Victory Stele
of Esarhaddon


Language Akkadian
Medium dolerite/diabase
(similar to basalt)
Size 3.46 meters high
1.35 meters wide
Genre Victory Stele
Dedicator Esarhaddon
King of Assyria
(reigned 681—669 BCE)
Date of Battle 671 BCE
Place of Discovery Zincirli Höyük, Syria
(ancient Sam'al)
Date of Excavation 1888
Excavation Directors: Felix von Luschan &
Robert Kodewey

Current Location Pergamon Museen
(Berlin, Germany)
Inventory Number VA2708

(Adapted from Luckenbill 2:224-27)
To Aššur, father of the gods, lover of my priesthood,
Anu, mighty and pre-eminent, who called me by name,
Bel, the exalted lord, establisher of my dynasty,
Ea, the wise, the all-knowing, who determines my destiny,
Sin, the shining luminary, who grants me favorable omens,
Shamash, judge of heaven and earth, who decides my decisions,
Adad, the powerful lord, who makes my armies prosper,
Marduk, soverign lord of the Igigi and Anunaki, who exalts my kingship,
Ishtar, lady of battle and combat, who goes at my side,
the Seven, the warrior gods, who overthrow my foes,
the great gods, all of them, who determine my destiny,
who grant to the king, their favorite, power and might.

Esarhaddon, the great king, the mighty king, king of the universe,
king of Assyria, viceroy of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of Karduniash,
all of it, king of the kings of Musur, Paturisu, and Kusi,
who fears the gods' mighty godhead,
exalted despot of Aššur, Shamash, Nabu, and Marduk,
king of kings, the unsparing, who consumes the wicked,
who is clothed in terror, who is fearless in battle, the perfect hero,
who is unsparing in the fight, the all-powerful prince, who holds the reins of princes,
the fierce hound, avenger of the father who begot him,
the king who with the help of Aššur, Shamash, Nabu, and Marduk,
the gods, his allies, walks aright and attains to his desires.

All who were not obedient to him, the princes who did not submit to him,
like a reed of the brake, he has snapped and trodden them under his feet;
who provides abundant offering for the great gods,
whose thought is for the fear of gods and goddesses . . .

. . . [builder] of the temple of Aššur, who completed its adornment,
restorer of Esagila and Babylon, who carried out every detail of its cult,
who returned the captive people of the lands out of . . . to their places.
The king, the offering of whose sacrifices the great gods love,
and whose priesthood [in the temples] they have established forever;
they have presented him their unsparing weapons as a royal gift;
The king, whose sovereignty the lord of lords, Marduk, has exalted,
far above that of the kings of the four quarters,
who has brought all the lands in submission under his feet
who has exacted tribute and tax from them.
(He is) conqueror of his foes, destroyer of his enemies;
(He is) the king whose walk is a storm, and whose deeds a raging wolf.
Before him is a storm-demon, behind him a cloudburst.
The onset of his battle is mighty.
He is a consuming flame, a fire that does not go out.
(He is) the son of Sennacherib, king of the universe, king of Assyria,
son of Sargon, king of the universe, king of Assyria,
viceroy of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad.
(He is of) the eternal seed of priesthood, of Bel-bani,
son of Adasi, who established the kingdom of Assyria,
who at the command of Aššur, Shamash, Nabu, and Marduk, the great gods, his lords,
overthrew the servitude of the city of Aššur.

I am powerful, I am powerful.
I am a hero, I am gigantic, I am colossal,
I am honored, I am magnified,
I am without an equal among all kings,
the chosen one of Aššur, Nabu, and Marduk,
called by Sin, favorite of Anu,
beloved of the queen, Ishtar, goddess of all;
the unsparing weapon, who utterly destroys the enemy's land.

The king, powerful in battle and combat,
destroyer of habitations of his foes, who kills his enemies, extirpates his opponents,
who brings into submission those who were not submissive to him,
who has brought under his sway the totality of all peoples,
to whom Aššur, Shamash, Nabu, and Marduk, my exalted lords,
whose word is not altered, predestined as my lot an unrival kingdom,
while Ishtar, the lady, lover of my priesthood, made my hands to grasp a powerful bow, a mighty lance
which brings low the faithless, caused me to attain to the desire of my heart,
and brought in submission at my feet all the unsubmissive princes.

