The British Museum

In 1850 British artist Frederick Cooper painted this watercolor of the entrance to Ashurnasirpal II’s shrine of Ninurta at Kalhu. Dominating the scene are two colossal statues, which stand guard over the palace’s sacred precinct. A year earlier, Cooper had traveled to the Near East with the explorer/archaeologist Austen Henry Layard, who was excavating several Assyrian sites. Layard’s first discoveries had come in 1845 at Nimrud (the Arabic name for the site of ancient Kalhu), which he incorrectly believed was the biblical Nineveh. What he had actually found was biblical Calah (see Genesis 10:11–12), or Assyrian Kalhu, built by Ashurnasirpal II in the early ninth century B.C. and used as the Assyrian capital for 150 years.