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Brick Inscribed with the Name of Shalmaneser III

Brick Inscribed with the Name of Shalmaneser III


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10 curiously named churches of London – 2. St Vedast-alias-Foster

The name St Vedast is in itself unusual – St Vedast (known as St Vaast elsewhere) is said to have been the Bishop of Arras in northern France during the late fifth and early sixth centuries. How his name came to be associated with a church in London remains a matter of speculation but one plausible explanation is that the church was founded in the twelfth century by a small group of French merchants who had emigrated from Arras.

The ‘alias Foster’ part of the name is perhaps easier to explain although it has led to considerable confusion over the years. While some have in the past suggested the name refers to a different obscure saint – that is, the church is dedicated to St Vedast and St Foster – Foster is actually just an corrupted Anglicised version of Vedast.

But back to the church’s history. The medieval building was apparently replaced at the beginning of the sixteenth century and in the early 1600s this was enlarged and “beautified”. It escaped total destruction during the Great Fire of London but was badly enough damaged to require restoration and this was carried out, albeit not very well, so that in the late 1600s, Sir Christopher Wren was asked to rebuild it.

Given the demands of Wren’s time elsewhere, it’s not known if he personally designed the resulting church (the spire is possibly the work of Nicholas Hawksmoor), but the church was rebuilt and stood until 194o when the body of the building was ruined in the Blitz. The spire, however, survived and the restoration of the remainder of the church was completed in 1962.

It was also after World War II that the city parishes were reorganised and St Vedast-alias-Foster was united with three other former parishes – St Alban Wood Street, St Anne & St Agnes, St Lawrence Jewry, St Mary Aldermanbury, St Michael-le-Querne, St Matthew Friday Street, St Peter Chepe, St Olave Silver Street, St Michael Wood Street, St Mary Staining, St Mary Magdalene Milk Street, St John Zachary, and St Michael Bassishaw, of which only the buildings of St Lawrence Jewry and St Anne and St Agnes remain along with the tower of St Alban Wood Street).

Although the bulk of the building of St Vedast-alias-Foster is modern, the church does retain its seventeenth century Great West Doors and the font also comes from that century, having been designed by Wren and carved by Grinling Gibbons for the church of St Anne and St Agnes. The reredos which stands behind the altar, meanwhile, is inscribed with the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and The Creed, and originally stood in St Christopher-le-Stock Parish Church in Threadneedle Street. Other features to come from other churches include the seventeenth century pulpit (All Hallows, Bread Street) and swordrest (St Anne and St Agnes).

The church’s Fountain Courtyard features part of a Roman floor found under St Matthew Friday Street and a stone (actually baked brick) upon which is inscribed cuneiform writing. The latter, which comes from a Zigurrat in modern Iraq built in the 9th century BC, was presented to Canon Mortlock, rector of the church, marking his work with novelist Agatha Christie and her husband, archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan and was found during his 1950-65 dig on the site. The lump of stone bears the name of Shalmaneser who reigned from 858 to 834 BC.

Famous figures associated with the church include John Browne, sergeant painter to King Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of King Henry VIII who was born in nearby Milk Street, and Thomas Rotherham, rector of the church from from 1463-48 and later Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor of King Edward IV.


10 curiously named churches of London – 2. St Vedast-alias-Foster

The name St Vedast is in itself unusual – St Vedast (known as St Vaast elsewhere) is said to have been the Bishop of Arras in northern France during the late fifth and early sixth centuries. How his name came to be associated with a church in London remains a matter of speculation but one plausible explanation is that the church was founded in the twelfth century by a small group of French merchants who had emigrated from Arras.

The ‘alias Foster’ part of the name is perhaps easier to explain although it has led to considerable confusion over the years. While some have in the past suggested the name refers to a different obscure saint – that is, the church is dedicated to St Vedast and St Foster – Foster is actually just an corrupted Anglicised version of Vedast.

But back to the church’s history. The medieval building was apparently replaced at the beginning of the sixteenth century and in the early 1600s this was enlarged and “beautified”. It escaped total destruction during the Great Fire of London but was badly enough damaged to require restoration and this was carried out, albeit not very well, so that in the late 1600s, Sir Christopher Wren was asked to rebuild it.

Given the demands of Wren’s time elsewhere, it’s not known if he personally designed the resulting church (the spire is possibly the work of Nicholas Hawksmoor), but the church was rebuilt and stood until 194o when the body of the building was ruined in the Blitz. The spire, however, survived and the restoration of the remainder of the church was completed in 1962.

It was also after World War II that the city parishes were reorganised and St Vedast-alias-Foster was united with three other former parishes – St Alban Wood Street, St Anne & St Agnes, St Lawrence Jewry, St Mary Aldermanbury, St Michael-le-Querne, St Matthew Friday Street, St Peter Chepe, St Olave Silver Street, St Michael Wood Street, St Mary Staining, St Mary Magdalene Milk Street, St John Zachary, and St Michael Bassishaw, of which only the buildings of St Lawrence Jewry and St Anne and St Agnes remain along with the tower of St Alban Wood Street).

Although the bulk of the building of St Vedast-alias-Foster is modern, the church does retain its seventeenth century Great West Doors and the font also comes from that century, having been designed by Wren and carved by Grinling Gibbons for the church of St Anne and St Agnes. The reredos which stands behind the altar, meanwhile, is inscribed with the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and The Creed, and originally stood in St Christopher-le-Stock Parish Church in Threadneedle Street. Other features to come from other churches include the seventeenth century pulpit (All Hallows, Bread Street) and swordrest (St Anne and St Agnes).

The church’s Fountain Courtyard features part of a Roman floor found under St Matthew Friday Street and a stone (actually baked brick) upon which is inscribed cuneiform writing. The latter, which comes from a Zigurrat in modern Iraq built in the 9th century BC, was presented to Canon Mortlock, rector of the church, marking his work with novelist Agatha Christie and her husband, archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan and was found during his 1950-65 dig on the site. The lump of stone bears the name of Shalmaneser who reigned from 858 to 834 BC.

Famous figures associated with the church include John Browne, sergeant painter to King Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of King Henry VIII who was born in nearby Milk Street, and Thomas Rotherham, rector of the church from from 1463-48 and later Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor of King Edward IV.


Samizdat

“It is important to notice that the connection between the ummanus and the apkallus was not only imagined as a line of transmission, running from antediluvian time through history. The connection was not only horizontal, but also vertical.

When the ummanus participated in the “mouth washing” ritual of the divine statue, they acted on behalf of the apkallus, as we have seen it in the Poem of Erra. This implies that the apkallus were not only great figures of wisdom in the past they were powerful transcendent forces in the present.

The maintenance of the divine statue was a necessary prerequisite for the upholding of the power of the king and the survival of the empire. In this role the earthly ummanus are called “the images” of the apkallus belonging to the divine realm they are the representatives of these transcendent forces on earth.

We find the same imagination of the apkallus as acting transcendent forces in rituals directed against demons. This is evident both in the ritual texts themselves and in the practice accompanying them. In the rituals the apkallus were invoked to expel the demons.

Apotropaic figurine deposit found in room S57 of Fort Shalmaneser at Nimrud. Adapted from Curtis and Read (1995:112).

In the dedication of palaces and houses figurines of the apkallus were deposited in the foundation to protect the house against demonic attack. When a person became ill, representations of the apkallus were placed in the room to signify their active presence in the ritual to dispel the evil.

Their presence is even carved into an Assyrian bronze tablet, which shows the sick man lying on his bed with his hand raised toward heaven and the demon Lamaštu lurking just under his bed, the bed is surrounded not by āšipū what these in reality represented were the apkallus.

This is the actual bronze frieze of the illustration held in the collection of the Louvre as AO 22205. The Lessing imprint covers much of the middle register where the sick man is portrayed with his arm raised to heaven. In the left corner is the lamp of Nusku, illuminating the proceedings. Puradu-fish apkallu are at both ends of the bed conducting the ritual. The creatures of the Mesopotamian pandemonium on the right half of the register have apotropaic functions, banishing the demons of evil, which were considered the cause of illness.

