Essay by facistpantiesCollege, UndergraduateA+, July 2004

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Since the beginning of human imagination, we have fabricated the idea of power through imaginative creatures for protection. The origin of this idea dates back before the death of Christ with "bas" relief animals attached to gate walls. During the Assyrian Era, Lamassu guarded the gates of Sargon II in Bet-Nahrain.

Lamassu is a Neo-Assyrian and/or Akkadian term used to designate a creature, combined of a winged lion or bull figure with a human head. As protective deities, it was a larger than life statue block that was placed on either side of a late Assyrian palace. It was usually depicted as a "double-aspect" figure, apparently possessing five separate legs when viewed from an oblique angle. This allowed for two simultaneous depictions. It appeared to be standing guard when viewed from the front. When viewed from the side, Lamassu appeared to be striding forward. The high relief creature was situated at adjacent sides of the gate at Khorsabad and served as a guardian to the King from all evil.

Erected in 720 BC, its size is ten times as massive as humans. Each colossus was carved in the round from a single block of stone, measuring up to 5.50 m2 in size. Initially carved roughly in the quarry, each statue-block was transported to its final location, where it would be set in place and be subjected to fine carving.

Lamassu was a characteristic of this late phase in the development of Assyrian art when sculpture was otherwise rare. Lamassu were powerfully evocative of strength, speed, and intelligence. It was considered by the Assyrians as a protective guardian of their houses, palaces, gateways, and cities. It also symbolized as a sign of Assyrian power which was displayed to foreign dignitaries and ambassadors. There is no historical evidence showing that Lamassu was...