The Roaring Lion — failing_angel
Glazed brick panel from the Throne Room of Nebuchadnezzar II.
Loaned to the British Museum by the Vorderasiatisches Museum.
The panel shows a pacing, roaring lion and once was part of King Nebuchadnezzar II’s throne room in his palace in the ancient city of Babylon, Iraq. Nebuchadnezzar II reigned from 605-562 BC, and supposedly had the hanging gardens of Babylon built for his queen. Although there is little evidence to confirm his passion for gardening, it is certain that Nebuchadnezzar commissioned other major building projects in Babylon, to glorify the capital of his empire. Inscriptions stamped on bricks reveal the extent of these works. In the city of Babylon, glazed bricks in bright shades of blue, yellow and white were used to create public monuments that emphasised the power of the king and the gods. In Nebuchadnezzar’s throne room the roaring lions emphasized the power and might of the Babylonian king, whose empire stretched from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean and from the Caucasus to northern Arabia.
Finds excavated by Robert Koldewey at Babylon between 1902 and 1914 came to Berlin packed in crates. Staff spent years painstakingly joining fragments of glazed brick together to recreate Nebuchadnezzar’s Ishtar Gate and Processional Way, in Berlin. The panel loaned to the British Museum has been similarly pieced together from bricks the Vorderasiatisches Museum has in store and so is being seen complete for the very first time in London.
King Nebuchadnezzar II commssioned major building projects in Babylon to glorify the capital of his empire. Glazed bricks in bright shades of blue, yellow and white were favoured for public monuments in order to emphasise both divine and royal power. The Processional Way and the Ishtar Gate linked the city's outer fortifications to Nebuchadnezzar's Southern Palace. Beyond them stood the main temples and the great ziggurat tower which streched seven storeys high. The roaring lions on the walls of the Processional Way and Palace Throne Room represent Nebuchadnezzar himself.