Also, this side of the belief in apkallus had political consequences. When the king had protected his palaces through proper rituals and deposed the figurines of the apkallus, he could make large images of them at the entrances and in the halls to tell both demons and enemies, that his kingdom was protected from any evil.

This combination of the apkallus as messengers from the gods, revealing the insight of heaven and earth to humans in antediluvian time, and guardians of the cosmic order, the political order, and the life and health of individuals, may seem difficult to combine.

But as we have underscored many times, there is a clear interconnection. For the ummanus, insight into the divine secrets was necessary in order to fulfill their role as watchers, both communicating with the gods and using magic to fight demons. In both cases the wisdom was revealed from the gods and written down in compositions.

Those who revealed this knowledge once in antediluvian time were the apkallus those who were ultimately, invisibly present when this knowledge was practiced were the apkallus. But of course, those who visibly and actually had this role on the earth were the ummanus. In relation to the king they should watch his life and empire as the earthly counterparts of the watchers in the divine realm.”

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August 23, 2015

Kvanvig: The Apkallus as Protective Spirits

“The apkallus are especially known from two incantation rituals: the one is Bīt Mēseri, as already stated the other is called: šēp lemutti ina bit amēli parāsu, “to block the foot of evil into a man’s house” (KAR 298).

The two incantation series have a different scope. Bīt Mēseri prescribes the procedures to be performed when someone is ill, i.e. has come under demonic attack. Šēp Lemutti (“The Foot of Evil”) describes the procedures to be performed when a house should be protected from demonic attack. Consequently the rituals described have some common denominators, but also clear differences.

The rituals describe in great detail how figurines should be made of the seven apkallus. These figurines should then be addressed in an invocation to make them represent the apkallus themselves. In the case of Bīt Mēseri, where an ill person is concerned, the figurines should be arranged in the ill person’s room, close to his bed in the case of Šēp Lemutti the figurines should be deposited in the foundation of the house.

Apotropaic figurine deposit found in room S57 of Fort Shalmaneser at Nimrud. Adapted from Curtis and Read (1995:112). (From Nakamura).

We are here at a point where textual and archeological evidence support one another. An abundance of such small figurines are found in boxes buried in the foundations of houses and palaces from the Neo-Assyrian and the Neo-Babylonian period.

Nakamura: “By burying figurines of powerful beings, the āšipu preserves an expressed belief in a present reality of supernatural power, mythological origin and divine order.”

Because of the detailed description of their appearance in the rituals, it is not difficult to identify the excavated figurines as the same entities described in the rituals. The excavated figurines are representations of the seven apkallus.

(Cf. F.A.M. Wiggermann, “Mischwesen A,” Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie (RLA) 8, Berlin, 1993-7, pp. 222-25, 222, 224.)

Moreover, having identified the small figurines, it is also possible to identify many of the large reliefs that flanked the entrances to the palaces of the Neo-Assyrian kings. Here the small figurines were blown up in large scale representations of figures with the same appearance as the small figurines, corresponding to the descriptions in the rituals.

(Cf. For a detailed examination of the evidence, Dieter Kolbe, Die Reliefprogramme religiös-mythologischen Characters in neu-assyrischen Palästen, EH, Reihe 38, Frankfurt am Main, 1981, III-VII, 14-30.)

The three types of apkallū are portrayed, with the human ummânū at far left, the Nisroc bird-apkallū type in the middle, and the antediluvian purādu-fish type at far right.
The human ummânū is attested in the Uruk List of Kings and Sages, while other references to bird-apkallū are legion, as documented in Wiggermann and other authorities.
The purādu-fish apkallū is principally attested in Berossus, though other authorities confirm them, as well.
The anthropomorphic qualities of the purādu-fish and the Nisroc apkallu remain unexplained, though the eagle is sacred to Enki / Ea.

There are three kinds of apkallus: fish-apkallus, bird-apkallus, and human apkallus. The fish-apkallu is represented as a fish-garbed figure, with a human body and a carp cloak (cf. the description in Berossos).

The bird-apkallu is represented as a griffin he has a human body, wings and a bird’s head.

A bas relief in the Louvre.
In this case the bird-apkallū tends to a sacred tree. Considering the mullilu in his right hand and the banduddu in his left, (tree cone and water bucket), he is engaged in a water ritual intended to sanctify the sacred tree. This is a common motif in Sumerian and Neo-Assyrian idols.
This bas relief is in the Louvre.
Primary publication Nimrud NW Palace I-24 = RIMA 2.0.101.023, ex. 189 (f)
Collection Nimrud, Iraq (a) British Museum, London, UK (b) Louvre Museum, Paris, France (c) Nimrud, Iraq (d) Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan, USA (e) British Museum, London, UK Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Museum no. Nimrud fragment no. 42 (a) BM 098061 (b) AO 22198 (c) Nimrud fragment no. 43 and 45 (d) DIA 47.181 (e) (photo: DIA) AO 19849
Accession no. 1903-10-10, 0002 (b)
Provenience Kalhu (mod. Nimrud)
Period Neo-Assyrian (ca. 911-612 BC)

(Cf. Anthony Green, “Mischwesen B,” Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie (RLA) 8, Berlin, 1993-7, pp. 246-64, 252 Anthony Green, “Neo-Assyrian Apotropaic Figures,” Iraq 45, 1983, pp. 87-96.)

The representation of the human apkallu is more uncertain. A. Green suggests that these apkallus were imagined as genii, figures with human bodies and wings, holding a bucket in the one hand and a cone in the other.

Now compare this Nimrud bas relief from the Louvre: an ummânū sprinkles water with a mullilu cone in his right hand, holding his banduddu bucket in his left.
This ummânū wears bracelets with a concentric circular design, and rosettes are not apparent.
This ummânū also wears the common horned headdress of Anu, but with three stacked layers of horns.
As noted elsewhere, this headdress is surmounted by an object that resembles a partial fleur de lis.
From Nimrud, capital of king Ashurnarzipal.
Louvre, AO 19845

Figures of fish-apkallus and bird-apkallus are found in Babylonian Ur and in several of the major Assyrian cities, Nimrud, Aššur and Nineveh. They are found in royal palaces and in houses assumed to belong to the guild of the āšipū, “exorcists.”

This depiction of a fish-apkallū of the purādu-fish type guarded the entrance to the temple of Ninurta at Nimrud.
A fish’s head can be seen on the Apkallu’s head, and its skin hangs down over the back of his body.
It is important to recall that the so-called Seven Sages of Sumeria were apkallū of this type.
Neo-Assyrian era, 865-860 BCE.
From the Temple of Ninurta, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu Biblical Calah), northern Mesopotamia, Iraq. (The British Museum, London).
Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP (Glasg)
http://www.ancient.eu/image/2708/

The apkallus were, as stated, not only manufactured as prophylactic figurines. It is possible to find them in numerous examples of monumental art in Assyrian palaces. The fish-apkallu is also found in Persian Persagadae, placed at the entrance to the Audience Hall.

In this bas relief from Nimrud, human apkallū, the ummánū, kneel and tend to a sacred tree.
Both ummânū wear horned tiaras and display rosette bracelets on their wrists. Bracelets are also apparent on their upper arms.
In the lower register, bird-apkallū raise mulillu cones to sprinkle water in a gesture of exorcism and liberation of sin.
As is typical, the banduddu buckets are in their left hands.
Interestingly in this case, the bracelets of the bird-apkallū are atypical. No rosettes are apparent.

In the Assyrian palaces the apkallus are guarding the sacred tree, the king, and deities. Thus the apkallus were not only invisible present in rituals (sic) they were manufactured as figures and represented in impressive monumental art.”

