The piece of artwork from the Ancient Near East era that intrigued me was the Victory Stele of Naram-Sin. It most intrigued me because of how much history it shows the viewer not only by the narrative art but also the writings found on it.
This major work of art illustrates the Akkadian imperial empire; this victory stele celebrates King Naram-Sin’s violentl conquer over a mountain people, the Lullubi. The Akkadian king led his troops over the steep slopes of his enemy territory, violently crushing all in their way.
The Victory Stele of Naram-Sin is a relieved depiction of the King Naram-Sin’s victory over the Lullubi people. This narrative story is shown from the view point of King Naram-Sin, giving it a different take on what happened during the battle.
The hierarchy of scale shows King Naram-Sin as the most important figure in the piece. All of his soldiers and the enemy are looking up toward King Naram-Sin, who has a heroic and god like stance on top of the mountain.
King Naram-Sin’s soldiers seem to be marching in an orderly fashion up the side of the mountain, while the defeated Lullubi fall in a defeated manner down the mountainside. The Lullubi fleeing in an unorganized manner shows their uncivilized and barbaric nature, which makes the Akkadian empire’s defeat a victory over the weak.
King Naram-Sin is shown wearing a helmet with bullhorns, symbolizing his divine power. Although he is not one of the gods, the common belief in his divine power made it okay for him to violently conquer the Lullubi people, since he was given power by gods.
King Naram-Sin is shown looking up toward the skies as if it was to represent the gods. Though, he does not have any human figure to look up at, he does look at the stars above the mountain. The stars may be representational of a greater power, perhaps the same one that empowered King Naram-Sin. His upward glance toward the sky shows he is paying respect and tribute to the god. As his soldiers are looking upward at him, they also look towards the stars and sky, as to pay their own respect and honor to the greater power for their victory over the Lullubi people.
As King Naram-Sin’s troops are marching up the mountain, they are stepping on top of the fallen soldiers, showing their superiority over the Lullubi nation. With the artist depicting them below King Naram-Sin’s soldiers, it legitimizes their defeat at the hand of King Naram-Sin.
King Naram-Sin is by far the most prominent figure on the artwork; much taller than his soldiers marching up the mountain below him. As he tramples over one of his fallen enemies, others are depicted as begging for mercy. They have good reason to fear him as he has kicked one Lullubi off the mountain and rammed a spear through another’s neck.
This large victory stele, measuring six feet in height, was carved in pink limestone with exceptional quality. The original text, seen above King Naram-Sin, written in Akkadian tells us that this stele was made to celebrate the victory of Akkadian empire, over the mountain people of Lullubi, located in central Zagros region. King Naram-Sin was the descendant of King Sargon, the founder of the Akkadian empire and the first to unify Mesopotamia region in the late 24th century BC. Naram-Sin reigned after his uncle, King Rimush, and his father, King Manishtusu, making him the fourth leader of the Akkadian empire. The Sumerian king list states that he reigned for 36 years, between 2254 and 2218 BC. No contemporary document as been found that confirms such a long reign, the Akkadian empire appears to have reached its dominance of the Mesopotamia region during this period of time.
Although this large stele was produced for the King Naram-Sin’s victory, it was found not in Mesopotamia but rather at the Iranian site of Susa. It had been taken there in the 12th century BC by the Elamite King Shutruk-Nahhunte, a descendent of the mountain people of Lullubi. Alongside the existing inscription in primitive cuneiform, the ancient writing of the Akkadian empire, King Shutruk-Nahhunte added his own dedicated to his glory and victory over the Akkadian empire, in which he declares that the stele was carried by himself after the pillage of the city of Sippar. With not destroy the stele and leaving the original inscription, shows that King Shutruk-Nahhunte had respect for King Naram-Sin’s victory and wanted to keep the conncetion that this stele had to him.