Ancient Replicas - Hero Grasping Lion

Walls and Towers
Decorative Items


Alabaster lion from entrance to temple of Ninurta at Nimrud, reign of Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC)
Assyrian Lion

Winged bull with human head, from the palace of Sargon II at Khorsabad
Winged Bull Guardian

Tiglath-Pileser III Fragment of a gypsum tablet from the palace of Nimrud.
Tiglath-Pileser III

Sargon II in Royal Fashion Limestone Sculpture
Sargon II

Relief of Siege Scene with Battering-Ram and Impaled Bodies, gypsum, Palace of Tiglath-pileser III
Battering Ram

Relief depicting the siege of a fortified city
Siege Relief

Detail of Hebrew captives playing music, from Lachish, wandering through a mountain forest, accompanied by an Assyrian warrior carrying a club
Hebrew Captives

Relief of Ashurbanipal Stabbing Lion With Sword
King Stabbing Lion

Relief of King Ashurbanipal Reposing with His Queen in the Royal Garden
Ashurbanipal Feasting

Relief of Tiglath-Pileser III in Chariot
Tiglath-Pileser in Chariot 

Relief of Slaves in a Quarry
Forced Quarry Labor

Stone Sculpture of a Winged Lamassu,  from Khorsabad
Winged Lamassu

Winged human-headed bull colossus from Khorsabad
Human Headed Bull

Stone Sculpture of Hero Grasping Lion, from Khorsabad
Hero Grasping Lion

Sargon II and a high official
Sargon and High Official

Sargon II and his Tartan
Sargon II and Tartan

Relief from Ashurnasirpal II's palace at Nimrud of a winged genius with an eagle's head
Eagle-Headed Deity

Assyrian Archers
Assyrian Archers

Assyrian King Blinding Prisoners
Blinding Prisoners

Impaled Prisoners
Impaled Prisoners

King Jehu Relief
Jehu Relief

Assyrian King Hunting
King Hunting

Lachish Captives
Lachish Captives

Assyrian Slinger (Stonethrower)
Assyrian Slinger

Trodden Under Foot
Trodden Under Foot

Ashurbanipal Hunting

The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III
The Black Obelisk

Sennacherib's Hexagonal Prism of Baked Clay also know as the Taylor Prism
Sennacherib's Prism

Assyrian Soldier Holding Shield
Assyrian Soldier 1

Assyrian Soldier Holding Spear
Assyrian Soldier 2


The Striding Lion on the Ishtar Gate of Babylon
The Striding Lion

The Weld-Blundell Prism
Weld-Blundell Prism


Colossal Sculpture of the Hero Overpowering a Lion (Miniature Replica)

This miniature replica is of a hero overpowering a lion which stood at the entrance to the throne room of Sargon II, king of Assyria. The bas relief was discovered at the site of ancient Khorsabad during the reign of Sargon II (721-705 BC). The original is located at the Louvre Museum in Paris France. It stands over 5 meters tall. The hero is traditionally identified with Gilgamesh, ancient king of Uruk. His power and wisdom was believed to incarnate to King Sargon.

Isaiah 20:1 - In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it; 

This map shows the primary capitals of the Neo-Assyrian Empire

Museum Images

Information About the Hero Overpowering the Lion Sculpture

- Limestone sculpture of a Colossal Hero overpowering a lion
- It guarded Sargon the Great's throne room
- Magicians chose their exact positions to guard against evil
- The hero was traditionally identified Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk
- Power was believed to pass on from the hero to the king
- The Hero Sculpture was carved in limestone and stands 5 meters tall
- Sargon II was the first to use the Hero Sculpture within his doorways
- The curls symbolize virility and the length of the hair symbolizes wisdom
- The rings on his arms symbolize his sovereignty over the world
- The hero wears a short fringed tunic, shawl and jewelry.
- It was originally colorfully painted with great detail
- The Hero was discovered by Paul Emile Botta around 1843
- It was excavated at the site of ancient Khorsabad

- Currently at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France
- From the Neo-Assyrian Period (1000-612 BC)
- It guarded the entrance to the Palace at Khorsabad (Dur Sharrukin)
- Khorsabad was Sargon's capital city (Northern Iraq)
- During the reign of King Sargon II (722-705 BC)
- Colossal stone carvings guarded the entrance of the palaces of Assyria
- King Esarhaddon said they were used to "repulse the wicked"

Museum Excerpt
Museum # AO 19862

The Hero Overpowering a Lion

Khorsabad, northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, about 710-705 BC
Height: 5,52 meters
Length: 2,18 meters

Lion-taming spirits (often identified with the hero Gilgamesh) were part of a complex architectural and decorative system governed by artistic and religious criteria. They symbolized divine and royal power, and the calm strength that emanated from them protected the palace and ensured the continuity of the ruler's power.

