Campus News

Story of the Assyrian Reliefs told on WCSH

Story posted April 26, 2008

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art's prized Assyrian reliefs and the discovery of the ancient acts of vandalism inflicted upon them are the subjects of a segment on WCSH's magazine show 207 Weekend that aired Saturday, April 26, 2008.

Assyrians in the News
Assyrian relief detail showing disfigured face and slashed wrist

Watch the 207 Weekend segment here.

Associate Curator for the Ancient Collection James Higginbotham was interviewed for the segment, which delved into the symbolic disfiguration of the reliefs, specifically that of the panel depicting Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II.

The 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.

Read about the Museum's reopening.

The disfiguring includes slashing the king's right wrist and Achilles tendons and damage to his nose, ears and an eye.

His bow was also broken and his beard was slashed — all attempts, experts say, to retaliate against the visual image of the kingship.

Assyrian Relief detail 530.jpg
Detail of one of the five Assyrian reliefs in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Higginbotham 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).

The discovery of the damage was detailed in the August 31, 2007, edition of The New York Times.

Read the Times article here.

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