Sunday, September 23, 2007

Archaeology Series 12:The Kurkh monolith of Shalmanasser III

The Kurkh monolith


*Dated to 853 BCE

The Kurkh Monolith is an Assyrian document that contains a description of the Battle of Qarqar at the end. The Monolith stands some 2.2 metres tall, and roughly covers years one through six of the reign of Assyrian king Shalmaneser III, although the fifth year is missing.

The Monolith mainly deals with campaigns Shalmaneser made in western Mesopotamia and Syria, fighting extensively with the countries of Bit Adini and Carchemish. At the end of the Monolith comes the account of the Battle of Qarqar, where an alliance of twelve kings fought against Shalmaneser at the Syrian city of Qarqar. This alliance, comprising eleven kings, was led by Irhuleni of Hamath and Hadadezer of Damascus, with a considerable force led by King Ahab of Israel. The Monolith is also the first time that the Arabs make an appearance in world history, fielding a contingent containing camels led by King Gindibu.


Kurkh Monolith of Shalmaneser III 853 BCE
COS 2.113A, pp. 263-264

I approached the city of Qarqar. I razed, destroyed and burned the city of Qarqar , his royal city. 1,200 chariots, 1,200 cavalry, and 20,000 troops of Hadad-ezer of Damascus; 700 chariots, 700 cavalry, 10,000 troops of Irhuleni, the Hamathite; 2,000 chariots, and 10,000 troops of Ahab, the Israelite; 500 troops of Byblos; 1,000 troops of Egypt; 10 chariots and 10,000 troops of the land of Irqanatu; 200 troops of Matinu-ba'al of the city of Arvad; 200 troops of the land of Usanatu; 30 chariots and X,000 troops of Adon-ba'al of the land of Shianu, 1,000 camels of Gindibu of Arabia; X hundred troops of Ba'asa, the man of Bit ruhubi, the Ammonite--these twelve kings he took as his allies....

I decisively defeated them from the city of Qarqar to the city of Gilzau. I felled with the sword 14,000 troops, their fighting men. Like Adad, I rained down upon them a devastating flood. I spread out their corpses and I filled the plain. I felled with the sword their extensive troops. I made their blood flow in the wadis. The field was too small for laying flat their bodies; the broad countryside had been consumed in burying them. I blocked the Orontes River with their corpses as with a causeway. In the midst of this battle I took away from them chariots, cavalry, and teams of horses.

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