Carved relief from Nineveh

Contributed by Oriental Museum Durham

Carved relief from Nineveh

At the end of the 8th century BC the Assyrian King Sennacherib chose Nineveh as his capital and built what he called the 'Palace without Rival', decorating it with finely carved reliefs. At this time the Assyrians had carved an empire that stretched from Egypt to the Persian Gulf but this empire was difficult to control. Sennacherib's successor Esarhaddon died in 669 BC while on an expedition to crush rebellion in Egypt. He was succeeded by Ashurbanipal.

Ashurbanipal built a new palace, now known as the Northern Palace, and decorated it with finely carved stone reliefs, including the famous carvings now in the British Museum. This section, now in the Oriental Museum in Durham, depicts the results of civil war between Assyria and Bablyon in which Ashurbanipal was victorious over this brother Shamash-shum-ukin of Babylon.

Three Babylonian men on the left are followed by an Assyrian soldier, recognisable by this crested helmet, who is using a stick to beat the captive in front of him. Behind them are female prisoners carrying waterskins. On the far right is the figure of a boy turning around to a person now lost, perhaps asking for a drink.

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Kuyunjik (Nineveh), Iraq


668-627 BC


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