- Museum number
Gypsum wall panel relief: an attack on an enemy town. On the right archers shoot at the town, guarded by swordsmen with high shields. The foremost archer is a senior official, wearing a long court robe under what was probably an armoured jacket. The sculptor has struggled to provide an adequate representation of face, beard, arms, dress, sheath and bow, and reached a visually impossible but effective solution.Both archer and guard have helmets of an unusual design. The high shield of the foremost archer is cut short by the representation of a wheeled siege-engine. It has giant spears projecting from its front, which have been used to lever away at the fortifications of the town. Three of the enemy have been impaled on stakes, to intimidate the remainder.
On the adjoining fragment to the left, spearmen are attacking across a ditch, and scaling a ladder. Two enemy soldiers are tumbling from the walls, and those on the battlements raise their arms in surrender or submission.
- Production date
Height: 109 centimetres (tot.incl 115634)
Thickness: 13 centimetres (tot.incl 115634)
Width: 211 centimetres (tot.incl 115634)
Width: 109 centimetres (without 115634)
- Curator's comments
Part of 1880,0130.7 (BM.115634).
This is the upper half of a panel once divided into two registers by a central band of inscription. The latter stretched all round the room and was a record of the king's entire reign; this extract is not directly related to the carvings, but a separate caption at the top gave the name of the town attacked as U[pa?], possibly in Turkey.
The events of the attack, from beginning to end, are here compressed into a single composition, since the enemy themselves are shown in successive stages of defeat.
A siege-engine would have had giant spears projecting from its front, which have been used to lever away at the fortifications of the town. Machines like these, which are known from several Assyrian sculptures, also provided platforms from which archers could shoot at close range. The surface was probably leather, and inside there was a store of water for use if the enemy tried to set the machine on fire with flaming torches. The machines were presumably moved by men, as an animal might panic, and sometimes steep ramps had to be built in order to bring them close enough to the enemy wall. Infantry could advance behind a siege-engine, under its cover. Its function was comparable with that of the modern tank.
The 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".
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2013-2014 22 Jun-6 Jan, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 'Mesopotamia, Inventing Our World'
2013 30 Jan-13 May, Museum of History, Hong Kong, 'The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia'
2012 4 May-7 Oct, Melbourne Museum, 'The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia'
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'
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 94 (Old Nimrud Gallery no.)