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July 19, 2015

Carolyn Nakamura on the Figurines

Mastering Matters: Magical Sense and Apoptropaic Figurine Worlds of Neo-Assyria

Introduction: Magical Figures from the Past

“When contemplating certain deposits unearthed during the excavations at Nimrud in the 1950s, Max Mallowan remarked, “this magical practice had an immensely long survival, as witness the nursery rhyme:

Four corners to my bed,
Four angels round my head,
One to watch and one to pray,
And two to bear my soul away.” (1966:226)

Mallowan’s commentary, rather typical of his time, concerned the discovery of numerous brick boxes encasing figurines made of sun-dried clay, found buried underneath the corners, thresholds, and central spaces of room floors, possibly where a bed once stood.

Excavations during the late 1800s to mid 1900s located such deposits in residences, palaces, and temples at important political and religious capitals of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, including Nimrud, Assur, Nineveh, Khorsabad and at Ur in Babylonia under Assyrian rule they first appeared during the reign of Shalmaneser III and generally persisted up through the reign of Sin-shar-ishkun (ca. 858–612 B.C.).

One can imagine an excavator’s delight in finding such deposits, and there was apparently considerable competition and excitement surrounding their discovery and unveiling (Oates and Oates 2001:253–254).

But, locating such boxes did not always promise the discovery of figurines. Numerous “empty” brick boxes contained nothing more than a thick layer of sandy material, possibly remnants of decomposed organic matter such as wood or food.

Deposits from Ur contained offerings of animal bones, remnants of grain and a pottery sherd along with the clay figures (Woolley 1926:692). And at Assur, some of the buried boxes entombed miniature bronze weapons (Rittig 1977).

But perhaps the most curious finds were the figurines of “warrior” men, mythological fish- and bird-apkallū sages, human-beast hybrids, horned snakes, and other fantastical beings (Figure 2.1).

Apotropaic figurine deposit found in room S57 of Fort Shalmaneser at Nimrud. Adapted from Curtis and Read (1995:112).

Generally, such deposits comprised one, two, or seven figurines standing “at attention” in boxes facing in toward the center of the room.

These deposits, not simply buried but concealed and contained, amounted to the discovery within a discovery, the revelation of an ancient secret or desire that had remained hidden for thousands of years.

Other archaeological findings, however, had already anticipated these discoveries: ancient texts preserved instructions for an apotropaic ritual involving the burial of clay and wood figurines under room floors quite in the manner described above (Gurney 1935 Smith 1926 Wiggermann 1992).

The name of one text explicitly pronounced its purpose: šēp lemutti ina bīt amēli parāsu, “to block the entry of the enemy in someone’s house” (Wiggermann 1992:1) and the first twenty lines named the “enemy” to be almost any evil imaginable, from spirits, gods, and ancestors to disease, misfortune, Fate, and Death.

The text guided a priest-exorcist through a choreography of very specific and often protracted ceremonies involving various objects, gestures, substances, and locations, leading up to the final installation of the magically protective figures entombed underground.

Notably, another related text fragment, KAR 298, specifically detailed the making, function, character, number, and placement of the figurines (Smith 1926). The archaeological evidence proved to be remarkably consistent with these texts in terms of form and details of surface treatment, and to some extent, position and grouping of the figures.

So the Neo-Assyrians themselves revealed the secret of the figurine deposits: they were magically powerful deposits that protected the individual and his house from sickness and evil. The protective figures served to “watch,” “pray,” and “bear souls away,” as it were.”

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July 18, 2015

Green Defines Numerous Figures

“After the lahmu, the text goes on to prescribe a type whose name is lost in the break but which is to be inscribed “Go out death, come in life!” Rittig has already pointed out, on the basis of figurines from Aššur, that this is the creature called in modern literature the “bull-man.” (F.A.M. Wiggermann has suggested to me the possible Akkadian name kusarikku … Reade, BaM 10 (1979), 40).

ND 4114. Sun-dried clay figurine of “bull-man” type discovered together with a “spearman” in a foundation box at the W. jamb of the S.E. doorway of court 18 of the Burnt Palace at Nimrud. Previously unpublished. Plate XIVa.

Plate XIVa shows a Burnt Palace example, with obvious taurine hindquarters, and Plate XIIId a rather different type from Fort Shalmaneser, broken but still with fairly clear bull’s legs the latter was probably inscribed in the same fashion as the Aššur examples and as ritually prescribed.

ND 9523 (IM 65138), British School of Archeology in Iraq, photograph by David A. Loggie. Plate XIIId.
Sun-dried clay figurine of “bull-man” type, discovered in a foundation box on the E. side of the N.E. courtyard, at the N. jamb of the doorway leading to room NE 21, Fort Shalmaneser, Nimrud. Previously unpublished. Cf. D. Oates, Iraq 23 (1961), 14.

The being is apparently unknown in extant Assyrian monumental sculpture, but can be seen at Pasargadae with the fish-apkallū (Plate XIVc, placed second from the bottom for reasons of formatting), perhaps copied from an Assyrian or Babylonian original the discovery of the fish-cloaked figure and a “bull-man” together on reliefs at Nineveh is referred to in a letter of Rassam to Rawlinson (quoted by Barnett, SNPAN, 42).

A type superficially resembling the “bull-man” but with some important iconographic distinctions and a different inscription is the figure of Plate XIIIc.

ND 7901. Sun-dried clay figurine of a scorpion-tailed, bird-footed human creature, discovered with figures of other types in the fill of room SE 5 of Fort Shalmaneser, Nimrud. Plate XIIIc.

The legs end in bird talons, and on the reverse (Plate XIVb) a curving ridge, formed by pressing the wet clay between the thumb and forefinger, would appear to represent a twisting scorpion-tail.

ND 7901. Sun-dried clay figurine of a scorpion-tailed, bird-footed creature, discovered with figures of other types in the fill of room SE 5 of Fort Shalmaneser, Nimrud. Reverse of Plate XIIIc. This image is Plate XIVb.

The type would seem, therefore, to be analogous to a scorpion-tailed figure on an Assyrian relief who has the hindquarters and claws of a bird. This creature has been identified as the girtablīlu, “Scorpion-man” but the inscription on the Nimrud figure may possibly correspond to that prescribed in the ritual for the type immediately after the bull-legged being, while for the girtablīlu no inscription is ordained. Unfortunately the Akkadian name is again lost.

After figures of snakes, whose identification is obvious enough, the ritual mentions figurines of the well-known mušhuššu, which is surely represented by the creature of Plate XIVd, regarded by the excavators as a dog.

ND 8194 (MMA 59.107.27). Sun-dried clay figurine of a mušhuššu, discovered in the same foundation box as the figure of Plate XIa. Previously published: D. Oates, Iraq 21 (1959), Mallowan, N&R II. Double-catalogued by Rittig. Plate XIVd.

The following prescriptions are for figures of the suhurmaššu, “Goat-fish” and kulīlu, “Fish-man,” rare types which do not occur at Nimrud, and are illustrated here by examples probably from Aššur, Plate XV. Their identities are indicated by comparison of the prescribed legends with actual inscriptions.

Sowie Museum 9-1796, sun-dried clay figurine of a suhurmaššu, probably from Aššur. Previously published: H.F. Lutz, University of California Publications in Semitic Philology 9/7 (1930), Rittig, 97.
Sowie Museum 9-1795, sun-dried figurine of a kilīlu, allegedly from Aššur. Previously published: Lutz, op. cit., Rittig, 95f. Plate XV.

A little later in the ritual appears the urmahlīlu, “Lion-man,” who has already been identified directly from the inscription on a bas-relief it is the creature called in modern literature a “lion-centaur.”

After the urmahlīlu, the ritual prescribes clay figures of dogs, an actual set of which, inscribed and colored in close conformity to the prescription, was discovered by Loftus in a rectangular niche at the base of a sculptured doorway slab in the North Palace at Nineveh.

Relief at Pasargadae, in situ. Palace S. photograph by Dr. M.R. Edwards, Plate XIVc.
Limestone relief at one jamb of a doorway of Palace S. at Pasargadae. Achaemenid period. Previously published: D. Stronach, Pasargadae (Oxford 1978), Pl. 59.

