Ancient Worlds - BBC Two
Episode 1 “Come Together”
Victory Stele of Naram-Sin, king of Akkad.
Naram-Sin was the grandson of king Sargon, founder of the Akkadian Dinasty and the first to unify the whole of Mesopotamia in the late 24th century BC. The Sumerian king list states that he reigned for 36 years, between 2254 and 2218 BC.
Naram-Sin was the “King of the Four Quarters”, a “living god”, the first Mesopotamian king known to have claimed divinity for himself.. This status was an innovation that is recorded in an inscription that says the deification was at the request of the citizens, possibly because of a series of military victories. Naram-Sin spent most of his years of reign fighting. He pushed back the frontiers of the empire farther than they had ever been, from Ebla in Syria to Susa in Elam, and led his army “where no other king had gone before him.” He also improved administration and increased the religious prominence of Akkad in Babylonian cities.
The large victory stele of Naram-Sin is carved in pink limestone. It celebrates the triumph of the king over a mountain people, the Lullubi. The Akkadian king led his troops over the steep slopes of the enemy territory, mercilessly crushing all resistance. The conqueror’s victory march is coupled with the personal ascension of a sovereign who could now claim equal footing with the gods. Alongside the existing inscription in primitive cuneiform, the king added another one dedicated to his own glory and in which he declares that the stele was carried off after the pillage of the city of Sippar.
The Akkadian sovereign wears a conical helmet with horns (a symbol traditionally the privilege of the gods) and is armed with a large bow and an axe.
Louvre Museum, Paris, France