Lamassu from Ashurnasirpal II Palace

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published on 06 February 2014

This is a pair of guardian figures (winged human-headed lions) that flanked one of the entrances into the throne room of Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BCE). Stone mythological guardians, sculpted in relief or in the round, were often placed at gateways to ancient Mesopotamian palaces, to protect them from demonic forces. They were known to the Assyrians as lamassu. This winged lion has five legs so that when viewed from the front it is standing firm, and when viewed from the side it appears to be striding forward against any evil. It wears ropes like other protective spirits. Between the legs is inscribed the "Standard Inscription" of Ashurnasirpal II which is repeated over many of his reliefs. It records the king's titles, ancestry and achievements.

Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), north-west palace, room B, door a, panel 2. Neo-Assyrian era, 883-859 BCE, Mesopotamia, Iraq. (The British Museum, London)



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