Such clay dogs appear not to occur among the Nimrud figures, although seven copper or bronze examples, of differing breeds, sitting and standing, were found in the North-West Palace (Plate XIVe). These metal models have also been considered apotropaic, although there is no absolute proof, and the Nimrud examples were found out of context at the bottom of a well.

ND 3209. Copper or bronze figurine of a dog, discovered with six others down a well at the S. end of room NN of the N.W. Palace at Nimrud. Left ear chipped, and tip of tail broken in antiquity. Previously unpublished: see J.E. Curtis, Dissertation, II Cf. also Mallowan, ILN 1952 Iraq 15 (1953) N&R I, 103. Plate XIVe.

It does seem possible, therefore, to identify a number of the creatures of Assyrian religious art on the basis of these figurines and their rituals, and to this process the Nimrud figurines, while they do not show the same typological diversity as those from Aššur, are able to make a number of significant contributions.”

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July 18, 2015

Figurines Excavated from the Burnt Palace and Fort Shalmaneser

The most expansive text prescribing the types of figurines is the Aššur ritual KAR, no. 298. After defining the purpose of the ritual as to avert evil from the house, the text begins to prescribe the types of figures to be fashioned and buried at set locations.

BM 124573, courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum. Plate Xa.
This fish apkallū appears to have his right hand raised in the gesture of blessing with the mullilu cone, with the banduddu bucket in his left hand.

It begins with a long passage prescribing wooden figures of seven apkallē “Sages,” from seven Babylonian cities. No such actual figurines appear to exist, nor should we expect any if the prescription were faithfully followed, since timber figurines would have perished.

A bird-apkallū of the Nisroc kind, plate IXb. The figure is too worn to discern what is held in the right hand, while the left hand holds what appears to be a banduddu bucket.

The next passage, however, prescribes apkallū figures with the faces and wings of birds. These are the bird-headed figures (Plate IXb), found appropriately in groups of seven. As well as in the Burnt Palace, a group of such figures was found in Fort Shalmaneser in a late seventh-century context the excavator believed that the figures were redeposited ninth-century pieces, but they are rather different in style (ND 9518, figures in the round rather than flat-backed plaques) and may in fact date closer to the period suggested by their findspot.

Fish-Apkallū figure, Plate Xb. ND 4118, courtesy of the British School of Archeology in Iraq, photograph by David A. Loggie.

A group of figures of the same type was found by George Smith in the so-called “S.E. Palace,” perhaps a part of the same building as Palace “AB” the pieces are close in style to the Burnt Palace examples and may date to the late ninth century.

ND 4123 (IM 59291), Plate Xc, courtesy of the British School of Archeology in Iraq. Photograph: David A. Loggie.

The ritual goes on to prescribe a set of seven figures of the apkallē cloaked in the skin of a fish. This type is represented by septenary groups of fish-garbed human figures which vary somewhat from deposit to deposit.

The usual type from the Burnt Palace, thin and fairly flat, sometimes has a fish-head and, on the reverse, a dorsal fin (Plate Xb), but often has no very obvious fish elements, so that the pieces must be identified from others in the same deposit or by comparison with those in other deposits.

Also from the Burnt Palace come some more obvious human-piscine figures of heavy solid clay (Plate Xc). Six examples of this subtype were found, together with a seventh, “leader” (?), figure of the same being but of a very different style: a tall but flat fish-garbed man, the scales and tail indicated on the back by incised cross-hatching and diagonal lines.

ND 7903B. Courtesy of the British School of Archeology in Iraq, photograph by David A. Loggie. Plate Xd.

Over thirty figurines and metal figurine accoutrements were found not buried in boxes but loose in the fill of one of the so-called “barracks-rooms” of Fort Shalmaneser. They would seem to be remnants from disturbed deposits, but evidently reused, since the fish-cloaked figures, of incongruous styles, were nevertheless seven in number.

It is possible, therefore, that the room was a kind of sick-bay, decked out with these prophylactic images. Plate Xd shows one of the types found, rather crudely made but with the line of the fish-cloak evident enough.

It is interesting to note, in this context, that when one of the legs is exposed and set forward on figurines of this type, it is the left one, perhaps foreshadowing an Islamic custom of entering a holy place with the right foot first, but the haunts of the jinn leading with the left.

The fish-cloaked figure is known in Mesopotamian art from the Kassite period, and despite a dearth of extant sculpture was not an uncommon figure in the Neo-Assyrian palace or temple (Plate Xa).”

Anthony Green, “Neo-Assyrian Apotropaic Figures,” Iraq, Vol. 45, 1983, pp. 88-90.

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July 17, 2015

From Anthony Green, Neo-Assyrian Apotropaic Figures, 1983

“From Assyria and Babylonia in the first half of the first millennium BCE comes a series of small figurines in the round and relief plaques, which are usually found beneath the floors of buildings within receptacles of baked or unbaked brick or (at Nineveh) stone slabs or (so far restricted to Aššur) pottery jars the figurines themselves are almost invariably of sun-dried clay, very occasionally, perhaps, of terracotta or metal.

(Note 1: E. Douglas Van Buren, Foundation Figurines and Offerings (Berlin, 1931) [henceforth referred to as FFO] is now outdated on this subject. For a synthesis of material mainly from published sources up to 1973, see Dessa Rittig, Assyrisch-babylonische Kleinplastik magischer Bedeutung vom. 13.-6. Fh v. Chr. (München, 1977) [henceforth Rittig]. The Nimrud corpus remains for the most part unpublished. A certain amount of new material, including Nimrud figurines, will appear in R.S. Ellis, Domestic Spirits: Apotropaic Figurines in Mesopotamian Buildings (Philadelphia, forthcoming)).

Their purpose, as texts prescribing the rituals involved attest, was to avert evil from the buildings and sickness from the inhabitants.

The British School’s Nimrud complement comprises at least 136 relevant pieces from 66 separate deposits discovered in three buildings: the Burnt Palace, the Acropolis Palace (AB) and Fort Shalmaneser, and dating possibly from the reign of Shalmaneser III (?) or, at least, Adad-nirari III down to the fall of the Assyrian Empire in 613 BCE.

In this paper I shall deal with just one, but perhaps the most important, area on which the series sheds light, namely the question of the identification of the creatures represented by the various iconographic types. It can hardly be denied that the study of apotropaic figurines is of somewhat limited importance in itself. Where it succeeds is rather in the light which it throws upon matters of more general and basic interest.

It is vital here to recognize the official nature of the ritual and practice, and the consequent position of the iconography of the figurines in the official religion of the Assyrian state. And while there are no apparent documentary sources directly concerning, for example, the subjects of the apotropaic palace reliefs, there are texts ordaining procedures for apotropaic rituals involving figurines, which often enable identifications of analogous types.

Professor Mallowan was quick to recognize the relationship between the so-called Nisroch or “Griffin-demon” common in the ninth-century palaces and in Middle and Neo-Assyrian art in general (Plate IXa), and the bird-headed human figurines of apkallē from Phase E of the Burnt Palace (Plate IXb).

A bird-apkallū, the so-called Nisroch or “Griffin-demon.” Plate IXa.

A bird-headed human figurine of apkallē from Phase E of the Burnt Palace, Plate IXb.

Citing this instance, J.B. Stearns (Reliefs from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, AfO Behest 15 (Graz, 1961), 26, n. 44), has remarked that although there is here an isolated, rather superficial, relationship, there are no general correspondences between the figures on the reliefs and the actual or prescribed figurines, and that even in this case the connection does not aid our understanding of the monumental figures:

” . . . it is important to note that they are only one type out of many kinds of statuettes mentioned in these texts. Thus the parallel between the foundation-figures and the reliefs seems far from complete, since only the … winged, eagle-headed genie is present in the texts …

It should also be noted that among the several types of figurines excavated none except the bird-headed type seems to resemble the genies of the reliefs …

In short, the relationship between the apkallē of the typical text here adduced and the excavated figurines seems rather superficial, and the connection of either texts or the figurines with the rites depicted on the reliefs seems too tenuous to warrant basing an explanation of the reliefs upon such evidence.”

