Bull of Nimrud Replica Goes Back to Iraq

Bull of Nimrud Replica Will Again be Part of Iraq Basrah Museum's Collection, as a Part of Italian Government's Gift.

Feb 11, 2024By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Bull of Nimrud
Human-headed winged bull (lamassu). Via The Met.


Bull of Nimrud replica goes back to the Iraq’s Basrah Museum. This statue once stood at the Paris headquarters of UNESCO and the Roman Colosseum. The monument, a gift from the Italian government, now stands indefinitely outside the Basrah Museum. ISIS militants demolished the initial sculpture in 2015.


Bull of Nimrud Origins

Bull of Nimrud


The “Bull of Nimrud” refers to a famous Assyrian sculpture depicting a winged bull with a human head. It originated in the ancient city of Nimrud, located in the present-day Iraq. The sculpture also has another name – lamassu. This is a protective deity often depicted in the Assyarian and Sumerian art. This piece is also part of the larger tradition of protective figures in ancient Mesopotamian culture.


These figures often adored entrances of ancient buildings, such as palaces and temples. The goal was to ward off evil spirits and protect the inhabitants. The sculpture typically features a body of a bull with wings and a human head, symbolising strength, power, and protection. Many recognise the sculpture in question because of its detailing and craftsmanship. It reflects the artistic and technical prowess of the Azyrian civilisation.


sumer iraq fall city mesopotamia
Artist’s impression of a Sumerian City, via the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq


It dates back to the 9th century BC. Also, it measured more than 16 feet. Three-dimensional printing technology was used to create the replica. “Italy is at the forefront of safeguarding cultural heritage because it is the soul of a nation and embodies its history”, Gennaro Sangiuliano, Italy’s culture minister said. There was a formal opening ceremony held this past Tuesday at the museum, witnessed by Italian and Iraqi authorities.

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Creating the Duplicate

bilingual geographical list. Bull of Nimrud
Sumerian-Akkadian Cuneiform Geographical List from the Library of Ashurbanipal, Neo-Assyrian, seventh century BCE, via the British Museum, London


“It will therefore continue to make every effort to advance international collaboration in the field of cultural heritage protection and to work for the enhancement of the heritage of humanity”, the minister also added. Ashurnasirpal II, the Assyrian king, selected the ancient city of Nimrud, which is close to present-day Mosul, to be the capital (883–859 BCE).  This piece was one of the several cultural items that ISIS damaged during their 2015 attack on the ancient site.


A group of professionals lead by restoration expert Nicola Salvioli created the duplicate. He used pictures and video recordings to create a polystyrene model of the creature. Later, a larger fibreglass copy went up utilising a 3D printer, using that model as the base. After the procedure finished, the monument received a finish to provide it the look of veracity using a mixture of stone dust and plastic.


bronze measuring weights
Bronze Measuring Weights, Neo-Assyrian, 726-722 BCE (Reign of Shalmaneser V), via the British Museum, London


The gift comes on the heels of a high-profile restitution in June of last year from Italy to Iraq of a tablet engraved with cuneiform text and the insignia of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III. According to prior reports, “the circumstances surrounding the tablet’s arrival in Italy remain unclear”.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.