The “Palace without Rival” at Nineveh, built by the Neo-Assyrian king Sennacherib (704–681 BC), was excavated by Austen Henry Layard in two campaigns in the mid-nineteenth century. The results of the first campaign, in May and June 1847, were published in considerable detail in Nineveh and its Remains (1849). The results of the second, from October 1849 to April 1851, were reported in less detail in Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon (1853).
Among the Layard Papers in the British Library are the unpublished notes that served as the basis for the published reports. The notes for the first campaign, in Add. Ms. 39076, fol. 43–54, are in the form of a full narrative account, penned in Layard's best hand. The notes for the second campaign are preserved in two versions. The earlier is a rough incomplete account in two of Layard's pocket notebooks. The first covers the period 17 October to 13 November 1850 (Add. Ms. 39089C, fol. 6–12) and includes notes on Rooms E, I to S, V, Y, and DD (the latter mistakenly labelled “FF” in the notebook). The second notebook, which covers 5 December 1850 to 26 April 1851 (Add. Ms. 39089E, fol. 29v–34v), records Rooms GG, II to LL, part of MM (mislabelled “PP”), SS to WW, YY, AAA, and DDD to OOO. These are very rough field notes, sketchy and almost illegible. The later set of notes from the second campaign (Add. Ms. 39077, fol. 75r–79v) is more complete, covering Rooms I to OOO, all of the rooms excavated during that campaign. This account, which must have been compiled after the close of the excavation, is apparently based in part on the notes in the pocket notebooks. It includes a number of additional rooms, however — T, U, W, X, Z, AA, BB, CC, EE, FF, MM (full description), NN to RR, XX, BBB, and CCC — and therefore it may also have drawn on field notes that have not yet been identified. Unlike the field notes, it is written fairly legibly and in complete sentences, in the same manner as the report of the first campaign.