ASSUR-NASIR-PAL II was the terror of the civilized world. When he completed his palace in 879 B.C. in present-day Nimrud, northern Iraq, "the Great King, the Mighty King, King of the Universe, King of Assyria" celebrated with a palace-warming that included a ten-day banquet for the royal city's entire population—more than 69,000—as well as for visiting VIPs. Assur-nasir-pal II had populated his city with conquered peoples, rebuilt it from ruins, crowned it with his palace and adorned the palace with the magnificence of the day. And in history it was only a day: the monuments to the might of Assur-nasir-pal II...

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