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This beautifully preserved six-sided hexagonal prism of baked clay, commonly known as the Taylor Prism, was discovered among the ruins of Nineveh, the ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire.
It contains the victories of
Sennacherib himself, the Assyrian king who had besieged Jerusalem in
701 BC during the reign of king Hezekiah, it never mentions any
defeats. On the prism Sennacherib boasts that he shut up "Hezekiah
the Judahite" within Jerusalem his own royal city "like a caged
bird." This prism is among the three accounts discovered so far
which have been left by the Assyrian king Sennacherib of his
campaign against Israel and Judah. British Museum. The Taylor Prism
discovery remains one of the most important discoveries in Biblical
Interesting note: Egyptian sources make mention of Sennacherib’s defeat in the conflict with Judah, but gives the credit for the victory to an Egyptian god who sent field mice into the camp of the Assyrians to eat their bowstrings and thus they fled from battle.
(See 2 Kings 19; 2 Chronicles 32 and Isaiah 37)
"Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: 'He shall not come into this city, Nor shoot an arrow there, Nor come before it with shield, Nor build a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, By the same shall he return; And he shall not come into this city,' Says the LORD. 'For I will defend this city, to save it For My own sake and for My servant David's sake.'" Then the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses--all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh." Isaiah 37:33-38
Material - Baked Clay
Neo Assyrian (Reign of Sennacherib)
Language: Akkadian (Cuneiform)
Text: Records the first 8 campaigns of King Sennacherib
Date: 691 BC
Dates of Sennacherib's reign: 701–681 BC
Height: 38.5 cm
Width: 16.5 cm (max.)
Width: 8.57 cm (faces)
Nineveh, northern Iraq
Excavated at Nebi Yunus
It was acquired by Colonel Taylor and Sold to the British Museum in 1855
Location: British Museum, London
Item: ANE 91032
Room: 69a, Temporary Displays
Biblical Reference: 2 Kings 18:13-19:37; Isaiah 36:1-37:38
British Museum Excerpt
The Taylor Prism
Neo-Assyrian, 691 BC
From Nineveh, northern Iraq
Recording the first 8 campaigns of King Sennacherib (704-681 BC)
This six-sided baked clay document (or prism) was discovered at the Assyrian capital Nineveh, in an area known today as Nebi Yunus. It was acquired by Colonel R. Taylor, British Consul General at Baghdad, in 1830, after whom it is named. The British Museum purchased it from Taylor's widow in 1855.
As one of the first major Assyrian documents found, this document played an important part in the decipherment of the cuneiform script.
The prism is a foundation record, intended to preserve King Sennacherib's achievements for posterity and the gods. The record of his account of his third campaign (701 BC) is particularly interesting to scholars. It involved the destruction of forty-six cities of the state of Judah and the deportation of 200,150 people. Hezekiah, king of Judah, is said to have sent tribute to Sennacherib. This event is described from another point of view in the Old Testament books of 2 Kings and Isaiah. Interestingly, the text on the prism makes no mention of the siege of Lachish which took place during the same campaign and is illustrated in a series of panels from Sennacherib's palace at Nineveh.
The British Museum
For the Oriental Institute Prism of Sennacherib refer to the Bible History Online article.
List of Assyrian Kings
Assur-nasipal II (885-860 B.C.) A cruel warrior king, he made Assyria into the most fierce fighting machine of ancient world.
Shalmaneser II (860-825 B.C.) he was the first Assyrian king to come into conflict with Israel. King Ahab fought against him, and king Jehu paid him tribute.
Shansi-adad (825-808 B.C.) Assyria in decline
Adad-nirari (808-783 B.C.) Assyria in decline
Shalmaneser III (783-771 B.C.) Assyria in decline
Assur-dayan (771-753 B.C.) Assyria in decline
Assur-lush (753-747 B.C.) Assyria in decline
Tiglath-pileser III (Pul) (747-727 B.C.) He carried the Northern Kingdom of Israel into captivity.
Shalmaneser IV (727-722 B.C.) He besieged Samaria and died during the siege.
Sargon II (722-705 B.C.) He completed the destruction of Samaria and the captivity of Israel.
Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) He was the most famous of the Assyrian kings, he mentions the name of Hezekiah on his prism. His army was defeated at the gates of Jerusalem by the Angel of the Lord. He also conquered Babylon.
Esar-haddon (681-668 B.C.) He rebuilt Babylon and conquered Egypt. He was one of Assyria's greatest kings.
Assur-banipal (668-626 B.C.) He destroyed the Thebes in Egypt and collected a great library, innumerable clay tablets were found.
Assur-etil-ilani (626-607 B.C.) It was under his reign that the Assyrian Empire fell.
Assyrian annals mention contacts with some ten Hebrew kings: Omri, Ahab, Jehu, Menahem, Hoshea, Pekah, Uzziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh.
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
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
(More to come)
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.
The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible by Holden and Geisler. 352 Pages, 2012
The Story of the Bible
© Bible History Online (http://www.bible-history.com)