Friday, March 22, 2013

Nimrud Ivories (Cont.)

Fig. 1 - Human-headed Sphinx from Nimrud
     Sphinxes are a common theme in the Nimrud ivories. Some of the ivories show a sphinx with a lion's body and a ram's head (see the previous post) while others show a human headed lion (figure 1) or a hawk-headed lion.

Figure 2 - Two Hawk-headed Sphinxes Trampling Asiatics
     Like other examples from Nimrud, these ivories look Egyptian in their general motifs, but the details show clearly that they were not carved by Egyptian artists. In figure 1, the sphinx's double crown is represented in a way that shows the artist had never seen the Egyptian original. The sphinx wears a broad collar on his chest that also looks like the artist has never seen one in real life. Also note that the stripes on the "Nemes" headdress shows stripes that are vertical, unlike a "real" Nemes that had horozontal stripes. As noted in the previous post the foliage surrounding the sphinx looks very little like anything shown in Egyptian art.

     Figure two shows two hawk-headed sphinxes trampling Asiatics. This is interesting in that the artist that carved this ivory was himself an Asiaitic. The broad collar that adorns the body of the sphinx is shown much more accurately in this work of art, but the Nemes headdress is still all wrong. The solar disk on the head of the leftmost sphinx is a bit squat and looks more like an oval than a circle.

     These two pieces are beautiful works of art, and it is clear why the Assyrian kings were at pains to loot these carvings from the palaces of the cities they conquered. But these are not examples of Egyptian art.

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