By Dr Dominique Collon
Last updated 2011-07-01
The walls of Assyrian palaces were lined with limestone panels carved in low relief with scenes of war, hunting and ritual. Probably the finest decorated the North Palace of King Ashurbanipal (668-631 BC), at Nineveh.
This detail from his famous Lion Hunt shows King Ashurbanipal drawing a bow. The rich decoration of his head-dress and garment is rendered in detail, and he wears beautiful earrings, which resemble some made of gold found in the tombs of the Assyrian queens at Nimrud.
Behind the king's head-dress are the butts of two spears, held by attendants who are keeping a lion at bay. On other reliefs, the king stabs a lion, then passes his bow to an attendant, seizes a spear and dispatches a further lion. Killing lions was a royal sport, duty and prerogative.
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