- Museum number
Gypsum wall panel depicting the celebration after a bull hunt in relief: the bull lies on the ground, and Ashurnasirpal rests his bow while pouring a triumphant libation of wine. The Royal chariot travels to the right, and the horses wear saddlecloths with geometric patterns. On the left are two royal bodyguards, both carrying maces as symbols of authority in addition to their arms. The figure carrying a parasol, who also has a quiver, would be the bearer of the king's bow. Another figure is waving a fan or fly-whisk in front of the king; he has a towel over his left shoulder. All these four are beardless, and may therefore be identified as eunuchs.
The king, like his attendants, wears what is basically a simple short-sleeved tasselled robe, with traces of incised embroidery. An apron hanging down his back from his wide belt was to help prevent chafing against the edge of the chariot cab. He wears the standard royal crown with diadem; on his arms are rosette wristlets and plain armlets like those of his attendants, though royal armlets more usually ended in animal-heads; his bead necklace is balanced by a tassel at the back of the neck. His sword-sheath is attached to a strap over his right shoulder; the purpose of the double tassels which hang down in front of him and behind remains unclear. He is pouring his libation from a gadrooned bowl of a kind which continued in fashion even after the Assyrian period.
The officer facing the king is the crown prince, presumably the next king, Shalmaneser. He is dressed much as the king, but with only the diadem on his head. The man behind him may be the chief eunuch, with a specific headband to mark his office. Both have their hands crossed in a distinctive gesture used by courtiers in the royal presence. To the right a pair of musicians are playing on nine-stringed horizontal harps.
- Production date
Height: 93 centimetres
Thickness: 9 centimetres (extant)
Width: 225 centimetres
- Inscription subject
- Curator's comments
This is the aftermath of the hunt shown in BM 124533. The scene is comparable with BM 124887 which shows a similar libation over two centuries later.
Documents refer to Assyrian courtiers as being either bearded men or eunuchs: some beardless figures in the Assyrian sculptures are of course women, but they are not frequent; others are children, or priests whose hair was completely shaved off on consecration, but these can usually be recognised without difficulty.
Moulded as a commercially available cast (listed in the BM Facsimile Service, Catalogue of Replicas).
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 June - 6 Jan, Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum, '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
- Acquisition notes
- Found by Layard about May 1846; despatched from the site in December 1846; sent from Basra to Bombay in the 'Clive', thence to England on H.M.S. 'Meeanee' in August 1849.
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: NG.3b (ex Nimrud Gallery)