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Manishtusu Diorite Sumerian Obelisk

Updated: Apr 20, 2022

This pyramidal stele bears a long cuneiform inscription in Akkadian. Erected by Manishtusu (2270-2255 BC), son of Sargon and third king of the Akkadian dynasty, it is a significant document in legal history. Like a number of other Mesopotamian monuments, including notably a statue of this same king (Sb 47), in the 12th century BC this obelisk was carried off to Susa among the spoils of war by the Elamite ruler Shutruk-Nahunte.

Diorite, a royal stone

Carved in diorite, this stele bears witness to the Akkadian kings' preference for this stone, which they imported from the distant land of Magan (Oman), and which was their material of choice for their statues and victory steles. In a text on a clay tablet, Manishtusu himself reports that, "From mountains beyond the lower sea [the Persian Gulf] he took black stones; he loaded [them] on boats and docked [them] on the quay at Akkad. He fashioned his statue [and] dedicated [it] to Enlil." The decorative quality of the inscription derives from the skill with which the artists of the Akkadian period were able to work this particularly hard stone, as may be seen in the statue of the same king, which unfortunately survives only in very fragmentary condition.

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