Bronze bowl with Egyptian motifs

Phoenician, about 8th century BC
Found at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq

Probably part of Assyrian booty from a campaign in the West

On 5 January 1849 the excavator, Henry Layard, made a remarkable discovery in the palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud. Behind twelve cauldrons was a pile of bronze bowls. Many of them had disintegrated, but he was able to bring back about 150 complete or fragmentary bowls to the British Museum.

Many of the bowls have intricate chased or incised decoration on the inside and sometime the designs are embossed or raised from the back. There are various decorative schemes. This bowl has clear Egyptian motifs with a central scarab beetle and bands of simple incised animals, plants and winged sphinxes. Similar bowls have been found at various places in the Mediterranean, including the Greek mainland, Crete and in Etruscan tombs.

The bowl may have originally come from Phoenicia on the Mediterranean coast, from where it was brought presumably as booty or tribute by one of the Assyrian kings who campaigned in the west. It is known from contemporary accounts that vast quantities of booty were removed from captured cities. It is not known why the bowls came to be piled up in a palace room at Nimrud.

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More information


A.H. Layard, A second series of the monumen (London, J. Murray, 1853)

J.E. Curtis and J.E. Reade (eds), Art and empire: treasures from (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

A.H. Layard, Discoveries in the ruins of Ni (London, J. Murray, 1853)


Diameter: 18.000 cm
Height: 2.000 cm

Museum number

ME N25


Excavated by A.H. Layard


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