Protective spirit, 865 - 860 BC, Temple of Ninurta, Nimrud (Kalhu)
This is one of a pair of heroic royal figures, each dressed in a tunic and fringed mantle and holding a flowering branch. They guard the outer face of the doorway into the temple of Ninurta, chief god of the city of Nimrud, god of war and farming.
The Temple of Ninurta was built for King Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC) after he made Kalhu (the Biblical Calah, now Nimrud) his new capital.
Ninurta, the Assyrian god of war and farming, appears in the Bible as Nimrod ... a mighty warrior on the earth ... a mighty hunter before the Lord' (Genesis 10: 8-12). He was the city god of Kalhu. A form of his name survives in the modern name of the site, Nimrud.
In 1850, the British archaeologist Austen Henry Layard excavated the temple, uncovering many of the remains displayed here. These include scenes depicting Ninurta chasing a winged monster, royal heroes and a fish-cloaked figure. These all came from one of the temple's entrances. Another entrance was guarded by winged, human-headed lions, flanked by reliefs of winged figures. Inside was a huge slab of stone carved with an account of the Ashurnasirpal's campaigns, while alongside the temple was a high terraced temple-tower.