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Assyrian Art Essay

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Assyrian Art

The reliefs from the palace of King Assurnasirpal II at Nimrud play an important role in portraying the power and importance of the Assyrian king. These reliefs are similar to other Assyrian reliefs in terms of their purpose; however, there is a contrast in the methods used to glorify the king. By examining such factors as style, iconography and historical significance, we find many similarities and differences between the "ceremonial" reliefs and the more common reliefs depicting war and hunting.

The reliefs belonging to the sacred or"ceremonial" category consist of panels depicting a sacred tree, a human headed genius fertilizing a sacred tree, a griffin fertilizing a sacred tree, and a scene of King Assurnasirpal (whose
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In term of stylization, both the human headed deities and Assurnasirpal have very stylized hair falling in straight locks to the back of their necks; furthermore, they possess highly stylized beards of intricate waves and ringlets which end evenly at the bottom.

Because these features are similar to that of Assurbanipal and the mythological bullmen at the palace at Khorsabad, it can be construed that it is "a coiffure characteristic of royalty and divinity alike" (Art History Anthology 28).

Moving on to the facial expression, we find that all the human headed figures contain large eyebrows, large eyes that are deeply undercut, an elongated nose, conventionalized ears, and highly conventionalized lips which appear as a simple slit. On the other hand, the beardless griffin has an eagle's head adorned with a feather headdress and a curved beak with a long tongue. To show the strength of the deities and Assurnasirpal, the artist depicts muscles within the arms and legs through simple lines and curves. This style of depicting the facial and body features is common in other Assyrian reliefs including the hunting scenes of Assurbanipal.

Although there are many similarities in body structure, there is also a distinctive element that separates the deities and the king. Each deity possesses a set of four highly stylized wings made up of very detailed
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