Human-headed winged bull and winged lion (lamassu). Neo-Assyrian, ca. 883–859 B.C. Nimrud (ancient Kalhu).
The so-called Standard Inscription that ran across the surface of most of the reliefs described Ashurnasirpal’s palace:
"I built thereon [a palace with] halls of cedar, cypress, juniper, boxwood, teak, terebinth, and tamarisk [?] as my royal dwelling and for the enduring leisure life of my lordship."
The inscription continues: “Beasts of the mountains and the seas, which I had fashioned out of white limestone and alabaster, I had set up in its gates. I made it [the palace] fittingly imposing.”
Such limestone beasts are the human-headed, winged bull and lion pictured here. The horned cap attests to their divinity, and the belt signifies their power. The sculptor gave these guardian figures five legs so that they appear to be standing firmly when viewed from the front but striding forward when seen from the side. These lamassu protected and supported important doorways in Assyrian palaces. (met)