A complex architectural system
This figure is a partial reconstruction of a monumental complex, which we know about from the drawings executed by Eugène Flandin in 1844 during the excavation of the entrance of the throne room of the palace of Sargon II. The outside facade of the throne room - facade N - was composed of a frieze, showing a procession of figures, and passageways guarded by colossal spirits: a pair of winged bulls with human heads and a pair of benevolent genies. The central passageway doubled this arrangement: in addition to the bulls in the passageway, there were four others along the wall, their heads turned towards the visitor. Between each pair was a lion-taming spirit: one of these figures was sent to the Louvre by Paul-Émile Botta.

A colossal figure
Measuring over five meters high, the sculpture depicts a figure choking a lion. The spirit or hero overpowering the lion is in a frontal position, which is rare in Assyrian art and used only for creatures playing a magical role. In his right hand he holds a ceremonial weapon with a curved blade, known as a "harpe," which is a royal weapon. He is wearing a short tunic with a large fringed shawl over it, hiding one leg and revealing the other. The eye contact with the visitor has a magical impact. His head is sculpted almost in the round; the eyes, once brightly colored, were meant to mesmerize the visitor. His hair and beard are styled like those of Assyrian dignitaries and the king. The hero is wearing a bracelet with a rosette in the center. Excavations of the tombs of the queens at Nimrud yielded similar bracelets, which were made of gold and inlaid with precious stones to look like petals. The lion is lifting its head and baring its teeth. Its muzzle is stylized with a series of radiating folds, which are also found on metal sculptures.

A symbolic representation of royal power
This spirit, often identified with the hero Gilgamesh, who was a legendary figure but also a historical king of Uruk, probably incarnates the omnipotence of kingship: he is effortlessly overpowering a ferocious lion. The contrast between the roaring lion and the hero's imperturbable strength highlights his magical power. The set of ten bulls and two heroes, a royal heraldic emblem, was specially created for the facade of the throne room in the palace of Sargon II. All these facades, built on the high terrace of the palace overlooking the city, were clearly visible from afar and bore witness to the king's grandeur.

Louvre Page

Hero choking a small lion
Khorsabad, palace of Sargon II
Neo-Assyrian period, reign of Sargon II (721-705 BC)
Gypseous alabaster
H 5.52 m
AO 19862


"This long-haired personage, which constituted one of the ornaments of the throne room (n) of the palace of Sargon II at Khorsabad, is traditionally identified with Gilgamesh, ancient king of Uruk, hero of a famous epic. In fact, these long-haired personages, represent wise men, such as Adapa, whom the king pretended to resemble." - Louvre

The Assyrian Empire

The first great military empire in ancient history was the Assyrian Empire. By the time of Ashurnasirpal and Shalmaneser III in the 9th century BC the Assyrians organized a mighty army of nearly 200,000 soldiers. Their military strategy was unsurpassed up to that time, and with the age of iron they were an unstoppable fighting machine. They brought spearmen, archers, shieldmen, slingers, siege engines, chariots, and a huge calvary into the battlefield. The mighty Assyrians dominated the ancient world until they were crippled by the God of Israel in the reign of Sennacherib. God raised up the Assyrians to remove Israel out of his sight for their rebellion and idolatry, but the Assyrians would also be punished also for their wicked ways. They finally fell to the Medes and Babylonians in 612 BC and passed into history.

Assyrian Kings Mentioned in the Bible

2 Kings 15:29 - In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria.

2 Kings 15:19 - Pul the king of Assyria came against the land, and Menahem gave Pul one thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.

2 Kings 18:9 - And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which [was] the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it. 

Isaiah 20:1 - In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it; 

2 Kings 19:16 - LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. 

2 Kings 19:37 - And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.

Ezra 4:10 - and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnapper brought over, and set in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of the country beyond the River, and so forth, wrote.

Assyrian Kings Names in Cuneiform

Archaeology of Ancient Assyria

Timeline of Ancient Assyrian Kings

(During the Period of the Biblical Kings)

