Ancient Mediterranean

Digital Project

Two small boats

Cat. No.



c. 716-713 B.C.


Palace of Sargon II (Room 7), Dur-Šarruken, Iraq



Stone relief

Accession Number


Albenda 2018: 108, fig. 2; Basch 1987: 309-310, no. 653; Botta and Flandin 1850: pl. 114; Degrado 2019: 113, fig. 2; Trakadas 1999: 71-72, fig. 28

Two small boats with flat hulls and vertical posts. The left ship (L28a) faces left and has a horse-headed device terminating the stempost. The right ship (L28b) faces right, with another zoomorphic device at its prow, possibly a duck. Both ships have the same vertical sternpost device, which flares out into a shape that resembles an inverted triangle, capped by a straight horizontal edge. The boats are identical to the ones from the transport of timber frieze, except that there is no mast, crew or oars. They appear quite small but the scale is difficult to gage.

Small stone relief located in the lower register in a corner of Room 7 at Khorsabad. This room is located in the rear wing of the palace and was one of the innermost private chambers, possibly Sargon's private bathroom. It faces out onto a large open terrace that had a small pavilion or temple. On the left of the relief is a dual-columned building surrounded by a body of water. To its right is a densely forested hill with a column on its top. There are water birds and fish, as well as two boats floating unattended in front of it.

It is hypothesized that the building depicted in the relief and the one on the terrace outside the room are one and the same. It appears to be a pleasure garden for Sargon's personal use, and has been equated with a bit-hilanni - a building frequently referenced in the king's construction inscriptions from Khorsabad: "a portico, patterned after a Hittite (Syrian) palace, which in the tongue of Amurru they call a bit-hilanni."

Albenda, P. 2018. “Royal Gardens, Parks, and the Architecture Within: Assyrian Views.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 138.1, pp. 105-120.

Basch, L. 1987. Le musée imaginaire de la marine antique. Athens: Institut Hellénique pour la preservation de la tradition nautique.

Botta, M. P. E. and E. Flandin. 1850. Monument de Ninive II. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale.

Degrado, J. 2019. “King of the four Quarters: Diversity as a rhetorical Strategy of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.” Iraq 81: 107-125.

Trakadas, A. L. 1999. “Skills as Tribute: Phoenician Sailors and Shipwrights in the Service of Neo-Assyria.” MA dissertation, Texas A&M University, US.

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