Stone panel from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal (Room E, no. 13)

Nineveh, northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, about 645 BC

Hunting with hounds

This stone panel decorated a mud brick wall of the palace of King Ashurbanipal (reigned 669-630 BC) at Nineveh. It was originally part of a much longer composition relating to the royal sport of lion hunting. The figures leading the hounds are hunt attendants.

The use of such mastiffs is well represented on the wall reliefs at Nineveh. They are used to guard the edge of an arena in which the king kills lions and, in a separate hunting composition, they are used to bring down wild asses. Scenes of hunting are a common motif in Mesopotamian art reflecting the king's conquest of chaotic and dangerous nature.

Dogs may have been the earliest animals to be domesticated by humans, perhaps by 10,000 BC or earlier. In Mesopotamia some of the earliest evidence for the presence of dogs comes in the form of skeletons found in the graves at Eridu in the south and dating to around 5000BC. They have been identified as greyhounds.

It has been suggested that the disease of rabies was present in Mesopotamia by the beginning of the second millennium BC and representations of dogs, possibly for magic protection, make their appearance.

The Mesopotamians considered the dog family to include not only domestic dogs, wolves, hyenas and jackals, but also lions. 

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Height: 106.680 cm (approx.)
Width: 101.600 cm (approx.)
Depth: 17.780 cm (approx.)

Museum number

ME 118915


The palace was excavated by H. Rassam (from 1853)


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