Cruciform stone monument; inscribed on every face with about 346 lines of archaising writing.
- Excavated/Findspot: Shamash Temple
- (Asia,Iraq,South Iraq,Abu Habba (Sippar),Shamash Temple)
- Height: 21.3 centimetres
- Width: 11 centimetres
- Thickness: 3.3 centimetres (average/of arms)
Inscription CommentStatements of grants and privileges bestowed on the Shamash Temple by the Akkadian king Manishtushu (2269BC-2255BC); it was actually written many centuries later, and there is no reason to suppose that any such gifts were ever made; the object was clearly a forgery designed by the Sippar priesthood for their own purposes.
Moulded and cast; cast priced at 9 shillings by D. Brucciani (1910) and catalogued as "cross-shaped stone object with an inscription in archaic Babylonian characters". The cast is listed as available in the British Museum Facsimile Service 'Catalogue of Replicas from British Museum collections' (n.d.), in the series "Monuments of Early Kings".Jones 1990
Neo-Babylonian forged inscription
This stone cruciform monument from Sippar, southern Mesopotamia (Iraq), is an ancient forgery, most likely created during the Neo-Babylonian period (8th-6th century BC) but purporting to be of the reign of Manishtushu, King of Akkad (c. 2276-2261 BC).
It was discovered in 1881 during excavations on behalf of the British Museum at the site of ancient Sippar in a Neo-Babylonian context (seventh to sixth century BC). All twelve sides of the monument are covered with an inscription, the bulk of which deals with the renovation of the temple of Shamash and the very substantial increases in revenue that the temple received from the king. It ends: 'this is not a lie, it is indeed the truth . . . He who will damage this document let Enki fill up his canals with slime . . .'
The monument comes into the category known as a fraus pia, or 'pious fraud'. It was probably produced by the temple priests in order to establish the great antiquity of the privileges and revenues of their temple, thus strengthening the temple's claim to them.
Literature: I. Gelb, 'Journal of Near Eastern Studies' (1949), pp. 346ft; E. Sollberger, 'The Cruciform Monument', Jaarbericht ex oriente lux xx (1968). Al-Rawi/George, Iraq 56 (1994), 139-148
On display: G55/dc5
1992 Mar-1993 Jan, Canada, Québec, Musée de la Civilisation, True or False or: Beyond Reality
- 12164 (Old Big.no)
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Object reference number: WCO23789
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