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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


An Assyrian Queen

The Garden Party relief

The 'Garden Party' relief from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal, Nineveh, Iraq, about 645 BC

Length: 58.420 cm
Width: 139.700 cm
Depth: 15.240 cm

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

ME 124920

This carved stone picture hides a gory secret. King Ashurbanipal and his Queen are enjoying a party in their garden. Can you see the Queen sitting down facing her husband? A harpist on the left plays music while they eat and drink. But in the tree beside him is the severed head of King Teumann, a local ruler who had tried to fight against Ashurbanipal. The picture was on the wall in the royal palace, to warn any visitors not to try the same thing.

For parents

Queens, like women in general, were seldom represented in Assyrian sculpture. However, women did sometimes hold power at the Assyrian court, though usually behind the scenes. Documents suggest that Ashurbanipal's grandmother, Naqia-Zakutu, was extremely influential in promoting her son Esarhaddon and then Ashurbanipal to the throne.