Tablet of Shamash

Babylonian, early 9th century BC
From Sippar, southern Iraq

The restoration of the Sun-god's image and temple

This stone tablet shows Shamash, the sun-god, seated under an awning and holding the rod and ring, symbols of divine authority. The symbols of the Sun, Moon and Venus are above him with another large sun symbol supported by two divine attendants. On the left is the Babylonian king Nabu-apla-iddina between two interceding deities.

The cuneiform text describes how the Temple of Shamash at Sippar had fallen into decay and the image of the god had been destroyed. During the reign of Nabu-apla-iddina, however, a terracotta model of the statue was found on the far side of the Euphrates and the king ordered a new image be constructed of gold and lapis lazuli. The text then confirms and extends the privileges of the temple.

The tablet was discovered some 250 years later by King Nabopolassar (625-605 BC), who placed it for safe keeping, together with a record of his own name, in the pottery box. The clay impressions of the carved panel were placed as protection over the face of the stone. The original one placed by Nabu-apla-iddina was broken when the stone tablet was recovered by Nabopolassar. He replaced it with a new one while keeping the original safely in the box with the tablet.

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More information

Bibliography

R.D. Barnett, Fifty masterpieces of Ancient (London, The British Museum Press, 1969)

L.W. King, Babylonian boundary stones and (London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1912)

Dimensions

Length: 29.210 cm
Width: 17.780 cm

Museum number

ME 91000;ME 91001;ME 91002;ME 91003;ME 91004

WCO26472

Excavated by Hormuzd Rassam

Location

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