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Note for ARTH 1380 with Professor Padgett at UH 9


Note for ARTH 1380 with Professor Padgett at UH 9

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Date Created: 02/06/15
The White Obelisk and the Problem of Historical Narrative in the Art of Assyria Holly Pittman The Art Bulletin Vol 78 No 2 Jun 1996 pp 334 355 Stable URL httplinksjstororgsicisici000430792819960629783A23C3343ATWOATP3E20CO3B2 J T he Art Bulletin is currently published by College Art Association Your use of the J STOR archive indicates your acceptance of J STOR s Terms and Conditions of Use available at httpwwwjstororgabouttermshtm1 J STOR s Terms and Conditions of Use provides in part that unless you have obtained prior permission you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles and you may use content in the J STOR archive only for your personal noncommercial use Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work Publisher contact information may be obtained at httpwwwj stororgjournalscaahtm1 Each copy of any part of a J STOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission J STOR is an independent notforprofit organization dedicated to creating and preserving a digital archive of scholarly journals For more information regarding J STOR please contact support j stororg httpwwwj stororg Wed May 10 123145 2006 The White Obelisk and the Problem of Historical Narrative in the Art of Assyria Holly Pittman The limestone slabs carved with reliefs that lined the walls of the Assyrian royal palaces are among the most admired works of ancient Near Eastern art These often beautifully preserved sculptures bearing scenes of royal conquest accomplishment ritual and hunting have been renowned since the midnineteenth century when they were rst uncovered and displayed before a European public hungry for exotica The reliefs immediately fascinated scholars and laity alike because they con rmed through words and pictures stories from the foundational myths of Judeo Christian culture Not until almost a century after their discovery did these reliefs begin to be integrated into an arthistorical dis course1 Numerous studies have shown that the twohundred and fty year development of pictorial narrative preserved in the reliefs holds a pivotal place in the study of Assyrian art Despite serious gaps a skeletal sequence exists for the visual programs of the NeoAssyrian kings from Assurnasir pal 11 883 859 BC until Assurbanipal 668 627 BCjust before the fall of the Assyrian empire at the end of the seventh century3 Illustrations of narrative themes embed ded in iconic series of apotropaic genii sacred trees and hieratic representations of the king confronting the numi nous are typical of palace decoration in the ninth century By the eighthcentury reign of Sargon 11 721 705 BC the narrative component of the architectural program received greater emphasis At the height of the Assyrian imperial reach during the reigns of Sennacherib 7 04 681 BC and Assurbanipal entire rooms were lined often in single compo sitions with ever more lively complex narrative representa tions of an increasing range of subjects glorifying the king and the empire4 The beginning of this long tradition of wall reliefs is problematic owing to the lack of evidence The earliest carved stone orthostats in Assyria date to the reign of Assurnasirpal II who used them perhaps at Nineveh and certainly in his palace at Nimrud Because the program at I have presented versions of this study at the Johns Hopkins University the University of Toronto and the Institute of Fine Arts New York University as well as at the Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale Heidelberg 1992 A summary appears as Unwinding the White Obelisk in H Waetzoldt and H Hauptman eds Assyrien im Wandel der Zeiten Heidelberg in press This paper has bene ted from substantive and editorial comments of Judith Berman Jerrold Cooper Richard Ellis Donald P Hansen Gary Hat eld Linda Jacobs Mogens Trolle Larsen Edith Porada and Julian Reade I am particularly grateful to Richard Brilliant for his editorial persistence 1 Immediately after their discovery the arts of Assyria were reproduced in monumental surveys of world art see eg G Perrot and C Chipiez Histoire de l art Paris 1884 The rst art historical studies came well after World War 11 H