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Of rectangular form, finely engraved on both sides, with 280 lines of text divided into eight columns recording military campaigns, the construction of a new palace complex, blessings on future rulers and finishing with a 'curse' on those who do not maintain the new building
30¼ x 15 1/8 in. (77 x 38.5 cm.)
Private collection, Germany, acquired 1960s; and thence by descent to the present owner.

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Please note that Lot 145 will be sold before Lot 144.

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Francesca Hickin
Francesca Hickin

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Lot Essay


A. K. Grayson, The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamian Assyrian Periods, vol. 1, Toronto, 1987, p. 233.
M. Görg, ‘Ein weiterer Zeitgenosse: Tukulti-Ninurta I. von Assur’, in M. Görg (ed.), Beiträge zur Zeitgeschichte der Anfänge Israels. Ägypten und Altes Testament 2, Wiesbaden, 1989, pp.197-217, Taf. 31- 40.
M. P. Streck, ‘Die große Inschrift Tukulti-Ninurtas I. Philologische und historische Studien’, in Welt des Orients 37, 2007, pp. 145-165.
C. Wilcke, ‘Die Inschrift “Tukulti-Ninurta I 1”, Tukulti-Ninurtas I von Assyrien Feldzug gegen Gutäer und andere, nordöstliche und nordwestliche Feinde und der erste Bericht über den Bau seines neuen Palastes’, in J. C. Fincke (ed.),
Festschrift für Gernot Wilhelm anläßlich seines 65. Geburtstages am 28. Januar 2010, Leipzig, 2010, pp. 411-446.
Y. Bloch, Studies in Middle Assyrian chronology and its implications for the history of the ancient Near East in the 13th century B.C.E., unpublished, Phd thesis, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 2012.

This panel is a highly important record from the reign of Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria, who continued the momentum of Assyrian expansion north and south. Tukulti-Ninurta I, whose name means ‘my support is in Ninurta,’ (the warrior god), inherited the throne from his father, Shalmaneser I. He had a major victory against the Hittites at the Battle of Nihriya (circa 1237 B.C.), and consolidated his control of areas of north Syria, the upper Tigris, to the Lower Zab River. In the south he defeated the Kassites, absorbing Bablylonia into the empire, ensuring Assyrian supremacy in the region; this event is recorded in the Epic of Tukulti-Ninurta, the most important Assyrian epic known. In addition to extensive rebuilding in the capital city Assur itself, the king built a new temple and palace complex “Harbour of Tukulti-Ninurta” two miles north of Assur on the east bank of the Tigris, where he spent much of the last years of his life. However, a successful rebellion in Babylonia was followed by a palace conspiracy by his own sons, who imprisoned and later murdered him. Some scholars have suggested that Tukulti-Ninurta I can be connected to the Old Testament figure of Nimrod.

A. K. Grayson describes the text as 'the most detailed Assyrian royal inscription to date’, (Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia vol I, Toronto, 1987, p. 231-239.) Grayson was unable to examine this panel but notes that, 'In a private communication Dr. G?rg has informed us that this is a "complete" text which he will be publishing'. (M. Görg, Beiträge zur Zeitgeschichte der Anfänge Israels: Dokumente, Materialien, Notizen , Wiesbaden, 1989). The above panel is the only complete version of this significant text, known from 18 other fragmentary clay and stone tablets found at Assur.

This text commemorates the construction in the north-western side of Assur of a ‘huge building’called ‘House of the King, (Lord) of all Lands’. The inscription follows a fairly standard formulaic pattern; it opens with Tukulti-Ninurta’s titles, followed by a lengthy account of his military successes, including those over the lands north and east. The shortest section is a brief description of the clearance of the building site, the digging of a deep foundation pit, and finally mention of the building complex. It concludes with typical blessings on future kings who maintain the building: 'In the future when this palace becomes old and dilapidated, may a future prince renew its weakened state, may he anoint my stone inscription with oil, offer a sacrifice and return them to their place. Assur (and) Adad will hear his prayers.’ It ends with curses against those who attempt to obliterate his name and fame; the gods are asked to destroy the perpetrator's kingship, name, and seed, to disperse his subjects, and for anarchy and rebellion to ensue.

Finally, the goddess Ishtar, ‘mistress of chaos and combat,’ is invoked: ‘May she turn his manhood into female [...] may she break his weapon on the battlefield, may she bring him defeat and turmoil [...] and hand him over to his enemies!’

For a full translation of the inscription please refer to the department.

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