Panel with striding lion
Unknown artist, Neo-Babylonian
Panel with striding lion, 604-562 BCE
104.1 x 228.6 cm (41 x 90 inches)
Museum Appropriation Fund 34.652
The lion was sacred to Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love and war. This striding beast is one of more than a hundred that once lined the lower portion of the walls of a processional way that passed through the Ishtar Gate in ancient Babylon. During the New Year festival, images of the gods were carried down this street, named ‘the enemy shall never pass’ (aibur-shabu in Babylonian). The lions provided a dramatic, heraldic approach to the gate and served as symbolic protectors and guides for those participating in the ritual.