Library of Ashurbanipal

Library of Ashurbanipal
Established7th century BC
LocationNineveh, capital of Assyria
Sizeover 30,000 cuneiform tablets[1]

The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal, named after Ashurbanipal, the last great king of the Assyrian Empire, is a collection of thousands of clay tablets and fragments containing texts of all kinds from the 7th century BC. Among its holdings was the famous Epic of Gilgamesh.

Ashurbanipal's Library was buried by invaders centuries before the Library of Alexandria was erected and also gives modern historians information regarding people of the ancient Near East.

The materials were found in the archaeological site of Kouyunjik (ancient Nineveh, capital of Assyria) in northern Mesopotamia. The site is in modern-day northern Iraq, near the city of Mosul.[2][3]

Old Persian and Armenian traditions indicate that Alexander the Great, upon seeing the great library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh, was inspired to create his own library.[citation needed] Alexander died before he was able to create his library, but his friend and successor in Egypt, Ptolemy, oversaw the beginnings of Alexander's library—a project that was to grow to become the renowned Library of Alexandria.[4]


The library is an archaeological discovery credited to Austen Henry Layard; most tablets were taken to England and can now be found in the British Museum, but a first discovery was made in late 1849 in the so-called South-West Palace, which was the Royal Palace of king Sennacherib (705–681 BC).

Three years later, Hormuzd Rassam, Layard's assistant, discovered a similar "library" in the palace of King Ashurbanipal (668–627 BC), on the opposite side of the mound. Unfortunately, no record was made of the findings, and soon after reaching Europe, the tablets appeared to have been irreparably mixed with each other and with tablets originating from other sites. Thus, it is almost impossible today to reconstruct the original contents of each of the two main "libraries".

Other Languages
Bahasa Indonesia: Perpustakaan Asyurbanipal
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Asurbanipalova biblioteka