Museum of Anatolian Civilization

A crown of rosettes provides one indication that this carving depicts a king. Excavated from Malatya, in northern Syria, the ninth-century B.C.E. limestone statue wears a crown of eight-petalled rosettes similar to that adorning a bust of an Ammonite king (see photograph), believed to date to the ninth-eighth centuries B.C.E.

Though some scholars have argued that rosettes were merely decorative, the prominence of rosettes in royal Assyrian art has led Tel Aviv University archaeologist David Ussishkin to conclude that they were symbols of royalty. Winged disks and rosettes also symbolized the Assyrian’s main deity, Ashur, for whom the king served as a representative.