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wall panel / relief

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    124579

  • Description

    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.

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  • Authority

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 875BC-860BC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 98 centimetres
    • Width: 139.5 centimetres
    • Thickness: 13 centimetres (extant)
    • Thickness: 23 centimetres (overall)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Script

        cuneiform
      • Inscription Position

        top of panel
      • Inscription Comment

        Standard inscription describing the kings achievements.
  • Curator's comments

    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.

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  • Bibliography

    • Curtis & Tallis 2012 31 bibliographic details
    • Curtis & Reade 1995a 5 bibliographic details
    • Curtis & Reade 1994a 5 bibliographic details
    • Paley & Sobolewski 1987 p. 76, pl. 5 bibliographic details
    • Reade 1985 p.211, pl. XLIV.b bibliographic details
    • Budge E A W 1914 pl. XLII.1 & LIII.6 bibliographic details
    • British Museum 2011a pp.104-105, cat.69 bibliographic details
    • Grayson, RIMA 2 RIM.A.0.101.23.55 bibliographic details
    • Layard A H 1849b vol. II, 74-78 bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2015-2016, Human Image loan tour – PROMISED
    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

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1849

  • Acquisition notes

    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

  • Department

    Middle East

  • BM/Big number

    124579

  • Registration number

    1849,1222.8

  • Additional IDs

    • 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.

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.

Image description

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Object reference number: WCO23916

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