But although this appears true when considering the reliefs catalogued in Stearn’s restricted study, it is not the case when the full repertoire of apotropaic figures on the reliefs and in fictile art is considered, when a number of correlations can be found.

The method of using such correlations to identify individual figure types has already been well vindicated, I believe, in Dr. Julian Reade’s reappraisal of the subject-matter of Assyrian sculpture.”


Pharaon So

Hoshea began to reign in Samaria in the twelfth year of Ahaz, king of Judah. When Tiglath-Pileser died, Hoshea made some moves towards greater independence. “Against him came up Shalmaneser [V] king of Assyria” (II Kings 17:3) Hoshea submitted and became a tribute-paying vassal. But in his sixth year, weary of the heavy oppression, Hoshea sought protection of the king of Egypt.

Who was pharaoh So, to whom the king of Israel gave allegiance? He was not identified by the historians: many efforts were made and no acceptable assumption made.

Since most of the eighth century before the present era Egypt was dominated by the kings of the Libyan Dynasty, and the time when Hoshea dispatched messengers to So, king of Egypt, was about -726, the simple solution is to identify one of the Shoshenks as the biblical So, king of Egypt. And further, since on the walls of the Amon temple at Karnak a bas-relief with Israeli cities depicted as tributaries to Shoshenk Hedjkheperre of the Libyan Dynasty is a well-known and much discussed archaeological relic, the identification of the pharaoh So should be simple. Then why was not this identification made?

It was not made because Shoshenk of the Karnak relief was already identified in the conventionally written history with Shishak, the plunderer of Solomon’s temple and conqueror of Judah over two hundred years before the time of king Hoshea of Samaria.

The Karnak temple has on its walls also a relief of Thutmose III of the Eighteenth Dynasty with the captured cities of Palestine shown as men with shields covering the body, inscribed with the names of the cities. Shoshenk’s relief with its scores of similar men symbolizing cities imitates the relief of Thutmose. But whereas the names of cities claimed by Thutmose are all identifiable names, mainly in Judea, the cities listed by Shoshenk are only partly identified, and those are sites in Samaria and Galilee, not in Judea. (2) With the reliefs of Thutmose (Shishak of the Book of Kings) we occupied ourselves in detail in the fourth chapter of Ages in Chaos.

Thutmose left also a description of his campaign accompanying the reliefs besides, he pictured the booty he brought back from the campaign and presented to the temple of Amon. We have identified this booty, object upon object, with the description of the furnishings and the utensils of the temple of Solomon, and found the designs, the metals, whether gold or silver or brass, from which they were made, and the number of individual objects in the booty (such as the number of golden targets), all in agreement between the biblical and hieroglyphic accounts. Nevertheless it was thought that Thutmose III’s booty was from a pre-Israelite Canaan.

On the other hand, Shoshenk left no record of any campaign in Palestine next to his relief in Karnak there is only a brief mention of tribute from Syria (Kharu) received by Shoshenk. Therefore it was also repeatedly said that the relief does not convey anything beyond the fact that cities in the northern part of Palestine were claimed as paying tribute to Shoshenk and that on the basis of his relief we could not learn anything about a military conquest of Palestine. (3) While the text seems to show that there was an “oral or written request” from Palestine for the pharaoh to intervene, (4) there is nothing to suggest that Shoshenk ever acted on it—nevertheless, all historians agreed that Shoshenk’s relief serves as a counterpart to the biblical record of the events in the fifth year after Solomon’s death when the pharaoh Shishak invaded Judea, took Jerusalem and other fortified cities, and carried away the treasures of the Temple built by Solomon. An omission to refer to such facts on the part of Shoshenk did not provoke the question of the truth in the identification of Shoshenk and Shishak.

Since, in accordance with the conventional scheme, Shoshenk of the Karnak relief was made to Shishak (this in violation of the way Hebrew letters are transcribed in hieroglyphics) there was no way to identify pharaoh So as another Shoshenk of which there were more than one in the Libyan Dynasty: the name Shoshenk could not be transcribed as both, Shishak and So. Thus the identity of So became an unsolved, and in the frame of that scheme, an unsolvable problem. How annoying it became can be judged by the fact that when, some years ago, a scholar offered to dispose of So and to read the biblical text: “for he [Hoshea] sent messengers to Sais, to the king of Egypt,” Sais being identified as the village Sa el-Hagar, and called his paper “The end of ‘So, king of Egypt,’” (5) it was acclaimed with relief as one of the “most important clarifications of biblical history in recent years—precisely because ‘So, king of Egypt’ was so difficult to identify with any known historical figure.” (6) Yet were So a geographical name, the Hebrew phrase would be le So, le melech Mitzraim—"to So, to the king of Egypt.” As the sentence stands, the second “le” being absent, So is clearly the name of an Egyptian king, and in the revised scheme there is no necessity to dispose of So, king of Egypt.

The seemingly complicated problem is very uncomplicated. In the Scriptures there is a record of tribute paid by Rehoboam, son of Solomon, to pharaoh Shishak as a result of his conquest of Judah and there is a record of tribute paid two hundred years later by Hoshea of Israel to pharaoh So. In Egypt there are two reliefs depicting tribute received from Palestine: by Thutmose III of the Eighteenth Dynasty from the cities of Judah, and by Shoshenk of the Libyan Dynasty from the cities of Israel. We have identified the first of the two pharaohs who received tribute (from Rehoboam) as Thutmose III (7) and the second, who received tribute from Hoshea, as Shoshenk. Thus two biblical records and two Egyptian documents are in complete agreement. Conventional history, however, by making the Libyan Shoshenk the sacker of Solomon’s Temple, has no counterpart to the records of Thutmose III concerning his campaign in Palestine or tribute paid to him and it has no Egyptian counterpart to the biblical record of a tribute paid by Israel to pharaoh So.

B. Mazar in Vetus Testamentum, Suppl. 4 (1956), pp. 57ff.

J. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Vol. IV, Sect. 709 J. A. Wilson, “Egyptian Historical Texts” in Ancient Near Eastern Texts, ed. by J. Pritchard (Princeton, 1950), p. 263.

D. B. Redford, “Studies in Relations between Palestine and Egypt during the First Millennium B.C.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 93 (1973), p. 10.

H. Goedicke, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 171 (Oct., 1963), pp. 63-66. See also idem., 𤄏 vor Christus” in Wiener Zeitschrift fuer die Kunde des Morgenlandes 69 (1977), pp. 1-19.

W. F. Albright, “The Elimination of King ‘So’” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 171 (Oct., 1963), p. 66.


Archaeology

The site of Kutha consists of a 3/4 mile long crescent shaped main mound with a smaller mound to the west. The two mounds, as is typical in the region, are separated by the dry bed of an ancient canal, the Shatt en-Nil.

The first archaeologist to examine the site, George Rawlinson, noted a brick of king Nebuchadrezzar of the Neo-Babylonian Empire mentioning the city of Kutha. The site was also visited by George Smith and by Edgar James Banks. ⎗] Tell Ibrahim was excavated by Hormuzd Rassam in 1881, for 4 weeks. Little was discovered, mainly some inscribed bowls and a few tablets. ⎘] ⎙]


Treasures of the Queens of Nimrud

Among the most remarkable finds of recent times was the discovery of the relatively intact burials of the Assyrian Queens of Nimrud, the importance of which was largely overshadowed by the Gulf war.


