Stone panel from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal (Room H, no. 7)

Nineveh, northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, around 645 BC

Possibly showing Nineveh and soldiers of an Iranian army

The panel probably shows part of two independent compositions, in upper and lower registers. The river, filled with fish, may belong to either or both scenes.

In the top half is a city which may be Nineveh, the last capital city of the Assyrian Empire. Behind the massive triple walls stands a building decorated with colossal human-headed winged bulls, or lamassu, and columns with lion-shaped bases. It corresponds with King Sennacherib's description of his palace at Nineveh, which he had built about fifty years earlier. The lion column-bases would have been made of bronze. Sennacherib was particularly proud of the technological skill displayed in the casting of the bases.

The three rows below show soldiers from Iran, possibly Elam to the south-east of Mesopotamia. Elamites usually appear as enemies of the Assyrians but these soldiers do not appear to be defeated or under attack. There were warring factions in Elam, and whoever was losing seem to have looked to Assyria for support. Iranian soldiers also served in the Assyrian army. This then probably shows an expedition on which the Assyrians posed as liberators, with a substantial Iranian force to help them. 

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More information

Bibliography

R.D. Barnett, Sculptures from the North Pala (London, 1976)

J.E. Curtis and J.E. Reade (eds), Art and empire: treasures from (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

Dimensions

Height: 192.000 cm
Width: 118.000 cm
Thickness: 10.000 cm

Museum number

ME 124938

WCO23934

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

Location

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