Amy Barron presents one of the Kershaw Lectures in Near East Archaeology, entitled 'The Art of War: Proof or Propaganda'.
In the first millennium BCE the ancient Assyrians rolled across the Near East leaving fear in their wake. They celebrated the victories of their mighty armies on the walls of the palaces of Nimrud, Nineveh and Khorsabad. Scenes of battles, sieges, collection of booty and camp life abound. But can we trust these illustrations left by the conqueror of their defeat of the conquered? Can we believe that the images left to us are reflective of the true military history of the period? Only by pairing the art of the Assyrian palaces with the archaeological finds of their arms and armour can a true picture begin to emerge. Only by comparing the strengths and weaknesses of the artistic images can we begin to unravel whether they represent proof or propaganda.