Assyria (Room 10)

Assyria: Lion Hunts (Room 10a)

645 – 635 BC

In ancient Assyria, lion-hunting was considered the sport of kings, symbolic of the ruling monarch’s duty to protect and fight for his people. The sculpted reliefs in Room 10a illustrate the sporting exploits of the last great Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal (668-631 BC) and were created for his palace at Nineveh (in modern-day northern Iraq).

The hunt scenes, full of tension and realism, rank among the finest achievements of Assyrian Art. They depict the release of the lions, the ensuing chase and subsequent killing.

Assyria: Siege of Lachish (Room 10b)

710 – 692 BC

Lachish was one of the chief cities of the kingdom of Judah in the southern Levant and in 701 BC it was captured by the Assyrian King Sennacherib (704-681 BC). The siege followed the refusal of Lachish to pay tribute to the Assyrian Empire (based in modern northern Iraq) and is mentioned in the Bible.

Many of the relief sculptures on display in Room 10b depict the capture of the city, alongside a selection of items and weaponry used in the siege. A “prism” inscribed with an Assyrian account of the campaign is also on show.

Assyria: Khorsabad (Room 10c)

710  705 BC

The city and palace at Khorsabad (in modern northern Iraq), was built for the Assyrian King Sargon II (721-705 BC). The palace entrances were originally dominated by pairs of colossal human-headed winged bulls, which were intended as guardians, accompanied by protective spirits with magical powers.

Two of these impressive statues now stand in Room 10c, along with carvings depicting the king and crown prince, royal courtiers and hunting scenes. Inscriptions on display in the gallery come from a similar winged bull from the palace of Sennacherib (704-681 BC) at nearby Nineveh and were badly burnt when the city was destroyed in 612 BC.