British Museum

Sacred trees in ancient art: In antiquity, sacred trees, or asheroth, were associated with cult places throughout the Near East, from Egypt to Mesopotamia and Syria-Palestine. A sacred tree stands taller than King Esarhaddon in the upper register of this black basalt stele. To the right of the tree is a bull and to the left of the ruler is an altar at which the king worships. A seed plow in the lower register is flanked on the right by a date palm tree and on the left by an object that may be a hill or a stylized ear of grain. This stele dates from the reign of Esarhaddon, Sennacherib’s son, who ruled Assyria and Babylonia from 680 to 669 B.C.