Soldiers and horses in gala trappings

Neo-Assyrian Empire, reign of Ashurbanipal (668-627 B.C.)
Material and technique: 
Limestone with traces of painting
From northern Mesopotamia, Nineveh (Kuyunjik), North Palace, Room I
Inv. MB 51

This fragment, from the North Palace at Nineveh, was the upper register of the panel that depicted the famous battle against the Elamites at the Ulai River. The panel probably depicted scenes of the king’s triumph. The cavalry most likely began to emerge as a military arm independent of the chariot corps in the 8th or 7th century B.C. Many scholars think the Assyrians were among the first to add units of mounted archers to their armies. Though chariots were still used in battle, they began to take on a purely ceremonial function, reserved to the sovereign.

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