Stone panel from the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II (Room B, no. 30)

Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, 883-859 BC

A protective spirit

The relief, carved on gypsum, guarded an entrance into the throne room of Ashurnasirpal II (reigned 883-859 BC) at his palace in Nimrud (ancient Kalhu, the Assyrian capital). The tradition of protecting the entrances of buildings using magic was very old in Mesopotamia. Images of supernatural creatures would be buried under doorways or set up at the entrances of palaces and temples. Their supposed magical strength would frighten away malevolent demons.

This figure of a man with wings may be the supernatural creature known as an apkallu. The significance of the deer and branch which the figure carries is unknown. He wears a tasselled kilt and a fringed and embroidered robe, while his curled moustache and long hair and beard is typical of figures of this date. Across the body runs the so-called 'standard inscription' of Ashurnasirpal which records some of the king's titles and achievements and is repeated on many of his stone reliefs. This cuneiform text was cut after the figure was carved as some of the details of decoration on the dress have been chiselled through.

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More information

Bibliography

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

Dimensions

Width: 22.500 cm
Height: 13.500 cm
Height: 13.500 cm
Width: 22.500 cm

Museum number

ME 124560

WCO26558

The palace was excavated by A.H. Layard (from 1845)

Location

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