Wall Relief of Ashurnasirpal II from Nimrud

Wall Relief of Ashurnasirpal II from Nimrud


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By Osama S. M. Amin

Osama graduated from Baghdad University, College of Medicine and was the valedictorian student in internal medicine. He got membership diplomas of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of Ireland (MRCPI) and Glasgow (MRCP Glasg) and then became Board-certified in neurology. Osama is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians (FACP), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (FRCP Glasg), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (FRCP Edin), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (FRCPI), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London FRCP Lond), and Fellow of the Stroke Council of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (FAHA). Currently, he is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Clinical School of the International Medical University, Malaysia. Osama published more than 50 articles in international peer-reviewed neurology journals and 5 self-assessment books for the membership diploma of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom and Ireland. He is an associate editor, guest editor, reviewer and former editor-in-chief in several international peer-reviewed internal medicine and neurology journals. Osama is very interested in Mesopotamian history and always tries to take photos of archaeological sites and artifacts in museums, both in Iraq and around the world. He is a contributor/team member of "Medical MasterClass," the online educational arm of the Royal College of Physicians of London, UK.


Wall Relief of Ashurnasirpal II from Nimrud - History

Proposed layout of the facsimile of the Eastern end of the Throne room of Ashurnasirpal II

Factum Arte started this project in 2004 as a collaboration with the Danish exhibition company United Exhibits Group. This exhibition company was working with the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Culture of Iraq to curate an exhibition &lsquoThe Gold of Nimrud&rsquo that was planned as a touring exhibition to raise urgently needed funds for the preservation of Heritage in Iraq. In 2006, with UEG in serious financial difficulties, work on the exhibition stopped. At that time Factum Arte, working with Julian Reade (formerly assistant keeper of Near Eastern Archaeology the British Museum) and Mogens Trolle Larsen (professor of Assyriology at University of Copenhagen) had completed most of the work required to make a facsimile of the eastern end of the Throne-room of Ashurnasirpal II.

Turning discrete objects back into complex subjects

Increasingly a number of facsimiles are being used in cases of repatriation. The work carried out by Factum Arte on Veronese's Wedding at Cana is a good example of this. However in the case of the facsimiles of the relief panels from Ashurnasipal II's throne-room there is another interesting aspect - that of re-uniting different parts from the same site that are now displayed as discrete objects in different museums around the world. The friezes from Nimrud were once part of a complex narrative that mixed polychrome relief carving and text. The impact of this has been lost. It is hoped that the work to reunite all the known parts of the Eastern end of the throne-room will lead to new insights and understandings about both Assyrian art and life. Revealing the biography (or career) of each of the fragments is an important part of the work - one that shows how attitudes to the preservation of culture are both constantly changing and geographically conditioned.

The Northwest Palace was discovered in 1849-50 by Austin Henry Layard. He wrote:
"We may wander through these galleries for an hour or two, examining the marvelous sculptures, or the numerous inscriptions that surround us. Here we meet long rows of kings, attended by their eunuchs and priests,- there lines of winged figures, carrying fir cones and religious emblems. Some, who may hereafter tread on the spot when the grass again grows over the ruins of the Assyrian palaces, may suspect that I have been relating a vision."

With extraordinary skill Layard removed the carved polychrome friezes and sculptures with the majority being sent to the British Museum in London. In the nineteenth century there was as much interest in the Assyrian Culture as there was in Egypt and these works were of great importance to the British Museum as it built its collection. The panels have a complex biography after they arrived in London some were cast, some were shown at the Great Exhibition (from where they were sold to the Pergamon), others were allowed to go elsewhere and Layard also gave some away. As a result a once coherent narrative cycle ended up in museums around the world. Parts of the palace not removed by Layard remain in Nimrud and are in urgent need of documentation and preservation.

