Photos of Neo-Assyrian Sculpture Relief Panels

Chaldean Assyrian relief sculpture slab from the northwest palace of King Ashurnasirpal II of a Genie standing. 881-859 B.C form Nimrud or Ni=mrut ( Kalhu or Kalah). Istanbul Archaeological exhibit Inv. No. 5.

“One of the most recognisable bas relief sculpture styles of the ancient world was produced by the Assyrians. The Assyrian panels were designed to intimidate and exclaim the power and glory of the Assyrian rulers and their success at subjugating their enemies. Envoys and vassal kings coming to pay homage at the great Assyrian palaces would be left in no doubt, as they passed the panels on to way to prostrate themselves at the foot of the Assyrian ruler, that to cross the Assyrians would lead to their destruction. Hope you enjoy my Assyrian panel photos “, Paul Williams.



 

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Beautiful Art Photos of Neo-Assyrian Relief Sulptures

The Assyrian kings could hardly be accused of understatement and humility. They lined their places with stone panels covered with lavish relief sculptures that showed them as Gods, great hunters and more importantly as heroic conquerors and brutal subjugators of their enemies. Assyrian palaces were designed to glorify their Kings and their victories and subdue potential rebellions

Assyrian relief sculpture panel of Ashurnasirpal lion hunting.  From Nineveh  North Palace, Iraq,  668-627 B.C.  British Museum Assyrian  Archaeological exhibit no ME 124876. (Paul Randall Williams)
Assyrian relief sculpture panel of Ashurnasirpal lion hunting. From Nineveh North Palace, Iraq, 668-627 B.C. British Museum Assyrian Archaeological exhibit no ME 124876. (Paul Randall Williams)

Between 883-612 BC , known as the Neo-Assyrian Era, more than a dozen palaces were built in Assur, Kalah, Dur- Sharrukin and Nineveh. They wee decorated with opulent sculptured panels that were embellished with gold leaf and brightly coloured paints.

A central theme In Assyrian art is the King represented as the earthly representative of the Assyrian god Assur. In this role the Assyrian Kings could stamp their authority on their massive Empire. They built Palaces all over their Territories which they visited regularly. In their absence though the Palace art served to remind even the most rebellious of the earthly and spiritual power of the king.

By the mid eighth century BC as the Palaces and the Empire grew bigger the military victories of the Assyrian armies and their Kings started to take center stage in the Palace art. Great battle scenes were sculpted in fine detail depicting all the horrors of warfare and Assyrian cruelty as well as violence on those that tried to defied them. The panels depicted extreme violence showing punishments such as impaling, flayings, burnings. decapitations and hangings. The panels also show some of the earliest images of refugees. Between 883-612 BC the Assyrians deported an estimated three million people from their homes as their empire expanded. The stories told in the Neo-Assyrian palace sculptures seem to justify the biblical stories of their cruelty.

Assyrian relief sculpture panel of Ashurnasirpal on his chariot aiming an arrow during a lion hunt.  From Nineveh  North Palace, Iraq,  668-627 B.C.  British Museum Assyrian  Archaeological exhibit no ME 124867 (Paul Williams)
Assyrian relief sculpture panel of Ashurnasirpal on his chariot aiming an arrow during a lion hunt. From Nineveh North Palace, Iraq, 668-627 B.C. British Museum Assyrian Archaeological exhibit no ME 124867 (Paul Williams)

Another obsession in Neo-Assyrian art is that of a mythical world filled with winged spirit protectors. The meanings of these depictions are not fully understood and the meaning of panels showing winged bird creatures picking fruits from “the tree of life” are still under debate by academics.

Neo-Assyrian sculptures tell us a lot about Assyrian culture and demonstrate what a sophisticated, if rather violent, civilisation the Neo-Assyrians built. Neo-Assyrian art is decorative propaganda on a massive scale. Neo-Assyrian art was designed to impress and intimidate and 2700 years later it still does.


Neo-Assyrian basalt statue of King Shalmaneser III (858-824 B.C) . Inscription reads "Shalmaneser, the great king, the mighty king, king of all four region, the powerful and the mighty rival of the princes of the whole earth the great ones, the kings, son of Assur-Nasirapli, King of the universe, King of Assyria, grandson of ~Tukultiu-Ninurta, King of the Universe, King of Assyria". The inscription continues with his campaigns &b deeds in Uratu, Syria, Que & Tabal ending " At the time I rebuilt the walls of my city Ashur from their foundations to their summits. I made an image of my royal self and set it up in the metal gate". From Assur ( Qala't Sharqat) Iraq. Istanbul Archaeological Museum, Inv no. 4650. (Paul Williams) Assyrian relief sculpture panel from the  lion hunt showing a dying lion.  From Nineveh  North Palace, Iraq,  668-627 B.C.  British Museum Assyrian  Archaeological exhibit no ME 124863-4 (Paul Williams) Assyrian relief sculpture panel  of a protective spirits,  from Nimrud, Iraq. The spirit is holding a symbolic fir cone and is sprinkling holy water from the bucket it is holding.   865-860 B.C North West Palace, Room G, door e, panel 1.  British Museum Assyrian  Archaeological exhibit  ref WA 124586 (Paul Williams)


 

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