gradually declined in importance and was replaced by Babylon as the major Sumerian city. Ur was the birthplace of Abraham (Gen 11:31).

The ancient city of Ur was excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley in 1923. There are many artifacts from Ur displayed in the British Museum which show the advanced civilisation that existed at that time.

Wikipedia Road map View of site

Persian Empire

1. Ecbatana

Ecbatana was the capital of Media located in the modern Iranian town of Hamedan.

King Darius looked in the archives of Ecbatana to find the decree of Cyrus, as described by Ezra, "Then King Darius made a decree, and they searched the archives where the documents were stored in Babylon. But it was in Ecbatana, the capital of the province of Media, that a scroll was found on which this was written: 'A record. In the first year of his reign, King Cyrus issued a decree: Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt ...'" (Ezra 6:1-3).

Wikipedia Road map View of site

2. Susa

Susa is an ancient city in the lower Zagros Mountains about 250 km (160 miles) east of the Tigris, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers in Iran. Susa was the capital of Elam and the Achaemenid Empire, and remained a strategic centre during the Parthian periods.

The site currently consists of three archaeological mounds, covering an area of around one square kilometre. The modern Iranian town of Shush is located on the site of ancient Susa.

Susa was the site of the palace of Ahasuerus, the Persian king who married Esther. "This happened in the days of Ahasuerus, the same Ahasuerus who ruled over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia. In those days when King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in the citadel of Susa, in the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his officials and ministers." (Esther 1:1-3).

Wikipedia Road map View of site UNESCO

3. Pasargadae

Pasargadae was the first capital city of the Persian (Achaemenid) Empire under Cyrus the Great (559–530 BC), who ordered its construction near the site of his victory over King Astyages of Media in 550 BC. The city remained the Achaemenid capital until Darius moved it to Persepolis. It is situated about 90 km (56 miles) north-east of the modern city of Shiraz. One of the most important monuments remaining is the tomb of Cyrus, which is inscribed, "Passer-by, I am Cyrus, who gave the Persians an empire, and was king of Asia. Grudge me not therefore this monument."

Wikipedia Road map View of site UNESCO

4. Persepolis

The city of Persepolis was built by King Darius I of Persia (522 – 486 BC) as a new capital city to replace Pasargadae, which had been built by Cyrus the Great. It remained the capital of the Persian empire until it was captured and burned by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. It is situated about 60 km (37 miles) north-east of the city of Shiraz, and about 30 km (19 miles) south-west of the ruins of Pasargadae.

Wikipedia Road map View of site UNESCO

Related articles

Israel Archaeological Sites Mesopotamian Archaeological Sites
Virtual Missionary Journeys Virtual Seven Churches
Location Search

The Bible

Pages which look at issues relevant to the whole Bible, such as the Canon of Scripture, as well as doctrinal and theological issues. There are also pages about the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and 'lost books' of the Old Testament.

Also included are lists of the quotations of the OT in the NT, and passages of the OT quoted in the NT.

Why These 66 Books?
Books in the Hebrew Scriptures
Quotations in NT From OT
OT Passages Quoted in NT
History of the English Bible
Twelve Books of the Apocrypha
The Pseudepigrapha - False Writings
Lost Books Referenced in OT

Old Testament Overview

This is a series of six pages which give a historical overview through the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, showing where each OT book fits into the history of Israel.

OT 1: Creation and Patriarchs
OT 2: Exodus and Wilderness
OT 3: Conquest and Monarchy
OT 4: Divided kingdom and Exile
OT 5: Return from Exile
OT 6: 400 Silent Years

New Testament Overview

This is a series of five pages which give a historical overview through the New Testament, focusing on the Ministry of Jesus, Paul's missionary journeys, and the later first century. Again, it shows where each book of the NT fits into the history of the first century.

NT 1: Life and Ministry of Jesus
NT 2: Birth of the Church
NT 3: Paul's Missionary Journeys
NT 4: Paul's Imprisonment
NT 5: John and Later NT

Introductions to Old Testament Books

This is an almost complete collection of introductions to each of the books in the Old Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Genesis Exodus Leviticus
Numbers Deuteronomy

Joshua Judges Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel 1 & 2 Kings Chronicles
Ezra & Nehemiah Esther

Job Psalms Proverbs

Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations
Ezekiel Daniel

Hosea Joel Amos
Obadiah Jonah Micah
Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah
Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Introductions to New Testament Books

This is a collection of introductions to each of the 27 books in the New Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Matthew's Gospel Mark's Gospel Luke's Gospel
John's Gospel

Book of Acts

Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Galatians Ephesians Philippians
Colossians 1 & 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy
2 Timothy Titus Philemon

Hebrews James 1 Peter
2 Peter 1 John 2 & 3 John


Old Testament History

Information about the different nations surrounding Israel, and other articles concerning Old Testament history and the inter-testamental period.

