Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Artist Unidentified


Assyrian Relief: Two Winged, Eagle-Headed Spirits from Kalhu (Nimrud), Iraq; Northwest Palace, Room H, panel 30

Creation Date

ca. 875 BCE - 860 BCE


9th century BCE


84 1/4 x 6 1/4 in. (214 x 15.8 cm)

Object Type


Creation Place

Ancient Near East, Assyria

Medium and Support

gypsum (Mosul alabaster)

Credit Line

Gift of Dr. Henri Byron Haskell, Medical School Class of 1855. Critical support for the Assyrian Collection at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art is provided by the Yadgar Family Endowment.


Public Domain

Accession Number

These eagle-headed, winged figures are important protective spirits for the Assyrians and are dressed from the neck down as the human-headed apkallu. Equipped with daggers and whetstones, both figures hold buckets in their lowered hands with cone-shaped “purifiers” held aloft. The purifiers recall the form of the male date-palm spathe (flower sheath), and, hence, hold a special sexual meaning. The figures are in the act of ‘fertilizing’ the sacred tree between them. The stylized tree with its trunk, tendrils, and palmettes, probably represents the fertility of the land and was a popular motif during the reign of Ashurnasirpal. The ‘Standard Inscription’ of Ashurnasirpal, common to many of his reliefs, runs across the upper half of the sculpture. It records the King’s titles, ancestry, and achievements.

Additional Media

Additional Image recto

Keywords: image of whetstone   eagle   bird   image of dagger   wing   tree   Standard Inscription of Ashurnasirpal   cuneiform   text (Cuneiform)   symmetric   date palm   damaged   flora   apkallu   spirit figure   profile   anthropomorphic   hybrid (human and animal)   figural   ritual   symbol   fertility   architectural fragment   bas-relief   related to archaeology   artifact  

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