The palace ornament of Ashurbanipal

published on July 3, 2020

hello I'm Karen Harmon I'm the project

curator for the BP exhibition I am

Ashurbanipal king of the world king of

Assyria today we're going to talk about

how Ashurbanipal palaces in anyway we're

real representation of kingship

so Ashurbanipal ruled the Assyrian

Empire in the seventh century before

Christ from his capital city of Nineveh

this city was probably the biggest city

in the world at this time and the city

and the palaces in it represent the

vastness of the Assyrian Empire and the

power of the King it all starts with a

Shobana Paul's grandfather Sennacherib

who transformed the city of Nineveh into

a vast metropolis he built two massive

walls around the city and he built his

royal residence that he called the

palace without rival which we now know

as the southwest palace because it's in

the southwestern part of the royal

citadel Ashurbanipal spends most of his

life in the southwest palace before

rebuilding another palace which we know

as the north palace so we can call that

palace our shabana parks palace in the

relief from the north palace of


we see a depiction of a city which is

believed to be an Assyrian city and is

perhaps Nineveh so we see first modes

and then three successive walls and at

the back so at the top of the relief we

see a palace with lion shaped column

bases and sculptures of LA masses the

masses are human headed winged Bulls

so these palaces were real display of

kingship they were there to show the

mightiness and the power of the king and

the most important rooms in the palace

were decorated with stone reliefs this

reliefs depict the strength of the King

through three main topics we first have

lion hunts lion hunt show the king as a

protector of his people and a

representative of the gods because he is

killing the lion lion was the embodiment

of chaos was the embodiment of anything

that could disturb the order that the

gods had created the other topic that we

see represented on the reliefs our

military campaigns always Assyrian

victories they depict the superiority


ferocity of the Assyrian army in another

video my colleague Gareth Raritan will

be talking about one of the most

impressive set of release from the times

of Ashurbanipal which depicts the battle

of til tuba the defeat of the elements

by the Assyrian army so as a

representative of the gods the King

ought to be protected by them and what

we find in these reliefs are also God's

and genies who are there to protect the

palace and to protect the king the

genies are just protective supernatural

figures in general they're below the

divine level of a god but they're still

a super natural protective figure so

amongst those two reliefs that were

placed on both sides of a door represent

two genies in one God so here what we

see first is a lamb moon the hairy one

he has big locks of hair and he's in a

very tranquil position he's guarding

everything that is good inside the

palace then in the middle we see a new

Galu this is a right lion he's holding a

dagger going towards the person who is

entering the palace and in front of him

we have a God because he's wearing this

tiara with three pairs of horns and this

shows his divinity and he's there in the

same aggressive position as the Galu the

Lamb who the heroine he's there to keep

all the good things in the palace

whereas the two other ones the Galu and

the house gods are there to keep

everything bad or any bad influences or

malevolent intentions outside of the

palace the location of these reliefs was

very carefully studied and it was

decided by experts in the palace so the

best protection could be provided and

each Palace had its own scheme of

protective figures and where they were

placed we also know through the reliefs

that Assyrian Kings planted gardens

alongside their palaces they collected

rare plants and animals as well across

the empire kind of in a way to reproduce

the Empire at a smaller scale near their

palace so in the gardens you would find

gazelles deers you would find as well


and the representations of these gardens

always give an idea on paradise on earth

and it was showing that the king was

able to bring abundance to his palace we

can see some ideally garden scenes in

Ashurbanipal palace a scene of a lion

and a lioness calmly and peacefully

resting in a garden but we also have a

relief that shows two musicians in a

garden and a lion who is just walking

past them so seeing all of these reliefs

in the palaces really showed that the

king was absolutely indisputable he

could subdue all or any of his opponents

and he was a direct representative of

the gods he was protected by them but he

was also able to bring abundance to his

Rhian he was able to protect his people

and he was able to tame the chaos he was

able to kill the lions he was even able

to just domestic eyes them in his


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