"My Favorite Museum Exhibit": A great big chunk of ancient Assyria


41 Responses to “"My Favorite Museum Exhibit": A great big chunk of ancient Assyria”

  1. azaner says:

    They have a great one in the British Museum as well.  Perhaps the “mate” to the one pictured?

    • TurquoiseDays says:

      One of them in the British museum has a game board scratched onto it by bored guards. They’ve got a wood and ivory version of the same game upstairs in a cabinet. It’s a rather nice link to the everyday on something so grand.

  2. Halloween Jack says:

    A great big chunk of ancient Ass, you say?

  3. Spookyland says:

    One cool feature of these particular statues is that they have five legs (three in the front) – when viewed from the side, it appears to be walking, and when viewed from the front, it appears to be standing.  Neat trick.

    This often overlooked museum also features parts of the Ishtar Gate, and the sort of unwrapped mummies that used to be popular in the 1920s (a few years ago, anyway).

    A very cool and vintage place.

  4. cramerica says:

    Hmm, looks more like a shedu.  Better check my field guide.

  5. MrEricSir says:

    If you’re into that kinda thing, the Pergamon in Berlin is a must-visit.

    • chgoliz says:

      OMG YES!

      What a study in contrasts: the Oriental Museum is a tiny jewel and the Pergamon, a massive crown.

    • tomdarch says:

      The Pergamon museum is just insane.  Imagine walking up to an ancient Greek or other temple, then busting out a huge masonry saw and slicing a corner or the facade off the temple, and transporting that back home.  It’s just nuts to see chunks of buildings sliced off and re-assembled in Berlin!

      • chgoliz says:

        CHUNKS of building?  How about the entire building, inside another building?  A 3-story entrance to a marketplace, an entire Greek temple….it’s like the architectural equivalent of a turduken.

        Soviet buildings are astonishingly gargantuan.

  6. Snig says:

    Dat Assyrian

  7. Ito Kagehisa says:

    I once visited the apartments of a dot-bomb executive who had created furniture out of what he claimed were priceless persian antiquities looted by American embassy staff in the 1950s or 60s.  I don’t know if it was true, but the coffee table was damned impressive, would fit right in with the lammasu here.  I wonder what happened to that guy.

  8. LogrusZed says:

    Someone check those things for nukes!

  9. Marchlewski says:

    Sargon II was king of Assyria, not Babylon, but they were both Mesopotamian empires.

    Mesopotamia had a very long tradition of these hybrid divine beings, and the relationship between them and Egyptian sphinxes is hard to determine. That is to say, they might not be the answer to Egyptian traditions.

    One of the other neat things about these guys is that they are probably what the writers of the Hebrew Bible had in mind when they wrote about “cherubim.” 

  10. Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal an Gilgamesh!
    They’re the Mesopota-mi-ans!

  11. Heyref says:

    There are more of these in the Louvre and the British Museum.   Very cool.   Some have lion’s bodies rather than bulls.  The BM also has a reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate. 

  12. Tom James says:

    You’re making me miss the OI! I worked as an assistant curator there for almost 8 years. Fun fact, there’s an inscription on the back of the Lammasu that you can see if you peek around on the left – it’s meant to be seen only by the gods, and tells all about what an awesome guy Sargon was, and how devoted to them, and how all of this was in their honor (yadayada).

  13. jaytkay says:

    ZOMG that’s my favorite museum! I always tell people, “If Indiana Jones had a museum, this would be it.”

  14. Allan Berry says:

    Yay!  Thanks for adding my photograph.

    This museum is pretty spectacular… they have ancient antiquities from all around the Mediterranean: Egypt, Babylon, Nubia, and various other places.  This piece is just one of many awesome objects you’ll find.  Definitely worth a trip if you’re in Hyde Park.

    Oh, and that attractive young lady in the picture is my fiancée, Tiffy.

    • chgoliz says:

      How fortunate for you….she seems like a good egg!

      To add to the extended BB family album, here are my kids (much younger) enjoying a different room in the Oriental Museum:

      • Allan Berry says:

        That may be the most adorable photograph I’ve seen.  Thanks for the post.

        That bull head is tremendous.  We both thought the Persian room maybe best (although I also really liked Nubia… who knew there was civilization *before* the Egyptians).


  15. Clifton says:

    I miss the OI too.  I used to love going there, when I was going to the U. of Chicago.  Besides the colossal pieces, they have a number of small Egyptian bronzes I loved, which are just really wonderful – beautiful and perfectly proportioned.  I was particularly fond of a bronze statuette of Thoth as a baboon.

    … and I think an Oriental Institute expedition to Mesopotamia around the turn of the last century might have had something to do with the source of that “ancient Assyrian inscription” that came up on Boing Boing last year, but I never could track it down.

  16. JhmL says:

    What is the capital of… Assyria!?

  17. benher says:

    Glad to see America didn’t break them all in 2003.

  18. tomdarch says:

    Hey!  Quit telling everyone about this awesome little museum.  If everyone knew it was full of amazing artifacts from the birth of human civilization, it wouldn’t continue to be so wonderfully free of crowds most of the time.  ssssshhhhhhh!!!!!  Plus, all these folks visiting this museum might walk down the block to the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, the Robie House, which is now open for tours after extensive renovation.  That would be terrible!

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