The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the largest and last period of the Assyrian Empire which had reigned for nearly 1,300 years from 1900 to 609 BCE. The Assyrian culture was part of the Mesopotamian civilizations that lived along the Tigris River, including Sumer, Akkad and the later Babylonian cultures.
At the height of the Assyrian Empire, the Neo-Assyrian kings demonstrated their expanding power through large-scale architecture and art. Grand throne rooms were guarded by monumental lamasi, winged bulls or lions, with a human head and standing over 11 feet (3 meters) tall. Depictions of the king’s victories lined the walls in intricate and richly colored carvings detailing the events with extensive written accounts alongside in Akkadian cuneiform. In every depiction, religious and royal symbolism represented and reminded the viewer of the power and authority of the reigning king.
2,500 years after the collapse of the Assyrian Empire, beginning in the 18th century and reaching a height in the 19th century, England led many archaeological excavations and studies throughout Iraq, rediscovering a long forgotten civilization. Through these studies, architectural layouts, deciphering of the diverse cuneiform scripts, and an understanding of this ancient empire came to light. Held at the British Museum, these vast objects continue to inspire viewers, reminding them of the power once held and adding to the greater understanding of our collective past.