Stone panels from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal (Room S, nos. 13-18)

Nineveh, northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, 669-630 BC

Hunting gazelle

This is part of a series of sculptures which decorated a private gate chamber in the palace of King Ashurbanipal (reigned 669-630 BC).

The scenes are arranged in three registers, and are similar to those on other relief panels fallen from an upper storey, and the large-scale versions in the corridor leading to the gatehouse. They often centre on lion-hunting; there was a close association between royalty and lions in ancient Mesopotamia. Unlike many of the reliefs, which act like a comic strip with the action moving in one direction, this one appears as a snapshot. Some of the gazelle, alarmed by a beater on the right, flee towards Ashurbanipal, who is hidden in a pit armed with bow and arrows.

Herds of gazelle were once widespread in the Near East. They represented one of the main sources of meat for the people of the region. Ancient recipes survive for gazelle stew. Indeed, gazelle are said to have been common in Assyria as late as the 1950s though now they are only found in the remotest corners of Arabia. Modern firearms and motorized transport have almost driven these animals to extinction in this part of the world.

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More information

Bibliography

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

J. Bottero, Textes culinaires Mesopotamien (Indiana, Eisenbrauns, 1995)

Dimensions

Height: 63.500 cm
Width: 71.120 cm
Height: 63.500 cm
Width: 71.120 cm
Height: 63.500 cm
Width: 71.120 cm
Height: 63.500 cm
Width: 71.120 cm

Museum number

ME 124872;ME 124873;ME 124874;ME 124875;ME

WCO26657;WCO26658;WCO26659;WCO26660

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

Location

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