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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
Date: 858-824 BC
Height: 197.85 cm (77.8937008 inches)
Width: 45.08 cm (17.7480315 inches)
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
Room 6, Assyrian sculpture
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 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
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