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Winged Androcephalic Bull

After a period of crisis, the Assyrian empire resumed expansion under the reigns of Teglat-Phalasar III (744-727) and Sargon II (721-705). The latter can then undertake to build a prestigious capital, named in his honor Dûr-Sharrukîn, "the fortress of Sargon" (now Khorsabad). Everything is marked by the seal of gigantism and royal majesty.

The city is surrounded by a powerful quadrangular rampart pierced by seven monumental gates and contains in its heart a citadel, also fortified. It houses a vast palatial complex, built on a terrace spanning the outer wall. The gates of the city, as well as the important entrances of the palace, especially those of the throne-room, are guarded by winged bulls with man's heads, ancient protective geniuses charged to prevent any threat. Much larger than Nimrud's, they are directly integrated into the architecture since the top of their body serves as a base for seating the raw brick vault of the doorways. These hybrid colossi, wearing a heavy horned tiara, emblem of the divine, present a human face animated by a benevolent smile. Designed to be seen both in profile (in motion) and front (at a standstill), they are presented with a total of 5 legs. A mixture of strength and serenity, these awesome protective genies gave the measure of the power of an Assyrian empire then in full expansion.