What is Lamassu?
Lamassu is a mythical creature present in ancient Assyrian architecture. In the cultures of ancient Mesopotamia, this fearsome creature was known as Lamassu. Lamassu always had the body (and therefore strength) of a bull, but the head of a human ( and hence wisdom). They also often had eagle wings.
The Sumerian word lama, translated into Akkadian as lamassu, refers to a protective deity, usually female. Served as symbolic protector of the palace and where between 800 and 700 BC. was prominent in Assyrian architecture.
Where was Lamassu found?
The sculpture was given to the OI by the Department of Antiquities in excavations found in Iraq. Assyrian sculpture was discovered in northern Iraq when archaeologists from the OI, including Edward Chiara, were excavating at Khorsabad (Dur-Sharrukin) in 1929.
It originally guarded the throne room of the king of Assyria (721–705 BC). Lamasu is a mythical hybrid, a protective deity known for “returning an evil person”, composed of the head of a human, the body of a bull and the wings of a bird. These figures are depicted in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is one of the textual sources for the iconography of these figures.
OI Lamassu has five legs, typical of those built during the reign of Sargon II. This “double aspect” appears as the figure standing or walking when viewed from the front or side, respectively.
This winged bull is about five meters (16 ft) long and weighs about 40 tons. Large sculptural fragments excavated in Khorsabad were packed in crates and taken to Chicago, where they were brought through the gallery wall to the OI Museum as it was being built in 1930.
It was then restored and assembled in the same place. , Its spaciousness required that the floors be strengthened and the building built around it, which ensured that the OI Lamassu would never be moved to another location in the museum or loaned to another institution(source-lib.uchicago.edu)