Frankfort The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient 1954 Pelican History of Art 4th ed rev New Haven 1970 131 99 and A Moortgat The Art of Ancient Mesopotamia The Classical Art of the Near East London 1969 104 57 2 There is a considerable bibliography on Assyrian relief sculptures For a Nimrud is iconographically and compositionally complex however it is unlikely that this was the rst attempt by court artists working under the Assyrian rulers to construct such a program At issue in understanding the development of visual historical narrative in ancient Assyria is whether the earlier stages were native to Assyria as an integral part of the formative stages of the imperial strategy or whether the Assyrians appropriated it from foreign models Within the larger context of the relationship between visual and verbal expression in Assyrian art this study examines speci c examples of visual evidence for the early development of historical narrative In particular I present here a new interpretation of a single much debated monu ment the White Obelisk Fig 1 which has stood in the Assyrian galleries of the British Museum since shortly after its discovery in the middle of the last century I believe that the White Obelisk carries on its sides a reduced copy of a narrative program that originally lined the walls of a long narrow room arguably the throne room of a palace in the Assyrian capital at Nineveh Although the date of the Obelisk still cannot be exactly determined there is no question that the original architectural program that it reproduces was earlier probably dating from between the reigns of Tukulti Ninurta 11 890 884 BC and Assurbelkala 1074 1057 BC or Tiglathpileser I 1115 1077 BC Accordingly the White Obelisk becomes a critical piece of evidence for the reconstruction of the early stages of Assyrian historical narrative Furthermore I argue that the complex composi tional and narrative form of Assurnasirpal II s program evident in his Nimrud Throne Room must have drawn directly upon lost Assyrian predecessors one of which is indirectly preserved in the White Obelisk The White Obelisk The White Obelisk was found in 1853 in the mounded ruins of ancient Nineveh the oldest and one of the most important of the great centers at the heart of the Assyrian empire Fig compelling introduction see H A GroenewegenFrankfort Arrest and Movement London 1951 For their place in the development of visual historical narrative see H G Guterbock Narration in Anatolian Syrian and Assyrian Art American journal ofArchaeology LXI 1957 62 71 The Assyrian reliefs have been comprehensively studied by J Reade for his articles in Baghdader Mitteilungen see Assyrian Architectural Decoration Techniques and Subject Matter X 1979a 17 49 Narrative Composition in Assyrian Sculpture X 1979b 52 110 The Architectural Context of Assyrian Sculpture XI 1980a 75 87 and Space Scale and Signi cance in Assyrian Art XI 1980b 71 74 See also J Reade Ideology and Propaganda in Assyrian Art in Power and Propaganda ed M T Larsen Copenhagen 1979c 329 43 and idem NeoAssyrian Monuments in their Historical Context in F M Fales ed Assyrian Royal Inscriptions New Horizons in Literary Ideological and Historical Analysis Rome 1981 143 67 The most recent consideration of Assyrian narrative relief art pertinent to this discus sion is I J Winter Art as Evidence for Interaction Relations between the Assyrian Empire and North Syria in Mesopotamien and Seine Nachbarn Hurling ni39 t uzlniI line or Yltl Mfr Mill 1 I run Nu l 39rm Mul h 39r l lliul n l The White Obelisk from H Rassam Asshur and the Land of Nimrod Cincinnati 1897 opp p 10 2 The details of its archaeological context are vague the excavator Hormuzd Rassam reports that when digging in the outer court of the palace of Sennacherib and the Ishtar Temple after we had penetrated about fteen feet down wards we discovered lying at in the trench a perfect Obelisk made39of white calcarious stone 5 Its original posi tion is unknown Although certainly worn by the ravages of time the White Obelisk is complete having never suffered deliberate damage the fate of many other victory monu ments of ancient Near Eastern rulers once their domination was overthrown from without or within6 Proceedings for the 25th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale Berlin 1978 ed H J Nissen and J Renger