This lion is a replica of one of the lions that once adorned the wall of the Processional Way in Babylon. We purchased this from the Melbourne Museum during their exhibit “The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia”.
The Ishtar Gate was part of the fortifications that surrounded the city of Babylon around 575 BCE. The gate served as the city’s main entrance and in some areas stood taller than 11.5 metres.
Beyond the Ishtar Gate began the Processional Way. This was a corridor roughly 800 metres long, with walls 15 metres high.
The Ishtar Gate and Processional Way were decorated with mosaics composed of glazed brick tile reliefs, depicting creatures of importance to the Mesopotamian world. The creatures included lions, sirrushs and aurochs. The Processional Way also contained flowers and other decorative elements.
The auroch is a now-extinct type of large cattle that once inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa.
Also known as the mušḫuššu or sirrusu, this was an animal out of Mesopotamian mythology. The sirrush was a composite creature, combining the body of a dragon, the tongue of a snake. the paws of a cat in the front and the talons of an eagle in the back.
The lion’s appearance in the mosaics were of particular importance, as lions are commonly associated with Ishtar, to whom the gate is dedicated.
Parts of the Ishtar Gate and animals from the Processional Way can be found in various museums around the world.
The Louvre, the State Museum of Egyptian Art in Munich, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Oriental Institute in Chicago, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, each have lions.