By Jennifer Morris.
Last spring, I showed the students in my introductory art history class a slide of a lamassu taken from the Citadel of Sargon II in the ancient Assyrian city of Dur Sharrukin (modern Khorsabad, Iraq). They looked bemused as I explained how these colossal man-headed bulls with wings, most of which date to the late eighth century BCE, served as gateway guardians and protective spirits of fortresses and palaces. Their expressions promptly shifted, however, as I showed them an image of a bearded man shrouded in a black tunic chipping off the face of a lamassu with a jackhammer. With gaping mouths and indignantly furrowed brows, they listened as I described how the photo was a still from an Islamic State propaganda video chronicling ISIS militants’ sacking of the museum in Mosul. A moment of silence followed, then somebody piped up: “Let’s nuke ‘em.” […]