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The Monuments Set Up by Shalmaneser III during His Campaigns

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Abstract

The setting-up of royal monuments in the course of royal expeditions is a phenomenon familiar in the history of ancient Mesopotamia. Among the royal records of various Mesopotamian rulers, the inscriptions of Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria (859-824 B. C.), are especially informative on this subject. Over fifty references of this kind in his inscriptions represent twenty historical cases of the erection of one or more monuments. In this paper I shall examine these references and discuss some aspects of the phenomenon.The monument is referred to as the “image (salmu)” of the king in all cases but one, where it is described as a “stela (asumettu).” The term salmu itself can denote three types of object: (1) a three-dimensional royal statue, (2) a free-standing stela bearing a relief of the royal figure, or (3) a relief engraved on a rock face (i. e. a rock relief). Nevertheless, on the basis of archaeological and iconographic evidence, it may be supposed that the monuments, especially those set up in the open, were usually stelae and rock reliefs rather than statues in the round. Some evidence indicates that the text accompanying the royal image was usually a short commemorative inscription, not a long text of the king's standard annals as found on various objects unearthed in Assyrian capitals.The monuments were placed at the most distant points in the course of the campaign, and were designed to perpetuate the king's arrival at the most remote places. The places chosen can be classified into two categories: (1) at conspicuous geographical features with no associated settlements (mountains, sea coast, river source, etc.); (2) in cities, especially in their sacred places (i. e. temples, etc.). Monuments, especially royal images, erected in the second type of place must have represented the Assyrian king as a worshipper in the local sanctuary. He was thus associated by his image with every act of worship performed there, both as the earthly representative of the gods and as a participant in every favour they might grant. Simultaneously, the image must have reminded the local elite of their relationship with the Assyrian overlord when they came to the place in order to take an oath before the gods or for other purposes.

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... To mark his success in these campaigns, Shalmaneser erected multiple peripheral monuments. His annals speak of a total of 11 such monuments erected in the Levant in particular (Yamada 1999). Some of these were deployed on significant landscape features to mark the furthest extent of Assyrian influence, while others were erected in local cult sites to promote submission to Assyrian authority (Yamada 2000: 290-97). ...
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