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Relief carving of Ashurbanipal

Florence, Opera Laboratori Fiorentini

Coming from the North Palace at Nineveh, this relief carving depicts King Ashurbanipal (668-631 B.C.) feasting on a kind of triclinium. Before him is the Queen, seated on a high throne. The scene is framed by a pergola of grapevines winding around the trunks of two conifer trees. In the left corner, hanging from a tree, is the head of a vanquished enemy. With its striking array of botanical species framing the libation scene and the grapevine pergola, this scene is apparently idyllic; in reality it recalls instead the bloody military campaigns against the Elamites.