Erich Lessing

Among Layard’s finds at Kalhu was the Black Obelisk, a 6.5-foot-high stone stela with five registers carved around each of its four sides. Erected in 841 B.C., the stela depicts tributes paid to the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (858–824 B.C.), son of Ashurnasirpal II. The panel shown here is from the obelisk’s second register from the top; a cuneiform caption over the scene identifies it as the “tribute of Jehu, son of Omri.” This is one of the rare extra-biblical references to biblical figures: the Israelite king Jehu (841–814 B.C.), whose story is told in 2 Kings 9–10. In this scene, Jehu prostrates himself before Shalmaneser, who is accompanied by a winged disk (Ashur) and a star (Ishtar), symbols of his divine nature.