Stone panel from the South-West Palace of Sennacherib (Room 36, no. 7)

Nineveh, northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, about 700-681 BC

The siege and capture of the city of Lachish in 701 BC

This alabaster panel was part of a series which decorated the walls of a room in the palace of King Sennacherib (reigned 704-681 BC). The story continues from the previous panel of the relief (no. 6). This part of the relief was placed opposite the entrance to the room.

The attack is pressed home. Siege-engines lead the way as the Assyrians advance up artificial ramps that have been roughly surfaced with planks. The Assyrian soldiers can be identified by their tall pointed helmets, or by their crested helmets, worn by the archer and shield bearer beside him. In front of them is an Assyrian 'tank', a battering ram on wheels. These machines also provided platforms from which archers could shoot at close range. The surface was probably leather, and they were presumably moved by men, as animals might panic. A store of water must have been kept inside: one Assyrian soldier is throwing a large ladle over his shoulder to douse a fire on the battering ram. The inhabitants of Lachish are throwing lighted torches, stones and arrows.

In the centre a procession of men and women stream out of the town, ready to be taken into exile. The sight of the Assyrian impaling three men outside the gate cannot have given them much hope for their future.

The story continues on the next panel of the relief (no. 8).

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More information

Bibliography

J.M. Russell, Sennacheribs palace without ri (University of Chicago Press, 1991)

J.E. Reade, Assyrian sculpture-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)

T.C. Mitchell, The Bible in the British Museu (London, The British Museum Press, 1988)

Dimensions

Length: 167.640 cm
Width: 190.500 cm

Museum number

ME 124906

WCO26738

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

Location

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