Statue of Ashurnasirpal II

Remove ads - become a member

Illustration

by Trustees of the British Museum
published on 26 April 2012

Neo-Assyrian, 883-859 BC
From Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq

A rare example of an Assyrian statue in the round

This statue of King Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC) was placed in the Temple of Ishtar Sharrat-niphi. It was designed to remind the goddess Ishtar of the king's piety. It is made of magnesite, and stands on a pedestal of a reddish stone. These unusual stones were probably brought back from a foreign campaign. Kings often boasted of the exotic things they acquired from abroad, not only raw materials and finished goods but also plants and animals.

The king's hair and beard are shown worn long in the fashion of the Assyrian court at this time. It has been suggested that the Assyrians used false hair and beards, as the Egyptians sometimes did, but there is no evidence for this.

Ashurnasirpal holds a sickle in his right hand, of a kind which gods are sometimes depicted using to fight monsters. The mace in his left hand shows his authority as vice-regent of the supreme god Ashur. The carved cuneiform inscription across his chest proclaims the king's titles and genealogy, and mentions his expedition westward to the Mediterranean Sea.

The statue was found in the nineteenth century by Henry Layard, the excavator of the temple.

J.E. Reade, Assyrian sculpture-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)

A.K. Grayson, Assyrian royal inscriptions-1 (Wiesbaden, O. Harrassowitz, 1976)

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

A.H. Layard, Discoveries in the ruins of Ni (London, J. Murray, 1853)

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.

Advertisement

Remove ads - become a member