Berlin 1982 355 82 eadem Royal Rhetoric and the Development of Historical Narrative in NeoAssyrian Reliefs Studies in Visual Communication VII 1981 1 38 and eadem The Program of the Throneroom of Assurnasirpal II in P 0 Harper and H Pittman eds Essays on Near Eastern Art and Archaeology in Honor of Charles Kyrle Wilkinson New York 1983 1 31 3 The dating followed in this article is that given by J A Brinkman as an appendix in A L Oppenheim Ancient Mesopotamia Portrait of a Dead Civilization 1964 rev ed E Reiner Chicago 1977 335 48 4 For the most recent comprehensive sources see on Assurnasirpal II S M Paley and R P Sobolewski The Reconstruction of the Relief Representations and Their Positions in the NorthwestPalace at Kalhu Nimrud II Mainz 1987 on Sargon II P Albenda The Palace of Sargon King ofAssyria Paris 1986 on Sennacherib J M Russell Sennacherib s Palace without Rival at Nineveh Chicago 1991 and on Assurbanipal R D Barnett Sculptures from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh 668 627 BC London 1976 THE WHITE OBELISK 335 ASS YRlAf Khorsabad Nineveh 39 Nimrud alawa hf Kar TukUIti Ninurta JEZIHA Assur 0 50 100 150M115 2 Map of Assyria The Obelisk an imposing yet essentially humanscale monument typical of early NeoAssyrian sculpture Figs 3 6 a tapering rectangular pillar some 9 feet 6 inches 29 m in height carved from white limestone7 The stepped top inscribed with a cuneiform text evokes the shape of a ziggurat the staged temple tower that from the midthird millennium was the primary religious structure of Mesopota mia The shaft is carved with scenes in low relief in eight horizontal registers Figs 7 8 The bottom 12 inches 30 cm undecorated and roughly nished was originally mounted in a socle or pedestal The White Obelisk has had a strange history in the scholarship of Assyria In studies of Assyrian art it has either been ignored or described as a crude work with sketchy representations arranged in an incomprehensible composi tion the product of an incompetent craftsman The inscrip tion on the other hand has been frequently discussed always in regard to the critical problem of its date After initial publication of the monument in 18838 the de nitive study of it by Eckhard Unger appeared in 19329 Julian Reade offered the last comprehensive treatment of the Obelisk in 197 510 when he presented all the arguments textual historical and visual and evaluated them in refer ence to dating In his conclusion Reade used the cumulative force of both textual and visual evidence to argue that the White Obelisk must date to before the ninthcentury reign of Assurnasirpal II Reade s article serves as the starting point for this discussion 5 H Rassam Asshur and the Land of Nimrod Cinncinati 1897 8 9 plan opp p 8 pl opp p 10 See also Reade 1981 as in n 2 143 6 Virtually all such monuments carry curses warning against violation on this subject see C Nylander Who Mutilated Sargon s Head in Death in Mesopotamia ed B Alster Copenhagen 1980 271 72 7 It is often compared with a basalt monument called the Black Obelisk found by Layard at Nimrud and inscribed to the reign of Shalmaneser III 858 823 BC which is also in the British Museum W Orthmann ed Der Alte Orient Propylean Kunstgeschichte XIV Berlin 197 5 pls 207 9 8 T G Pinches Guide to the Kuyunjik Gallery British Museum London 1883112 21 9 E A O Unger Der Obelisk des Konigs Assurnassirpal I aus Ninive Mitteilungen der Altorientalischen Gesellschaft VI nos 1 2 Leipzig 1932 Unger 9 was the rst to give letter designations to each side 10J E Reade Assurnasirpal I and the White Obelisk Iraq XXXVII 1975 129 50 photo London British Museum 3 White Obelisk side D British Museum 4 White Obelisk side A photo Museum British photo 5 White Obelisk side B British Museum 1 l4J I39D KW J Caulk lrfl lf l 1a 1 i7 ABE lib31 i av l l ART BULLETIN jUNE 1996 VOLUME LXXVIII NUMBER 2 THE WHITE OBELISK 337 0 aquot quotr o kh 8 White Obelisk iframes 6B 7B 8B photo British Museum 6 Whlte Obelisk Slde C photo Brltlsh Museum the third register from the top The Bitnathi of the city of Nineveh I performed the wine libation and sacri ce of the temple of the august goddess Written in the Assyrian dialect of the Akkadian language the cuneiform inscription describes in the rst person the royal victories over cities that had rebelled by withholding their regular dues but the king s name