19 Sep 2017

Royal Assyrian Sickle Sword

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Sickle sword

Period:
Middle Assyrian

Date:
ca. 1307–1275 B.C.

Geography:
Northern Mesopotamia

Culture:
Assyrian

Medium:
Bronze

Dimensions:
L. 54.3 cm

Classification:
Metalwork-Implements-Inscribed

Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1911

Accession Number:
11.166.1

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 406

This curved sword bears the cuneiform inscription “Palace of Adad-nirari, king of the universe, son of Arik-den-ili, king of Assyria, son of Enlil-nirari, king of Assyria,” indicating that it was the property of the Middle Assyrian king Adad-nirari I (r. 1307–1275 B.C.). The inscription appears in three places on the sword: on both sides of the blade and along its (noncutting) edge. Also on both sides of the blade is an engraving of an antelope reclining on some sort of platform.

Curved swords appear frequently in Mesopotamian art as symbols of authority, often in the hands of gods and kings. It is therefore likely that this sword was used by Adad-nirari, not necessarily in battle, but in ceremonies as an emblem of his royal power.

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BB-Idaho

Clay tablets are durable, so we know a fair amount about the sword’s owner .
Those were interesting times as Assyria was expanding at the expense of
Mittani and the Hittites, (the latter having recently discovered the process of
iron). We know more of his famous son Shalmanesr I as the Late Bronze
slid into the Bronze Age Collapse…and ponder the poet’s observation…
“Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair”…



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