Canaanite Religion
Israel's Enemies During the Conquest
Syria / Aram
The Assyrian Empire
Babylon and its History
The Persian Empire
The Greek Empire
The 400 Silent Years
The Ptolemies and Seleucids
Antiochus IV - Epiphanes

Old Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for OT studies. These include a list of the people named in the OT and confirmed by archaeology. There are also pages to convert the different units of measure in the OT, such as the talent, cubit and ephah into modern units.

More theological topics include warfare in the ancient world, the Holy Spirit in the OT, and types of Jesus in the OT.

OT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Jewish Calendar
The Importance of Paradox
Talent Converter (weights)
Cubit Converter (lengths)
OT People Search
Ephah Converter (volumes)
Holy War in the Ancient World
The Holy Spirit in the OT
Types of Jesus in the OT

Studies in the Pentateuch (Gen - Deut)

A series of articles covering studies in the five books of Moses. Studies in the Book of Genesis look at the historical nature of the early chapters of Genesis, the Tower of Babel and the Table of the Nations.

There are also pages about covenants, the sacrifices and offerings, the Jewish festivals and the tabernacle, as well as the issue of tithing.

Are chapters 1-11 of Genesis historical?
Chronology of the Flood
Genealogies of the Patriarchs
Table of the Nations (Gen 10)
Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9)

Authorship of the Pentateuch
Chronology of the Wilderness Years
Names of God in the OT
Covenants in the OT
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle and its Theology
Sacrifices and Offerings
The Jewish Festivals
Balaam and Balak
Highlights from Deuteronomy
Overview of Deuteronomy

Studies in the Old Testament History Books (Josh - Esther)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the history books. These include a list of the dates of the kings of Israel and Judah, a summary of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and studies of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah.

There are also pages describing some of the historical events of the period, including the Syro-Ephraimite War, and the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 BC.

Dates of the Kings of Judah and Israel
King Solomon
The Kings of Israel
King Jeroboam I of Israel
The Syro-Ephraimite War (735 BC)
Sennacherib's Invasion of Judah (701 BC)
King Josiah of Judah
Differences Between Kings and Chronicles
Chronology of the post-exilic period

Studies in the Old Testament Prophets (Is - Mal)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the OT prophets. These include a page looking at the way the prophets look ahead into their future, a page looking at the question of whether Satan is a fallen angel, and a page studying the seventy weeks of Daniel.

There are also a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of two of the books:
Isaiah (13 pages) and Daniel (10 pages).

Prophets and the Future
The Call of Jeremiah (Jer 1)
The Fall of Satan? (Is 14, Ezek 28)
Daniel Commentary (10 pages)
Isaiah Commentary (13 pages)
Formation of the Book of Jeremiah

Daniel's Seventy Weeks (Dan 9:24-27)

New Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for NT studies. These include a list of the people in the NT confirmed by archaeology.

More theological topics include the Kingdom of God and the Coming of Christ.

NT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Kingdom of God / Heaven
Parousia (Coming of Christ)
The Importance of Paradox

Studies in the Four Gospels (Matt - John)

A series of articles covering various studies in the four gospels. These include a list of the unique passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels and helpful information about the parables and how to interpret them.

Some articles look at the life and ministry of Jesus, including his genealogy, birth narratives, transfiguration, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the seating arrangements at the Last Supper.

More theological topics include the teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and whether John the Baptist fulfilled the predictions of the coming of Elijah.

Unique Passages in the Synoptic Gospels
The SynopticProblem
Genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1)
Birth Narratives of Jesus
Understanding the Parables
Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration
Was John the Baptist Elijah?
The Triumphal Entry
The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13)
Important themes in John's Gospel
John's Gospel Prologue (John 1)
Jesus Fulfilling Jewish Festivals
Reclining at Table at the Last Supper
The Holy Spirit as the Paraclete

Studies in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Letters

A series of articles covering various studies in the Book of Acts and the Letters, including Paul's letters. These include a page studying the messages given by the apostles in the Book of Acts, and the information about the financial collection that Paul made during his third missionary journey. More theological topics include Paul's teaching on Jesus as the last Adam, and descriptions of the church such as the body of Christ and the temple, as well as a look at redemption and the issue of fallen angels.

