If you’ve ever received an unwanted jigsaw for Christmas, it may well have been one of those ‘ultimate most difficult jigsaw ever’ ones. They usually have many pieces, are double-sided, with the images rotated and often a single colour. The people who assembled this Lion from irregular shattered pieces found in a collapsed building would laugh in the face of such trifles.
This pacing, roaring lion was once was part of King Nebuchadnezzar II’s throne room in his palace in the ancient city of Babylon, which is now in modern-day Iraq. Nebuchadnezzar II reigned from 605-562 BC, and had enough spare cash to build the hanging gardens of Babylon for his queen. Over 2500 years later there’s not much left of his garden, but the shattered pieces of the throne-room Lion were still in the rubble on the floor.
It was painstakingly pieced together in Berlin by staff at the Vorderasiatisches Museum who received the pieces over 100 years ago, packed in crates. I can see why they would send it to London for display in the British Museum. I’m not sure I’d be able to stand looking at a jigsaw which had just taken me over 100 years to piece together.