The Throne-room was originally painted but since its removal in the nineteenth century all the paint (except for small traces, mostly visible on the feet of the Dresden panel) has been removed. This either happened during the process of plaster casting at the British Museum or during subsequent cleaning.

High resolution recording techniques and making exact copies

Some of the recording systems were designed especially for the work and have major implications for the study of relief surfaces &ndash particularly the merging of 3D information with high resolution photography. Factum Arte's obsession with high-resolution recording in colour and 3 dimensions can be seen in all the conservation projects they have realised. New scanners are constantly being designed and built for increasingly specific tasks.

The ability to render the 3D data with different light sources also has major implications for the study and dissemination of cuneiform tablets. Many of the cuneiform tablets that exist have never been read or studied. A systematic programme of scanning and reading with optical character recognition software could lead to some exciting new discoveries.

Factum Arte's Facsimile of the Eastern End
of the throneroom of Ashurnasirpal II

High resolution scanning and photography was carried out in the British Museum London, the Pergamon Berlin, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, The Sackler Collection at Harvard University and The Art Museum at Princeton University. A trip to record the fragments left on site in Nimrud and other known fragments in Mosul and Baghdad was postponed following a visit of the Minister of Culture of Iraq to Madrid on June 10th 2005.

In the British Museum Factum Arte recorded: two colossal human headed winged lions (3.5 (high) x 5.8 (long) x 1.5 (wide) meters), the throne back, 8 panels from the south east wall of the throne-room, a winged figure from the east wall,an urn found in the throne-room and a &lsquocarpet piece' from Nineveh.

In British Museum Factum Arte recorded the colossal statue of a winged lion from the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II (Room B)

In the Pergamon Museum, Berlin Factum Arte recorded: one of the slaves serving food from the ante-chamber to the throne-room, the head of a winged spirit and a standard inscription. In the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden Factum Arte recorded: a large winged figure from the south wall of the throne-room.

In the Sackler Collection at Harvard University Factum Arte recorded: the head of a winged figure from a badly damaged panel that once stood to the right of the throne-back.

In the Art Museum at Princeton University Factum Arte recorded the upper half of a winged figure from a panel that once stood to the left of to the throne-back.

All of these high-resolution 3D scans were routed by Delcam, Birminigham at a resolution of 300 microns. This was the largest conservation project of its kind at the time and has not been matched in terms of scale and accuracy since.

The only thing that remains is to cast all the sections in a simulated Mosul marble so that each panel exactly matches the original in terms of colour and transparency.

After a delay of several years Factum Arte are now proposing to complete the work and ensure that it is returned to Iraq where it can play an important role in informing both a local and international public about the complex history of each of the fragments that once formed one of the most important cycles of sculpted, polychrome narrative images.

See Ashurnasirpal's standard inscription here.

The standard inscription made from a recording of a plaster-cast from the British Museum that was found in the basement of The Pergamon, Berlin

A finished panel made in scagliola matching the character of the Mosul marble of the original in The British Museum. All of the panels from the eastern end of the throneroom and two human headed lions from the centre of the throneroom are being cast in scagliola.

In addition to making the panels in scagliola they are also cast in plaster. These plaster-casts are used to ensure that the detail on the surface of the scagliola is as perfect as possible.


Asia, West Asia, Arabian Peninsula, Iraq

Course History

ANTH 39, Archaeology of the Middle East, Jesse Casana, Fall 2019

ARTH 01, Bodies and Buildings, Nicola Camerlenghi and Steven Kangas, Fall 2019

SART 23, Figure Sculpture, Leslie Fry, Spring 2019

JWST 7, Archaeologists, Artists, and Adventures: The Rediscovery of the Holy Land , Steven Kangas, Winter 2016

ANTH 12.2, The Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Jesse Casana, Fall 2015

ARTH 1, Bodies and Buildings: Introduction to the History of Art in the Ancient World and the Middle Ages, Jane Carroll, Steven Kangas, Fall 2015

