Ivories from Nimrud.

Post by Mariana.

Nimrud is located at a distance of 37 km to the south-east of the city of Mosul on the east bank of the Tigris River.  It was the second capital, coming after the Assyrian capital of Assur.

The city of Nimrud is best known for the art of engraving on ivory. This art has been known since the start of the third millenium BC from pieces  found in the temple of Goddess Ishtar in the city of Mari. Commonly this art is found in the Phoenician cities on the Syrian coast since the mid-second BC. Ivory was probably collected by the Assyrians through trade or during military campaigns.
Ivory was used in the manufacture of furniture, in the cosmetics industry and several parts of horse harness, such as those that cover both sides of the eyes of the horse.
Most of ivories at Nimrud were discovered in the North-West Palace of Asurnasirpal II and in Fort Shalmaneser and the deep well in the palace of Ashurnasirpal II.

Different methods in the manufacture of ivory have been found; some in a Phoenician style and others in a Syrian style.  Ivory pieces of the Syrian and Phoenician style had reached the Nimrud as trophies or gifts or were made by the Syrians and Phoenicians artists brought to the city of Assyria.

Excavations have found the drilling tools used with the ivory and color pastes and materials used for the decoration of ivory which indicates that the Assyrians themselves have carved ivory.

Parts and pieces of ivory decorated furniture and family thrones, chairs, doors.  Some ivories are in the form of boxes, bowls and spoons, pins, combs and also three-dimensional sculpture.  Some of which were decorated with precious stones and gold.
This is one of the the most important pieces of ivory:


The woman’s head of ivory may be a furniture accessory.  The head was found in a well under the North-West Palace of Nimrud.  The face smiles with light eyes overflowing vitality.  Hair and eyebrows and eyes are painted a dark color. It was perhaps carved at the end of the eighth century BC. This sculpture is 16 cm high and was named the Mona Lisa of Nimrud.
There is a piece of ivory from the same well that represents a lioness with her human prey in the jungle forests of lotus and papyrus. It is inlaid with lapis lazuli, carnelian, and inlaid with gold highlights and sections of them such as wrinkles and hair boy pants painted with gold and carved this high (10.54 cm).



D. Aamer Sulayman. Iraq’s ancient history in a brief cultural history part 2

Lloyd Stone. Translation d. Sami Saeed Ahmad. The archaeology  of Mesopotamia

About iraqiinstitute

The Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage is a place where people from around the world come to learn and teach about how to care for the heritage of Iraq.
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