Featured Work of Art
Human-headed winged lion (lamassu), Neo-Assyrian period, reign of Ashurnasirpal II, 883–859 b.c.
Mesopotamia, excavated at Kalhu (modern Nimrud),
122 1/2 x 24 1/2 x 109 in. (331.2 x 62.2 x 276.9 cm)
Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1932 (32.143.2)
Collection Area: Ancient Near Eastern Art
Subject Areas: English Language Arts, Visual Arts, World History
Grades: Elementary School, Middle School
Topics/Themes: Identity, Power and Leadership, Animals in Art
Students will be able to
- identify ways Mesopotamians, living in the ninth to the seventh century b.c., used art to convey messages to palace visitors; and
- create a protective figure for an amulet using Ancient Near Eastern art as a source of inspiration.
English Language Arts – Applying Language Skills
Visual Arts – Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
Visual Arts – Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures
Visual Arts – Using Knowledge of Structures and Functions
Visual Arts – Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
World History – Era 3: Classical Traditions, Major Religions, and Giant Empires, 1000 b.c.e.–300 c.e.
Questions for Viewing
- This figure combines the features of several animals in a unified whole. What animals come to mind as you look at this sculpture? What qualities do you associate with these animals?
- Which part of each animal has the artist incorporated? What function do these attributes have in the natural world?
- What might these features indicate about the figure?
- This sculpture originally supported a palace doorway in ancient Mesopotamia. How might this sculpture make you feel if you were entering the palace? Why?
- If you were going to choose a being to protect you, what features would you want it to have? Why?
Design your own supernatural being to be displayed on a protective amulet that includes at least one human and one animal feature. As you sketch your design, consider whom this being will protect and against what it will protect. Cut a silhouette of your drawing out of cardboard and cover it with tin or gold foil. Add embellishments and tie it to a cord to be worn around the neck. Write a creation story for this protective being, detailing who made it and why. This could also be turned into a picture book.
Materials: Cardboard, foil, yarn or string, hole punch, glue, embellishments
Activity Setting: Classroom
Aruz, Joan, et al. eds. Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium b.c. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008.
Benzel, Kim, Sarah B. Graff, Yelena Rakic, and Edith W. Watts. Art of the Ancient Near East: A Resource for Educators. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2010. Download the resource.
Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. "Assyria, 1365–609 b.c." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (Originally published 2004, last revised April 2010)
"Human-headed winged lion (lamassu) [Excavated at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Mesopotamia] (32.143.2)." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2006)
Nigg, Joseph, ed. The Book of Fabulous Beasts: A Treasury of Writings from Ancient Times to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Pre-Visit Guide for Teachers: Art of the Ancient Near East (PDF)
Striding horned demon, Proto-Elamite period, ca. 3100–2900 b.c.
Iran or Mesopotamia
H. 6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm); W. 2 1/8 in. (5.4 cm)
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2007 (2007.280)
Relief of King Ashurnasirpal II, Neo-Assyrian period, reign of Ashurnasirpal II, 883–859 b.c.
Mesopotamia, excavated at Kalhu (modern Nimrud)
H. 92 1/4 in. (234.3 cm)
Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1932 (32.143.4)
Author: Adapted from a lesson plan by Jordis Rosberg in Art of the Ancient Near East: A Resource for Educators
Affiliation: The Metropolitan Museum of Art