So continuing on the Near Eastern visit that El Argentino, STORSH and I took to the Louvre this weekend, I thought I’d introduce this rather endearing winged bull-man. Called a Lamassu (meaning “protective spirit” in Akkadian), he is one of a pair who was usually found flanking the doorways to Assyrian palaces. These guys are somehow comforting, or perhaps what’s comforting is the space they’re in. It smells earthy, I suppose of the gypseous alabaster they’re made of. With the grey-but-bright Paris light shedding in, there’s something intimate about the well-proportioned L-shaped room lined with Sargon’s treasures. And then there’s size. These guys stand at nearly 4 and a half meters tall, making me feel. Well. Very human. They’re from the palace of Sargon II, who reigned from 721 – 705 BC; it was square in shape with 158 towers, and had a 24 meter thick wall encompassing 3 km². Nothing so piddling as our French Khorsabad room at the Louvre. But sadly we don’t have much of Sargon’s treasure.
In the 1840s and 50s the palace, named Dur Sharrukin, was excavated by the French consul general to Mosul (yes, of Iraq), M. Botta (and yes, his name is in bold — perhaps a bonus question?). Heart-breakingly two shipping incidents caused much of the excavations to go missing: one through the boat sinking and the other to pirates. They must have been strong pirates as two 30-ton statues went missing.
I haven’t done much digging myself, but I do have to wonder why some Indiana Jones character hasn’t gone looking for the ruins at the bottom of the Tigris river, where the first ship sunk.
Anyway, this endearing Lamassu could appear in any number of THATLous. His wonderful wings make him worthy of the Angels + Wings THATLou, his strong, architecturally-necessary form makes him suitable for the Architecture + Structure THATLou, and of course, the fact that he is neither animal nor man, but an imaginary compromise places him in the Bestiary (fantasy animals, like unicorns) THATLou that I’m working on now. Lucky you’re reading this here, to get a head start on your THATLou adversaries!