Length: 45.000 inches
Width: 30.000 inches
Thickness: 7.000 inches
Gift of the Palestine Exploration Fund
Room 57-59: Ancient Levant
Stone stela showing an Aramaean king
Aramaean, about 900-700 BC
From Tell es-Salihiyeh, Damascus
A king holding a tulip and a spear
This unusual stela was found by J.L. Porter, the British consul in Damsacus, in 1855. It depicts an Aramaean king apparently holding a tulip and grasping a staff or spear. At the time of its discovery Tell es-Salihiyeh was a prominent mound 5 miles west of Damascus. It is now a suburb of the city.
Following the demise of both the Egyptian and Hittite empires towards the end of the second millennium, new peoples moved into the power vacuum left behind in Syria. Chief amongst these were the Aramaeans, a Semitic people, whose language is closely related to Hebrew. Although some see the Aramaeans as newcomers and semi-nomadic pastoralists from the Eastern Desert, there is very little to support this view. Some element of the population might have arrived in this way, but it would seem more plausible to see the Aramaean 'culture' as a revival and resurgence of the indigenous Amorite/Hurrian population. There was no overall Aramaean kingdom, but instead a formidable confederation of city states (principally Damascus, Hamath and Aleppo), so powerful indeed that they were able to resist the advances of the Assyrian empire.
A. Khurt, The ancient Near East c. 3000- (London, Routledge, 1995)
J.L. Porter, Five years in Damascus (London, John Murray, 1855)