Bronze bowl with Egyptian motifs


British Museum

British Museum

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 brought back about 150 complete or fragmentary bowls to the 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 one has clear Egyptian motifs with four pairs of embossed winged falcon-headed sphinxes wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. Such bowls are depicted on Assyrian reliefs where they are held by the king, resting on the fingers of one hand (for example, a relief from the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II). It is also from such a bowl that Ashurbanipal pours a libation (liquid offering) over dead lions after one of his hunts (as shown on a relief from Ashurbanipal's Palace). This one may have belonged to such a wine service. It possibly originates in Phoenicia on the Mediterranean coast from where it was brought presumably as booty or tribute by one of the kings who campaigned in the west. It is known from contemporary Assyrian accounts that vast quantities of booty were removed from captured cities.

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  • Title: Bronze bowl with Egyptian motifs
  • Date Created: -900/-700
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 21.70cm; Height: 2.85cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: bird; sphinx; architecture; flower; deity; sun/moon; serpent; insect
  • Registration number: N.9
  • 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