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Head and foreleg of a snarling lion Neo-Assyrian ca. 9th–8th century B.C. Mesopotamia, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu)

Assyrian Protective winged human headed lion spirit Nimrud 860 BCE 1 by mharrsch, via Flickr

Assyrian Protective winged human headed lion spirit Nimrud 860 BCE 3 by mharrsch, via Flickr

Human headed lions, Nineveh, near present day Mosul, Iraq. Nineveh was one of the oldest and greatest cities in antiquity. The area was settled as early as 6000 BC and, by 3000 BC, had become an important religious center for worship of the Assyrian goddess Ishtar. The early city (and subsequent buildings) were constructed on a fault line and, consequently, suffered damage from a number of earthquakes.

Lion Hunt Assyrian (865-860 BC) British Museum, London "King Ashurnasirpal shoots at a wounded lion. Killing lions was a royal sport in Assyria, symbolising the king's role as protector of civilisation against savagery, and Ashurnasirpal claims to have killed 450 lions in all."