Stela of King Shamshi-Adad V

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Illustration

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published on 12 February 2014

This stela was erected in the capital city of Kalhu (modern Nimrud) by the Assyrian king Shamshi-Adad V (reigned 824-811 BCE). It depicts the king, before the symbols of his principal gods. He extends his right hand, with the forefinger outstretched, as if he has just snapped his fingers. This is the typical Assyrian gesture of respect and supplication towards the gods. The gods could be worshipped in symbolic form and here represent (from top to bottom) the gods Ashur, Shamash, Sin, Adad, and Ishtar. The king wears a large Maltese cross on his chest as an alternative symbol of Shamash, god of the sun and justice.

The image is unusual, as the king wears his beard in a strange archaic style, and the cuneiform text is written in an artificial antique script. Shamshi-Adad was keen to stress his legitimacy because he had been forced to fight for the throne against a rebellion, probably led by his elder brother.

From Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq, neo-Assyrian era, 824-811 BCE, Mesopotamia, Iraq.


About the Author

Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP (Glasg)
A consultant neurologist and lover of the Cradle of Civilization, Mesopotamia.

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