Vorderasiatisches Museum Makes a Spectacular Find


Researchers from the Vorderasiatischen Museum of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin have managed to make a spectacular discovery, linking an inscription to the Assyrian Queen Libbi-āli-šarrat. Since its rediscovery in 1909 in Assur, there had been speculation that the depiction of a royal lady (VA 8847), of which only fragments had been preserved, and the remains of its inscription might have belonged to a stele. But since all previous attempts at fitting them together directly had failed, the assignation and thus the identification of the queen remained hypothetical.

For the British Museum’s special exhibition I am Ashurbanipal, king of the world, king of Assyria (8 November 2018 – 24 February 2019), both groups of fragments are to be restored and presented for the first time on a modern replica stele. Until now it had been assumed that the figural relief and the remains of the inscription both came from one side. As has now been revealed against all expectation, the broken sections can be fitted together to form the front and back of a semi-circular arch. This provides definitive proof of the identification of Queen Libbi-āli-šarrat. Additionally, the original dimensions of the limestone stele, the incomplete fragments of which were found around the site of the stele, can now be estimated with relative precision.

The fact that Libbi-āli-šarrat possessed her own stele is evidence of her elevated status in Assyrian society. In all likelihood, we encounter her for a second time in the so-called Banquet Scene (BM. 124920) as a participant in a feast that her spouse Ashurbanipal held after his victory over his Elamite rival Teumann. Here too, she is wearing a crown, though in the form of a diadem, along with an intricately patterned robe.

The Babel/Bible Conflict
05.11.2019 to 13.03.2020

Ancient Near Eastern Cultures
Permanent exhibition

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