Dur-Sharrukin ("Fortress of Sargon"), present day Khorsabad, was the Assyrian capital in the time of Sargon II of Assyria. Khorsabad is a village in northern Iraq, 15 km northeast of Mosul, which is still today inhabited by Assyrians. The great city was entirely built in the decade preceding 706 BCE. After the unexpected death of Sargon in battle, the capital was shifted 20 km south to Nineveh.
The town was of rectangular layout and measured 1760 by 1635 metres. The enclosed area comprised 3 square kilometres, or 288 hectares. The length of the walls was 16280 Assyrian units, which corresponded to the numerical value of Sargon's name. The city walls were massive and 157 towers protected its sides. Seven gates entered the city from all directions. A walled terrace contained temples and the royal palace.
Dur-Sharrukin is roughly a square with a border marked by a city wall 24 meters thick with a stone foundation pierced by seven massive gates. A mound in the northeast section marks the location of the palace of Sargon II. At the time of its construction, the village on the site was named Maganuba.
The site was first noticed by the French Consul General at Mosul, Paul-Émile Botta in 1842. Botta believed, however, that Khorsabad was the site of biblical Nineveh. The site was excavated by Botta in 1842-44, joined in the later stages by artist Eugène Flandin. Victor Place resumed the excavations from 1852 to 1855.
The site of Khorsabad was excavated 1928-1935 by American archaeologists from the Oriental Institute in Chicago. Work in the first season was led by Edward Chiera and concentrated on the palace area. A colossal bull estimated to weigh 40 tons was uncovered outside the throne room. It was found split into three large fragments. The torso alone weighed about 20 tons. This was shipped to Chicago.
The preparation and shipment of the bull back to the Oriental Institute was incredibly arduous. The remaining seasons were led by Gordon Loud and Hamilton Darby. Their work examined one of the city gates, continued work at the palace, and excavated extensively at the palace's temple complex. Since Dur-Sharrukin was a single-period site that was evacuated in an orderly manner after the death of Sargon II, few individual objects were found. The primary discoveries from Khorsabad shed light on Assyrian art and architecture.
In 1957, archaeologists from the Iraqi Department Antiquities, led by Fuad Safar excavated at the site, uncovering the temple of Sibitti.