Assyrian. Cast of the original in the British Museum, London. Detail from The Great Lion Hunt, an alabaster relief from the North Palace of King Ashurbanipal at Ninevah (northern Iraq), ca. 668-627 BCE.

Description:

This relief, discovered ca. 1853-56 CE, is considered a masterpiece of Assyrian art, which reached its apex during the reign of Ashurbanipal, the last great king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (668 BCE – 627 BCE). An incredible collection of reliefs and carvings portraying ideological scenes of Ashurbanipal are also part of the legacy left behind by the king. The British Museum in London boasts an exhilarating exhibit of carvings from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal, also excavated at Nineveh, depicting the king hunting and killing lions. In Assyria, the lion hunt was seen as a royal sport; the depictions were seen as a symbol of the king’s ability to guard the nation. 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.

Historical Context:

Ashurbanipal was the last great king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (668 BCE – 627 BCE). He established the first systematically organized library in the ancient Middle East, the Library of Ashurbanipal, which survives in part today at Nineveh, located across the Tigris River from the modern-day city of Mosul, Iraq.

  • assyrian
  • assyrian art
  • Ninevah
  • North Palace of King Ashurbanipal
  • relief