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Biblical Archaeology Review 46:4, Fall 2020

Strata: In Situ

You recognize this famous artifact. What is it called, and who created it?

A. Code of Hammurabi, Hammurabi of Babylon

B. The Mesha Stele, Mesha of Moab

C. The Taylor Prism, Sennacherib of Assyria

D. A Victory Stele, Naram-Sin of Akkad

E. The Black Obelisk, Shalmaneser III of Assyria

Answer: (E)

Discovered in 1845 at the site of Nimrud (possibly biblical Calah), just south of Mosul, Iraq, the Black Obelisk stands almost 7 feet high and is carved from black limestone. Erected in 825 B.C.E by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III, the monument glorifies his achievements in battle and statecraft by illustrating those who paid tribute to him.

The Black Obelisk is notable for many reasons, perhaps the foremost being that it is the first depiction of a biblical king—Jehu (2 Kings 9-10). Shalmaneser defeated Jehu in his western campaign of 841 B.C.E. Here, we see Jehu kneeling before the king while paying tribute. An inscription below reads, “The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri: I received from him silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin, a staff for a king, and javelins.”

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