Stela of Ashurbanipal


British Museum

British Museum

The city of Babylon had been destroyed by the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 689 BC but was rebuilt by his son Esarhaddon (reigned 680-669 BC) and grandson Ashurbanipal (reigned 669-631 BC). One of the duties of a Mesopotamian king was to care for the gods and restore or rebuild their temples. Much earlier, in the late third millennium BC, rulers in southern Mesopotamia depicted themselves carrying out this pious task in the form of foundation pegs, such as the copper figure of Ur-Nammu (reigned 2112-2095 BC), also in The British Museum.It is possible that similar figurines were discovered in the ruins of Babylon during Ashurbanipal's rebuilding works. For on this stela, Ashurbanipal, wearing the Assyrian king's head-dress, is shown in the pose of earlier kings, lifting up a large basket of earth for the ritual moulding of the first brick.The cuneiform inscription around and over the king's body records his restoration of the shrine of Ea, the god of fresh water and wisdom, within the Temple of Marduk, the supreme deity of Babylon.

Show lessRead more


  • Title: Stela of Ashurbanipal
  • Date Created: -668/-655
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 36.80cm; Width: 22.20cm; Depth: 10.20cm; Weight: 24.50kg
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: king/queen; ceremony/ritual; basket/basketry
  • Registration number: 1881,0324.367
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Marduk Temple
  • Period/culture: Babylonian; Neo-Assyrian
  • Material: stone
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Authority: Ruler Ashurbanipal
  • Acquisition: Excavated by Rassam, Hormuzd