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Assyrian Limestone Wall Panel Depicting the Head of a Man - X.0376
Origin: Near East
Circa: 900 BC to 800 BC
Dimensions: 16.75" (42.5cm) high
Collection: Near Eastern
Style: Assyrian
Medium: Limestone

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Although archaeological excavations reveal that the land of the Assyrians had been inhabited as early as 5000 B.C., it was not until the reign of King Sargon of Akkad in 2371 B.C. that the Assyrians first rose to glory. Under Sargon, the kingdom rapidly expanded north to the city of Ashur and as far west as the Mediterranean, controlled by a central government based in Akkad. By 1813 B.C., King Shamshi-Adad I united the cities of Ashur, Nineveh, and Arbel into one cohesive administrative unit. These three cities, as well as Arrapkha and Kalhu (later known as Nimrud), form the historical core of the Assyrian Kingdom which would remain a credible force throughout the Mediterranean world for the next millennium. While various parts of Assyrian territory were annexed for brief periods of time by neighboring civilizations, this core remained firmly intact. The Assyrians experienced another Golden Age, lasting from the 9th until the 7th Century B.C. (this period is referred to as “Neo-Assyrian”). During this period, the kingdom grew to its largest extent, encompassing the lands from parts of modern Iran to the Mediterranean, from Anatolia to Egypt. However, it proved difficult even for the powerful Assyrian monarchs to maintain control over this vast territory for very long. By the end of the 7th Century, the Assyrian Kingdom began to collapse under the weight of assaults from the Babylonians to the south and the newly founded Medes Kingdom to the east. In 612 B.C., Nimrud burned for the second time in three years, followed by the sacking of Ashur and Nineveh, effectively ending Assyrian control of the ancient Near East.

This fragment of an Ancient Assyrian limestone wall panel depicts the head of a man. Judging from the iconography of similar panels in museums around the world, it is likely that this man was either an important member of the royal entourage, or was a foreign dignitary visiting Assyria to pay his respects to the king. A closer analysis of the headdress and hairstyle of the man would likely indicate his status. If he was a foreigner, he would surely have been carrying offerings from his homeland as gifts for the king. He wears a tall conical headdress with a wide brim over which his ear sticks out. A large tuft of hair emerges from underneath the brim in the rear. His facial features, most significantly his eye and ear, have been carefully carved from the stone with great attention to detail. His long beard has been treated with a motif of small circular bumps that imitate the texture of curls. - (X.0376)

 

 

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