is not given The prevailing Assyriological opinion argues that the weight of accumulated coincidences identi es the king as Assurnasir pal II14 the minority holds that the style of the inscription the broader historical context and the nature of the imagery suggest that the monument was commissioned by an earlier ruler perhaps the obscure king Assurnasirpal 115 Reade rst tried to reconcile the two positions by proposing that the inscription was added by Assurnasirpal II16 In his 197 5 study Reade abandoned this idea and argued that anoma lies in the inscription and the evidence of the images support the View that they were contemporary Except as a mark of usurpation the practice of reinscribing monuments has scant tradition in the ancient Near East and is in fact strongly discouraged by curses inscribed on such monuments Most recently Wolfram von Soden has argued from philological details that the inscription must be earlier than Assurnasirpal II he suggests the reign of Tiglathpileser II 966 935 13017 All but one Assyriologist has thought that the text on side A precedes that on side D Reade has argued that it makes some sense to consider side D before side A18 Although the sequence of the scenes cannot con rm Reade s argument beyond question side D in my reading appears consistently to be the initial or terminal face The Imagery of the Obelisk One approaches the White Obelisk with the expectation that its imagery is to be read one vertical face at a time Fig 9 Once the scenes are understood however it is clear that no visual theme links the stacked registers vertically rather the viewer reads continuous scenes horizontally register by register wrapping around the four faces of the obelisk The content of the scenes summarized here in the appendix echoes the inscription The king is shown subduing rebel lious cities securing booty receiving praise from his country men and giving thanks to the goddess Ishtar in her temple at Nineveh The choice of horizontal organization fundamen tal to comprehending the monument is remarkable because it is not particularly effective In fact the White Obelisk is the 11 The best photographs of the inscription are in E Sollberger The White Obelisk Iraq XXXVI 1974 231 38 pl 41 12 Reade as in n 10 135 suggests that these lines might have been initially planned for the inscription that was carved on side D 13 Sollberger as in n 11 235 38 Conventional Assyriological editorial markings are reproduced from Sollberger s translation square brackets mean restorations three dots mean the omission of a few signs or words six dots mean the omission of a number of words or phrases italics mean uncertain translation or words in original language parentheses mean words supplied for sense but not actually in the original 14 It was the renowned Assyriologist Benno Landsberger arguing against Unger who established the philological and epigraphic reasoning for a date in the reign of Assurnasirpal II B Landsberger Sam al I Studien zur Entdeckung der Ruinenstatte Karatepe Ankara 1948 57 58 n 144 See Reade as in n 10 129 and passim for the full bibliography 15 Unger as in n 9 16 17 passim THE WHITE OBELISK 339 10 Drawing of the images carved around a tusk of elephant ivory from Emar fromj Margueron Une Corne sculpt e a Emar in M KellyBuccellati et al eds Insight through Images Bibliotheca Mesopotamica XXI Malibu 1986 g 1 only Mesopotamian monument of its size that is so orga nized19 Horizontal registration in the round is usually reserved for smallscale objects that can be turned in the hand as clearly exempli ed by the approximately contempo rary ivory wand from Emar Fig 1020 Of several attempts to read the imagery of the Obelisk Unger s scheme is the most frequently cited the registers are seen as a strip cartoon following a boustrophedon order in which alternate lines are read in opposite directions Fig 1121 When the images are laid out in this way the boustro phedon arrangement seems plausible despite minor incon sistencies In any attempt to apply this method to the actual monument however one is forced to go part way around it stop go back alternating the direction of reading with every 16 J E Reade The NeoAssyrian Court and Army Evidence from the Sculptures Iraq XXXIV 1972 87 112 esp 88 17 W von Soden Zur Datierung des Weissen Obelisken Zeitsohri ir Assyriologie LXIV 1974 1975 180 91 