Name of a city once the capital of Assyria. Asshur was apparently the first important town built by the early colonists of the country, who probably came from Babylonia. One of the earliest known rulers of Assyria, Shamshi-Adad I. (about 1820 B.C.), erected in the city of Asshur a temple dedicated to Anu and Adad; and Asshur may be regarded as having been, even at that early date, the capital of the newly founded principality of Assyria. About 1300 B.C. the capital was removed by Shalmaneser I. to Calah, and two centuries later the supremacy of Asshur had vanished so completely that the city had to be rebuilt when Tiglath-pileser I. again made it the capital. When the capital was finally removed to Nineveh, the city fell into an honorable decay, revered as the ancient metropolis, and dignified as the site where the national god Asshur had his famous temple E-Kharsag-Kurkurra. The city is now buried beneath a mound known as Kalah Shergat on the Tigris, which here divides into three arms. The ruins of its ancient temple rise high above the remaining mound, and have been slightly pierced by excavations undertaken especially by Rassam and Ainsworth; but the site has never been systematically explored. See Assyria and the bibliography there given.J. Jr. R. W. R.—In Rabbinical Literature:
Asshur was one of the few pious men of the generation of the Tower of Babel. In order to avoid participation in that sinful project, he left the land of his fathers and settled in the neighborhood of Nineveh, in reward for which action he received the cities mentioned inGen. x. 11, 12 (Gen R. xxxvii. 4). The Targum Yerushalmi on the passage considers the name "Asshur" not as that of a person, but as meaning "Assyria," and takes "Nimrod" to be the subject of the sentence. See Ginzberg, "Die Haggada bei den Kirchenvätern," pp. 88, 89.J. Jr. L. G.