Human-Headed Winged Bull

Stone Relief of Ashurnasirpal II and his Attendant

Stone Relief of a Human-Headed Winged Bull

This alabaster relief depicts the lamassu the winged bull guardian of the palace of king Ashurnasirpal of Assyria. His palace was located at ancient Kalhu (Nimrud).

MET Excerpt

Human-headed winged bull and winged lion (lamassu), 883–859 B.C.; Neo-Assyrian period, reign of Ashurnasirpal II

Excavated at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Mesopotamia
Alabaster (gypsum); H. 10 ft. 3 1/2 in. (313.7 cm)
Gift of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., 1932 (32.143.1-.2)

Description

"From the ninth to the seventh century B.C., the kings of Assyria ruled over a vast empire centered in northern Iraq. The great Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883–859 B.C.), undertook a vast building program at Nimrud, ancient Kalhu. Until it became the capital city under Ashurnasirpal, Nimrud had been no more than a provincial town. The new capital occupied an area of about nine hundred acres, around which Ashurnasirpal constructed a mudbrick wall that was 120 feet thick, 42 feet high, and five miles long. In the southwest corner of this enclosure was the acropolis, where the temples, palaces, and administrative offices of the empire were located. In 879 B.C. Ashurnasirpal held a festival for 69,574 people to celebrate the construction of the new capital, and the event was documented by an inscription that read: "the happy people of all the lands together with the people of Kalhu—for ten days I feasted, wined, bathed, and honored them and sent them back to their home in peace and joy."

The so-called Standard Inscription that ran across the surface of most of the reliefs described Ashurnasirpal's palace: "I built thereon [a palace with] halls of cedar, cypress, juniper, boxwood, teak, terebinth, and tamarisk [?] as my royal dwelling and for the enduring leisure life of my lordship." The inscription continues: "Beasts of the mountains and the seas, which I had fashioned out of white limestone and alabaster, I had set up in its gates. I made it [the palace] fittingly imposing." Such limestone beasts are the human-headed, winged bull and lion pictured here. The horned cap attests to their divinity, and the belt signifies their power. The sculptor gave these guardian figures five legs so that they appear to be standing firmly when viewed from the front but striding forward when seen from the side. These lamassu protected and supported important doorways in Assyrian palaces" - MET

"In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it;" - Isaiah 20:1

Assyrian King and Eunuch Attendant Close Up  Assyrian King and Eunuch Attendant Close Up

Copyright © 2001 The Metropolitan Museum of Art - MET

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Table of Contents

Ancient Near East Art

Female Worshipper- Uruk
Funerary Head of an Elamite
Stele of Mesha, King of Moab
Sarcophagus of Eshmunazor II, king of Sidon
Stele Showing the Storm-God Baal
Fertility Goddess - Ugarit
Oskoron I - Byblos
The Spinner Relief
The Archers of Darius
Bull Capital From Darius I Palace
Sargon II and a High Official
Tablet of Sargon's 8th Campaign
Winged Assyrian Bulls
Law-Codex of Hammurabi
Hero Choking a Small Lion
Kudurru of Melishihu
Hittite God - Gold Figurine
Seated Statue of Gudea, prince of Lagash
Foundation Nail of Ur Ba'u 
Cylinder-Seal Of Sharkalisharri
Victory Stele of Naram-Sin
Urnanshe (King of Lagash) Relief
Ebih-II, the Superintendent of Mari 
Tablet Of Pre-Cuneiform Script
King and Eunuch Attendant Relief
Human-Headed Winged Bull
Bearded Man Holding Tendrils
Nubian With Animals and Skins
Head of a Roaring Lion
Cylinder Seal With Impression
Orthostat Relief - Hunting Scene
Sphinx Plaques
Throne With Bull Deity

Ancient Egypt

Model of a Riverboat
Ritual Figure of the 12th Dynasty
Stela of Mentuwoser
Coffin of Khnum-nakht
Sphinx of Senwosret III
Face of Senwosret III
Pectoral with the Name of Senwosret II
Cat
Statuette of a Hippopotamus
Seated Statue of Hatshepsut
Ostracon of Senenmut
Chair of Renyseneb
Heart Scarab of Hatnofer
Kneeling Statue of Tuthmosis III
Arm Panel from a Ceremonial Chair
Sphinx of Amenhotep III

Mediterranean

Pendant in the form of a man's head - Carthage