Bronze bowl with Egyptian motifs

British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

On 5 January 1849 the excavator, Henry Layard, made a remarkable discovery in the palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud. Behind twelve cauldrons was a pile of bronze bowls. Many of them had disintegrated, but he was able to bring back about 150 complete or fragmentary bowls to the British Museum. Many of the bowls have intricate chased or incised decoration on the inside and sometime the designs are embossed or raised from the back. There are various decorative schemes. This bowl has clear Egyptian motifs with a central scarab beetle and bands of simple incised animals, plants and winged sphinxes. Similar bowls have been found at various places in the Mediterranean, including the Greek mainland, Crete and in Etruscan tombs. The bowl may have originally come from Phoenicia on the Mediterranean coast, from where it was brought presumably as booty or tribute by one of the Assyrian kings who campaigned in the west. It is known from contemporary accounts that vast quantities of booty were removed from captured cities. It is not known why the bowls came to be piled up in a palace room at Nimrud.

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  • Title: Bronze bowl with Egyptian motifs
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 18.00cm; Height: 2.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: mammal; sphinx; flower; tree/bush; serpent; symbol
  • Registration number: N.25
  • Production place: Made in Syria
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot North West Palace
  • Period/culture: Phoenician
  • Material: copper alloy
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Excavated by Layard, Austen Henry