Stone panel from the Central Palace of King Tiglath-pileser III
Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, about 730-727 BC
Attack on an enemy town
The Assyrian soldiers can be identified by their tall pointed helmets, although the archer and shield-bearer have helmets of an unusual design. 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. They were presumably moved by men, as animals might panic.
On the left of the relief Assyrian spearmen wear a distinctive uniform with crested helmets, round shields and straps across their chests. Spearmen appear first in Tiglath-pileser's reign (745-727 BC), probably drawn from the western half of the Empire. An Assyrian soldier cuts off the head of an enemy soldier. A literal head-count was the standard means of estimating the numbers of enemy dead. You will never see a dead Assyrian depicted on an Assyrian relief.
This alabaster wall relief is the upper part of a panel once divided into two registers by a central band of inscription. The remains of text at the bottom, removed by the excavator in the nineteenth century to reduce the weight, is not directly related to the carvings. However, a separate caption at the top gave the name of the town as U[pa?], possibly in Turkey.
A.H. Layard, Nineveh and its remains, 2 volumes (London, J. Murray, 1849)
R.D. Barnett and M. Falkner, The sculptures of Tiglath-pile (London, The British Museum Press, 1962)
J.E. Curtis and J.E. Reade (eds), Art and empire: treasures from (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
A.H. Layard, The monuments of Nineveh (London, J. Murray, 1849)
Width: 211.000 cm
Height: 109.000 cm
Thickness: 13.000 cm
Width: 211.000 cm
ME 115634;ME 118903
The palace was excavated by A.H. Layard (from 1847)
Transferred from the India Museum