Iraqi excavations in 1988–1990 revealed the tombs of a number of Assyrian queens containing astonishing quantities of gold objects and jewellery on a scale to match the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Following the 1st Gulf War in 1991 and the imposition of sanctions, further archaeological work in Iraq, at least for foreign missions, became impossible

As entire series of underground vaults were discovered as well as wells containing many bodies some with grave goods, as much as up to 400 in one well alone all held in iron shakles, this were considerations of this report New Light on Nimrud


Excavations and restorations continued in the rest of the palace and in 1988, while clearing the debris and tidying the brick paving of Room MM, workers stumbled on the first of the queens’tombs . This remarkable find inspired the excavators to continue digging in parts of the Harem, which had not been excavated. They were rewarded in the next two seasons with two more tombs, where about 1000 gold objects were found. In 1991 a fourth tomb was discovered in which glazed pots and bronze and silver vessels were found

The Royal burials were similar to the vault burials of the Sumerians including the bath tub shaped sarcophagus cut into the floor.


The 1992 season continued with the excavation of a courtyard and the rooms around it. beneath Rooms74 and 75, an unusual structure was discovered, a narrow vaulted passage leading to three small vaulted rooms. Many remarkable finds were discovered here including cylinder seals, numerous beads, glazed pottery, and an inscribed stone tablet of Shalmaneser III

The Assyrians appeared to have been avid collectors of carved ivory from places such as Phonecia and Egypt, large numbers of which were found, this also influenced their own work in ivory.


Inside the sarcophagus there were the blackened remains of linen garments and between the layers of these were the skeletons of two women of different heights. The many inscribed objects enabled one of the bodies to be identified as Yaba’ the other was Banêti, wife of Shalmaneser V (726–722 BC) or Ataliya, wife of Sargon II (721–705 BC).

Perhaps much of their collection had arrived in the form of tribute, their seeming patronage of the arts somewhat at variance with the fierce identity they liked to project to the public.


The inscribed objects from the queens’ tombs are written in pictographic, cuneiform and alphabetic scripts. They express thoughts in many languages, such as Sumerian,Akkadian, Hittite, Kassite, Phoenician, Aramaic and South Arabian. They are written upon gold, silver, bronze,stones, ivory, bricks, clay and probably other materials that have since perished

All of the Royal burials had protective curses, this does not seem to have troubled the Iraqi archaeologists but perhaps it should have.


By the name of Shamash, Ereshkigal and the Anunnaki, the great gods of the earth, mortal destiny overtook Yabâ,the queen, in death, she went to the path of her ancestors.

Whoever, in the future, be it a queen who sits on the throne or a palace lady who is a concubine of the king moves me from my tomb, or puts anybody else with me, and lays his hand upon my jewellery with evil intent or breaks open the seal of that tomb, above earth,under the rays of the sun, let his spirit roam outside in thirst, below in the underworld, when libations of water are offered, he must not receive with the Anunnaki as a funerary offering any beer, wine or meal.

The craft work is of the very highest quality, they were pioneers in many materials such as glass and ceramic glazing, though also of course drawing upon the rich legacy of Mesopotamia.


Belonging to Mullissu-mukannishat-Ninua, queen of Ashurnasirpal, king of Assyria mother of Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, No one later may place herein anyone else, be it a palace lady a queen, nor remove this sarcophagus from its place.

Bitu was an identification of the door keeper into the underworld, the word literally meant 'enter!'

The curses generally are directed towards the individuals after they themselves die, that they will not be allowed into the afterlife but ever remain restless spirits.


Belonging to Mullissu-mukannishat-Ninua, queen of Ashurnasirpal, king of Assyria, of Shalmaneser, king of Assyria.

Some of the artifacts recovered were quite mysterious and not found elsewhere, such as a carved black stone cup with tubular attachment which i can only find a drawn schematic of, there are those hinting at alien or more properly Giselian artifacts discovered at Nimrud.

On that note there is also a very curious relief carving of the Assyrian King relaxing in his garden at Nineveh amongst his harem upon a very curious assemblage and in the manner of a fish.


Legacy

Tiglath-Pileser III's conquests and reforms led to the establishment of the Neo-Assyrian Kingdom as a true empire. He built a royal palace in Nimrud (the so-called "central palace"), later dismantled by Esarhaddon. He had his royal annals engraved across the bas-reliefs depicting his military achievements on the sculptured slabs decorating his palace.

On his death he was succeeded by his son Ululayu, who took the name Shalmaneser V and further campaigned in the Levant, and captured Samaria.


Brick Inscribed with the Name of Shalmaneser III - History

Chronology is the skeleton of history, and until we can find the correct chronological place for a historical monument it loses a large part of its value. Thanks to the lists of the so-called eponyms, by means of whom the Assyrians dated their years, the chronology of the Assyrian kings has long since been placed upon a satisfactory footing as far back as the tenth century before our era. The dates, moreover, assigned by Sennacherib to Tiglath-Pileser I. (B.C. 1106), and Tukulti-Uras, the son of Shalmaneser I. (B.C. 1290), as well as the lengthy genealogies with which these kings are connected, enable us to extend Assyrian chronology back for another five hundred years, though, of course, with only approximate accuracy.

While our knowledge of Assyrian chronology, however, has thus been tolerably fixed for a long time past, we have had to depend upon the vague and contradictory statements of Greek writers for

our knowledge of the chronology of the older kingdom of Babylonia. Apart from the invaluable table of kings known as Ptolemy's Canon, which belongs to the later period of Babylonian history, and the unsatisfactory list of dynasties excerpted from an epitomist of Bêrôssos, our only monumental authorities for Babylonian chronology were the Assyrian inscriptions themselves, together with a few fragments of a dynastic tablet brought to light by Mr. George Smith and the so-called Synchronous History of Assyria and Babylonia, of which I published a translation in the former series of Records of the Past (vol. iii.) This "Synchronous History" was composed by an Assyrian scribe, and consists of brief notices of the occasions on which the kings of the two countries had entered into relation, hostile or otherwise, with one another. Since my translation was published in 1874, another large fragment of the tablet has been discovered, and accordingly I purpose giving a new translation of the whole document in a future volume of the present series. The "Synchronous History" gives no dates, and consequently its chronological value depends upon our knowledge of the respective dates to which the Assyrian monarchs mentioned in it belong.

Within the last few years a number of discoveries due to Mr. Pinches has entirely changed our position in regard to the chronology of the Babylonian kings. As I have already stated, Mr. Smith found among the tablets brought from the royal library of Nineveh

a small fragment which, as he perceived, contained the names and regnal years of the kings of Babylonia, arranged in dynasties. The work to which it belonged must accordingly have been similar to that from which Berossos derived his dynastic list of Chaldean monarchs. Mr. Smith published the fragment, with a translation and commentary, in the Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archæology, iii. 2 (1874). It is written on both sides, and the tablet once consisted of six columns, each containing about seventy lines. I will call it the "Third Dynastic Tablet."

The next discovery was made by Mr. Pinches six years later among the inscriptions brought from the site of Babylon by the overseer of Mr. Hormuzd Rassam. He found among them a small tablet of unbaked clay, quite complete and inscribed on both sides. It contains the names of the kings belonging to two early dynasties, the number of years reigned by each king being added to the names in the case of the first dynasty. The tablet seems to be a sort of schoolboy's exercise, having been copied from some larger work in order to be committed to memory. The Reverse has been published by Mr. Pinches in the Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, 7th December 1880, and I will call it the "First Dynastic Tablet."

Another and more important document—the "Second Dynastic Tablet"—was published by Mr. Pinches, with a translation and explanation, in the

[paragraph continues] Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archæology, 6th May 1884. This is also a tablet of unbaked clay from Babylonia, and it contains a list of the Babylonian sovereigns, arranged in dynasties, from the first dynasty which made the city of Babylon the capital down to the period of the Persian conquest. The number of regnal years is added to the name of each king and the length of time each dynasty lasted is duly recorded. The names of some of the kings are written in an abbreviated form: this is especially the case with those belonging to the second dynasty.

