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Book Review: I am Ashurbanipal


Thames and Hudson have done it again. The beautiful book that accompanies the BP Exhibition, I am Ashurbanipal: king of the world, king of Assyria should grace everyone's bookshelf if they are remotely interested in the Assyrians, Ninerveh or the history of Mesoptamia


The current exhibition at the British Museum on Ashurbanipal, an Assyrian king who ruled one of the largest empires in the world during the 7th century, is accompanied by this gorgeous book which is far more than just an exhibition catalogue.

Beautifully illustrated and written by an international team of experts, this book features images of objects excavated from all corners of the empire. The British Museum’s unrivalled collection of Assyrian reliefs brings to life the tumultuous events of Ashurbanipal’s reign: his conquest of Egypt, the crushing defeat of his rebellious brother in Babylon and his ruthless campaign against the Elamite rulers of south-west Iran.

Ashurbanipal inherited the largest empire in the world: it stretched from the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean to the mountains of western Iran. He ruled from his capital at Ninerveh, in present day Iraq (and sadly recently destroyed by IS), where temples and palaces adorned with brilliantly carved sculptures dominated the citadel mound and an elaborate system of canals brought water to pleasure gardens and game parts.

This book, edited by Gareth Brereton, curator of the Mespotamian collection at the British Museum, is divided into four sections. The first looks at Ninerveh's place in the world, the second the empire at the time of Ashurbanipal's reign, the third at his many battles to keep order (and to fight off his brother) and finally the fall of his empire and its rediscovery in the 19th century.


As with many of Thames & Hudson's books, it is beautifully illustrated and features many objects excavated from the Assyrian empire as well as Ashurbanipal's personal correspondence and also utilises the British Museum's fantastic collection of Assyrian reliefs. The objects in the exhibition have been cleverly weaved into the story told through the chapters in the book and therefore you can discover them in context rather than just being random objects.

For anyone interested in the Assyrian empire or the ancient Near East, this book is for you. And for those who are unable to see the exhibition, then you can enjoy it through the pages of this glorious publication.

The BP Exhibition

I am Ashurbanipal

king of the world, kind of Assyria

Edited by Gareth Brereton

Published by Thames & Hudson

in collaboration with the British Museum

Published: November 2018

HB: £40

SB: £30

200 illustrations

For more details and to purchase this book CLICK HERE

To see TT's review of the exhibition, please CLICK HERE

#Ashurbanipal #BritishLibrary #ThamesandHudson #Nineveh