Guardians of the palace
The palace of Khorsabad was decorated with colossal winged human-headed bulls called lamassu or shedu. They stood in pairs at entrances or passageways to guard the palace. Sculpted in stone, they were depicted from the side or front. Besides their protective role, they also supported the brick vaulting of the passageways. A long cuneiform inscription between their hooves recounts Sargon's titles and the construction of the palace.
The bulls are crowned with a high tiara topped with feathers and floral motifs and flanked by three pairs of horns. The horns attest to their divinity. These genii with kindly expressions are among the many creatures and minor deities to emerge in the 1st
Transporting the bulls
Each bull might measure more than four meters high and weigh up to 30 tonnes, making it difficult to transport them to the palace. Reliefs in Nineveh show how they were made and transported. They were quarried and cut before being pulled on sledges by dozens of men and loaded onto rafts. Faced with the same challenges, the first excavators at Khorsabad and Nineveh resigned themselves to sawing the bulls and other reliefs into sections in order to transport them to museums.