British Museum

Assyrian wall reliefs, such as this carving showing King Ashurbanipal (668–629 B.C.) fighting a lion, project royal power. The palace of Ashurbanipal’s grandfather, King Sennacherib (704–681 B.C.), at Nineveh in modern Iraq, had over 70 rooms with doorways guarded by colossal statues of human-headed bulls and lions, and walls adorned with reliefs depicting military campaigns, hunts and exotic gardens. Sennacherib’s palace has been plundered over the past decade. Sculpted slabs have been pried from the ancient walls, broken up, and smuggled out of the country—only to appear on the antiquities market.