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Height: 60.000 cm
Width: 49.000 cm
Thickness: 12.500 cm
Excavated by Max von Oppenheim
Stone relief of a soldier on a horse 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 a soldier on a horse comes from the Aramaean city of Guzana (modern Tell Halaf, Old Testament Gozan). The city reached its peak of prosperity around the middle of the tenth century BC under King Kapara. This relief came from the base of the south wall of Kapara's palace which was lined with a series of 187 reliefs carved in black basalt alternating with red-ochre tinted limestone. The cuneiform inscription in front of the rider reads 'Palace of Kapara, son of Hidianu.'
By 1000 BC, a number of Aramaean city states had emerged in Syria and upper Mesopotamia. 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.
During this period horses were being bred which were sufficiently strong to support a rider and cavalry emerged as an important element of armies. The most effective use of soldiers and horses was made by the re-emerging kingdom of Assyria. By the ninth century BC, Guzana had been absorbed into the empire of Assyria. The tradition of wall reliefs was adopted by the Assyrians who decorated the interior of their mud-brick palaces with large alabaster relief panels.
A. Khurt, The ancient Near East c. 3000- (London, Routledge, 1995)