Campus News

The New York Times Features Bowdoin's Assyrian Reliefs, Ancient Acts of Vandalism

Story posted August 31, 2007

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art's Assyrian reliefs are the subject of an article in the August 31, 2007, edition of The New York Times.

The article, "Assessing the Wounds of an Ancient Assyrian Ruler," delves into the symbolic disfiguration of the reliefs, specifically that of the panel depicting Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II. The ancient acts of vandalism became visible when the five gypsum slabs were moved from the formerly dim Rotunda to their new, natural light-filled gallery during the Museum's renovation.

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Assyrian relief detail showing disfigured face and slashed wrist

The disfiguring includes slashing the king's right wrist and Achilles tendons and breaking his bow. Associate Curator for the Ancient Collection James Higginbotham, who is quoted in the article along with Museum Director Katy Kline, says it is thought to be the work of the Medes tribes from what is now Iran, and was probably done around 612 B.C., when they conquered Ashurnasirpal's empire in Kalhu (now Nimrud, about 20 miles southeast of Mosul, Iraq).

Read the New York Times article.

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Detail of one of the five Assyrian reliefs in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art

The Assyrian reliefs and the rest of the displayed collections can be viewed when the newly renovated Museum reopens October 14, 2007. Read about the renovations here.

The Assyrian Gallery as seen through the Museum's new glass curtain wall

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