Object of the Day # 2

Hyun Woo Cho

24 September 2018

Enemies Crossing the Euphrates to Escape Assyrian Archers

The object that I chose was “Enemies Crossing the Euphrates to Escape Assyrian Archers.” “Enemies Crossing the Euphrates to Escape Assyrian Archers” is a sculpted relief that depicts a scene of a battle at the Euphrates river. The relief was located at the palace complex of Assurnasirpal II in Kahlu which is now Nimrud, Iraq and it is currently owned by British Museum. It was made in 875 to 860 BCE and made from alabaster. It is in pale brown color and it is approximately 88cm high and 225cm wide. Assurnasirpal II who was the Assyrian ruler from 883 BCE to 859 BCE ordered to build a huge palace complex with mud-brick walls that is 5 miles and 42 feet high. The walls of the building was covered with limestone and alabaster which make the walls more impressive and sturdy and they were decorated with relief sculptures. The relief is a depiction of an actual event that happened in 878 BCE. After Assurnasirpal II defeated the enemies’ leader, the leader and the soldiers were escaping through the Euphrates river by swimming to save their lives. In the sculpture there three Assyrians’ enemies and they are all wearing long robes which imply their high status. Two of the enemies at the bottom are holding flotation devices made from animal skin and they are blowing the air into the devices.  There are two Assyrian archers on the left side to the three enemies wearing boots, short kilts, pointed helmets, and swords and they are aiming the arrows to the enemies with their knees bent. On the right side of the relief, there are three men standing on a castle and one of them is holding a bow and arrows. However, it does not seem like the man is aiming his arrows to the enemies. The two men on the right do not have much details as other people on the relief and they are raising their hands reacting to the three men in the river. The sculptor depicted the scene realistically by carving the lines in different depths so that the lines have different weights and shadows. Moreover, the sculptor added the swirling pattern of the river to show that it is a river. The reason I chose this relief is because I was intrigued by the narrative in the relief. Also, the three men on the right made me wonder who they are and what they are doing. The question related to this object is why the sculptor chose this specific scene for the relief.

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