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Openwork plaque with a striding sphinx

Syrian-style openwork plaque with a striding sphinx, ca. 9th–8th century B.C. Neo-Assyrian period. Mesopotamia, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu). Ivory. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1964 (64.37.1)

"A tale of absolutely stunning human invention."—New York Times

"A glorious view onto a distant epochal cycle that feels, at times, uncannily close."—Wall Street Journal

"The artistic legacy of the early first millennium B.C. . . . proves as complex, as arresting, and as essential to civilization as the classical Greek culture it gave rise to."—New Yorker

Major support is provided by The Hagop Kevorkian Fund,
the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman.

Stavros Niarchos Foundation logo

Additional support is provided by an Anonymous Foundation and the Friends of Inanna.

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts
and the Humanities.

The catalogue is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,
The Hagop Kevorkian Fund, and the A. G. Leventis Foundation.

Featured Media

Digital Reconstruction of the Northwest Palace, Nimrud, Assyria

Program information

This video reconstructs the Nortwest Palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud (near modern Mosul in northern Iraq) as it would have appeared during his reign in the ninth century B.C. The video moves from the outer courtyards of the palace into the throne room and beyond into more private spaces, perhaps used for rituals. The video also shows the original location and painted colors of the relief depicting the winged, eagle-headed figure included in the exhibition Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age (on view September 22, 2014–January 4, 2015).

Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age

September 22, 2014–January 4, 2015

At its height in the eighth to seventh century b.c., the Assyrian Empire was the dominant power of the ancient Near East and the largest empire the world had yet seen, reaching from Assyria (present-day northern Iraq) to the Mediterranean. As Assyria expanded, the Phoenician city-states of the Levant—precariously located along the edge of Assyrian territory—were compelled to expand and strengthen their maritime trade networks to the west. The mercantile connections they established along the northern coast of Africa and the southern coast of Europe to the Strait of Gibraltar and beyond, to the Atlantic, became conduits for raw materials, luxury goods, images, and ideas between the Near East and the Mediterranean.

This landmark exhibition traces—through some 260 works of art on loan from major collections in Western Europe, the Caucasus, the Middle East, North Africa, and the United States—the deep roots of interaction between the ancient Near East and the lands along the shores of the Mediterranean and their impact on the artistic traditions that developed in the region. Parallels are also drawn between works in the exhibition and those in the Metropolitan Museum's permanent collection of ancient Near Eastern art.

Exhibition Catalogue

Catalogue cover

Masterpieces of the early first millennium B.C. are showcased in this essential new volume.

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From the Blog

Neo-Assyrian Rock Reliefs: Ideology and Landscapes of an Empire
Posted on October 20, 2014 by Helen Malko
Temporary Encounters, Permanent Galleries
Posted on October 14, 2014 by Blair Fowlkes-Childs
Vanished Images
Posted on October 6, 2014 by Michael Seymour

Related Events

Gallery Talk:
Exhibition Tour—Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age
Monday, October 27, 10:30–11:30 a.m.
Free with Museum admission, though tickets are required
Sunday Studio:
Text and Tablets: Assyrian Art
Sunday, November 2, 1:00–4:00 p.m.
Free with Museum admission; admission is free for children under 12 with an adult.
Sunday Studio:
Family Tour—Text and Tablets: Assyrian Art
Sunday, November 2, 2:00–3:00 p.m.
Free with Museum admission; admission is free for children under 12 with an adult.