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August 19, 2017

The Black Obelisk of King Shalmaneser III

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Black Obelisk of King Shalmaneser III - photo courtesy of the British Museum
Black Obelisk of King Shalmaneser III – photo courtesy of the British Museum

One of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time is the Black Obelisk of the Assyrian King Shalmaneser III, who ruled from 858-824 BCE.

It is the best preserved obelisk discovered from Assyrian times and mentions several early peoples including Jehu, the king of Israel mentioned in the Old Testament as well Parsua, the first known reference to the Persians. The obelisk also mentions the military campaigns that Shalmaneser III undertook with his commander-in-chief, Dayyan-Assur. There are also depictions of five kings bowing in submission to him, namely Sua of Gilzanu in northwestern Iran, Jehu of the House of Bit Omri and the Israelites, an unnamed ruler believed to be from Egypt, Marduk-apil-usur of the Suhi Kingdom in Mesopotamia, and Qalparunda of Patin in what is today Turkey.




The Black Obelisk of King Shalmaneser III in the British Museum
The Black Obelisk of King Shalmaneser III in the British Museum

It was discovered by a team led by British archaeologist Austen Henry Layard, who later published his findings in a book entitled A Popular Account of Discoveries at Nineveh.

Bas relief from the Black Obelisk of King Shalmaneser III
Bas relief from the Black Obelisk of King Shalmaneser III

It is housed today in the British Museum in London.


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