Ch 2 Ancient Near East, Gardner's Global (Enhanced 13e, 2011)

And of all its important parts as opposed to an

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and of all its important parts, as opposed to an optical view of the lamassu as it actually would stand in space. PALACE OF ASHURNASIRPAL II For their palace walls the Assyrian kings commissioned extensive series of painted narrative re- liefs exalting royal power. The degree of documentary detail in the As- syrian reliefs is without parallel in the ancient world before the Roman Empire (see Chapter 10). One of the earliest and most extensive cycles of reliefs comes from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883–859 BCE ) at Kalhu. Throughout the palace, painted gypsum reliefs sheathed the lower parts of the mud-brick walls below brightly colored plaster. Rich textiles on the floors contributed to the luxurious ambience. Every re- lief celebrated the king and bore an inscription naming Ashurnasirpal and describing his accomplishments. F IG . 2-22 probably depicts an episode that occurred in 878 BCE when Ashurnasirpal drove his enemy’s forces into the Euphrates River. In the relief, two Assyrian archers shoot arrows at the fleeing foe. Three enemy soldiers are in the water. One swims with an arrow in his back. The other two attempt to float to safety by inflating animal 2-22 Assyrian archers pursuing enemies, relief from the Northwest Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, Kalhu (modern Nimrud), Iraq, ca. 875–860 bce. Gypsum, 2 10 5 8 high. British Museum, London. Assyrian palaces were adorned with extensive series of narrative reliefs exalting the king and recounting his great deeds. This one depicts Assyrian archers driving the enemy into the Euphrates River. 2-23 Ashurbanipal hunting lions, relief from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal, Nineveh (modern Kuyunjik), Iraq, ca. 645–640 bce. Gypsum, 5 4 high. British Museum, London. In addition to ceremonial and battle scenes, the hunt was a common subject of Assyrian palace reliefs. The Assyrians considered the hunting and killing of lions manly royal virtues on a par with victory in warfare. 46 Chapter 2 THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST 1 ft. 1 ft. 2-22A Ashur- nasirpal II with attendants, Kalhu, ca. 875–860 BCE .
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skins. Their destination is a fort where their compatriots await them. The artist showed the fort as if it were in the middle of the river, but it must, of course, have been on land, perhaps at some distance from where the escapees entered the water. The artist’s purpose was to tell the story clearly and economically. In art, distances can be compressed and the human actors enlarged so that they stand out from their envi- ronment. Literally interpreted, the defenders of the fort are too tall to walk through its archway. (Compare Naram-Sin and his men scaling a mountain, FIG . 2-13 .) The sculptor also combined different view- points in the same frame, just as the figures are composites of frontal and profile views. The river is seen from above; the men, trees, and fort from the side. The artist also made other adjustments for clarity. The archers’ bowstrings are in front of their bodies but behind their heads in order not to hide their faces. The men will snare their own heads in their bows when they launch their arrows! All these liberties with op-
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