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Nineveh South-West Palace of Sennacherib Main Entrance 700 BC

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"The palace without rival" boasted Sennacherib in his inscription discovered in Nineveh. But when Austen Henry Layard undertook in 1847 to dig out large portions of this Neo-Assyrian palace on the acropolis of Nineveh overlooking the Tigris River it became clear it was no exaggeration. For this reconstruction of the main North-east gateway into what is believed to be the throne room I consulted Layard's original publications on Nineveh and I used his meticulous plans, drawings and measurements. Unlikely though as it may seem, the scale of this palace facade is correct. Since there are no surviving remains above the carved orthostat reliefs, conventional reconstructions of Assyrian architecture show solid brick masonry going all the way to the top. I departed from this view in light of Assyrian artists' own representations of columns and pilasters (columns rendered in high relief as non-supporting decorative elements) incorporated into royal architecture on stone reliefs and numerous ivory carvings. Versions of these columns and capitals of typical shape appear in the architecture of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel of the same period as well as Babylon where they are evidenced as painted glazed brick decorative elements. It seemed reasonable to break the monotony of the blank wall surface with a row pilasters but I decided to relieve the weight of the enormous amount of bricks that would otherwise make up the two towers by installing free standing columns supporting the front half of both. The colors used on the carved stone reliefs and elsewhere are borrowed from surviving examples from fragments in the same palace and other Assyrian sites such as Nimrud and Khorsabad. The view is to the West-South-west in early morning light.


September 23 2014, 8:26pm








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