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Stone panels from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal

 

Height: 160.000 cm (124886)
Width: 169.000 cm (124886)
Depth: 17.000 cm (124886)
Height: 160.000 cm (124886)
Width: 169.000 cm (124886)
Depth: 17.000 cm (124886)

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

ME 124886;ME 124887

Room 10: Assyria: Lion hunts

    Stone panels from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal

    Nineveh, northern Iraq
    Neo-Assyrian, about 645 BC

    The killing of lions

    These wall panels probably originally decorated one of the private apartments of King Ashurbanipal (reigned 669-630 BC). The panels are divided into registers which read from right to left. In the top register a lion is released from its cage, advances, and is hit with arrows shot by the king in his full regalia. In the central register a horseman, guarded by spearmen in a chariot, distracts a lion. The king comes up from the left and grabs the lion's tail. The accompanying caption explains that the king is about to strike the lion with a mace.

    In the lower register musicians play in front of a tall stand for burning incense and a table of food. Ashurbanipal pours a libation, which the caption tells us is wine. Behind him stand his bodyguard and attendants, who hold fans and towels.

    Ashurbanipal records in his inscriptions that in his time there was lots of rain in Assyria and lions thrived. He clearly took great pleasure in the traditional royal sport of killing lions, though they were often captured first, or possibly even reared in captivity.

    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)

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    On display: Room 10: Assyria: Lion hunts

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