This stele depicts a bearded male figure facing left, surrounded by a shallowly incised inscription divided into seven lines. The figure is shown with attributes characteristic of ruling elites, including the long, fringed garment, the staff he holds in his right hand, his rounded headdress, and his hairstyle, in which the hair is gathered at the nape of the neck in a bunch. The surface of the stele is worn and details are no longer visible in many areas, including the face. The feet are damaged, but the upturned toes of the figure’s shoes can still be seen.
The text is written in Luwian, a form of hieroglyphic writing that dates to the early first millennium B.C. and was used by the Neo-Hittite kings. Their kingdoms were located in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria, regions that had been ruled by the powerful Hittite and Mitanni empires from about 1600-1200 B.C. After the collapse of the great imperial powers at the end of the Late Bronze Age, these lands were divided into small states ruled by local populations as well as by nomadic groups from the Syrian-Arabian steppe who had migrated north. These small kingdoms produced a wealth of carved stone steles (freestanding monuments) and orthostats (slabs which covered the interior or exterior wall of a structure), which borrowed from the distinctive imagery and styles of their Hittite and Mitanni predecessors. The long inscription on this stele allows us to identify the figure as Laramas, king of Gurgum (modern Marash), who reigned sometime between 1000-950 B.C. The text lists the king’s ancestors and seems to describe his deeds, although it is difficult to understand. Vineyards and granaries are mentioned, perhaps referring to a time of abundance under Laramas’ rule. The text ends with a curse against those who would erase his name. It reads, in part:
I am Laramas, Astuwaramanzas's
grandson, Muwatalis's son.
He who shall erase my name,
if he is a king,
let him surrender his kingdom,
but he who is a country-lord,
let him surrender his power
and...his head, house, wife, child...
From 1882, collection of Reverend Henry Marden, professor in the Theological Seminary at Marash; acquired by the Museum in 1890, gift of Mrs. Henry Marden, in memory of Rev. Henry Marden.
"Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 22, 2014–January 4, 2015.
Humann, Carl, and Otto Puchstein. 1890. Reisen in Kleinasien und Nordsyrien. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, p. 392, pl. XLIX: 4, 5.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1895. The Stone Sculptures of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriote Antiquities in Halls 5 and 3. Handbook no. 3. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 1904.
Messerschmidt, Leopold. 1900. Corpus Inscriptionum Hettiticarum. Berlin: Vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft Mitteilungen, p. 20, no. 5, Pl. XXV.
Garstang, John. 1910. The Land of the Hittites: An Account of Recent Explorations and Discoveries in Asia Minor. London: Constable, pp. 113-114, 391.
Charles, Benson Brush. 1911. Hittite Inscriptions. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, pp. 48-49.
Jastrow, Morris. 1917. The War and the Bagdad Railway. London: J.B. Lippincott Company, pp. 20, 40.
von der Osten, Hans H. 1929. "Four Sculptures from Marash." Metropolitan Museum Studies 2, pp. 112-118, fig. 5-9.
Przeworski, Stefan. 1936. "Notes d'Archeologie Syrienne et Hittite, III - Quelques Nouveaux Monuments de Marash," Syria 17, pp. 32-44.
McAllister, Hannah E. 1939. "Art of the Ancient Near East." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 34 (8), p. 196.
Gelb, Ignace J. 1939. Hittite Hieroglyphic Monuments. Oriental Institute Publications 45. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, p. 19.
Bossert, Helmuth Theodor. 1942. Altanatolien. Belin: E. Wasmuth, pl. 197, no. 809.
Bossert, Helmuth Theodor. 1951. Jahrbuch für Kleinasiatische Forschung Vol. II. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag, p. 106, pl. XII-XV.
Meriggi, Piero. 1953. "Le Iscrizioni Storiche in Eteo Geroglifico." Studi Classici Orientali 2, pp. 58-61.
Orthmann, Winfried. 1971. Untersuchungen zur Späthethitischen Kunst. Saarbrücker Beiträge zur Altertumskunde Band 8. Bonn: R. Habelt, p. 84, pl. 45h, no. B/16.