projects - online-exhibition - lost-forever

  • The Palaces of Nimrud – as the artist James Ferguson imagined them in the 1850’s. (Layard 1853)

  • Austen Henry Layard dressed in Bakhtyar tribe costume. Watercolour painted in Constantinople April 6th 1843, by Amadeo Preziosi. With permission from the British Museum.

  • The ruin hills of Kouynjik and Nabi Yunus (Tomb of Jonah), seen from Mosul, 1845. The overgrown hills turned out to be the remains of Nineveh. (Layard 1853)

  • Foto Ninives murer høsten 2007

    The walls of Nineveh as they appeared in the autumn 2002 when NTNU professor Dagfinn Rian visited the place. Photo: Gyda Birkeland Rian.

  • Drawing: the ruins of Nimroud, from the 1850's

    The Ruins of Nimrud. Drawing from the 1840's. (Layard 1849a)

  • Drawing: Nabi Yunus - Tomb of Jonah. From th 1850's

    The remains of Nabi Yunus - Tomb of Jonah. (Layard 1849b)

  • Drawing: reconstruction of the interior of a palace in Nimroud

    Reconstruction of the interior of an assyrian palace. (Layard 1849a)

  • Drawing: a lamassu; a gate guardian. From the 1850's.

    Lamassu: massive statuesof winged bulls with human heads that adorned the gates of the royal palaces of Nineveh and Nimrud. (1849a)

  • Drawing from the 1850's: dissasembling of a lamassu for transport to England

    The removal of a lamassu for transport to England. (Layard 1849b)

  • Photo: lamassu from Nineveh, 2002.

    One of the lamassus guarding a gate in Nimrud in 2002. The destruction of a Nimrud lamassu was shown in an IS video in March 2015. Photo: Gyda Birkeland Rian.

  • Drawing from the 1850's: assyrian king at his throne with servants.

    Assyrian king on his throne, surrounded by members of the court including eunuchs (men without beard). (Layard 1849a)

  • Drawing from the 1850's: assyrian king hunting a lion.

    Assyrian king hunting lions. (1849b)

  • Drawing: a stone lion head

    Head of a stone lion. The sculpture is now located at the British Museum, London. (Layard 1853)

  • Drawing from the 1850's: cuneiform on an assyrian relieff.

    Cuneiform inscription. Part of a relief showing king Sennacherib receiving his generals and prisoners after the siege of Lakish in Judea. (Layard 1853)

  • Drawing: the jewish king Jehu kneels before the assyrian king Salmanassar the third.

    A section from "The Black Obelisk", found in Nimrud. This scene shows the jewish king Jehu kneeling before the assyrian king Shalmaneser III (853-824 f.Kr.) (Layard 1849a)

  • Drawing: parade - sculptures of assyrian gods.

    A procession carrying sculptures of assyrian gods. (Layard 1849b)

  • Drawing: assyrian soldiers swimming using inflated animal skins.

    Assyrian soldiers svimming using inflated animal skins. (Layard 1853)

  • Relief: cheering of the assyrian king av the attack on Lakish. Jewish prisoners.

    Relief from the palace of king Sankerib in Nineveh. Celebrations for the king after the conquering of Lakish in Judea. The king receives his generals. Behind them: jewish prisoners. (Layard 1853)


  • Photo: an Iraqi archaeologist shows reliefs from Nimroud, autumn 2002.

    Iraqi archaeologist Mozahem Mahmoud Hussein showing a relief in a Nimrud palace in 2002. In 2015 IS cut the reliefs into pieces, probably for sale. Photo: Gyda Birkeland Rian, 2002.

projects - online-exhibition - lost-forever - text-frame

Decoration from Ninive

Lost forever

In March 2015 Islamic State destroyed remains of the Assyrian cities Nineveh and Nimrud in northern Iraq. Sculptures and other images were smashed or cut to pieces, large artefacts and walls where destroyed by bulldozers. 

Nineveh was the capital of the mighty Assyrian Empire (ca. 1350-612 BC). Nimrud was the royal residence of the kings Ashurnasirpal and his son Shalmaneser III. 612 BC these cities were destroyed, abandoned and largely forgotten. However, the remains were re-discovered by French and British archaeologists in the19th century. A young English adventurer, Austen Henry Layard, excavated the two sites 1845-1851. The sculptures and reliefs that he sent to the British Museum caused a sensation as they constituted a first glimpse of a civilization known from the Bible, but forgotten for 2,500 years. Layard's books, 'Nineveh and its Remains' from 1849, and 'Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon' from 1853, became bestsellers. These books, as well as two folio volumes, 'Monuments of Nineveh' are housed in the NTNU Gunnerus Library and NTNU Dora Library. They are important sources for the cultural heritage which is now destroyed. This online exhibition shows selected illustrations from Layard's books, as well as a few photos from a private tour to the archaeological sites.


  • Austen Henry Layard. A Second Series of the Monuments of Nineveh: includingservers bas-reliefs from the palace of Sennacherib and Bronzes from the Ruins of Nimroud: from drawings made on the spot, during a Second Expedition to Assyria. London, John Murray, 1853. (Layard 1853)
  • Austen Henry Layard. The Monuments of Nineveh, from drawings made on the spot. London, John Murray, 1849. (Layard 1849a)
  • Austen Henry Layard. Nineveh and its Remains, vol 1-2. London, John Murray, 1849. (Layard 1849b)

This online exhibition is made by: Lise Bender Jørgensen and Inger Langø (December 2015). Pictures by: Nils Kristian Eikeland, Ingunn Østgaard and Gyda Birkeland Rian.