Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III
Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser II
Could this Assyrian monument contain the only image of an ancient Hebrew king?

The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III was discovered by the late Henry Layard in 1845. The 7 foot black limestone monument was found in the ruins of the palace of Shalmaneser III at ancient Calah, near Nineveh.


It contains many panels displaying the Assyrian kings exploits. The Black Obelisk is one of the most important discoveries in Biblical Archaeology because one of the panels depicts the Hebrew king Jehu, or possibly one of his servants, bringing gifts to Shalmaneser and kneeling at his feet. The inscription above it reads:

"The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri, silver, gold, bowls of gold, chalices of gold, cups of gold, vases of gold, lead, a sceptre for the king, and spear-shafts, I have received." 

Detailed Description of the Black Obelisk

Material - Black Limestone Obelisk 
Neo Assyrian
Date: 858-824 BC 
Height: 197.85 cm (77.8937008 inches)
Width: 45.08 cm (17.7480315 inches)
Depth: 
Nimrud (ancient Calah), northern Iraq
Excavated by: Henry Layard 1845-1849
Location: British Museum, London

British Museum Excerpt

The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

Neo-Assyrian, 858-824 BC
From Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq

The military achievements of an Assyrian king

The archaeologist Henry Layard discovered this black limestone obelisk in 1846 during his excavations of the site of Kalhu, the ancient Assyrian capital. It was erected as a public monument in 825 BC at a time of civil war. The relief sculptures glorify the achievements of King Shalmaneser III (reigned 858-824 BC) and his chief minister. It lists their military campaigns of thirty-one years and the tribute they exacted from their neighbours: including camels, monkeys, an elephant and a rhinoceros. Assyrian kings often collected exotic animals and plants as an expression of their power.

There are five scenes of tribute, each of which occupies four panels round the face of the obelisk and is identified by a line of cuneiform script above the panel. From top to bottom they are:

Sua of Gilzanu (in north-west Iran)
Jehu of Bit Omri (ancient northern Israel)
An unnamed ruler of Musri (probably Egypt)
Marduk-apil-usur of Suhi (middle Euphrates, Syria and Iraq)
Qalparunda of Patin (Antakya region of Turkey)

The second register from the top includes the earliest surviving picture of an Israelite: the Biblical Jehu, king of Israel, brought or sent his tribute in around 841 BC. Ahab, son of Omri, king of Israel, had lost his life in battle a few years previously, fighting against the king of Damascus at Ramoth-Gilead (I Kings xxii. 29-36). His second son (Joram) was succeeded by Jehu, a usurper, who broke the alliances with Phoenicia and Judah, and submitted to Assyria. The caption above the scene, written in Assyrian cuneiform, can be translated

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] spears. 

Height: 197.85 cm 
Width: 45.08 cm 

Excavated by A.H. Layard
ANE 118885
Room 6, Assyrian sculpture

Related Pages:

Bible History Online - Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

Bible History Online - Close up of Jehu

The Discovery of the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser

The Black Obelisk in Biblical Archaeology

The Text on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser

Archaeology of Ancient Assyria - Text

The Destruction of Israel - Black Obelisk of Shalmanesar

King Jehu and the Black Obelisk 

Paul Emile Botta

The Jehu Relief

Archaeology of Ancient Assyria - Austen Henry Layard

Archaeology of Ancient Assyria - Ancient Assyria

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Calah

Ancient Sketches

 

Fallen Empires - Archaeology and the Bible

Archaeology Discoveries and the Ancient Biblical World 

The Black Obelisk. In the 1840's a British man named Austen Henry Layard had a desire to travel to the Middle East and dig around some of the strange looking mounds near the City of Mosul. He had heard many tales about things being found in these mounds. He was looking for any trace of evidence that would lead him to the lost city of Nineveh, the capital of the ancient Assyrian Empire. Little did he know that one of his discoveries would turn Europe upside down with excitement. He discovered a black limestone monument which is known today as The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III. This discovery brought a new authenticity and historicity to some of the stories in the Bible. It also gained him the support of the British Museum, and all the finances he needed to continue his excavations, and become known as "The Father of Assyriology."

The Pilate Inscription. It wasn't long ago when many scholars were questioning the actual existence of a Roman Governor with the name of Pontius Pilate, the procurator who ordered Jesus' crucifixion. In June 1961 Italian archaeologists led by Dr. Frova were excavating an ancient Roman amphitheatre near Caesarea-on-the-Sea (Maritima) and uncovered this interesting limestone block. On the worn face is a monumental inscription which is part of a larger dedication to Tiberius Caesar which clearly says that it was from "Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea."

The Megiddo Seal Bearing King Jeroboam's Name. It is very interesting that the Jasper Seal, found at Tel Megiddo bearing the name of King Jeroboam who ruled in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, would contain the symbol for their rival, the Southern Kingdom of Judah. But in examining all of the circumstances involved and seeing what the Bible says it is no wonder that the prosperous and victorious Northern Kingdom of Israel would boast with a symbol of their enemy.

The Tomb of Cyrus the Great. An inscription on the tomb of the great Persian monarch read: "O man, whoever you are and wherever you come from, for I know that you will come--I am Cyrus, son of Cambyses, who founded the Empire of the Persians and was king of the East. Do not grudge me this spot of earth which covers my body." - Cyrus". Is it true that Isaiah the Hebrew prophet mention Cyrus by name almost 200 years before he was born?

