wall panel / relief
Gypsum wall panel depicting a lion hunt in relief: the archer shooting a bow wears a diadem with two bands hanging down behind. This kind of diadem encircled the royal hat, but the later king Ashurnasirpal II is sometimes shown wearing it on its own; otherwise it is worn by the crown prince, so this figure may be Ashurnasirpal II or his son and heir, Shalmaneser III. The borders of the royal garments are decorated with a pattern of hexagonals with annules inside them, rectangles and fringe. A double sheath in the archer's belt holds a dagger and whetstone. There is a spare arrow in his hand, and axes in addition to arrows in the quivers on the side of the chariot. His bow-string is not fully represented: it would have run inelegantly across his face. The chariot is typical of its period, and is pulled by three horses.
It was a familiar convention in Assyrian art to show a fallen enemy or victim beneath the horses drawing the victor's chariot. Here a lion has been hit by three arrows. The composition is incomplete, and we may envisage another lion further to the right.
There are traces of the standard inscription at the top of the panel.
- Excavated/Findspot: North West Palace, West Wing, possibly Room WM
- (Asia,Iraq,North Iraq,Nimrud (Kalhu),North West Palace)
- Height: 98 centimetres
- Width: 139.5 centimetres
- Thickness: 13 centimetres (extant)
- Thickness: 23 centimetres (overall)
Inscription Positiontop of panel
Inscription CommentStandard inscription describing the kings achievements.
The lion hunt has special significance in ancient Mesopotamia. Even before 3000 BC 'royal' figures are shown killing lions, and the Assyrian royal seal itself represented this theme, with the king on foot confronting a lion face to face. The Mesopotamian lion, now extinct, was somewhat smaller than the more familiar African lion, but it was still a formidable opponent. Lions represented the wild force of nature which it is the king's duty of control, and it seems that at some stage there developed a rule that the killing of lions was reserved for royalty alone.
See also BM.124590The cast is listed as available in the British Museum Facsimile Service 'Catalogue of Replicas from British Museum collections' (n.d.), in the series "Assyrian Bas-Reliefs". Reverse of surviving plaster cast at BH dated 1960 and initialed RWB.
2012 24 May - 30 Sep, London, BM, 'The horse: from Arabia to Royal Ascot'
2011 28 March-26 June, Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, 'Splendours of Mesopotamia'
2008-2009 21 Sept-4 Jan, Boston, MFA, 'Art and Empire'
2007 2 Apr-30 Sept, Alicante, MARQ Museum, 'Art and Empire'
2006 1 Jul-7 Oct, Shanghai Museum, 'Art and Empire'
1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.39
1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.39
1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.39
1990 28 Jun-23 Sep, Australia, Melbourne, Museum of Victoria, Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, cat no.8
1990 24 Mar-10 Jun, Australia, Canberra, National Gallery of Australia, Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, cat no.8
Found face-down on the floor when Layard excavated a trench to remove colossal figures from the entrances to Rooms G and S to the side of the mound from the west
- 36 (ex Nimrud Gallery)
Alabaster wall panel; Lion hunt relief; archer wearing diadem with two bands hanging down behind; could be Ashurnasirpal or his son Shalmaneser; he holds dagger, whetstone, arrow and axes and rides in a chariot; a lion has been hit by three arrows and lies beneath the horses pulling the chariot; inscribed.
If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: email@example.com
Object reference number: WCO23916
British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.
The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.