ARTH 20, The Art of Ancient Egypt and the Ancient Near East, Steven Kangas, Spring 2015

ARTH 7.8, Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and their Modern Successors, Steven Kangas, Spring 2015

ANTH 8, The Rise and Fall of Prehistoric Civilizations, Deborah Nichols, Fall 2014

REL 4, JWST 4, Religion of Israel: The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), Peter Lanfer, Fall 2014

ARTH 1, Bodies and Buildings, Steven Kangas, Nicola Camerlenghi, Fall 2014

THEA 15, Theater & Society I: Classical and Medieval Performance, Laura Edmondson, Fall 2014

ANTH 12.2, Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Daniel Potts, Spring 2014

ARTH 20, The Art of Ancient Egypt and the Ancient Near East, Steven Kangas, Winter 2014

WRIT 5, Imaging Power: The Development of a Western Vocabulary of Rulership, Jane Carroll, Winter 2014

JWST 7, Archaeologists, Artists, and Adventurers: The Rediscovery of the Holy Land, Steven Kangas, Winter 2014

ARAB 31, Advanced Arabic, El Mostafa Ouajjani, Fall 2013

ANTH 8, The Rise and Fall of Prehistoric Civilizations, Deborah Nichols, Fall 2013

ARTH 1, Steve Kangas, Ada Cohen, Bodies and Buildings: Introduction to the History of Art in the Ancient World and the Middle Ages, Fall 2013

ANTH 12.2, The Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Jason Herrmann, Spring 2013

REL 4, JWST 4, Religion of Israel: The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), Peter Lanfer, Spring 2013

ARTH 20, Art of Ancient Egypt and the Near East, Steven Kangas, Spring 2013

REL 81, Dickinson Distinguished Scholar Seminar: Orientalism and the Origins of Religion, Susannah Heschel, Fall 2012

ARTH 1, Bodies and Buildings, Ada Cohen, Steven Kangas, Fall 2012

JWST 41, Cities of the Biblical World, Steven Kangas, Fall 2012

ARTH 82, History of Museums and Collecting, Joy Kenseth, Spring 2012

Exhibition History

Wilson Hall, Room 205, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1928/29-1975.

Picture Gallery, Reed Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1857-1860s stored in a small closet in Reed Hall, 1860s-1880s on display again, 1880s-1895.

Global Cultures at the Hood: Ancient to Premodern, Gene Y. Kim Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26. 2019.

Gene Y. Kim, Class of 1985, Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, November 15, 1985-present.

College Museum, Butterfield Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1896-1928.

Carpenter Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1975-1985.

Publication History

Judith Lerner, Journey's End: The Assyrian Reliefs at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: Trustees of Dartmouth College, September, 1985, p. 30-31, ill. p. 30.

Georgia Croft, Back on the Wall (where they belong), Hanover, New Hampshire: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 1985, p. 31-33.

Ada Cohen and Steven E. Kangas, Assyrian Reliefs from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II: A Cultural Biography, Hanover, New Hamphire: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2010, p. 78-79, plate 5, ill. p. 153, figure 5.8

Provenance

The reliefs were excavated by Sir Austen Henry Layard (1817-1895), at Nimrud, Iraq, about 1845-47 offered to Missionaries by Henry Creswicke Rawlinson (1810-1895), a political agent of the British in Baghdad, about 1853 Professor Oliver Payson Hubbard, Class of 1873h (1809-1900), Chemistry Professor and College Librarian asked Reverend Austin Hazen Wright (1811-1865), Class of 1830 (Medical missionary stationed in Oroomiah, Persia) to acquire some reliefs for Dartmouth College, 1853 the Dartmouth reliefs were selected and packed by Reverend Henry Lobdell, M.D. (1827-1855) at Nimrud, about 1854-55 travelled from Nimrud to Mosul on mules travelled on camels across the Syrian desert to the Mediterranean at Alexandretta (Iskenderun) transported to a sailing vessel to Beirut travelled on the steamer "Daniel Webster" to Boston travelled by rail to Hanover, New Hampshire arrived on December 11, 1856.

