Stone panel from the Central Palace of Tiglath-pileser III

Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, about 730-727 BC

A successful Assyrian campaign against a town in Babylonia

This alabaster panel decorated the mud-brick walls of the Central Palace of the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III.

The scene shows an Assyrian 'tank', a siege engine on wheels, in front of a captured town in southern Iraq. The 'tanks' also provided platforms from which archers could shoot at close range. The surface was probably leather, and were presumably moved by men, as animals might panic.

To the left stand three Assyrian officials. The figure with a sword may be dictating information to the two men, both eunuchs, who are taking records of spoil. One holds a rectangular object which was presumably a clay tablet on which cuneiform was written; the other holds a scroll. It used to be thought that the latter was a scribe writing in the Aramaic language but he may actually be a war artist, illustrating the events about which his colleague is writing. The records they kept were available as notes to the palace sculptors. War-artists probably belonged to the relatively small group of Assyrians who could read and write. Even kings were usually illiterate.

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More information

Bibliography

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

H.W.F. Saggs, Babylonians (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

J.B. Pritchard, Ancient Near East in pictures (Princeton University Press, 1954)

Dimensions

Width: 142.240 cm
Height: 96.520 cm

Museum number

ME 118882

WCO27562;WCO26592

The palace was excavated by A.H. Layard (from 1847)

Location

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