The inauguration banquet

The banquet held to inaugurate the palace of Khorsabad in 706 BCE was attended by Assyrian nobles and governors from every province of Assyria. A similar event is depicted in the upper register of the reliefs in Rooms II and VII showing figures taking part in a feast.

"I made the rulers of the four regions (of the world) sit together in my palace, with the governors of my country, with the princes, the eunuchs, and the elders of Assyria, and I held a feast."

(Sargon II, inscription in Room V line 466-477, etc.)


Little of the ceremonial tableware used at the royal table, often made of metal (gold, silver or bronze) has survived. One exception is a bronze rhyton in the shape of an antelope's head found in a palace storeroom. One relief shows a servant carrying a pair of similar drinking vessels in the shape of a lion's head. Others depict cauldrons, bowls, and goblets. The Assyrian kings also had ornate dishes and cups made of precious metal by Phoenician craftsmen, examples of which have been found in Nimrud and Idalium.


A phenomenal amount of food was served at banquets. A text describing a huge feast with 69,564 guests to celebrate the renovation of Nimrud by Ashurnasirpal II gives an insight into the sort of dishes served at the royal table in Khorsabad: 1,000 oxen, 1,000 calves and sheep, 14,000 kids, 500 deer and as many antelopes, ducks, geese and quails, 10,000 fish served with a variety of breads, vegetables, fruit, and garnishes, and plenty of beer and wine.