Assur-nasirpal II (885-860 B.C.) A cruel warrior king, he made Assyria into the most fierce fighting machine of ancient world.
Shalmaneser III (860-825 B.C.) His reign was marked by almost constant war. He was the first Assyrian king to come into conflict with Israel. King Ahab fought against him, and king Jehu paid him tribute in 841 BC. His royal inscriptions were more detailed and more numerous than any other king. His building works were massive just like his father Assurnasirpal II. See Shalmaneser and the Black Obelisk.
Shamsi-Adad V (825-808 B.C.) Most of his reign was focused on Babylonia and his own internal conflicts.
Adad-nirari III (808-783 B.C.) The little information about his reign mentions his building projects at Calah and Nineveh, as well as a conflict at Der in Babylonia and collecting tribute in Damascus, Syria.
Shalmaneser IV (783-771 B.C.) The limited knowledge of his reign reveal some conflicts in Damascus and a period of decline in Assyria.
Assur-dayan III (771-753 B.C.) The little information about this ruler reveals Assyria being in a period of decline. 
Assur-nirari V (753-747 B.C.) There is very little information about his reign. The king of Urartu boasted of a victory over this king of Assyria in an inscription. 
Tiglath-pileser III (Pul) (747-727 B.C.) He restored Assyria to a major world power. He is the "Pul" mentioned in the Bible and the one who began to destroy Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He carried many away into captivity. This captivity is mentioned in his own inscriptions, the Babylonian Chronicle, and the Bible. 
Shalmaneser V (727-722 B.C.) He besieged Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He died during the siege after imposing taxation on the holy city (Asshur), and his son Sargon came to power.
Sargon II (722-705 B.C.) He completed the destruction of Samaria and the captivity of Israel. He was also famous for his magnificent palace with his colossal winged guardians.
Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) He was the most famous of the Assyrian kings. He mentions the name of Hezekiah on his prism during his war campaigns, he claimed to have "Hezekiah captured in his own royal city (Jerusalem) like a caged bird." His army was defeated at the gates of Jerusalem by the Angel of the Lord. Sennacherib returned back to Nineveh and was killed violently by his own son, as mentioned in the Babylonian Chronicle, The Bible, and various other inscriptions. He also conquered Babylon.
Esar-haddon (681-668 B.C.) He rebuilt Babylon, invaded and conquered Egypt by crossing over the Sinai Desert with Arab camels carrying water for his army, and was one of Assyria's greatest kings. He died fighting Egypt.
Assur-banipal (668-626 B.C.) He destroyed the Thebes in Egypt and collected a great library, innumerable clay tablets were found.
Assur-etil-ilani (626-607 B.C.) It was under his reign that the Assyrian Empire fell.

Assyrian annals mention contacts with some ten Hebrew kings: Omri, Ahab, Jehu, Menahem, Hoshea, Pekah, Uzziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh.

In the reign of Hoshea, king of Israel, Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, twice invaded (2 Kings 17:3,5) the kingdom that remained, and his successor Sargon II took Samaria in 722 BC, carrying away 27,290 of the population as he tells in his Khorsabad Annals. Later Assyrian kings, particularly Esarhaddon (681 BC - 668 BC), completed the task.

For More Info See: Bible History Online

Map of the Land of Assyria

Map of the Land of Assyria (Kids Bible Maps)
Kids Bible Maps

Primary Sources for Assyrian History

The Assyrian Annals. The scribes of the chief cities of the Assyrians wrote the accounts of the king's military campaigns on cuneiform tablets, and clay prisms or cylinders. The accounts are very reliable, even though the accounts do not speak negatively of the Assyrians and are meant to glorify the king. The annals also give much detail to geography and Chronology. It is interesting how accurate the Assyrians were with dates, they made use of an Assyrian Kings List or the Eponym Canon.

The Assyrian Chronicles and Eponym Canon. The Assyrian scribes organized their national events whether military, political or religious every regnal year. The Babylonian Chronicles were structured the same way. Assyrian records were kept very carefully, they took their dating and their history seriously. They attached their record of events with the solar year and with the name of an official who was known as the "limmu." Their was a new limmu appointed every year. They recorded military, political and religious events in every year and made references to eclipses. The Assyrian records are highly dependable and allow Biblical scholars a very accurate way of dating events and designating "eponyms" for 244 year in Hebrew history, from 892-648 BC.

The Assyrian King List. The Assyrian King List reveals a list of the kings of ancient Assyria in chronological order, from the 2nd millennium BC to 609 BC. It lists the name of the king, his father's name, the length of his reign, and some great achievements.

Assyrian Sculptures. The limestone bas-reliefs discovered from the palace walls of major Assyrian capital cities like Nineveh (Kuyunjik), Nimrud (Calah), Khorsabad (Dur-Sharrukin), and the bronze bands on the Balawat Gates reveal a wealth of history. The illustrative events were carved be professional Assyrian artists like a modern day photographer on the scene. The carvings reveal the military might and tactics of the Assyrians, as well as the futility of those nations that defied their might. These sculptures are on display in museums around the world, for example: The British Museum in London, The Louvre in France, The Iraqi Museum, and The Oriental Institute in Chicago.

The Bible. The Old Testament records the history of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, along with the battles of other nations. It includes the fall of the 10 tribes in northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC by the Assyrians, as well as the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 BC by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Bible also records miraculous events surrounding people like Elijah, and Jonah, as well as the slaying of 185,000 Assyrians at Jerusalem by the Angel of the LORD. The events recorded in 2 Kings generally agree with Assyrian and Babylonian sources.