The list, it will be observed, is confined to the dynasties which reigned in Babylon itself. No notice is taken of the kings and dynasties who ruled in "Accad and Sumer" before Babylon became the capital of the empire. The lost columns of the "Third Dynastic Tablet" show how numerous they were, and the fact is borne out by the bricks and other monuments of early Chaldean monarchs whose names do not occur among the successors of ’Sumu-abi. Most of the kings, indeed, whose names are known to us in connection with the temples they built or restored belonged to older dynasties than those which had their seat in the city of Babylon.

A considerable number of their names is to be found in another tablet brought by Mr. Rassam from Assyria, and published by Mr. Pinches in the Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archæology, 11th January 1881. A small portion of it had already been published in W.A.I., ii. 65, and had given rise

to a good many false conclusions. The object of this tablet was philological and not chronological in fact the writer expressly states that the names of the kings were "not written according to their chronological order." He merely wished to furnish the Semitic or Assyro-Babylonian translations of the Accado-Sumerian and Kassite names borne by so many of the early princes, and in some cases of the mode in which the names of Semitic kings were pronounced or written by their Accadian subjects.

Among the latter is the name of Sargon of Accad, the ancient hero of the Semitic population of Chaldæa, who founded the first Semitic empire in the country and established a great library in his capital city of Agade or Accad near Sippara. The seal of his librarian, Ibni-sarru, of very beautiful workmanship, is now in Paris, and has been published by M. de Clercq (Collection de Clercq, pl. 5, No. 46), while a copy of his annals, together with those of his son Naram-Sin, is to be found in W.A.I., iv. 34. His date has been fixed by a passage in a cylinder of Nabonidos discovered in the ruins of the temple of the Sun-god at Sippara, and published in W.A.I., v. 64. The antiquarian zeal of Nabonidos led him to excavate among the foundations of the temple in the hope of finding the cylinder of Naram-Sin, who was known to have been the founder of it, and he tells us (col. ii. 56 seq.):—

In the opinion, therefore, of Nabonidos, a king who had a passion for investigating the past records of his country, Naram-Sin reigned 3200 years before his own time, that is to say, about B.C. 3700.

Before the rise of the Semitic kingdom of Sargon of Accad, lies that earlier Accado-Sumerian period when Babylonia was still in the hands of a people who spoke an agglutinative language, such as those of the modern Turks or Finns, and had originated the cuneiform system of writing and the primitive civilisation of the Chaldean cities. Relics of this ancient period have been discovered by M. de Sarzec in the mounds of Tel-loh, and the Sumerian inscriptions which they bear are now being deciphered by French scholars, more especially by M. Amiaud. M. Amiaud has been good enough to introduce the historical documents of Babylonia and Assyria to the readers of the present series of Records of the Past, by his translations of these oldest memorials of human life and thought in the valley of the Euphrates. If Sargon of Accad lived about B.C. 3800, the kings of Telloh must have flourished as far back as the fourth millennium before our era.

The last chronological document brought to light during the last few years is in many respects the most important of all. This is what has been termed "The Babylonian Chronicle" by its discoverer, Mr. Pinches, who gave an abstract of it in the Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archæology, 6th May 1884. Since then, the text has been published with a translation and commentary by Dr. Winckler in the Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, ii. 2, 3 (1887) it has also been translated by Dr. Oppert. The tablet (which is marked 84. 2-11, 356) was brought from Babylonia and is inscribed on both sides with four columns of text. It was a copy or compilation made by a Babylonian in the reign of Darius from older records, and must have been similar to the document from which Ptolemy's Canon of Babylonian kings was extracted. Like the latter it starts from the era of Nabonassar, B.C. 747.

The chronicle is written from a Babylonian point of view, and must therefore be checked by contemporaneous Assyrian inscriptions. What they describe as Assyrian successes are sometimes passed over altogether or represented as Babylonian victories. The Assyrian kings Tiglath-Pileser III and Shalmaneser IV are not acknowledged under the names they had adopted from two of the most illustrious monarchs of the first Assyrian empire, but under their original names of Pul and Ululâ Sargon, on the other hand, whose name was that of

the favourite hero of Babylonian legend, is known by the same name in the Chronicle as he is on the monuments of Assyria. At the same time the Chronicle helps us in correcting the inaccuracies of the Assyrian accounts, where, for example, Suzub represents both Nergal-yusezib and Musezib-Merodach. In fact, it confirms the judgment, already expressed by Assyriologists, that Sennacherib is the least trustworthy of the royal historians of Assyria.

We are at present ignorant of the precise way in which the Babylonians reckoned their chronology. In Assyria the years were named after certain officers, ordinarily known as eponyms, who were changed each year, and as most of the institutions of Assyria were derived from Babylonia it is very probable that the system of counting time by the names of the eponyms was also of Babylonian invention. How far we can trust the dates assigned to the kings of the earlier dynasties is open to question. The length of reign assigned to the kings of the dynasties of the sea and of Bit-Bazi in the Second and Third Dynastic Tablets do not agree, while the number of regnal years given to the several kings of the first dynasty of Babylon not only plays on the same ciphers but is suspiciously long. On the other hand, the contract-tablets belonging to the time of Khammuragas imply that his reign was not a short one.

There is evidence in a later part of the dynastic lists that at least one name has been omitted. Dr. Winckler has published (in the Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, ii. 3)

the commencement of an inscription from Babylonia (marked 83.1-18) belonging to a certain king of Babylon, who calls himself Kuri-galzu the son of Kara-Urus. Dr. Winckler shows that this must be Kuri-galzu II, and that his name ought to occur in the list between those of Kara-Urus and Rimmon-nadin-suma. It is quite possible that other reigns have fallen out in other parts of the lists.

The lacuna in the Second Dynastic Tablet between the beginning of the eighth dynasty and the commencement of the reign of Nabonassar unfortunately prevents us from determining with certainty the date assigned by the compiler of it to ’Sumu-abi. But there are two synchronisms between Babylonian and Assyrian history which may serve to remedy the defect. According to Sennacherib, Merodach-nadin-akhe defeated Tiglath-Pileser I, 418 years before his own conquest of Babylon, that is to say, in B.C. 1106, while the "Synchronous History" makes Assur-bilkala, the son of Tiglath-Pileser I, the contemporary of Merodach-sapik-kullat, and Assur-dân the great-grandfather of Tiglath-Pileser I, the contemporary of Zamama-nadin-suma, the father of Assur-dân being contemporaneous with Rimmon-[suma-natsir?]. If Merodach-nadin-akhe is the ninth king of the dynasty of Isin, the date of Zamama-nadin-suma will be B.C. 1160, agreeing very well with the period to which the end of the reign of Assur-dân should be assigned. In this case Sagasalti-buryas, who flourished 800 years before Nabonidos, will not

be identical with the Saga-sal[tiyas] of the dynastic list. The reign of Khammuragas will have commenced B.C. 2282, the first dynasty of Babylon establishing its power there in B.C. 2394.

We learn from the inscriptions of Khammuragas that he was the first of his dynasty to rule over the whole of Babylonia. A rival dynasty had previously reigned at Karrak in the south, while the Elamites had invaded portions of the country and probably held them in subjection. Assur-bani-pal states that the Elamite king Kudur-Nankhundi had carried away the image of the goddess Nana from Babylonia 1635 years before his own time, or about B.C. 2285, and contract-tablets refer to the conquest of "the lord of Elam and King Rim-Agu" of Karrak by Khammuragas. A large number of contract-tablets, indeed, belong not only to the reigns of Khammuragas and his son Samsu-iluna, but also to the reign of Rim-Agu, who seems to have been master of the greater part of Chaldæa before his overthrow by the king of Babylon. George Smith was probably right in identifying him with the son of the Elamite prince Kudur-Mabug, who ruled at Larsa and claimed the imperial title of "king of Sumer and Accad."

