Part of a stone sill from a doorway in the North Palace of Ashurbanipal

Nineveh, northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, about 669 - about 630/627 BC

Imitation of ancient carpets?

This stone 'carpet' decorated with intricate designs, is from the threshold of a doorway. When found it was broken into three pieces. The design probably imitates actual floor coverings. The Near East has traditionally been associated with carpet manufacture, though there is little material evidence for their existence before the ninth century BC. However, the rectangular shape and layout of these door-sills with surrounding borders corresponds closely to what is known of later pile carpets. The design may have played a similar role to those depicted on royal garments and throne covers, as symbolically protective and representative of the king's power.

Earlier Assyrian examples from the Assyrian city of Nimrud usually have a cuneiform inscription in the centre of the design giving the names and titles of the royal builder.

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More information

Bibliography

D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

Dimensions

Height: 5.080 cm
Width: 9.650 cm

Museum number

ME 124962

WCO26621

The palace was excavated by A.H. Layard (1846-51) and by many later archaeologists

Location

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