Byzantine and Russian icons, £15.99
Diameter: 8.600 cm
Weight: 255.480 g
Room 57-59: Ancient Levant
Aramaean, around 730
From Zincirli (ancient Sam'al), modern Turkey
This silver ingot is inscribed in Aramaic with the name 'Bar-rakib, son of Panammu'. He was the king of the city-state of Sam'al at the end of the eighth century BC.
By around 900 BC the Aramaeans were settled from the east Tigris to the Levant. In the northern Levant and Syria a number of small Aramaean states like Sam'al had developed, centred on a capital city. They were not a unified group except in terms of their language, Aramaic, which is related to Hebrew and Phoenician. Aramaic was to became the most widely used language of the Near East until it was displaced by Arabic from the seventh century AD.
The two names on the ingot illustrate a mixed population. Bar-rakib is Semitic Aramaic, meaning something along the lines of 'son of (chariot) rider'. Panammu, probably short for Panummuwa, is made up of Anatolian elements.
This ingot was found along with two others in the German excavations at Zincirli (ancient Sam'al). One of the better preserved examples weighs around 497.38 g, which may equal 1 mina, that is, 60 shekels of 8.3 g each. This more damaged ingot may originally have weighed the same. The inscription may mean either that it was sent to Barak-rakib, or that it was his property.