Stone mace head

Akkadian, around 2200 BC
From Sippar, southern Iraq

Dedicated in a temple by one of the earliest Mesopotamian emperors

A mace head, fixed to a wooden or metal staff, was an early weapon. However, by the time that this mace head was made, they had become symbols of authority, and the axe had become the main weapon of war. Maces were commonly dedicated to the gods, who are often shown wielding one in depictions on cylinder seals and sculptures. Many hundreds of mace heads been excavated in temples where they were left to demonstrate the piety of the donor. This one has a cuneiform inscription which identifies the donor as King Shar-kali-sharri (2217-2193 BC) who dedicated the mace head to Shamash, god of the sun and justice.

Shar-kali-sharri was a member of a dynasty centred in the city of Agade (Akkad). The line of kings was founded by Sargon (2334-2279 BC), who conquered most of Mesopotamia. The extent of Akkadian domination is often described as the world's first empire. According to ancient tradition the empire fell apart under Shar-kali-sharri's predecessor Naram-Sin (2254-2218 BC). However, it is clear that Shar-kali-sharri retained control throughout his twenty-year reign, although there are hints of problems, and he may have had to repel attacks on his frontiers. It also appears that his reign was followed by a period of anarchy, as the power of the Akkadian dynasty disintegrated.

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Length: 2.500 inches
Width: 2.000 inches

Museum number

ME 91146


Excavated by Hormuzd Rassam


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