Anzu Bird, Ninurta and the Tablet of Destiny

 
 

The clues to this story are in the Assyrian galleries on the ground floor of the British Museum and up the wide, white staircase in Room 56. They include images of forked lightning, feathers, reeds, a bow and arrow being tested, and arrows in flight. There are also actual arrow tips. A damaged frieze from the temple of Ninurta in Nimrud shows a great fight apparently between the warrior god Ninurta and Anzu, the lion-headed eagle. Upstairs, a copper statue of the lion-headed eagle looks down from the wall of Room 56. A stone mace head is decorated with its image.

In The Epic of Anzu the lion-headed eagle steals the “me” and thereby gains absolute power to command everything in the universe. Ninurta sets out to reclaim the “me”. He does this by tearing off Anzu’s feathers and firing an arrow at him. When Anzu commands “feathers return” the feathers on Ninurta’s arrow fly straight to Anzu’s heart and kill him.

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British Museum

Poetry Café

Cuneiform tablet

Reading Babylonian

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Creating the locations in the story world

Group story-telling

June Peters, storyteller