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Statue of Ashurnasirpal II
Statue of Ashurnasirpal II
Is this the king who made Assyria into a great empire?

This sandstone statue of King Ashurnasirpal II is from the ninth century BC. The eight lines of cuneiform text on his chest reveal his name, titles, and exploits.


The statue was placed in the Temple of Ishtar to remind the goddess Ishtar of the king's piety. It was actually made of magnesite, and stands on a pedestal of a reddish stone. These unusual stones were probably brought back from a foreign campaign. Kings often boasted of the exotic things they acquired from abroad, not only raw materials and finished goods but also plants and animals.

The king's hair and beard are shown worn long in the fashion of the Assyrian court at this time. It has been suggested that the Assyrians used false hair and beards, as the Egyptians sometimes did, but there is no evidence for this.

Ashurnasirpal with his long hair and beard holds a sickle in his right hand. The mace in his left hand shows his authority as vice-regent of the supreme god Ashur. The carved cuneiform inscription across his chest proclaims the king's titles and genealogy, and mentions his expedition westward to the Mediterranean Sea.

In 612 BC the Babylonians and Medes came and destroyed proud Assyria and the Assyrian Empire passed into history. The statue of King Ashurnasirpal II discovery is important in the study of Biblical Archaeology.

"Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger And the staff in whose hand is My indignation. I will send him against an ungodly nation, And against the people of My wrath I will give him charge, To seize the spoil, to take the prey, And to tread them down like the mire of the streets. Yet he does not mean so, Nor does his heart think so; But it is in his heart to destroy, And cut off not a few nations. For he says, "Are not my princes altogether kings? Is not Calno like Carchemish? Is not Hamath like Arpad? Is not Samaria like Damascus? As my hand has found the kingdoms of the idols, Whose carved images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria, As I have done to Samaria and her idols, Shall I not do also to Jerusalem and her idols?"' Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Lord has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, "I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks." For he says: "By the strength of my hand I have done it, And by my wisdom, for I am prudent; Also I have removed the boundaries of the people, And have robbed their treasuries; So I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man.Isaiah 10:5-13

Detailed Description of the Statue of Ashurnasirpal II

Material - Magnesite
Neo Assyrian
Date: 883-859 BC 
Language: Cuneiform
Height: 113 cm 
Width: 32 cm 
Depth: 15 cm 
Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), Northern Iraq
Excavated by: Excavated by A.H. Layard
Location: British Museum, London
Item: ANE 118871
Room 6, Assyrian Sculpture

British Museum Excerpt

Statue of Ashurnasirpal II

A rare example of an Assyrian statue in the round

This statue of King Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC) was placed in the Temple of Ishtar Sharrat-niphi. It was designed to remind the goddess Ishtar of the king's piety. It is made of magnesite, and stands on a pedestal of a reddish stone. These unusual stones were probably brought back from a foreign campaign. Kings often boasted of the exotic things they acquired from abroad, not only raw materials and finished goods but also plants and animals.

The king's hair and beard are shown worn long in the fashion of the Assyrian court at this time. It has been suggested that the Assyrians used false hair and beards, as the Egyptians sometimes did, but there is no evidence for this.

Ashurnasirpal holds a sickle in his right hand, of a kind which gods are sometimes depicted using to fight monsters. The mace in his left hand shows his authority as vice-regent of the supreme god Ashur. The carved cuneiform inscription across his chest proclaims the king's titles and genealogy, and mentions his expedition westward to the Mediterranean Sea.

The statue was found in the nineteenth century by Henry Layard, the excavator of the temple. 

The British Museum

Related Pages:

Assyrian Pride - Ashurnasirpal II Inscription

Human-headed winged bull

Bible History Links - Biblical Archaeology : Assyria

Bible History Links - Ancient Near East : Art & Images

Bible History Online - Colossal Lion of Assyria

Archaeology of Ancient Assyria - Calah

Ancient Babylonia - Nimrud

Archaeology of Ancient Assyria - Austen Henry Layard

Archaeology of Ancient Assyria - Ancient Assyria

HUNTING in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Calah

Ancient Sketches

 

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