Sennacherib's Hexagonal Prism. This amazing discovery excavated in Nineveh in the 1830 records the Assyrian king Sennacherib's 8th campaign, which includes his siege of Jerusalem during the reign of "Hezekiah the Judahite" in 701 BC. There are 500 lines of writing in the Akkadian language on this magnificent clay prism. Is the story true that it was purchased by an American from an antiquities dealer in Baghdad?

Coming Soon The Ishtar Gate of Babylon. During the last days of the southern kingdom of Judah the Jews were taken captive to a distant land called Babylon at the latter part of the 6th century BC. They passed through a beautiful entrance gate made of mud brick masonry and glazed skin which stood 47 feet tall, commonly referred to as the Ishtar Gate since its discovery at the turn of the 20th century near modern Baghdad, Iraq. The tall gate was dedicated to the gods by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylonia who reigned from 605—562 BC). Is it true that Hitler had it transported to Berlin? Where is the Ishtar Gate now?

[Next] The Remains of Solomon's Temple

Biblical Archaeology

The Bible mentions many things about people, places and events that happened in history. The Bible also gives an accurate chronology of those people, places and events. What is amazing is that modern archaeology has confirmed that the Bible has never made one error, or given any clear contradictions in all of its text in matters of historical fact. The paintings and illustrations below of archaeological discoveries and ruins illustrate this emphatically.

Paintings By Bjanikka Ben and Maliyah Weston

Assyria

Weld Prism

Sargon I Bust

Hammurabi Stele

Colossal Lion of Assyria

Statue of Ashurnasirpal II

Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

Close up of Jehu - Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

Tiglath Pileser III (Pul)

Enemy Trod Under Foot

Sargon II with Staff in Hand

Sargon II Relief

Winged Bull - One Sided

Winged Bull - Two Sided

Assyrian Royal Guard Soldiers of Sennacherib

Lachish Captives Being Skinned Alive

Israelite Captives from Lachish

Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)

Stela of Ashurbanipal

Ruins of Ancient Assyria

Painting of Ancient Ashur

Israel

Moabite Stone

Beersheba Altar

Ivory Pomegranate Fake

Ossuary of Caiaphas

Proto Ionic Capital

El Amarna Letters

House of David Inscription

Korban Inscription

Lachish Letters

Megiddo Seal - Jeraboam Inscription

Pilate Inscription

Place of Trumpeting Inscription

Qumran Jar (Dead Sea Scrolls)

Siloam Inscription

Tel Dan Stele

Temple Warning Inscription

Uzziah Tablet Inscription

Stela of Baal

Gold of Ophir Inscription

Hazael King of Syria Statue

Ancient Caesarea Harbor

Ancient Caesarea Ruins

Ancient Hittite Ruins

Babylon

Striding Lion of Babylon 

Nebuchadnezzar II Cylinder

Lagash Rations Tablet

Ishtar Gate

Nebuchadnezzar II Brick

Babylonian Chronicle

Dragon of Marduk

Lion of Marduk

Detail of the Lion of Marduk

The Royal Standard of Ur

Persia

Tomb of Cyrus

Cyrus Cylinder

Ancient Persian Soldiers

Persepolis Lion

Darius Seated

Darius the Great (Up Close)

Ancient Persians

Ancient Persian Warriors at Susa

Egypt

Pharaoh Kneeling Before Bull

Amenophis II (Also Known as Thutmose-III)

Ramesses II

Shishak Smiting His Enemies

Apis the Sacred Bull of Memphis

Rosetta Stone

The Pyramids

Ramesses II Colossal Statue Painting

Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs

The Israel Stela

Pharaoh Merneptah Statue

Ancient Egyptian Sphinx

Ancient Egyptian Obelisk

Rome

Bust of Julius Caesar

Bronze Bust of Augustus

Bust of Augustus Caesar

Bust of Tiberius Caesar

Arch of Titus Menorah Relief - 1

Arch of Titus Chariot Relief - 2

Bust of Vespasian

Bust of Titus

Bust of Nero

Roman Legionary Camp

Roman Legion Bricks with Stamp

Ancient Roman Eagle

Ancient Roman Aqueduct

Ancient Roman Legions

Ancient Roman Milestone

The Arch of Titus

The Colosseum

Greece

Alexander the Great Bust

Antiochus IV Epiphanes Coin

The Parthenon Ruins

The Ancient Parthenon of Athens

Antiochus IV Epiphanes Bust

Alexander the Great Coin

Greek Macedonian Infantry Helmet

Ancient Persian Soldiers

Peoples

Canaanite

Chaldean

Cilician

Indian

Ionian

Mede

Persian

Philistine

(More to come)

Illustrated Bible History A growing database of images and sketches of the ancient world.
Bible Maps A growing database of maps for study and teaching.

Reconstructions Sketches of ancient cities & monuments from archaeology.

Archaeology Resources:

The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible by Holden and Geisler. 352 Pages, 2012

Biblical Archaeology

Bible History Online

The Story of the Bible


© Bible History Online (http://www.bible-history.com)

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