Limestone stela; shows Shalmaneser III worshipping his gods; inscription.

Museum number

118884

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Limestone stela; shows Shalmaneser III worshipping his gods; inscription.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

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  • Limestone stela; shows Shalmaneser III worshipping his gods; inscription.

    Full: Front

  • Limestone stela; shows Shalmaneser III worshipping his gods; inscription.

    Full: Front

  • Limestone stela: a round-topped stele, of inferior limestone, much eroded. The king, Shalmaneser III, stands before four divine emblems: (1) the winged disk, the symbol of the god Ashur, or, as some hold, of Shamash; (2) the six-pointed star of Ishtar, goddess of the morning and evening star; (3) the crown of the sky-god Anu, in this instance with three horns, in profile; (4) the disk and crescent of the god Sin as the new and the full moon. On his collar the king wears as amulets (1) the fork, the symbol of the weather-god, Adad; (2) a segment of a circle, of uncertain meaning; (3) an eight-pointed star in a disk, here probably the symbol of Shamash, the sun-god; (4) a winged disk, again of the god Ashur.  The gesture of the right hand has been much discussed and variously interpreted, either as the end of the action of throwing a kiss as an act of worship, or as resulting from cracking the fingers with the thumb, as a ritual act which is attributed to the Assyrians by later Greek writers, or as being simply a gesture of authority suitable to the king, with no reference to a particular religious significance.  It seems fairly clear that the gesture is described in the phrase 'uban damiqti tara?u', 'to stretch out a favourable finger', a blessing which corresponds to the reverse action, in which the index finger is not stretched out. There is a cuneiform inscription written across the face and base and around the sides of the stela.

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