Art/ Collection/ Art Object

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:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 406
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.
Curved swords appear frequently in Mesopotamian art as symbols of authority, often in the hands of gods and kings. It is therefore likely that this sword was used by Adad-nirari, not necessarily in battle, but in ceremonies as an emblem of his royal power.
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.

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