Stela of Nabonidus

Neo-Babylonian dynasty, 555-539 BC
Possibly from Babylon, southern Iraq

The last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire

It is not known where this basalt stela was originally found, but it may come from Babylon. Comparison with other sculptures, on which he is named, suggest that it represents King Nabonidus. He wears the traditional dress of a Babylonian king, and holds a standard which was possibly carried during a religious ceremony. Above him are the divine symbols of the moon-god, Sin, (closest to him), the planet Venus of Ishtar and the winged disc of the sun-god Shamash. The text celebrates the return of plenty after a drought.

Nabonidus was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, which stretched from the border of Egypt to the Gulf. He was not a member of the royal family but came to the throne after the legitimate ruler had been murdered. Keen to show his legitimacy, Nabonidus undertook major building works. One of his projects was in the city of Harran where the temple of the god Sin was rebuilt. He appears to have been devoted to this god, and it is probable that his mother had been a priestess of Sin at Harran. Another text of Nabonidus records her death and explains that she lived to be over a hundred.

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More information

Bibliography

H.W.F. Saggs, Babylonians (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

M. Roaf, Cultural atlas of Mesopotamia (New York, 1990)

Dimensions

Height: 58.000 cm
Width: 46.000 cm
Thickness: 25.000 cm

Museum number

ME 90837 (1825.5-3.99)

WCO26474

Location

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