Victory Stele of Naram-Sin


Akkadian, c. 2200 BC
c. 6' 7" tall

Background: A stele is a monument composed of a single column or shaft typically erected to commemorate an important event or person. The Akkadians under Sargon dominated the Sumerians about 2300 BC. Naram-Sin was Sargon's grandson. The god-like Akkadian kings ruled with absolute authority. Naram-Sin's title was "King of the Four Quarters" meaning "Ruler of the World." Damaged on both the top and bottom, Naram-Sin's stele depicts the king's defeat of the Lullubi peoples of present-day Iran.

Images of the Gods in Naram-Sin

The representation of the gods as star images appear at the top of this stele. The fact that Naram-Sin has rammed a spear through the neck of an enemy could indicate the act as a sacrifice to the gods (represented by the star-like figures) above him.

Naram-Sin's position in relations to the gods above and the people below is particularly significant—he is halfway between his soldiers (mere mortals) and the gods. Not only is he himself a god on earth but also the humans' intermediary between them and the other gods. This is not just an early example of the "divine rights of kings" but of the actual "divine king."

Images of Gods

Naram-Sin Himself

The king also has numerous accoutrements signifying his status and authority: He is wearing the horned helmet showing his god-like status and is carrying numerous weapons including spears and a bow.


The Foes of Naram-Sin

Naram-Sin is by far the most prominent figure—much taller than his disciplined soldiers marching up the mountain below him. As he tramples over one of his fallen enemies others beg for mercy (note the one with a broken spear). They have good reason to fear him—he has kicked one off the mountain and rammed a spear through another's neck as a possible sacrifice to the gods (represented by the star-like figures) above him. [Naram-Sin is the partial figure in the upper left portion of the image.]

Naram-Sin's Foes