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Stone relief of a lion hunt
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Sculpted stone reliefs illustrating the sporting exploits of the last great Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal (reigned 668-631 BC) were created for his palace at Nineveh (in modern-day northern Iraq). The panels, which probably originally decorated one of his private apartments, depict a lion hunt: the release of the lions, the ensuing chase and the subsequent kill. In ancient Assyria, lion-hunting was considered the sport of kings, symbolic of the monarch’s duty to protect and fight for his people. Inscriptions from the reign of Ashurbanipal II (883-859 BC) claim that he killed a total of 450 lions.

The hunt scenes, full of tension and realism, rank among the finest achievements of Assyrian art. In this scene the king is shown turning round in his chariot to spear a lion that has attacked from the rear. The king is depicted wearing richly embroidered clothes, armlets and bracelets, and the characteristic tall Assyrian crown.

Stone relief of a lion hunt


Made in Nineveh, nortern Iraq, c. 645 BC.




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