There are a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of five of the books:
Romans (7 pages), 1 Corinthians (7 pages), Galatians (3 pages), Philemon (1 page) and Hebrews (7 pages)

Apostolic Messages in the Book of Acts
Paul and His Apostleship
Collection for the Saints
The Church Described as a Temple
Church as the Body of Christ
Jesus as the Last Adam
Food Offered to Idols
Paul's Teaching on Headcoverings
Who are the Fallen Angels
The Meaning of Redemption
What is the Church?
Paul and the Greek Games

Romans Commentary (7 pages)

1 Corinthians Commentary (7 pages)

Galatians Commentary (3 pages)

Philemon Commentary (1 page)

Hebrews Commentary (7 pages)

Studies in the Book of Revelation

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the study of the Book of Revelation and topics concerning Eschatology (the study of end-times).

These include a description of the structure of the book, a comparison and contrast between the good and evil characters in the book and a list of the many allusions to the OT. For the seven churches, there is a page which gives links to their location on Google maps.

There is a page studying the important theme of Jesus as the Lamb, which forms the central theological truth of the book. There are pages looking at the major views of the Millennium, as well as the rapture and tribulation, as well as a list of dates of the second coming that have been mistakenly predicted through history.

There is also a series of ten pages giving a detailed commentry through the text of the Book of Revelation.

Introduction to the Book of Revelation
Characters Introduced in the Book
Structure of Revelation
List of Allusions to OT
The Description of Jesus as the Lamb
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
The Nero Redivius Myth
The Millennium (1000 years)
The Rapture and the Tribulation
Different Approaches to Revelation
Predicted Dates of the Second Coming

Revelation Commentary (10 pages)

How to do Inductive Bible Study

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study the Bible inductively, by asking a series of simple questions. There are lists of observation and interpretation questions, as well as information about the structure and historical background of biblical books, as well as a list of the different types of figures of speech used in the Bible. There is also a page giving helpful tips on how to apply the Scriptures personally.

How to Study the Bible Inductively
I. The Inductive Study Method
II. Observation Questions
III. Interpretation Questions
IV. Structure of Books
V. Determining the Historical background
VI. Identifying Figures of Speech
VII. Personal Application
VIII. Text Layout

Types of Literature in the Bible

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study each of the different types of book in the Bible by appreciating the type of literature being used. These include historical narrative, law, wisdom, prophets, Gospels, Acts, letters and Revelation.

It is most important that when reading the Bible we are taking note of the type of literature we are reading. Each type needs to be considered and interpreted differently as they have different purposes.

How to Understand OT Narratives
How to Understand OT Law
Hebrew Poetry
OT Wisdom Literature
Understanding the OT Prophets
The Four Gospels
The Parables of Jesus
The Book of Acts
How to Understand the NT Letters
Studying End Times (Eschatology)
The Book of Revelation

Geography and Archaeology

These are a series of pages giving geographical and archaeological information relevant to the study of the Bible. There is a page where you can search for a particular geographical location and locate it on Google maps, as well as viewing photographs on other sites.

There are also pages with photographs from Ephesus and Corinth.

Search for Geographical Locations
Major Archaeological Sites in Israel
Archaeological Sites in Assyria, Babylon and Persia
Virtual Paul's Missionary Journeys
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
Photos of the City of Corinth
Photos of the City of Ephesus

Biblical Archaeology in Museums around the world

A page with a facility to search for artifacts held in museums around the world which have a connection with the Bible. These give information about each artifact, as well as links to the museum's collection website where available showing high resolution photographs of the artifact.

There is also page of photographs from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem of important artifacts.

Search Museums for Biblical Archaeology
Israel Museum Photos

Difficult Theological and Ethical Questions

These are a series of pages looking at some of the more difficult questions of Christian theology, including war, suffering, disappointment and what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel.

Christian Ethics
Never Heard the Gospel
Is there Ever a Just War?
Why Does God Allow Suffering
Handling Disappointment

How to Preach

These are a series of pages giving a practical step-by-step explanation of the process of preparing a message for preaching, and how to lead a small group Bible study.

What is Preaching?
I. Two Approaches to Preaching
II. Study a Passage for Preaching
III. Creating a Message Outline
IV. Making Preaching Relevant
V. Presentation and Public Speaking
VI. Preaching Feedback and Critique
Leading a Small Group Bible Study

Information for SBS staff members

Two pages particularly relevant for people serving as staff on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in YWAM. One gives helpful instruction about how to prepare to teach on a book in the SBS. The other gives a list of recommended topics which can be taught about for each book of the Bible.

Teaching on SBS Book Topics for SBS