When Aššur, the great lord, in order to show to the peoples the immensity of my mighty deeds,
made my deeds powerful over the kings of the four quarters and exalted my name;
when he caused my hands to bear a stern scepter for the annihilation of my foes,
the land sinned against Aššur, they treated him with contempt, they rebelled.
To rob, to plunder, to extend the border of Assyria, they filled my hands.
After Aššur and the great gods, my lords, commanded me to march over distant roads,
wearying mountains, and mighty sands, thirsty regions, with trusting heart I marched in safety.
Of Tirhaqah, king of Egypt and Kush, the accursed of their great godhead,
from Ishhupri to Memphis, his royal city,
fifteen days' march the ground was covered--daily without cessation I slew multitudes of his men,
I struck him five times with the point of my javelin, with wounds (with) no recovery.
Memphis, his royal city, in half a day, with mines, tunnels, assualts,
I besieged, I captured, I destroyed, I devasted, I burned with fire.
His queen; his harem; Ushanahuru, his heir; and the rest of his sons and daughters;
his property and his good; his horses, cattle, and sheep in countless number
I carried off to Aššur.

The root of Kush I tore up out of Egypt and not one in it escaped submission to me.
Over all Egypt I appointed anew kings, viceroys, governors, commandants, overseers, and scribes.
Offering and fixed dues I established for Aššur and the great god for all time;
my royal tribute and tax, yearly without ceasing, I imposed upon them.

I had a stele made with my name inscribed,
and on it I had written the glory of the valor of Aššur, my lord, my mighty deeds—
how I went to and frounder the protection of Aššur, my lord, and the might of my conquering hand.
For the gaze of all my foes, to the end of days, I set it up.
Whoever shall destroy that stele from its place or shall blot out my inscribed name, and shall write his name,
or shall cover it with dust, or cast it into the water, or burn it in the fire, or put it in a place where it cannot be seen-- may Ishtar, lady of combat and battle destroy his manhood (so that he is) like a woman;
may she cause him to sit in bonds under his foes.
May the future prince look upon the stele with my name inscribed;
may they read it before him; may he anoint it with oil; may he pour out libations;
may he honor the name of Aššur, my lord.

Aššur was the patron god of the city of Aššur as well as the Assyrian empire.
Igigi and Anunaki are groups of Mesopotamian gods. The Igigi were the gods of heaven, and the Anunaki the gods of the underworld.
Esarhaddon was king of the Assyrian empire (680–669 BCE). His name in Akkadian is Aššur-ahu-iddina ("Aššur has provided a brother").
Karduniash is an ancient Kassite term referring to the kingdom of Babylon (a province during Esarhaddon's reign).
Esagila was the temple of Marduk in Babylon.
Tirhaqa ruled Egypt from 690 to 664 BCE, during the 25th Dynasty (760–656 BCE). Depending upon the source and language, his name is also spelled Tirhakah, Taharqo, Tarakos, and Tearco.
Memphis was a major city in ancient Egypt, and the primary base of resistance to the Assyrians during Assyrian threat. The name in Egyptian is Men-nefer ("enduring and beautiful"). It is located 12 miles south of modern Cairo.
Kush was the ancient name of the Nubian kingdom in the region that is now Sudan.

1. How far did the Assyrian empire expand under Esarhaddon? How long did Egypt and Ethiopia remain under Assyrian rule?
2. In what ways were Egypt and Ethiopia connected in the seventh century BCE? How does this affect the interpretation of this stele?
3. What purpose does it serve for Esarhaddon to repeatedly mention the gods of Assyria? How does this relate to Esarhaddon's repeated reference to his priesthood?
4. What can you find out about Tirhakah, the defeated king?
5. What is the purpose of Esarhaddon's self-acclamation of his greatness? Of what importance is honor in the ancient Near Eastern world?
6. At the end of the document, Esarhaddon curses those who would deface or destroy the stele. Can you find other examples of threats and/or curses on those who would change or deface an inscription or other writing in the ancient world?
7. Choose one of the Mesopotamian gods mentioned in this text and report on what you find out in terms of temples, other names, consort/s, range of dominion (e.g., storms, fertility, war), iconography.

Grayson, A. Kirk. "Esarhaddon." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman, 2:574. New York: Doubleday, 1992. Hallo, William W., and William Kelly Simpson. The Ancient Near East: A History. 2nd ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1998.

Kahn, Dan'el. "Tahaarqa, King of Kush and the Assyrians." Journal for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities 31 (2004) 109–28.

Leichty, Erle, editor. The Royal Inscriptions of Esarhaddon, King of Assyria (680–669 BC). Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian Empire 4. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2011.

Luckenbill, Daniel David. Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia. Vol. 2: From Sargon to the End. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1927.

Saggs, H. W. F. "The Assyrians." In Peoples of Old Testament Times, 156–78. Oxford: Clarendon, 1973.

Saggs, H. W. F. The Might That Was Assyria. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1984.

Spalinger, Anthony. “Esarhaddon and Egypt.” Orientalia 43 (1974) 295–326.

Return to K. C. Hanson's HomePage

Return to K. C. Hanson's Israel in the Time of Kings pages

Last Modified: 15 January 2014