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Height: 68.000 cm
Width: 41.000 cm
Thickness: 17.500 cm
Excavated by Max von Oppenheim
Stone relief of an archer from the palace of King Kapara
Aramaean, mid-10th century BC
From Tell Halaf (ancient Guzana), north-east Syria
Decoration for a royal palace
This relief of an archer comes from the Aramaean city of Guzana (modern Tell Halaf, Old Testament Gozan). It was one of 187 discovered there which originally decorated the base of the south wall of a palace belonging to King Kapara. This example is carved in black basalt but in the original arrangement basalt slabs alternated with reliefs made of red-ochre tinted limestone. The city reached its peak of prosperity around the middle of the tenth century BC. The cuneiform inscription by the archer's knees reads 'Palace of Kapara, son of Hadianu.'
Some time around 1200 BC the Near East entered a period of major political change. The Hittite empire, which had dominated eastern Anatolia and north Syria, disappeared and the kingdom of Assyria lost control of much of upper Mesopotamia. At this time, Assyrian texts mention Aramaeans as hostile bands of marauders. By 1000 BC, however, Aramaeans had seized power and a number of small states centred on a capital city developed. Guzana was the capital of the Aramaean state of Bit Bahiani and grew rich by controlling important trade routes as well as through the agricultural wealth of the region. By the ninth century BC, Guzana had been absorbed into the empire of the re-emerging power of Assyria.
A. Khurt, The ancient Near East c. 3000- (London, Routledge, 1995)