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Archaeological Artifacts from the Ancient Near East
British Museum, London

I went to the British Museum on Sunday 2 June 2002, during the Jubilee weekend, it was a good time to go because the weather was very sunny and the world cup was on, and so the museum was relatively uncrowded. There were only some Asian tour groups and American tourists.

I spent the day in the Ancient Near East galleries in the West wing of the museum, taking photos of the Assyrian exhibits until my last set of camera batteries ran out. After my first photo, i got told off by a guard for using a tripod (i didn't know you are not allowed to), so the rest are taken without tripod and may be a bit blur and shaky as i took them mostly under ambient light, wihout flash.

It was very interesting to see things made by the Assyrians, the nation to whom the prophet Jonah was sent, and who are also mentioned in Nahum and several other parts of the Bible. The impression i got was that they were a very powerful and proud people, and fond of violence, which is not unlike some nations that we see today. The amount of voilence depicted in the wall carvings that decorated their palace walls would be worthy of a modern Hollywood movie. I also saw poignant scenes from the siege of Lachish, an Israelite city, depicted on bas reliefs from the palace of king Sennacherib in Nineveh-- God spared Nineveh in Jonah's time and later they went on to be the rod of his anger, which he used used to punish Israel.

My initial photographing spree at the Museum was related to some Collegiate Quarterly articles on Jonah that I and some freinds were writing, and therefore focussed on Assyrian artifacts as Jonah was sent to Assyria. I recently also went there to look at Assyrian stuff again because i was writing an essay on Nahum, and also tried to photograph a few non-Assyrian artifacts too, which are related to the life setting of Bible times. I haven't hadd time to add the newer photos to this website yet, except for the royal steward tomb inscription. I also have not had time to add descriptions and captions for all the photos here.

If you find the subjects of these photos interesting, you may wish to visit the Museum yourself. One London church (All Souls) had a good idea and organised a guided tour of the artifacts related to the Bible, it was very interesting and a good opportunity to bring friends along.

Links to relevant British Museum websites are given at the bottom of this page.

Below are links to the photos i took. Those of you who have the book may wish to refer to the chronology / time line on page 20 and page 21 of The Bible in the British Museum by T. C. Mitchell (British Museum Press, 1988). This chronology is in some cases 1 year different from the one used by the SDA BIble Commentary as the dates of some things are uncertain, but it gives you a good idea of the order of the Assyrian kings mentioned in the photos below, and when they reigned with respect to the Israelite kings. Some historical notes:

