The iconic image of Ninurta chasing the Anzu bird comes from an artifact at the British Museum: BM 124571. It was first discovered between 1851-1853 by Austen Henry Layard while he was doing excavation work at Nineveh; and, it was published as plate no. 5 in Layard's 1853 publication. According to Jeremy Black, Ninurta lost popularity in the Sumerian tradition by the time of the Old Babylonian period.
The winged eagle-lion monster named Anzu steals the Tablet of Destinies. No other deity wants to chase him down other than Ninurta, a warrior deity known for hunting. After a failed attempt, Ninurta captures Anzu, ends his life, and recovers the Tablet of Destinies.
Layard, Austen H. A Second Series of the Monuments of Nineveh; Including Bas-Reliefs From the Palace of Sennacherib and Bronzes From the Ruins of Nimroud. Vol II., The Monuments of Nineveh. London, England: John Murray, 1853.
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