Two of the rooms in the British Museum
I always visit are numbers 7
and 8, ‘Assyria: Nimrud’. Named,
in modern times, for the Biblical Nimrod
the three thousand year old city of Kalhu
is twenty miles south of Mosul. On display
from the palace of Ashurnasirpal
are gypsum panels, carved reliefs, products –
faultlessly sculpted – from a master’s workshop.
They are, for the most part, pristine, and portray
absolute kingship, its circumstance, pomp,
and prisoners’ heads severed after battle.
So-called Islamic State – that outfit
of aliases, fanatics duped
by gangsters – does not distinguish between
flesh and stone, has destroyed on video
what little remains of Assyria
that is not preserved in Bloomsbury,
in that mausoleum of necromancy,
in that temple to kleptomania,
in that exquisite cache.