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator it may be inaccurate or incomplete.

Noticed a mistake? Have some extra information about this object? Contact Us


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PROTECTIVE SPIRIT

This carved slab is one of many such gypsum panels that lined the walls of important rooms in the so-called Northwest Palace at Nimrud, capital of Assyria, in what is now northern Iraq. Reliefs depicting supernatural spirits were erected at doorways and against the walls of ritually significant areas of the palace. This example was especially important as the imagery was designed to offer magical protection to the royal throne room. A cuneiform (wedge-like) inscription carved horizontally across the middle of the panel names the king responsible for its creation: Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883–859 BC)

Originally highlighted with paint, the bird-headed spirit wears fringed robes typical of male supernatural figures and holds a cone and a bucket. The cone is described in Assyrian texts as a purifier and was presumably used to sprinkle liquid from the bucket. The spirit is thus shown in the act of purifying the gateway he guards, helping to create a magical barrier that would keep out the forces of chaos.

The palace at Nimrud was excavated by the British adventurer Austen Henry Layard between 1845 and 1851. In gratitude for the award of an honorary degree in 1848, Layard offered this relief to the University of Oxford. In April 1850 the carved slab was placed in a crate and sent down the River Tigris on a raft to Basra and from there transferred to Bombay (Mumbai). Months later, the slab was sailed around Africa to London and eventually reached Oxford in January 1852.


Relief with Winged Deity

Relief with winged deity Download image />

I am Ashurnasirpal, the obedient prince, the worshipper of the great gods, the fierce dragon, the conqueror of all cities and mountains . the king of rulers, who tames the dangerous enemies .

This large alabaster relief once decorated an interior wall in the great North-West Palace of the Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II, in the city of Kalhu, today called Nimrud. The site lies forty kilometres south of Mosul, in the north of present-day Iraq. Ashurnasirpal was the first Assyrian king to decorate his palace extensively with sculpted stone decoration, a tradition followed enthusiastically by his successors.

Every wall panel carved for the king’s new palace bore the standard inscription from which the words quoted above come. The text details Ashurnasirpal’s kingly and priestly roles and lists his many military campaigns and achievements. The inscription is visible in the middle of this relief, detail left. It is written in cuneiform – the wedge-shaped script that developed around 3000 BCE in what is now southern Iraq.

Ashurnasirpal II, who ruled between 883 and 859 BCE, was one of the most successful kings of the Neo-Assyrian empire, a power that commanded the most important trade routes between East and West and which flourished between the ninth and seventh centuries BCE. The heart of the empire was northern Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, but at its height, under Ashurnasirpal II, Assyria’s territories reached as far west as the Mediterranean coast and as far south as the Egyptian desert. The traditional capital had always been Ashur – also the name of the supreme Assyrian god. But in 879 BCE Ashurnasirpal II built a new capital city at Kalhu, and here, in his magnificent new palace, he recorded in stone his military victories, his dealings with his gods and his exploits upon the hunting field.

The winged man depicted on this relief is an apkallu ('sage'), one of several benevolent semi-divine beings who were believed to counsel and protect the Assyrian king. Several images of apkallu were placed near the entrances to rooms in Ashurnasirpal’s palace to ward off evil spirits.

Here the apkallu holds a banduddu ('pail') and a mullilu ('sprinkler') from which he dispenses water for purification. He is wears a horned crown (a sign of divine status), a tasselled skirt and robe. The pommels of two daggers stick out of a belt at his waist, and he is adorned with a necklace, earring and a rosette bracelet. These details would originally have been picked out with brightly coloured paint.

