Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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1860.3

Artist

Unknown Artist

Title

Assyrian Relief: Winged Spirit or Apkallu Anointing Ashurnasirpal II from Kalhu (Nimrud), Iraq

Creation Date

ca. 875–860 B.C.E.

Century

9th century BC

Dimensions

65 11/16 in. x 78 1/8 in. x 6 3/8 in. (166.8 cm. x 198.5 cm. x 16.2 cm.)

Object Type

sculpture

Creation Place

Ancient Near East, Assyrian

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.

Copyright

Public Domain

Accession Number

1860.3
This relief shows the king Ashurnasirpal with an apkallu, a protective spirit, behind. The king wears the fez-and-tiara crown signaling his regal status. His long robe is tasseled with daggers tucked into the folds. The protective spirit wears a horned crown, short kilt, and sports wings that mark his divine status. He anoints the king with a “purifier,” which extends a fertile gift to the Assyrian king. The relief’s condition is significant: the bow, a symbol of Ashurnasirpal’s martial prowess, has been broken in the middle and the king has suffered systematic mutilation. The king’s right hand has been severed, with his eyes, nose, and ears removed. His beard has been carefully cut, and his feet and Achilles tendons surgically excised. On this defaced relief, a ghostly silhouette appears opposite the king. Crudely rendered and executed with obvious haste, the new figure approaches the king as conqueror. This disfigurement coincided with the sack of Kalhu (modern Nimrud) by the Medes and Babylonians at the end of the seventh century BCE. The conquered had finally exacted revenge on the Assyrians. Critical support for the Assyrian Collection at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art is provided by the Yadgar Family Endowment.

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