- Museum number
Gypsum wall panel relief showing King Ashurnasirpal II on campaign: Ashurnasirpal is travelling in a royal chariot through a hilly landscape with attendants. A river at the bottom is represented schematically by lines and spirals, and the rough ground by a pattern of scales. The king can be identified by his crown, a conical hat with a pointed top, and his is the grandest beard. The two arrows held upright in his right hand, with the bow lowered in his left, symbolise victory. He wears a sword slung on a swordbelt over his shoulder, and the end of the sheath is decorated with a pair of lions back to back. He has two wristlets; both incorporate rosettes, worn in the position of a modern wrist-watch. A spare bow and two quivers of arrows, an axe and a short javelin are carried in quivers on the side of the cab; decoration including a prancing bull is incised on the quivers. The rear of the chariot, from which a spear-shaft projects diagonally backwards, is closed by a spiked shield with a central boss in the shape of a lion's head. An attendant holds a sunshade over the king's head; in battle this man would use a shield to protect the king from arrows.
The charioteer holds four reins in each hand, together with a whip. This is a typical Assyrian royal chariot of the period, holding a maximum of three people (most chariots carried only two crew) with six-spoked wheels. The two legs of a "Y"-shaped yoke pole is visible, rising from the base of the cab and shown in a distorted false perspective. A patterned cloth is visible above the horses' shoulders, attached to the front of the cab and the yoke. The horses themselves, of which royal chariots probably had a team of four (as revealed in river-crossing scenes) although only three are shown, are led by a groom in front. The tasselled harness is shown in detail, with crests and blinkers on the headstall.
An armed groom in front is helping to lead the horses. His raised arm wears a wristlet similar to the king's.
This is one of two pieces that originally formed the lower section of a single right-angled panel in the corner of a room; they were sawn in two for ease of transport in the 19th century. At the top of the panel can be seen a few signs of the so-called 'standard inscription'.
- Production date
- 874BC (or slightly later)
Height: 101 centimetres
Thickness: 20 centimetres (extant)
Width: 86 centimetres
- Inscription subject
- Curator's comments
- In set with 1856,0909.211 (BM.124558). Inscription on the reverse refers to an expedition to Lebanon in ca 874 BC so the relief must date to this year or slightly later: see Reade 1985.
- Bibliographic references
Budge 1914 / Assyrian Sculptures in the British Museum, Reign of Ashur-nasir-pal, 885-890 B.C (pl. XXV.1)
Gadd 1936b / The Stones of Assyria: the surviving remains of Assyrian sculpture, their recovery, and their original positions (p.136)
Reade 1985 / Texts and sculptures from the north-west palace, Nimrud (pp. 205, 210, pl. XLI.a) (reproduces Or.Dr.I,8)
Paley & Sobolewski 1987 / The reconstruction of the relief representations and their positions in the northwest-palace at Kalhu (Nimrud)
Curtis & Reade 1994a / Tesoros de asiria en el Museo Britanico: Arte e Imperio (2)
Curtis & Reade 1995a / Art and empire: treasures from Assyria in the British Museum (2)
Grayson, RIMA 2 / Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millennium BC, I (1114-859 BC) (RIM.A.0.101.23.41)
Curtis & Tallis 2012 / The Horse from Arabia to Ascot (34)
British Museum 2011a / Splendours of Mesopotamia (pp.98-99, cat.66)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2022 16 Feb – 29 May, Seville, Caixa Forum, “Human Image”
2021 - 2022 27 Apr – 16 Jan, Madrid, Caixa Forum, “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'
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 16a (ex Nimrud Gallery)