Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Limestone stela of Ashurnasirpal II: carved; the king wears the royal hat with a conical top and holds a mace symbolising authority; he extends his right hand with forefinger outstretched as if he has just snapped his fingers, in a gesture of respect to five gods; Ashur, the supreme god is represented by a horned helmet, Shamash, the sun god by a winged disc, Sin the moon god, by a crescent in a half circle, Adad the storm god, by a forked line representing a thunderbolt and a star (Venus) represents the goddess of love and war, Ishtar; the king wears similar symbols on his chest, with a maltese cross instead of a winged disc for the sun. There is a cuneiform text on the back and sides.


  • Authority

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 865BC-860BC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 294 centimetres (approx)
    • Weight: 4000 kilograms (approx)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        back and sides
      • Inscription Comment

        The cuneiform text on the back and sides records the more important conquests of this king.
  • Curator's comments

    In set with 1851,0902.33 (BM.118806). Layard (1853: 351) refers to how "unfortunately, the heat of the fire which had consumed the building, had also broken this monument into two pieces". The material of this stele is limestone although popular nineteenth century jargon has led to it being described as alabaster and it has subsequently been mis-labelled as either alabaster or gypsum.


  • Bibliography

    • Reade 1979b fig. 19 bibliographic details
    • Gadd 1936b p.129 bibliographic details
    • Paley S M 1976a pl. 17b bibliographic details
    • Layard A H 1853a pl. facing p. 351 bibliographic details
    • Budge E A W 1914 pls II-III bibliographic details
    • Grayson, RIMA 2 RIM.A.0.101.17 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G6a

  • Exhibition history


    2000-2012 BM, Great Court
    19thC BM, Assyrian Transept West

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Found by Layard about May 1850; despatched in two pieces from Nimrud; shipped from Basra March 1851 in the 'Fortitude', arriving London August the same year.

  • Department

    Middle East

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • 847 (exhibition number (Assyrian Transept))
COMPASS Title: Stela of Ashurnasirpal II

COMPASS Title: Stela of Ashurnasirpal II

Image description



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Object reference number: WCO26512

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