18 Reade as in n 10 134 38 19 Even in a monument like Trajan s Column the helical rather than registrated presentation of the imagery allows the viewer to understand that the eye is meant to follow the spiral See R Brilliant The Column of Trajan and Its Heirs Helical Tales Ambiguous Trails in Visual Narratives Storytelling in Etruscan and Roman Art Ithaca NY 1984 90 123 20 See J C Margueron Une Come sculpt e a Emar in Insight through Images ed M Kelly Buccellati et al Bibliotheca Mesopotamica XXI Malibu 1986 153 58 g 1 21 Unger as in n 9 55 Unger made two adjustments to this scheme to accommodate the sense of individual scenes ART BULLETIN jUNE 1996 VOLUME LXXVIII NUMBER 2 z i ya a4 39 1quot am we r 1 nl l a 1 15 5 53 i 13 39 39 quot quot 39I v v 339 An 11ll lllifix 39 d t I 51 m CD l l Boustrophedon reading of the White Obelisk from E A O Unger Der Obelisk des Konigs Assurnassirpal I aus Nineve Leipzig 1932 g X register Visual comprehension of the whole therefore becomes extremely problematic RainerMichael Boehmer and recently Jutta BorkerKlahn have offered alternatives to the boustrophedon hypothesis22 Both divide the representations into scenes of varying lengths and read them in sequential order from top to bottom Reade on the other hand does not propose a connected reading He observes a general organizational structure re ected in the top and bottom registers in which the king is depicted as warrior and hunter further he observes that the middle two registers are devoted entirely to the bringing of booty or tribute In his nal evaluation he asserts that because the logic of the images cannot be discerned the arrangement of the subject matter gives an impression of experiment or confusion 23 In order to grasp the underlying organizational scheme I have developed a reading that gives priority to the overall compositional structure of the imagery rather than to the apparent narrative ow between episodes Fig 12 The smallest compositional unit consists of one rectangular frame or eld extending the width of a single side of the obelisk Beginning at the top there is a gradual and regular increase and decrease in the number of elds used to construct a single visually and thematically coherent scene In the top and bottom registers in which the king rides in a chariot as warrior and as hunter each frame contains a single complete episodic event Scenes of worship meeting ritual and 22 R M Boehmer Zum Weissen Obelisken Assurnasirpals 1 Berliner jahrbuch fu39r Vor und Frilhgeschichte VIII 1968 207 9 and BorkerKlahn Altvorderasiatische Bildstelen und Vergleichbare Felsreliefs Baghdader Forschun gen IV Mainz 1982 60 65 179 80 23 Reade 1981 as in n 2 148 This view is reiterated in even stronger terms by BorkerKl ihn as in n 22 60 65 24 It can pro tably be compared to narrative programs of other periods as well One example brought to my attention is the Bayeux Tapestry which was originally draped around an 11thcentury baronial hall in Normandy See R 2 3 4 i 1 i or 5 tr 739 r 6 0 7 8 12 White Obelisk imagery by scene arranged by author festival follow deployed across two frames in registers two and seven In registers three and six related subjects occupy three frames Finally in the two registers four and ve in the middle of the monument the king receives processions of men with tribute and vehicles A single narrative scene wraps around the entire Obelisk encompassing all four rectangular frames This pattern reveals that the length of single narrative scenes is neither xed nor random but is determined by a larger compositional scheme that links them all together Understanding the compositional logic helps to explain a puzzling visual device the splitting across two frames of single thematically important images For example the body of the bull brought to sacri ce in register three is divided between frames A and B Fig 7 bottom and in register six the bodies of the horses that draw the king s wagon are treated in the same manner Fig 8 top This odd solution has been used as proof of the monument s lack of planning However in light of the compositional scheme this remarkable feature provides an important clue for the relationship of the imagery to the monument Some narra tive units made up of single or multiple episodes do not correspond to the structure of the foursided obelisk This fact makes it clear that the narrative