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Stone figure of an attendant god


Height: 182.880 cm

Excavated by Hormuzd Rassam

ME 118889

Room 6: Assyrian sculpture

    Stone figure of an attendant god

    From Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq
    Neo-Assyrian, about 811-783 BC

    From the Temple of Nabu, god of writing

    This limestone figure is one of a pair set up outside a doorway in the Temple of Nabu, the Mesopotamian god of writing, and dedicated to him. The statue clearly represents a god since he wears the horned headdress that all Mesopotamian gods are shown wearing, but it is unlikely to be Nabu; the position of the hands suggests a divine servant.

    The inscription mentions King Adad-nirari III (reigned 811-783 BC) and the queen mother Sammuramat, clearly a forceful character whose name was remembered in the Greek period, when she surfaces as the legendary Queen Semiramis. This is a rare indication of the power sometimes held by women at the Assyrian court, usually behind the scenes. Queens, like any women, were seldom represented in sculpture; one exception is the queen who is depicted on a stone relief from the palace of Ashurbanipal, in the later Assyrian capital of Nineveh.

    Sculptured monuments were normally commissioned by the king, but this one was erected by the governor of Nimrud. This happened at a time when senior officials, probably eunuchs, were in a powerful position following a rebellion crushed by Adad-nirari's father and Sammuramat's husband, Shamshi-Adad V (reigned 824-811 BC).

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