The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser

"These huge mounds of Assyria made a deeper impression on me, gave rise to more serious thoughts and more earnest reflection than the temples of Balbec, and the theatres of Ionia" - Austen Henry Layard


Austen Henry Layard

Austen Henry Layard and Assyria

A British archaeologist named Austen Henry Layard was the most famous of the archaeologists who uncovered the ruins of ancient Assyria. In fact many referred to him as the “Father of Assyriology". From 1845-1851 he discovered two major capitals of the Assyrian empire, Nineveh and Calah. Among the ruins were uncovered the palaces of five Assyrian kings, all five were mentioned by name in the Bible.
 

He began excavating at the tell of Nimrud (ancient Calah) on November 8th, 1845. He discovered the palaces of Assurnasirpal, Shalmaneser III, Tiglath Pileser, Adadnirari, and Esarhaddon. The Black Obelisk was found in the palace of Shalmaneser III. It was an amazing feat to transport the vast statutory to the British Museum. At Koujunjik in 1849 Layard discovered Sennacherib's palace, the most notable discoveries were from the siege of Lachish. He also discovered the great library of Assurbanipal, where there were excavated over 30,000 cuneiform tablets and clay cylinders. Assurbanipal (668-626 BC) was the last great king of Assyria, he was a contemporary of Manasseh of Israel and Josiah of Judah. The tablets had been arranged by topics similar to our modern day libraries. Baked bricks are durable enough to withstand the ravages of time.

Austen Henry Layard finished his work in April 1851.

"These huge mounds of Assyria made a deeper impression on me, gave rise to more serious thoughts and more earnest reflection than the temples of Balbec, and the theatres of Ionia…. A deep mystery hangs over Assyria, Babylonia and Chaldaea…. With these names are linked great nations and great cities dimly shadowed forth in history; mighty ruins in the midst of deserts, defying, by their very desolation and lack of definite form, the description of the traveller; the remnants of the mighty races still roving over the land; the fulfilling and fulfilment of prophecies; the plains to which the Jew and the Gentile alike look as the cradle of their race." - Austen Henry Layard

He died July 5, 1894. His work was followed by his right hand man Rassam, Taylor, Loftus, and Henry C. Rawlinson and other archaeologists from Britain, France, Germany and the United States. These and others excavated hundreds of thousands of tablets and monuments in the Tigris Euphrates Valley. These marvelous discoveries fill the worlds biggest museums like the Louvre in France, and the British Museum in England. Many of the inscriptions are still being deciphered to the present day.


Handwritten letter to Rassam from Layard
 


Austen Henry Layard in his Old Age

 

The Black Obelisk

 


Biblical Archaeology
Bible History Online

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