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The Taylor Prism

 

Height: 38.500 cm
Width: 16.500 cm (max.)
Width: 16.500 cm (max.)

ME 91032

Room 55: Mesopotamia

    The Taylor Prism

    Neo-Assyrian, 691 BC
    From Nineveh, northern Iraq

    Recording the first eight campaigns of King Sennacherib (704-681 BC)

    This six-sided baked clay document (or prism) was discovered at the Assyrian capital Nineveh, in an area known today as Nebi Yunus. It was acquired by Colonel R. Taylor, British Consul General at Baghdad, in 1830, after whom it is named. The British Museum purchased it from Taylor's widow in 1855.

    As one of the first major Assyrian documents found, this document played an important part in the decipherment of the cuneiform script.

    The prism is a foundation record, intended to preserve King Sennacherib's achievements for posterity and the gods. The record of his account of his third campaign (701 BC) is particularly interesting to scholars. It involved the destruction of forty-six cities of the state of Judah and the deportation of 200,150 people. Hezekiah, king of Judah, is said to have sent tribute to Sennacherib. This event is described from another point of view in the Old Testament books of 2 Kings and Isaiah. Interestingly, the text on the prism makes no mention of the siege of Lachish which took place during the same campaign and is illustrated in a series of panels from Sennacherib's palace at Nineveh.

    T.C. Mitchell, The Bible in the British Museu (London, The British Museum Press, 1988)

    D. Luckenbill, Ancient records of Assyria and (, 1927 (reprinted 1989))

    J.B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern texts rel, 3rd ed. (Princeton University Press, 1969)

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    Illustrated introduction to Mesopotamia, £8.99

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