Stone relief from the South-West Palace of Sennacherib (Room 32)

Nineveh, northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, 704-681 BC

Two guardian figures

Guardian figures were traditionally used to protect Assyrian palaces and temples from evil supernatural forces. Clay figurines of guardians were often buried at points under the pavement of a room to ward off evil.

King Sennacherib (reigned 704-681 BC) added several new types of these figures to the schemes of the palaces in the earlier Assyrian capital cities, Nimrud and Khorsabad. Two of these are shown on this panel. On the right stands an empty-handed man wearing the horned headdress of a god. This may be the god 'House God', associated with frightening away the effects of witchcraft. The lion-headed, eagle-footed man holding a mace and upraised dagger is an ugallu (great lion or great storm demon).  

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More information


J.M. Russell, Sennacheribs palace without ri (University of Chicago Press, 1991)

I.E.S. Edwards (ed.), The Cambridge ancient histor-3, 2 vols, 3rd ed. (Cambridge University Press, 1981)

J. Black and A. Green, Gods, demons and symbols of -1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Length: 285.750 cm
Width: 262.890 cm

Museum number

ME 118932


The palace was excavated by A.H. Layard (1846-51) and by many later archaeologists


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