- Museum number
Commemorative stone stela in the form of a boundary-stone (kudurru): the stela consists of a small boulder, on one face of which a fiat panel has been sunk, leaving figures and symbols standing out within it in low relief. The greater part of the inscription has been carved upon the flat surface of the panel, but the last seven lines extend below the panel to the base of the stone. The stela is set up in honour of Adad-etir, the dagger-bearer of Marduk, by his eldest son. The name Marduk-balatsu-ikbi, which occurs in l. 4, is that of Adad-etir's son, not the name of the king to whom Adad-etir owed allegiance; and the two figures standing on the lower ledge of the panel represent Adad-etir and his eldest son, not Adad-etir and the king. The stele is closely related to a kudurru, since it is protected by carved symbols and by the addition of imprecatory clauses to the text. These symbols include (1) winged solar disc; (2) crescent; and (3) lion-headed mace upon a pedestal.
- Production date
Diameter: 5 inches
Height: 38 centimetres
Height: 15 inches
Thickness: 12.70 centimetres
Width: 27 centimetres
Width: 9 inches
- Curator's comments
Commemorative stone stela; this object has some of the characteristics of a kudurru, including curses on anyone who may deface it, but it was set up in honour of a private individual, an official in the Marduk temple, by his son; the figures represent father and son together; their shaven heads show that they are both priests, it being normal in ancient Mesopotamia for a son to adopt his father's profession; divine emblems. Since the fourth line of the inscription, taken from its context, contains the words "the king his lord Marduk-balatsu-ikbi," the stele has been traditionally assigned to the reign of Marduk-balatsu-ikbi, king of Babylon about 830 B.C.
That the two figures do not represent Adad-etir paying homage to his king is sufficiently obvious, from the absence of any royal headdress and other royal insignia from the taller figure. Further, the phrase 'ka-rib šarri-šu' is simply a descriptive title, on a par with 'si-mat (ilu)Sin (ilu)Šamaš u (ilu)Nergal' and 'pa-liḫ (ilu)Nabû u (ilu)Marduk'; the three phrases describe Adad-etir's personal endowments and his correct attitude towards divine and human authority. The writer merely refers to Adad-etir's loyalty: the name of the reigning king is immaterial and is therefore omitted. On the other hand, Adad-etir's eldest son, who set up the stele as an act of piety, was not likely to omit his own name; and in the sculptured figures he represents himself paying homage to his father. It may be noted that the figures are dressed precisely alike, the only difference being that the father is taller than the son. Each raises one hand and rests the other on the handle of the dagger in his belt.
Moulded and cast; cast priced at 15 shillings by D. Brucciani (1910) and catalogued as "boundary-stone with an inscription and with human figures and emblems of gods sculptured in relief". In set with 1881,0428.33 (BM.91002).
Moulded and cast; cast priced at 14 shillings by D. Brucciani (1910) and catalogued as "tablet sculptured in relief with a scene representing the worship of the Sun-god in the temple at Sippar, and inscribed with a record of the restoration of the temple, and particulars of the services to be held". The cast is listed as available in the British Museum Facsimile Service 'Catalogue of Replicas from British Museum collections' (n.d.), in the series "Boundary Stones and Memorial Tablets".
"Treasures of the World's Cultures: The British Museum after 250 Years" catalogue entry
Southern Iraq, Babylonian, about 900-800 BC
H38, W22.7 cm
L W King, Babylonian boundary stones and memorial tablets (London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1912), pp. 115-16, plate XCII
This stela comes from the Temple of Marduk in Babylon. It is a commemorative monument set up in honour of a private individual called Adad-etir. He was an official in the temple, known as 'the dagger bearer', and this stela was erected by his son Marduk-balassu-iqbi. The figures carved in relief on the front represent the father and son together. Their shaven heads show that they are both priests, it being normal in ancient Mesopotamia for a son to adopt his father's profession. There are three divine symbols above the two priests: a winged solar disc representing the sun-god Shamash, a crescent of the moon-god Sin and a lion-headed mace on a pedestal.
The cuneiform inscription includes curses on anyone who may deface the stela. It translates: 'May Marduk, the great lord, in anger look upon him, and his name and his seed may he cause to disappear. May Nabu, the scribe of all, curtail the number of his days. But may the man who protects it be satisfied with the fullness of life.'
- On display (G55/dc2)
- Exhibition history
2015 – 2016 4 Dec – 29 May, National Museum of Singapore, ‘Treasures of the World’s Cultures’
2012 Nov - 2013 Feb, Kunsthalle, Bonn, Germany, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2012 April - August, Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, 'Treasures of the World’s Cultures'
2007 14 Sep-2 Dec, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2007 3 Feb-27 May, Taipei, National Palace Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2006 18 Mar-4 Jun, Beijing, Capital Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2005 27 Oct-2006 31 Jan, Haengso Museum, Keimyung University, Daegu, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2005 25 Jul-8 Oct, Busan Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2005 11 Apr-10 Jul, Seoul Arts Centre, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2004 26 Jun-29 Aug, Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2004 10 Apr-13 Jun, Fukuoka Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2004 17 Jan-28 Mar, Kobe City Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2003 18 Oct-14 Dec, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number