Photo courtesy of Private Collection/Bridgeman Art Library

Ancient Assyrians relax on the banks of the Tigris River, across from grand palaces and a stepped ziggurat. This drawing of Nimrud—ancient Kalhu, capital of the ninth-century B.C. king Ashurnasirpal II—was one of the illustrations in Austen Henry Layard’s Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon (1853), which chronicled the British archaeologist’s second expedition to northern Mesopotamia.