Between the ninth and seventh centuries BCE, the small kingdom of Assyria (present-day northern Iraq) expanded through conquest from Egypt to Iran. The relief sculptures that decorated Assyrian palaces represent the high point of Mesopotamian art of the first millennium BCE, both for their artistic quality and their vivid depictions of warfare, rituals, mythology, hunting, and other aspects of Assyrian life. Together, the sculptures constitute some of the most impressive and eloquent witnesses of the ancient Near East, their importance only increasing with the recent destruction by ISIS of many of the reliefs that remained in Iraq.
Originally published by the British Museum in 2008, this book serves as a superb visual introduction to these extraordinary sculptures, showcasing a series of stunning photographs of the museum’s unrivaled collection of Assyrian reliefs. Highlighting individual panels and their often overlooked details, these images capture the majesty of Assyrian kings, their splendid courts, and protecting divinities. An introduction by Collins sets the sculptures in their cultural and art historical context, while the following chapters provide a brief history of Assyria and its royal palaces as well as an overview of the artworks’ discovery, reception, and understanding.
About the Author
Paul Collins is Jaleh Hearn Curator of Ancient Near East in the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean. The author of numerous publications on ancient Mesopotamia, he worked previously as a curator in the Middle East Department of the British Museum and the Ancient Near Eastern Art Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.