Perhaps the most distinctly Assyrian trait is the apkallu’s magnificently coiffed beard and curling moustache. There was intense interest in the Assyrian empire in England in the nineteenth century, after the archaeologist Austin Henry Layard had excavated Nimrud and brought the statues from Ashurnasirpal’s palace back to London. It has been suggested that the Victorian male fashion for long, thick beards may have been inspired by the luxuriant facial hair favoured by the Assyrian court. Would Edward Burne-Jones, for instance, left [778], as drawn by Charles Fairfax Murray in 1869, have looked as he did without the example of Ashurnasirpal II?


Asia, West Asia, Arabian Peninsula, Iraq

Course History

ARTH 20, Art of Ancient Egypt and the Near East, Steven Kangas, Spring 2013

Exhibition History

Picture Gallery, Reed Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1857-1860s stored in a small closet in Reed Hall, 1860s-1880s on display again, 1880s-1895. It is uncertain if this fragment was on display.

From Discovery to Dartmouth: The Assyrian Reliefs at the Hood Museum of Art, 1856-2006, Alvin P. Gutman Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October 19, 2006-June 17, 2007.

Publication History

Judith Lerner, Journey's End: The Assyrian Reliefs at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: Trustees of Dartmouth College, September, 1985, p. 30-31, ill. p. 30.

Georgia Croft, Back on the Wall (where they belong), Hanover, New Hampshire: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 1985, p. 31-33.

Ada Cohen and Steven E. Kangas, Assyrian Reliefs from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II: A Cultural Biography, Hanover, New Hamphire: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2010, p. 84-85, plate 8

Provenance

The reliefs were excavated by Sir Austen Henry Layard (1817-1895), at Nimrud, Iraq, about 1845-47 offered to Missionaries by Henry Creswicke Rawlinson (1810-1895), a political agent of the British in Baghdad, about 1853 Professor Oliver Payson Hubbard, Class of 1873h (1809-1900), Chemistry Professor and College Librarian asked Reverend Austin Hazen Wright (1811-1865), Class of 1830 (Medical missionary stationed in Oroomiah, Persia) to acquire some reliefs for Dartmouth College, 1853 the Dartmouth reliefs were selected and packed by Reverend Henry Lobdell, M.D. (1827-1855) at Nimrud, about 1854-55 travelled from Nimrud to Mosul on mules travelled on camels across the Syrian desert to the Mediterranean at Alexandretta (Iskenderun) transported to a sailing vessel to Beirut travelled on the steamer "Daniel Webster" to Boston travelled by rail to Hanover, New Hampshire arrived on December 11, 1856.

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator it may be inaccurate or incomplete.

Noticed a mistake? Have some extra information about this object? Contact Us


Assyrian war reliefs

These showed them skinning their victims alive, blinding them, and impaling them on stakes.. One Assyrian King, named Ashurnasirpal II, has left a whole series of these tablets behind, and the descriptions are positively terrifying.

I then asked him, what happened after their arrival to the Sulaymaniyah Museum?

Neither the author nor Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) endorses any specific of the aforementioned terms. Exclusive photo never-before-published.

This large wall relief summarizes what we have seen in the aforementioned reliefs at the Sulaymaniyah Museum. Photo © Osama S. M. Amin. (This is a rough estimate as I did not measure them). Photo © Osama S. M. Amin. Assyrian, 865-860 BCE. Archers, stone slingers and spearmen lay siege to the town of Lachish. Warfare was considered a religious duty. Assyrian War Camp Relief.

Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so. Exclusive photo never-before-published. Only one out of these eight pieces is on display within the main hall of the museum the others were never displayed, and they did not undergo any conservation.

After three or four years, the Iraqi army invaded Kuwait, economic sanctions affected the entire country, the Gulf War began, the Kurdish uprisings ensued, and the Federal Kurdish Government of Iraqi Kurdistan was established… all of this created a turbulent environment. Exclusive photo never-before-published. The Sulaymaniyah Museum, Iraqi Kurdistan.