images were not initally conceived for that format Further the solution of wrap ping scenes suggests that these were originally arranged in Brilliant The Bayeux Tapestry A Stripped Narrative for Their Eyes and Ears Word and Image VII no 2 1991 98 126 25 See A H Layard Nineveh and Its Remains With an Account of a Visit to the Chaldean Christians of Kurdistan and the Yezidis or Devilworshippers 2 vols New York 1849 and idem Discoveries among the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon with Travels in Armenia Kurdistan and the Desert London 1853 26 See Frankfort as in n 1 156 nn 16 17 M E L Mallowan Carchemish Re ections on the Chronology of the Sculpture Anatolian Studies XXII 197 2 63 85 esp 66 67 and R S Ellis Some Observations on a continuous linear series Because the linear narrative unit was entirely independent of the obelisk shape its unmodi ed imposition on the physical structure of the rectangular monument prevents easy comprehension of its visual text This relationship between image and ground is directly analogous to that of most cuneiform texts which are usually inscribed on monuments without regard for their physical structure or the images they carry What is more important here is that inscriptions are applied in various formats without damage to the integrity of the text The same principle applies to the integrity of the visual narrative on the White Obelisk Since the imagery was not conceived for an obelisk it must be freed from its physical constraint in order to comprehend the original composition When this is done the balanced linear arrangement of images following from one register to another beginning at the top with side D becomes clear Fig 13 From the top to the middle of the monument coherent narrative scenes gradually increase in length The lower half of the monument follows the same structure only in reverse The rst episode in register ve is the procession bringing tribute extended over four frames In the following registers the narrative episodes decrease in length from three register six to two register seven to one frame register eight Although the upper and lower halves treat subjects that differ in narrative detail they are predomi nantly distinguished by a change in the direction of move ment This directional opposition and the fact that both the bottom and the top halves of the program are organized according to the same principles indicate that the top and bottom halves of the monument are essentially mirror re ections of each other in terms of both structure and subject matter These relationships strongly suggest that in terms of overall structure the top and bottom halves of the Obelisk were indeed meant to be understood as counterparts to one another That is the imagery of the bottom half of the monument was originally conceived as running parallel to and opposing the images on the top half of the monument This understanding allows us to read and comprehend the images on the White Obelisk They are a version of an arrrangement that would originally have been deployed along the opposing long walls of a rectangular room Fig 14 Given the historical context of this monument such a long narrow room lined with scenes of campaigns and ceremonies immediately brings to mind the Throne Room of Assurnasirpal II partially preserved in Room B of the Northwest Palace at Nimrud Fig 15 This interpretation of the imagery of the White Obelisk Mesopotamian Art and Archaeology journal of the American Oriental Society xcv 1975 81 94 esp 90 92 Winter 1979 as in n 2 378 n 69 states a preference for the late date 27 See Reade as in n 10 144 48 for a summary of the art historical arguments 28 Ibid 134 38 For Assyrian conventions of dating by limmu name date see H Tadmor The Campaigns of Sargon II of Assur A Chronological Historical Study journal of Cuneiform Studies XII 1958 22 100 29 Balawat is a small site some fteen miles southeast of Nineveh that was THE WHITE OBELISK 341 locates the monument in the larger context of Assyrian art As the record of a lost architectural program it can be compared formally both with the Nimrud Throne Room and other programs of the ninth century24 The monument can also be used to illuminate the poorly known visual traditions of the late Middle Assyrian period And nally the architec tural source of the program must be taken into account