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Journal:   PAZHOHESH-HA-YE BASTANSHENASI IRAN   summer 2017 , Volume 7 , Number 13 ; Page(s) 83 To 102.

Royal Or Not? Assyrian Memorials In The Eastern Areas Of The Empire

Author(s):  Malekzadeh Mehrdad*, Ahmadzade Khosroshahi Solmaz
One way immortalizing the works and deeds of the king in the ancient world, especially in Western Asia, was to erect memorial stones or rock and stone inscriptions in visible and notable places. The erection of stone steles and the carving of rock reliefs at strategic locations to commemorate military conquests and to assert claims of political and/or economic control over on area is a tradition well attested in the ancient Near East. The Neo-Assyrian kings (605-934 B. C. ) frequently led military campaigns into Western Iran and at times into the places located in central and eastern parts; creating numerous memorial stones to depict their conquests in the process. Currently, there are five Neo-Assyrian Steles and rock reliefs are known from Iran. Two memorials in the Museums of Iran and Jerusalem and three reliefs in the mountains. The first memorial, attributed to Luristan, is from Tiglath-Pileser III (744-727 B. C. ) and its origin is unknown, and currently lies in the Museum of Jerusalem. The second, from Sargon II (721-705 B. C. ), called Najafehabad memorial, was discovered in Najafehabad village, Hamedan province and is kept in the National Museum of Iran. The third, the relief of Sargon II, was first discovered in 1347 in the Tang-i Var pass near the village of Tang-i Var in the district of Sanandaj. The fourth, called the relief of Shikaft-i Gulgul, was first discovered in Pusht-i Kuh and the last, the newly found Mishkhas relief, was discovered by Sadjad Alibaigi in 1387 in Southeast of Ilam Province. In the two mentioned stone memorials, from Tiglath-Pileser III and Sargon depict a royal and qualified artistic style. In the three mentioned reliefs, one from Sargon II and the two others from later Assyrian kings-possibly Esarhaddon (680-669 B. C. ) or Ashurbanipal (668-627 B. C. ), we see mountain-carved reliefs with a local style with differences regarding their execution. These five memorials are not at all equal to one another in their artistic level. Tiglath-Pileser’ s memorial has the royal artistic level of that era with very fine details. Based on the fact that Tiglath-Pileser had two major military campaigns to the East, the fine detail of this stone memorial reflects the importance of the conquest of this area through the king’ s eyes. Sargon’ s Najafehabad memorial has a high level of artistic execution as well, reflecting the political and administrative importance of its place of erection, the conquered region. But in the reliefs of Tang-i Var we encounter a coarse and rudimentary style, showing us that this cannot be a royal and standard work of art. The low quality of Tang-i Var reliefs reflects their secondary importance. This relief, regarding artistic aspects like details and execution, in not comparable at all to any other Assyrian works of art in Iran or any other region. It can be theorized that this work has been executed by local artists without any superb artistic ability. The Tang-i Var relief, with its low artistic quality, narrates an unimportant event-the conquest of the small kingdom of Karalla. The two other works are not artistically important-they are not as magnificent as Tiglath-Pileser’ s Luristan and Sargon’ s Najafehabad memorials, and not as low quality as Tang-i Var relief; they are something in between, a sign of the artistic fall of Neo-Assyrian Empire. Shikaft-i Gulgul is a royal declaration, but no effort has been carried out to make it magnificent; and Mishkhas has no text at all and seems to be no more than a visual coding attempt. They clearly demonstrate the fading of the military and artistic resources of Assyria for holding these territories. In this study, the artistic quality of these five works has been assessed to reconstruct the concerns and motivations of Assyrians for their conquests, as they have been reflected in their stone memorials and reliefs.
Keyword(s): Stele,Reliefs,Neo-Assyrian,Najafehabad,Tang-i Var,Shikaft-i Gulgul,Mishkhas
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APA: Copy

Malekzadeh, m., & ahmadzade khosroshahi, s. (2017). Royal or Not? Assyrian Memorials in the Eastern Areas of the Empire. PAZHOHESH-HA-YE BASTANSHENASI IRAN, 7(13 ), 83-102.

Vancouver: Copy

Malekzadeh mehrdad, ahmadzade khosroshahi solmaz. Royal or Not? Assyrian Memorials in the Eastern Areas of the Empire. PAZHOHESH-HA-YE BASTANSHENASI IRAN. 2017 [cited 2022May27];7(13 ):83-102. Available from:

IEEE: Copy

Malekzadeh, m., ahmadzade khosroshahi, s., 2017. Royal or Not? Assyrian Memorials in the Eastern Areas of the Empire. PAZHOHESH-HA-YE BASTANSHENASI IRAN, [online] 7(13 ), pp.83-102. Available:

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