Ashurbanipal carrying a basket in the rebuilding of the temple, stone bas-relief from the Esagila, …—Reproduced by courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum

(flourished 7th century BC) Last great Assyrian king (r. 668–627 BC). He was appointed crown prince of Assyria in 672 BC; his half-brother was appointed crown prince of Babylonia. On his father's death, Ashurbanipal assumed full power without incident. He quelled a rebellion in Egypt and successfully besieged Tyre. His half brother, who served him in Babylonia peacefully for 16 years, joined a coalition of peoples from outlying areas of the Assyrian empire and plotted rebellion, but Ashurbanipal discovered the plots and, after a three-year siege, took Babylon. By 639 BC he had the whole known world under his control. A person of religious zeal, he rebuilt or adorned most of the major shrines of Assyria and Babylonia. His principal intellectual accomplishment was the creation in Nineveh of the first systematically organized library in the Middle East; the clay tablets collected there preserved omen texts, Mesopotamian epics, prayers and incantations, scientific texts, lexicographical texts, and folktales.

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