when the Obelisk is considered as a monument in terms of its reading function audience and relationship to other monu ments of its type Comparison to the Throne Room of Assumasirpal II Only a few years after A H Layard uncovered Assurnasirpal II s palace at Nimrud25 Rassam found the White Obelisk The monuments were immediately associated because they shared both imagery and the name Assurnasirpal All agree that the Obelisk is the earlier of the two but not by how much The range of opinion of art historians and archaeolo gists re ects that of Assyriologists The minority dating the monument early in the reign of Assurnasirpal II resort to the notion rst expressed by M E L Mallowan that it was carved by an oldfashioned craftsman26 As Reade points out the argument for the oldfashioned sculptor cannot in and of itself be re ited However such a situation seems inconsistent with the innovative thinking about imagery during the reign of Assurnasirpal 11 Further there is no evidence that intentional archaizing was ever part of Assuma sirpal s visual strategy Most art historians and archaeologists think that the Obelisk must be earlier than the ninth century Those who have expressed an opinion agree that there are simply too many anachronistic details to be accounted for by the oldfashioned sculptor argument27 The monument is usually placed in the reign of Assurnasirpal I 1046 1033 BC because of the eponymous name date of Assurnasirpal in the inscription28 A comparison of the Obelisk s program matic composition fundamental to grasping its logic reveals profound differences in design as well as iconography from ninthcentury monuments and suggests an earlier date for it opening the possibility that it records an earlier model for the later monuments There are two types of comparable monuments of Assurnasirpal 11 date Most pertinent are the narrative scenes of the Nimrud Throne Room there are also the bronze relief bands Fig 17 found at Imgur Enlil modern Balawat29 and the fragmentary obelisk found at Nimrud by Rassam not long after he found the White Obelisk Fig 1830 Both the bronze bands and the Rassam Obelisk share with the White Obelisk the small scale of their imagery a feature not directly comparable in the Throne Room reliefs a royal residence one day s travel from the capital both the Temple of Dreams and the small palaces had decorated gates See L W King Bronze Relie from the Gates of Shalmaneser King of Assyria 86 860 825 London 1915 R D Barnett More Balawat Gates A Preliminary Report in Symbolae Biblicae et Mesopotamicae Francisco Mario Theodora de Liagre Bohl Dedicatae ed M A Beck et al Leiden 1973 l9 22 and Oates Balawat Recent Excavations and a New Gate in Harper and Pittman eds as in n 2 40 47 30 See E Reade The Rassam Obelisk Iraq XLII 1980 1 22 ART BULLETIN jUNE 1996 VOLUME LXXVIII NUMBER 2 13 White Obelisk imagery in linear format arranged by author 14 White Obelisk imagery deployed in a hypothetical arrangement along the two long walls of an Assyrian throne room arranged by author THE WHITE OBELISK 343 THE WHITE OBELISK 345 A w lt x 3 iw gb W m 19 aw 1 mm xv 39quotquot3 39 A Uquotquoti f gird QSQ 39fiJI 3 L I 1 Li J Z 71 l M13 Y r quotZn I V Iquot ll k 5553 Willa A a1 2 l throne proceeding down the south wall and up the north perhaps following as Irene Winter has argued the geo graphic limits of his vast empire32 The royal perspective on the narrative is essentially linear The other perspective is that of the visitor who entered the room through one of two western entrances along the north wall 31 See A K Grayson Assyrian Royal Inscriptions II Wiesbaden 1976 pars 650 53 and S M Paley King of the World Ashur nasirpal II of Assyria 883 859 36 New York 1976 125 44 32 Winter 1981 as in n 2 15 31 and Winter 1983 as in n 2 16 22 a v 7 1 9 9 g a 6quotquot gt9 v 31 39 v I r 4amp5 tr5 av 7 quot 2quot F f lw gn quotn i l 1 31quot n 3939 XV nu 411am f a v rst 43 47 y 416331 as r 39 mquot l Hi3 aw4m fan 1 I 12 45 g Along the south wall of the Throne Room there are two tableaux of narrative compositions The shorter one in the southeast corner of the room closest to the throne dais consists of four slabs The rst two of these depict in two separate scenes in the upper register the hunt of the bull and of the lion respectively Fig 19 Each hunt is contained


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