Frieze of the Transportation of Timber
The frieze of the Transportation of Timber is comprised of five panels with artworks that have been eloquently carved. Originally, this artwork was decorated for the palace of Assyrian King Sargon II in Khorsabad Mesopotamia which is the present day Dur Sharrukin in Iraq. However, now it is an artifact that is housed in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
The artifact of about ten or so feet in height, has been articulately carved in five pieces of bas-relief, alabaster depicting scenes: each scene was carved differently from the other. It was widely known by then that Lebanon was a valuable source of cedars and so the Assyrians imported it from there to build palaces.
The relief carving shows timber being transported via the Phoenician coastline and as it is aptly put in a number of sources, it is widely believed that the timber cargo was offloaded at the estuary of Orentes River. Legend has it that once dropped at the estuary; other means of transportation may have been river or road and as E.Morero puts it, “…no doubt unloaded at the mouth of the Orentes River…could be transported to Assyria by river or road.”However, it is a claim that cannot be disclaimed or supported with evidence.
In the carving, the sea is shown full of sea creatures swimming around the transporters’ boast. For example, in the third relief, there are fish, a merman and a snake. The boats are shown loaded with logs of timber and three logs are being towed behind. In the second relief, the boats are carved in such a way that they are shown having the bow carved like a horse’s head and the stern carved like the tail fin of a fish. In the second relief, there is a half-human and half-fish (merman) carving. The merman is leading the way in a protective manner.
In the third relief, it portrays four boats near the shore and they are towing with them their cargo or are loaded with it, while two are carved pulling out of the shore, empty of their cargo, going back in the opposite direction of the loaded boats: going for more timber logs. Three of the boats that have already docked at the shore are shown taking out the load and in the center of the boats, a merman is seen supervising the work. The fourth relief is carved in the image of a turtle and a crocodile, portraying natural wealth of the region that co-existed with the people.
On the first relief, carved in the full set of panels of the relief wall, it is carved showing a group of men unloading the timber cargo using ropes. On the fifth slab, there is the painting of a merman with a long beard. The merman is carved on a scene representing the shoreline and carved using his left hand while his right hand shows a kind of a gesture. The mermaid is in the sea because the area around where the merman is has been carved wavy, portraying the nature of the sea (with waves) while in far edge of the merman, to the right, there is a smooth shoreline carved darkly to depict the end of the shoreline and the start of the land.
The relief is worth a thousand words and takes one back in the sands of time. They show the economic activity that was carried in an ancient Assyrian kingdom and the bounty natural wealth that the region had. It also shows the co-existence of nature and people, such as the merman with the kind gesture overseeing the work. The relief also shows the masterly carvers that the region had.
E. Morero (n.d). Near Eastern Antiquities: Mesopotamia. Retrieved on 26th September 26, 2011 from http://www.louvre.fr/llv/oeuvres/detail_notice.jsp?CONTENT%3C%3Ecnt_id=10134198673225258&CURRENT_LLV_NOTICE%3C%3Ecnt_id=10134198673225258&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=9852723696500800&bmLocale=en#