During the more than 700 years from ca. 1350 BCE on when Assyria's kings ruled at the behest of the god Ashur, the urban core of Assyria was located in the north of modern-day Iraq. During this long period the royal court only moved to a new city a few times. Newness, however, is a complicated and seemingly problematic concept in Assyria, where it was generally believed that the main cities had been provided with their rightful and inalterable place when the gods created civilization. Dur-Sharruken, the city founded during the reign of King Sargon II (722–705 BCE), is often highlighted as the exceptional and even problematic new foundation in modern scholarship. This article reassesses the arguments made in both modern scholarship and in the royal inscriptions of Assyria about the creation of new capitals and the place of Dur-Sharruken within the history of Assyrian urban foundations.

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