Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum

ON THE COVER: In a masterpiece of the ivory carver’s art, a lioness kills a young man. Set in a thicket of papyruses and lilies speckled with gold foil and studded with carnelian and lapis lazuli, the terrifying scene—and another just like it—were discovered at Nimrud on the Tigris River. The pair, part of a huge hoard of ivories, may have adorned the throne of an Assyrian king or queen in the ninth century B.C. Accompanied by a picture album of exquisite artifacts, “Ancient Ivory—The Story of Wealth, Decadence and Beauty” examines a recent survey of the history and technology of ivory carving by Richard Barrett, retired keeper of Western Asian antiquities at the British Museum.