Ivory plaque depicting a winged sphinx

Remove ads - become a member


by Trustees of the British Museum
published on 26 April 2012

Phoenician, 9th-8th century BC
Found at Fort Shalmaneser, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq

Clear Egyptian connections

Fort Shalmaneser consisted of a palace, storerooms and arsenal for the Assyrian army. This openwork ivory plaque may originally have been part of a piece of furniture which came to Nimrud, the Assyrian capital, as part of tribute or booty. When Nimrud was plundered at the end of the seventh century BC objects such as furniture were broken up for their inlaid precious stones and metals.

The sphinx shows clear Egyptian influence since he wears the Upper and Lower crown of Egypt and hanging from his chest is an apron with a projecting uraeus (rearing cobra) worn by Egyptian pharaohs. The style shows that the ivory was probably carved by a Phoenician craftsman on the coast of the Levant. It is similar to the falcon-headed sphinxes, which wear the double crown and uraeus, on a bronze bowl also from Nimrud.

D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

J.E. Curtis and J.E. Reade (eds), Art and empire: treasures from (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

Help us write more

We're a small non-profit organisation run by a handful of volunteers. Each article costs us about $50 in history books as source material, plus editing and server costs. You can help us create even more free articles for as little as $5 per month, and we'll give you an ad-free experience to thank you! Become a Member

Share This

Image License

Copyright: You cannot use, copy, distribute, or modify this item without explicit permission from the author.

Read the licensing terms for more information on how to use this image legally.

Commercial Use

For commercial use, please contact the editors by email () to discuss whether this image can be licensed.

If you are not sure whether your project is commercial then please also get in touch for clarification.


Remove ads - become a member