Sculptures from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (668-627 B.C.).

Barnett (Richard David).

Book ID: 31319


Folio. xv, 75 pp., figures, 54 plates, many double page, original cloth, published for the Trustees of The British Museum, London, 1976.


This alabaster wall panel was originally set into the mud brick walls of the palace of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (r. 669-631 BCE). The relief was originally painted. This wall panel is perhaps the most attractive of all surviving Assyrian sculptures. Despite the scenes of Ashurbanipal hunting and killing lions near the temple (for example, ‘The Dying Lion’), the panel suggests love for nature. Apparently, the Assyrian kings did sometimes keep lions as pets, though it is likely that the offspring of this pair would have ended up in the hunting arena. The Mesopotamian lion, brought to extinction in the 19th century by the shotgun, was smaller than the African lion (comparable to a large St Bernard dog).
The tree is possibly a cypress with vines growing through it. There are flowers, which may be lilies, to left and right, and a plant with flowers like daisies grows behind the lioness. The damage to the panel occurred when Nineveh was destroyed by the Babylonian and Median armies in 612 BCE.

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