LOS ANGELES: The Getty Villa Museum in Los Angeles is reopening with two exhibits on ancient Iraq: a showcase of pieces from across Mesopotamia organized by the Louvre and, on loan from the British Museum, relief sculptures from the palaces of Assyria.
“The late Assyrian empire rose around 900 B.C. and dominated the entire Middle East for about 300 years,” explained Jeffrey Spier, the museum’s senior curator of antiquities.
“We have some of the reliefs of Ashurnasirpal II hunting lions which was a popular pastime of the kings to glorify the kings. We have scenes of battles, rather gruesome scenes, very graphic scenes of battles. And we end at the time of Ashurbanipal, the most famous of the kings in the 7th Century BC who defeated the Elamites in Iran, is shown and is shown at a banquet, one of his famous scenes is here.”
The importance of these sculptures has increased after several of those in Iraqi museums were destroyed or damaged by Daesh extremists during their occupation of large parts of the country.
“The ones still in Iraq are being preserved now,” Spier said. “I know they’re doing very good work at restoring what was damaged.”
The Louvre’s Mesopotamian artifacts will be on display until August 2021, and the Assyrian relief sculptures until 2022. In that time, the Getty Villa is excited to show the culture of ancient Iraq to everyone traveling to Southern California.
“Los Angeles has become a place for tourism again,” Spier said. “We look forward to welcoming visitors especially from the Middle East.”