Stone panels from the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II (Room G, nos. 2-3)
Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, 883-859 BC
The King enthroned between attendants
These panel may have come from a banqueting hall at the palace of King Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC). The relief carving is particularly fine, with very delicate incisions on the clothes indicating embroidery. Large areas of the surface would originally have been highlighted in paint, traces of which survive on the sandals. Unlike many of the reliefs from Ashurnasirpal's palace, this series of panels was not divided into distinct registers. Nonetheless, the 'standard inscription', repeated on many of Ashurnasirpal's monuments, is inscribed across the middle. It records his titles, ancestry and achievements.
An Assyrian king is almost always identifiable by his crown: a fez with a pointed top, surrounded by a diadem with two strips, possibly of cloth, hanging behind and down his back.
Behind the king an attendant holds a fly-whisk and the king's weapons. Since he is beardless the figure may be identified either as a young man or possibly a eunuch. Eunuchs are mentioned in ancient texts and were often employed at court. Being castrated they were unable to raise a family to rival that of the king. Attendants are usually depicted bareheaded as here, though they are sometimes shown wearing headbands.
D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
Height: 2.360 m
Width: 2.000 m
Height: 2.360 m
The palace was excavated by A.H. Layard (from 1845)