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Balawat (ancient Imgur-Enlil, Iraq)

In 1877 Hormuzd Rassam began to excavate at Balawat, sixteen kilometres northeast of Kalhu (Nimrud). The excavation was prompted by the appearance of fragments of decorated bronze bands at sales in London and Paris the previous year. The excavations uncovered the remains of a temple with stone foundation tablets of Ashurnasirpal II. The tablets gave the ancient name of the site as 'Imgur-Enlil' and recorded the building of a temple dedicated to Mamu, god of dreams. Rassam also discovered the remains of several bronze bands that had decorated huge doors set up by King Shalmaneser III, and a second set belonging to a gate erected by Shalmaneser's father, Ashurnasirpal II. A third set of bronze strips, belonging to a door, was found at Balawat in 1956, by Sir Max Mallowan.

The town walls of Balawat enclose an area of about sixty-four hectares, so it was quite a large provincial centre. The site was about one day's march from Nimrud and had a strategic importance. Why there should have been a royal place here is unclear; it may have been a country residence, or the site may have had religious significance. Balawat was destroyed with the end of the Assyrian empire, around 614-612 BC, when it was abandoned. It was probably reoccupied, but on a small scale, in the Hellenistic period.

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