September 15, 2014, Monday, 257

Iran Stele, 737 BCE

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"…Rezin of Damascus, Menahem of Samaria…"

Date: 737 BCE

Current Location: Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel

Language and Script: Assyrian?; cuneiform

Iran Stele


General Information:

Tiglath-Pileser III was the architect of the Neo-Assyrian Empire’s most extensive westward expansion and swept through the Levant, coming into contact with Israel and Judah. During his reign it became the largest empire the world had yet seen, bested only by Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BCE. His only known monumental stele, known as the Iran Stele because of its supposed place of discovery, is partially preserved in three large fragments. Its provenance is uncertain, though it is said to have come from Iran in accordance with its inscription, which ends with Tiglath-Pileser’s campaign in Western Iran during his 9th year (737 BCE). The text describes Tiglath-Pileser’s various military undertakings through the first nine years of his reign.


Relevance to Ancient Israel: One section of the inscription records a list of kings who paid tribute to Tiglath-Pileser, divided between those in the West and East. The western list includes “Menahem of Samaria,” corroborating the biblical account in which King Menahem of Israel paid a large tribute to Pul. “Pul” is a nickname used in the Hebrew Bible to refer to Tiglath-Pileser. A similar list is in Tiglath-Pileser’s annals.


Circumstances of Discovery and Acquisition: All three fragments of the Iran Stele were initially in private collections. Two have been acquired by the Israel Museum.