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Sickle sword

Middle Assyrian
ca. 1307–1275 B.C.
Northern Mesopotamia
L. 54.3 cm
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1911
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This curved sword bears the cuneiform inscription "Palace of Adad-nirari, king of the universe, son of Arik-den-ili, king of Assyria, son of Enlil-nirari, king of Assyria," indicating that it was the property of the Middle Assyrian king Adad-nirari I (r. 1307–1275 B.C.). The inscription appears in three places on the sword: on both sides of the blade and along its (noncutting) edge. Also on both sides of the blade is an engraving of an antelope reclining on some sort of platform.

  • Provenance

    1874, acquired by Robert W. Hanbury in Mardin; by 1875, on loan by Colonel Hanbury to the Assyrian gallery of the British Museum, London; 1910s, purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan from Mrs. Bowring-Hanbury, London; acquired by the Museum in 1911, gift of J. Pierpont Morgan.

  • Exhibition History

    "Origin and Influence, Cultural Contacts: Egypt, the Ancient Near East, and the Classical World," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, December 18, 1970–April 23, 1971.

  • References

    Punch. May 1, 1875. "The Oldest Sword."

    Chad Boscawen, William St. 1876. "Notes on an Ancient Assyrian Bronze Sword Bearing a Cuneiform Inscription." Transactions of the Society of Biblical Arcaheology IV (2), pp. 347-348.

    [Bertrand, Alexandre et Georges Perrot]. 1883. "Un glaive en bronze daté du XIVe siècle avant notre ère." Revue Archéologique, Troisième série - Tome II (Juillet–Décembre 1883), pp. 146-147, pl. XX.

    Burton, Sir Richard Francis. 1884. The Book of the Sword. London: Chatto and Windus, pp. 207-208, fig. 221.

    Maspero, G. 1897. The Struggle of the Nations: Egypt, Syria and Assyria. New York: D. Appleton & company, p. 607.

    Ball, Charles J. 1899. Light from the East. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, p. 133.

    Cowper, Henry S. 1906. Art of Attack. Ulverston : W. Holmes Ltd., p. 146, fig. 200

    Dean, Bashford. 1912. "An Assyrian Sword." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 7 (1), pp. 3-4.

    Dean, Bashford. 1912. "Additional Note on the Assyrian Sword." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 7 (3), p. 62.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1912. "Accessions and Notes: The Oldest Sword." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 7 (8), p. 153.

    von Lenz, Eduard. 1912-1914. "Eine Säbelstudie." Zeitschrift für historische Waffenkunde 6, pp. 188-189, fig. 20.

    Meissner, Bruno. 1915. Grundzüge der babylonisch-assyrischen plastik. Der Alte Orient15. Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, p. 95, fig. 165.

    Montelius, Oscar. 1916-1923. Die älteren Kulturperioden im Orient und in Europa. Stockholm: K. L. Beckmans, p. 308, fig. 1025.

    Petrie, William M.Flinders. 1917. Tools and Weapons. London : British School of Archaeology in Egypt, pl. 27, no. 201, p. 26.

    Olmstead, Albert T. 1923. History of Assyria. New York, London: C. Scribner's sons, pp. 48, 562.

    Bonnet, Hans. 1926. Die Waffen der Völker des alten Orients. Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, p. 87, fig. 36.

    Unger, E.A.O. 1927. Assyrische und babylonische Kunst. Breslau : F. Hirt, p. 100.

    Smith, Sidney. 1928. Early History of Assyria to 1000 B.C., Vol. 1. London: Chatto and Windus, p. 137, fig. 12, p. 138, note 10, p. 379.

    Dean, Bashford. 1930. Handbook of Arms and Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 31, fig. 4.

    Przeworski, Stefan. 1939. Die Metallindustrie Anatoliens in der Zeit von 1500-700 vor Chr. Leiden: E.J. Brill, p. 53.

    Yadin, Yigael. 1963. The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands in the light of archaeological study, Vol. I. New York: McGraw-Hill, p. 207.

    Solyman, Toufic. 1968. Die Entstehung und Entwicklung der Götterwaffen im alten Mesopotamien und ihre Bedeutung. Beirut: H. Abdelnour, p. 56, pl. XV:148.

    Nickel, Helmut. 1969. Warriors and Worthies: Arms and Armors through the Ages. New York: Atheneum, p. 13.

    Knauth, Percy et al. 1974. The Metalsmiths. New York : Time-Life Books, pp. 98f.

    Grayson, Albert K. 1987. The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Assyrian Periods I: Assyrian Rulers of the Third and Second Millenia BC (to 1115 BC). Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, no. 41 (ex.7), pp. 172-173.

    Muscarella, Oscar W. 1988. Bronze and Iron: Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 340, no. 472.

    Porada, Edith and William W. Hallo. 1994. "Random Observations on Works of Assyrian Art." In Beschreiben und Deuten in der Archäologie des Alten Orients: Festschrift für Ruth Mayer-Opificius, edited by Manfied Dietrich and Oswald Loretz. Altertumskunde des Vorderen Orients 4. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, pp. 259-260, figs. 1-2.

    Maxwell-Hyslop, Rachel. 2002. "Curved Sickle-Swords and Scimitars." In Of Pots and Plans: Papers on the Archaeology and History of Mesopotamia and Syria presented to David Oates in Honour of his 75th Birthday, edited by L. Al-Gailani Werr et al. London: Nabu Publications, pp. 210-213, 216, figs. 1-3.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History