Like all buildings meant to impress, Assyrian palaces are distinguished by their monumentality. Even on entering a room, visitors had to pass at the door colossal guardian figures (Lamassu) – hybrid creatures composed of a winged god and a lion’s body. In 1855 the Berlin museums purchased the first Neo-Assyrian reliefs from the English excavations in Nimrud, and shortly thereafter visitors to Berlin’s Old Museum could marvel at art that was like nothing they had ever seen before. Interest in the Orient was awakened by Goethe’s poetry collection West-östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan; 1819). It was further heightened once the first cune iform texts were deciphered. With the purchase of the Assyrian palace reliefs it also became possible to study cuneiform inscriptions with formulaic texts (the so-called standard inscription of Ashurnasirpal II). The large relief slabs of alabaster from Mosul celebrate the deeds of the Assyrian king. The inscriptions begin with the following words: “Palace of Ashurnasirpal, priest of the god Ashur, favourite of the god Enlil and the god Ninurta; beloved of the god Anu and the god Dagan, the mighty one among the great gods; the powerful king, the king of the universe, king of the land of Ashur …” The relief slabs came from a room near the throne room, and picture King Ashurnasirpal II both hunting with bow and arrows and presentinga drink-offering in a ribbed bowl. The king is surrounded by tutelary geniuses. Traces of red and black pigments on the ruler’s sandals indicate that the reliefs were originally brightly coloured.