Ancient Art
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Human Attendant Carrying a Bow, Arrows, and a Mace

ca. 883–859 B.C.

Gypseous alabaster with traces of pigment

225 × 110 cm (88 9/16 × 43 5/16 in.)
Yale University Purchase
This large relief depicts a standing male figure, probably a eunuch, judging by his portly physique and the absence of a beard. He wears a long tunic, fringed with tassels at the bottom edge, and sandals on his feet (with traces of red pigment preserved). An assortment of jewelry is visible, including an earring, a necklace, an arm ring, and a bracelet. His multiple weapons—a bow in one hand, a mace in the other, and a sword in a scabbard at his side—identify him as a royal bodyguard. Once brightly painted, this relief, along with many others representing both human and semidivine figures (see, for example, 1854.1, 1854.3, 1854.4–.5), belonged to the decorative program of the palace built by the Assyrian king Assurnasirpal II at ancient Kalhu (present-day Nimrud, Iraq). The cuneiform inscription running horizontally across the middle of the relief recounts the military, administrative, and religious achievements of the king.
Found in Nimrud, Tigris, Assyria, Iraq, Near East, Asia
On view
Near Eastern, Assyrian

Palace of Assurnasirpal II, Room S; purchased from the British excavations at Nimrud.


Samuel Harrelson, Asia Has Claims Upon New England: Assyrian Reliefs at Yale (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2006), 31, fig. 15.

Susan B. Matheson, Art for Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 22 (detail), 27–29, fig. 27.

Richard D. Barnett, Assyrian Sculpture in the British Museum (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1975).

Albert Kirk Grayson, Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millenium B.C. (1114–859 B.C.) (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991).

J. E. Curtis and Julian E. Reade, eds., Art and Empire: Treasures from Assyria in the British Museum, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995).

Rita Dolce and Maresita Nota Santi, Dai palazzi assiri: immagini di potere da Assurnasirpal II ad Assurbanipal (IXVII sec. A.C.) (Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 1995).

Albert Tobias Clay, The Yale Babylonian Collection, 2 vols. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1915), 12, fig. 18.

M. Vaughn, “Assyrian Sculptures in America,” International Studio 86 (1927): 59.

Ferris J. Stephens, Votive and Historical Texts from Babylonia and Assyria, 9 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1937), 30, pl. 46, item 131, ill.

Samuel M. Paley, King of the World (Brooklyn: Brooklyn Museum of Art, 1976), 66–67.

J. B. Stearns, Reliefs from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II (Graz, Austria: Archiv für Orientforschung, 1961), 43, pl. 57, no. A-VI-a-ii-1.

Samuel M. Paley and Richard P. Sobolewski, The Reconstruction of the Relief Representations and Their Positions in the Northwest Palace at Kalhu (Nimrud) II (Mainz, Germany: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1987), 39, S-4, pls. 2, 8.

Julian E. Reade, “Twelve Ashurnasirpal Reliefs,” Iraq 27 (1965): 133, ill.

Cyril John Gadd, The Stones of Assyria: The Surviving Remains of Assyrian Sculpture, Their Recovery and Their Original Positions (London: Chatto and Windus, 1936), 243, pl. 3.

Ada Cohen and Steven E. Kangas, Assyrian Reliefs from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 2010), 7, 10, 22.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.