  • The prophet Jonah is thought to have lived during or slightly before the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel (possibly during the reign of king Adad-nirari III of Assyria, according to SDA Bible Commentary).
  • According to the SDA BIble Commentary, the prophet Isaiah lived during the time when the Assyrian empire was at the height of its super-power status, during the reigns of the Assyrian kings Tiglath-pileser III (745-727), Shalmaneser V (727-722), Sargon II (722-705), Sennacherib (705-681), and Esarhaddon (681-669). This period saw the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel, conquered in 723/22 BC by king Shalmaneser V and king Sargon II of Assyria (Isaiah lived in Jerusalem in the southern kingdom of Judah and would have heard of this). Isaiah also spoke regarding the Assyrian king Sennacherib's invasion of Judah during the reign of king Hezekiah of Judah.
  • The prophet Nahum wrote his oracle concerning Nineveh some time between 663 and the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC, probably during the reign of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal.
The Photos:
  1. 001_Attendant_god_Nabu_Nimrud
  2. 001a_other_Attendant_god_Nabu_Nimrud
  3. 002_Protective_spirit_Ninurta_Nimrud
  4. 003_god_monster_Ninurta_Nimrud
  5. 004_fish_god_Ninurta_Nimrud
  6. 005_Shamshi_AdadV_Nabu_Nimrud
  7. 006_Ashurnasirpal_Kurkh
  8. 007_Shalmaneser_Kurkh
  9. 008_Astartu_TiglathPileser_NimrudSW
  10. 009_top_Astartu_TiglathPileser_NimrudSW
  11. 010_ArabPrisoners_TiglathPileser_NimrudC
  12. 011_CapturedFlocks_TiglathPileser_NimrudC
  13. 012_CapturedCamels_TiglathPileser_NimrudC
  14. 013_TiglathPileser_NimrudC
  15. 014_lion_Ashurnasirpal_Ishtar_Nimrud
  16. 015_headof_lion_Ashurnasirpal_Ishtar_Nimrud
  17. 016_blackobelisk_full
  18. 016a_blackobelisk_fullBC
  19. 017_blackobelisk_A1
  20. 018_blackobelisk_A2
  21. 019_blackobelisk_A2close
  22. 020_blackobelisk_A3
  23. 021_blackobelisk_A4
  24. 022_blackobelisk_A5
  25. 023_blackobelisk_B1
  26. 024_blackobelisk_B2
  27. 025_blackobelisk_B3
  28. 026_blackobelisk_B4
  29. 027_blackobelisk_B5
  30. 028_blackobelisk_C1
  31. 029_blackobelisk_C2
  32. 030_blackobelisk_C3
  33. 031_blackobelisk_C4
  34. 032_blackobelisk_C5
  35. 033_blackobelisk_D1
  36. 034_blackobelisk_D2
  37. 035_blackobelisk_D3
  38. 036_blackobelisk_D4
  39. 037_blackobelisk_D5
  40. 038_Ashurnasirpal_Nimrud
  41. 039_HumanHeadedWingedLion_NimrudNW
  42. 040_BalawatGatesReconstruction
  43. 041_BalawatGates1
  44. 042_BalawatGates2
  45. 043_BalawatGates3
  46. 044_BalawatGates4
  47. 045_BalawatGates5
  48. 046_BalawatGates6
  49. 047_BalawatGates7
  50. 048_BalawatGates8
  51. 049_BalawatGates9
  52. 050_BalawatGates10
  53. 051_LionHunt_NimrudNW
  54. 052_Ashurnasirpal_spirits_NimrudNW
  55. 053_AshurnasirpalSpirits_tree_NimrudNW
  56. 054_Ashurnasirpal_Symbolic_NimrudNW
  57. 055_Ashurnasirpal_Symbolic_NimrudNW_godsymbols
  58. 056_Ashurnasirpal_Symbolic_NimrudNW_shamash
  59. 057_WildBullHunt_NimrudNW
  60. 058_BullHunt_Musicians_NimrudNW
  61. 059_BattleScene1_NimrudNW
  62. 060_BattleScene2_NimrudNW
  63. 061_Deportation_TiglathPileser_NimrudC
  64. 062_Lachish1
  65. 063_Lachish2
  66. 064_Lachish3
  67. 064a_Lachish3a
  68. 065_Lachish4
  69. 065a_Lachish5
  70. 065b_LachishArtifacts
  71. 066_GazelleHunt_NinevehN
  72. 067_LionHunt_NinevehN
  73. 068_AssHunt_NinevehN
  74. 069_AssHunt2_NinevehN
  75. 070_DyingLions1
  76. 071_DyingLions2
  77. 072_DyingLions3
  78. 073_alamu_NinevehSW
  79. 074_Fisherman_NinevehSW
  80. 075_warship_NinevehSW
  81. 076_prisonerMusicians_NinevehSW
  82. 077_AssyrianCamp_Lachish_NinevehSW
  83. 078_BattleScene_NimrudC
  84. 079_AttackonTown_NimrudC
  85. 080_AttackonTown1_NimrudC
  86. 081_AttackonTown2_NimrudC
  87. 083_WingedBull_Boats_NinevehSW
  88. 084_WingedBull_fisherman_NinevehSW
  89. 085_WingedBull_prisoners_NinevehSW
  90. 086_SIraq_fish_NinevehSW
  91. 087_SIraq_Headcount_NinevehSW

  92. Royal Steward Tomb Inscription

British Museum Visiting Info

Opening Hours: Sat - Wed 10.00 - 17.30, Thurs - Fri 10.00 - 20.30. The Museum is closed from 24 to 26 December, 1 January and Good Friday every year.

Nearest tube stations: Holborn, Tottenham Court Road, Russell Square, Goodge St.

See also: Travel info

Admission is free.

Links to Museum web pages