Length: 220.980 cm
Width: 92.710 cm
The palace was excavated by A.H. Layard (from 1845)
Room 7-8: Assyria: Nimrud
Stone panel from the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II (Room B, Panel 7)
Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, 883-859 BC
Inside the Assyrian camp
The panel shows part of a battle scene. The Assyrian camp is shown, as if from the air, with the circular wall and defensive towers flattened out. The layout of the camp seems to have been carefully planned, with roads running at right angles through the middle. Inside servants prepare food and a man in a flat hat may be a priest inspecting the entrails of animals in order to predict future events.
The Babylonians believed that the world was controlled by gods and that they could give indications of coming events. One of the most widespread means of prediction was the liver omen, in which an animal was killed and its liver and lungs examined by a specialist priest, the baru. He would ask a particular question and the answer would be supplied by the interpretation of individual markings or overall shape of the liver and lungs. No military campaign would be undertaken without first consulting the baru.
In the centre, horses are groomed and watered beside the royal pavilion. On the right, prisoners are led forward, while soldiers, or perhaps priests, dressed in lion skins, celebrate victory.
E.A.T.W. Budge, Assyrian sculptures in the B-1 (London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1914)
I.E.S. Edwards (ed.), The Cambridge ancient histor-3, 2 vols, 3rd ed. (Cambridge University Press, 1981)
British Museum, A guide to the Babylonian and, 3rd ed. (London, British Museum, 1922)
M. Roaf, Cultural atlas of Mesopotamia (New York, 1990)