- Museum number
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.
- Production date
Height: 98 centimetres
Thickness: 13 centimetres (extant)
Thickness: 23 centimetres (overall)
Width: 139.50 centimetres
- Inscription subject
- 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.124590
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". Reverse of surviving plaster cast at BH dated 1960 and initialled RWB.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2015 - 2016, Dec - Mar, Seoul Arts Centre, 'Human Image'
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
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 36 (ex Nimrud Gallery)