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Human-Headed Winged Bull (Lamassu)

Human-Headed Winged Bull (Lamassu) - MET - Joy of Museums - 2

Human-Headed Winged Bull (Lamassu)

This Human-Headed Winged Bull is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human head, the body of a bull or a lion, and bird wings. The horned cap symbolises to its divinity and the motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East. The first distinct lamassu motif appeared in Assyria as a symbol of power and authority.

The sculptor of this Human-Headed Winged Bull gave this guardian figure five legs so that they seem to be firmly standing when viewed from the front but striding forward when seen from the side. Lamassu protected and supported essential doorways in Assyrian palaces. This sculpture is one of a pair of lamassu that was placed at the entrance of a prominent palace.


The Assyrian Empire was a dominant Mesopotamian empire of the ancient Near East and the Levant. Centred on the Tigris in Upper Mesopotamia it consisted of substantial parts of the greater Mesopotamian “cradle of civilisation”, which included Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, and Babylonia.


Nimrud is located 30 kilometres (20 mi) south of the city of Mosul, Iraq, in the Nineveh plains in northern Mesopotamia. Archaeological excavations at the site began in 1845, and many important discoveries were made. The city was labelled the name “Nimrud” in modern times after the Biblical Nimrod.

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“If you are a host to your guest, be a host to his dog also.”
– Assyrian Proverb


Photo Credit: 1) JOM