The rise of the empire of Khammuragas brought with it a revival of learning and literature such as had marked the rise of the empire of Sargon. The calendar appears to have been reformed at this period, and the great native work on astronomy and astrology put into the shape in which it has come

down to us. The reign thus formed an era somewhat similar to that of Nabonassar, and it is therefore curious to see how closely the date I have assigned to it corresponds with that arrived at by von Gutschmidt from classical sources for the beginning of the Babylonian epoch. If the Latin translation can be trusted (Simplicius ad Arist. de Cœlo, 503 A), the astronomical observations sent by Kallisthenes from Babylon to Aristotle in B.C. 331 reached back for 1903 years (i.e. to B.C. 2234). Bêrôssos the Chaldean historian, according to Pliny (N.H. vii. 57), stated that these observations commenced at Babylon 490 years before the Greek era of Phoroneus, and consequently in B.C. 2243. According to Stephanos of Byzantium, Babylon was built 1002 years before the date (given by Hellanikos) for the siege of Troy (B.C. 1229), which would bring us to B.C. 2231, while Ktesias, according to George Syncellus, made the reign of Belos or Bel-Merodach last for fifty-five years from B.C. 2286 to 2231. The fifty-five years of Belos agree with the fifty-five of Khammuragas.

I add here the Canon of Babylonian kings given by Ptolemy in the Almagest.


Architecture in Mesopotamia

Domestic and public architecture in Mesopotamian cultures differed in relative simplicity and complexity. As time passed, public architecture grew to monumental heights.

  • Mesopotamian cultures used a variety of building materials. While mud brick is the most common, stone also features as a structural and decorative element.
  • The ziggurat marked a major architectural accomplishment for the Sumerians, as well as subsequent Mesopotamian cultures.
  • Palaces and other public structures were often decorated with glaze or paint, stones, or reliefs.
  • Animals and human-animal hybrids feature in the religions of Mesopotamian cultures and were often used as architectural decoration.
  • bas reliefs: Sculptures that minimally project from their backgrounds.
  • public sphere: The world outside the home.
  • ziggurat: A towering temple, similar to a stepped pyramid, that sat in the center of Mesopotamian city-states in honor to the local pantheon.
  • private sphere: The home, or the domestic realm.
  • load-bearing: A form of architecture in which the walls are the structure’s main source of support.
  • stacking and piling: A form of load-bearing architecture in which the walls are thickest at the base and grow gradually thinner toward the top.
  • pilaster: A rectangular column that projects partially from the wall to which it is attached it gives the appearance of a support, but is only for decoration.

The Mesopotamians regarded “the craft of building” as a divine gift taught to men by the gods, and architecture flourished in the region. A paucity of stone in the region made sun baked bricks and clay the building material of choice. Babylonian architecture featured pilasters and columns, as well as frescoes and enameled tiles. Assyrian architects were strongly influenced by the Babylonian style, but used stone as well as brick in their palaces, which were lined with sculptured and colored slabs of stone instead of being painted. Existing ruins point to load-bearing architecture as the dominant form of building. However, the invention of the round arch in the general area of Mesopotamia influenced the construction of structures like the Ishtar Gate in the sixth century BCE.

Domestic Architecture

Mesopotamian families were responsible for the construction of their own houses. While mud bricks and wooden doors comprised the dominant building materials, reeds were also used in construction. Because houses were load-bearing, doorways were often the only openings. Sumerian culture observed a rigid division between the public sphere and the private sphere, a norm that resulted in a lack of direct view from the street into the home. The sizes of individual houses varied, but the general design consisted of smaller rooms organized around a large central room. To provide a natural cooling effect, courtyards became a common feature in the Ubaid period and persist into the domestic architecture of present-day Iraq.

Ziggurats

One of the most remarkable achievements of Mesopotamian architecture was the development of the ziggurat, a massive structure taking the form of a terraced step pyramid of successively receding stories or levels, with a shrine or temple at the summit. Like pyramids, ziggurats were built by stacking and piling. Ziggurats were not places of worship for the general public. Rather, only priests or other authorized religious officials were allowed inside to tend to cult statues inside the temple on the top, and make offerings. The first surviving ziggurats date to the Sumerian culture in the fourth millennium BCE, but they continued to be a popular architectural form in the late third and early second millennium BCE as well.

Nanna Ziggurat at Ur, Sumerian. PD-US Tia2006 at English Wikipedia

The image below is an artist’s reconstruction of how ziggurats might have looked in their heyday. Human figures appear to illustrate the massive scale of these structures. This impressive height and width would not have been possible without the use of ramps and pulleys. They were part of a larger temple complex with other buildings around them. The primary function seems to have been to elevate the temple and the priest toward their god.

An artist’s reconstruction of a ziggurat: Like most Mesopotamian architecture, ziggurats were composed of sun-baked bricks, which were less durable than their oven-baked counterparts. Thus, buildings had to be reconstructed on a regular basis, often on the foundations of recently deteriorated structures, which caused cities to become increasingly elevated. Sun-baked bricks remained the dominant building material through the Babylonian and early Assyrian empires. �-ziggurat-mesopotamia.jpg.” Wikispaces CC BY-SA 3.0

Political Architecture

The exteriors of public structures like temples and palaces featured decorative elements such as bright paint, gold, leaf, and enameling. Some elements, such as colored stones and terra cotta panels, served a twofold purpose of decoration and structural support, which strengthened the buildings and delayed their deterioration.

Between the thirteenth and tenth centuries BCE, the Assyrians replaced sun-baked bricks with more durable stone and masonry. Colored stone and bas reliefs replaced paint as decoration. Art produced under the reigns of Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BCE), Sargon II (722-705 BCE), and Ashurbanipal (668-627 BCE) inform us that reliefs evolved from simple and vibrant to naturalistic and restrained over this time span.

From the Early Dynastic Period (2900-2350 BCE) to the Assyrian Empire (25th century-612 BCE), palaces grew in size and complexity. However, even early palaces were very large and ornately decorated to distinguish themselves from domestic architecture. Because palaces housed the royal family and everyone who attended to them, palaces were often arranged like small cities, with temples and sanctuaries, as well as locations to inter the dead. As with private homes, courtyards were important features of palaces for both utilitarian and ceremonial purposes.

By the time of the Assyrian empire, palaces were decorated with narrative reliefs on the walls and outfitted with their own gates. The gates of the Palace of Dur- Sharrukin, occupied by Sargon II, featured monumental alto reliefs of a mythological guardian figure called a lamassu (also known as a shedu), which had the head of a human, the body of a bull or lion, and enormous wings. Lamassu figure in the visual art and literature from most of the ancient Mesopotamian world, going as far back as ancient Sumer (settled c. 5500 BCE) and standing guard at the palace of Persepolis (550-330 BCE).

Lamassu: This is only one example of how a lamassu would appear in Mesopotamian art. Other sculptures wear conical caps, face the front, or have the bodies of lions. In literature, some lamassu assumed female form. CC BY-SA TrJames

Although the Romans often receive credit for the round arch, this structural system actually originated during ancient Mesopotamian times. Where typical load-bearing walls are not strong enough to have many windows or doorways, round arches absorb more pressure, allowing for larger openings and improved airflow. The reconstruction of Dur-Sharrukin (see below) shows that the round arch was being used as entryways by the eighth century BCE.

Perhaps the best known surviving example of a round arch is in the Ishtar Gate, which was part of the Processional Way in the city of Babylon. The gate, now in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, was lavishly decorated with lapis lazuli complemented by blue glazed brick. Elsewhere on the gate and its connecting walls were painted floral motifs and bas reliefs of animals that were sacred to Ishtar, the goddess of fertility and war.

Ishtar Gate (c. 575 BCE): The reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. CC BY 2.0 Rector Norton https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/151247206/

The photograph above shows the immense scale of the gate. The photograph below shows the detail of a relief of a bull, or aurochs, from the gate’s wall. While it is muted in the photo below, the figures are in gold and brown-glazed brick. They symbolized the gods Marduk (dragons), Adad (aurochs or bulls), and Ishtar (lions).

Detail of bull relief on Ishtar Gate: An aurochs, or bull, above a flower ribbon. CC BY_SA Jami430


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