Special Display


I Placed My Name There: The Great Inscription of Tukulti-Ninurta I, King of Assyria

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The Great Inscription of King Tukulti-Ninurta I,
Inscribed in Akkadian in cuneiform script | Assur, Assyria (Qal'at Sherqat, Iraq), Middle Assyrian Period, probably 1239 BCE | Alabaster |38.5 x 77 x 5.5 cm | Extended loan from the Collection of David and Cindy Sofer, London | Photo © Christie's Images Limited [2014]

The text is arranged in eight vertical columns (four per side) separated by vertical lines. The columns are ordered from left to right on the obverse, and from right to left on the reverse. Within each column, the lines run from top to bottom, and the signs read from left to right.


Obverse


Reverse

From June 2015

Location: Ancient Near East Section, Neighboring Cultures Gallery, Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Archaeology Wing

Curator: Laura A. Peri

This large alabaster tablet, carved on both sides, is inscribed in Akkadian in cuneiform script. It preserves the only complete version of the earliest and longest inscription of Tukulti-Ninurta I (ca. 1241–1206 BCE), a fascinating Assyrian monarch whose figure and name, "my trust is in (the god) Ninurta," may have been the inspiration for the biblical Nimrod. The tablet was probably placed in a wall or floor of the building the construction of which the inscription commemorates: the new palace that the king had built in Assur, Assyria's capital of the time, at the beginning of his reign.

The inscription – fully translated into English and Hebrew for the first time by Dr. Yigal Bloch from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – follows a long Mesopotamian tradition of cuneiform texts that marked property and commemorated construction projects, usually termed 'building inscriptions'. In line with the Assyrian custom, however, much of the text narrates the king's first military successes. It concludes with blessings on the future king expected to maintain the building and the inscription itself, followed by curses upon any ruler who might eradicate the building and its builder's name.

The display is located in the Neighboring Cultures Gallery, in the section dedicated to the cultures of Ancient Near East. Accompanied by a 40-pages leaflet, it introduces the public to the rich and varied Mesopotamian tradition of royal inscriptions meant to commemorate buildings, victories, and cultic acts celebrating a king's name and deeds.

The display and leaflet were made possible through the generosity of David and Cindy Sofer, London, on the occasion of the Museum's 50th Anniversary.


       
King Tukulti-Ninurta I, represented twice, worshiping a divine symbol, on an alabaster cult pedestal dedicated to the god Nusku | Assur, 13th century BCE | Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin | Drawing @ The Israel Museum, Jerusalem/by Esther Stark

 


King Tukulti-Ninurta I represented twice on a limestone cult pedestal: on the body, flanked by two guardians, as a worshiper of an unseen divine image within a temple, and on the base, flanked by two horsemen leading to him bound prisoners, as a conqueror of a mountainous land | Assur, 13th century BCE | Ancient Orient Museum, Istanbul | Drawing @ The Israel Museum, Jerusalem/by Esther Stark

 

 
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