The “standard inscription” of Ashurnasirpal II is the only content, filling out all of the surface of the relief’s fragment. This hall of the Sulaymaniyah Museum was renovated by the UNESCO as part of a specific master-plan in 2013. I chose the best pieces available. The relief was created for the walls of the great palace of the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, in Nineveh. © Trustees of the British Museum. It was my idea to tie our names with Ashurnasirpal II’s name.”. Their storage was strange and full of negligence, in addition to being unnoticed.

What has survived is the left hand of an apkallu (Akkadian word meaning “sage”). They wear long fringed robe, exquisitely carved. Exclusive photo never-before-published. This is part of a ceremonial religious rite. © Trustees of the British Museum, Scene 4. He is an associate editor, guest editor, reviewer and former editor-in-chief in several international peer-reviewed internal medicine and neurology journals. Currently, he is retired and lives happily in a rural house. From the northwest palace at Nimrud, Northern Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq.

The Sulaymaniyah Museum in Iraqi Kurdistan houses eight small fragments from the Assyrian palace’s wall reliefs. Osama is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians (FACP), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (FRCP Glasg), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (FRCP Edin), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (FRCPI), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London FRCP Lond), and Fellow of the Stroke Council of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (FAHA).

A fragment of a wall relief from the northwest palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud. The Governorate of Sulaymaniyah is on the Iraq-Iran border and was one of the bloody war zones between the two nations additionally, it was the locus for the Kurdish rebellion against Saddam Hussein’s regime in the late 1980s. I took permission from Mr. Muaid Saeed Al-Damirchy, former General Director of the Directorate of Antiquities of Iraq, to acquire and transfer ancient artifacts from the Iraqi Museum in Baghdad and Mosul Museum in Mosul Governorate to the Sulaymaniyah Museum. Two out of the eight reliefs showed the label of the Mosul Museum.

Osama is very interested in Mesopotamian history and always tries to take photos of archaeological sites and artifacts in museums, both in Iraq and around the world. The shape of the reliefs were roughly rectangular with somewhat similar dimensions of about 100 x 50 cm.

Hashim said that you are a ‘brain physician’ or something and a military personnel, correct? Detail of a gypsum wall relief from the northwest at Nimrud. In addition, the reliefs powerfully express the ease with which the Assyrian king is able to traverse difficult terrain and obstacles like rivers, and to punish and humiliate rebel kings who had opposed the divine order of the world by effortlessly conquering their heavily fortified cities, such as Lachish in Judah. I thanked him a lot and wished him a happy and healthy life.

The cuneiform inscriptions are clear. The Assyrian kingdom had no natural boundaries and the fertile lands around the river Tigris attracted both mobile pastoralists and neighbouring powers. The depiction of diverse landscapes with entire backgrounds filled by details of vegetation and physical features represent the varied world controlled by Assyria. Sennacherib is shown as an invincible king presiding over a perfect victory. According to 2 Kings 18:17-37 they would send a messenger to deliver the ultimatum, which was ‘surrender or die’. The Reliefs show the Assyrian army laying siege in 701 BC to a town near Jerusalem. The Assyrian kings had their activities recorded in detail on numerous stones that were attached to the walls in the palace chambers.

A special gratitude goes to Mr. Mutasim Rasheed Abdulrahman, also known as Shex Mutasim (Arabic معتصم رشيد عبد الرحمن, المعروف بشيخ معتصم) for his cooperation without his kind help, this article would have not been published. He wears a fringed robe. Prisoners are brought to the Assyrian king to receive his justice. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. © Trustees of the British Museum, Scene 6. Because of his political views, he was harassed and ignored by subsequent governments. The Mosul Museum later acquired these eight fragments and stored them. The right part of the upper margin was cut out in a way to preserve part of the “sacred tree” therefore, that margin appears non-horizontal. The hand grips on the handle of a buckle.


Watch the video: Ashurnasirpal II