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Ashurbanipal, 668-627 BCE, was an Assyrian king who fought defending frontiers of the Assyrian empire which encompassed all of Mesopotamia and Palestine and extended into northern Egypt during the reign of his father Esarhaddon. He himself conquered all of Egypt, stopped a widespread rebellion led by his brother Shamashumukin, conquered Elan, and brought Arabia and Armenia under Assyrian control. Unlike other Assyrian kings, he was a scholar as well as a warrior and during the peaceful years toward the end of his reign he devoted much of his time toward literary and historical pursuits.

The reason for his importance in the history of magic lies in his efforts to systematically collect clay-tablet records from Babylonian and Sumerian towns. Tablets copied by his scribes, and discovered in his palace ruins in the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, compose a large portion of the literature of Mesopotamian magic.

It is uncertain whether Ashurbanipal personally practiced any of the material saved, but indications are some was employed. A set of five terra-cotta statues of dogs was found buried in the west wing of his Nineveh palace: their colors, and the inscriptions on their shoulder blades, matched perfectly the instructions for manufacturing magical guardian statues from a clay-tablet ritual text from his library. A.G.H.


Greer, John Michael. "cunning men/women." The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. St. Paul, MN, Llewellyn Worldwide. p. 41

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