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Ancient Mesopotamia
Assyria Nineveh
Arslan Tash Til Barsip
Iran Palace of Darius
Phoenicia Arabia Palmyra
Syrian coast
Ougarit Byblos

Human-Headed Winged Bulls
AO 19857-58-59
Richelieu room 4
Sargon II erected a metropolis of
colossal proportions on a virgin site near
to Nineveh with a city named in his honour: Dur-Sharrukin, ‘the citadel of Sargon’ and
an immense palace.
The total length of the sculpted reliefs
covered almost two and a half kilometres.
These gigantic human-headed winged bulls
were intended to guard the entrance to the palace.

 Human-Headed Winged Bulls

The spread wings call to mind the text of Isaiah 8:7, 8: “The king of As·syr´i·a […] will actually flood and pass over. And the outspreading of his wings must occur to fill the breadth of your land.” One of the cuneiform inscriptions located on the lower section of the reliefs specifies that Sargon II ‘destroyed Samaria, the whole house of Omri’. - 2 Kings 17:5, 6.
In one of their inscriptions, Sargon declares: “For me, may he (the god Ashur) decree long life and health of body.” However the ‘palace was well and truly dissolved’ (Nahum 2:6). One year after its inauguration, it was deserted; and the death of Sargon, whose body was never found, prompted his son Sennacherib to cease continuation of the works.
Hero Overpowering a Lion
AO 19861-62
Richelieu room 4

This sculpture measuring more
than 5m high formed one of the decorative elements of the main
entrance to the palace.
Traditionally identified with Gilgamesh,
the hero is choking a small lion.
Lion hunting was one of the favourite sports of the kings; Nineveh itself was described as a ‘den of lions’.
- Nahum 2:11.
Note the representations of benevolent genies.
The protective spirit carries a small bucket
and a pine cone, symbols often associated
with the tree of life.
Benedictions are frequently mentioned
in the Old Testament, without
any specific ceremonial association.
They play an important part in
religious servicesin the Christian church.
This Eucharist ritual, during which
the priest makes the sign of the cross
with the monstrance, comes
from a 14th Century custom A213


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