Besides its famous sculpted reliefs, the palace of Khorsabad was also adorned with a set of colourful decorations during Sargon's reign, most of which have not survived. The painter Félix Thomas recorded an excavated archivolt of coloured bricks with a frieze of rosettes and genii decorating a door and guarded by bulls. Still visible during the excavations, these decorations only exist today as fragments.

Technique and colour

Fragments of bricks that probably decorated the walls of the palace are now conserved in the Musée du Louvre. The bricks were made from terracotta and covered with a glaze which, mixed with metal oxides, vitrified when fired to produce the desired colours - often blue, green, white and yellow. Floral decorations and details of figurative scenes, such as a person’s foot, are also found on the fragments.

Glazed brick paintings

These fragments confirm the existence of coloured-brick paintings in Khorsabad, known mainly from the records made by Felix Thomas. The temple sector in particular was decorated with scenes framed by floral friezes depicting figures, animals - lions, birds, bulls - or a fig tree and plough. This type of decoration was favoured in the 1st millennium BCE, but it was in Babylon, in the 6thBCE, that it reached its apotheosis on the Ishtar Gate, conserved today in Berlin, at the Vorderasiatisches Museum.