Trivium Art History
Mesopotamia
Naram-Sin Rock Relief at Darband-iGawr, 2250 BCE — Mesopotamia,

The rock relief lies on the cliff side of Darband-i-Gawr — "the pass of the pagan". This pass is part of the south-eastern side of the Qara Dagh mountain range. Qara Dagh is a Turkish term which means the “black mountain.” It is a double range of cretaceous limestone, reaching a height of more than 1,700 meters above sea level.

The relief is about 3 meters in height, carved into the surface of the cliff showing a victorious warrior standing on the corpses of two enemies. The warrior wears the rounded cap worn by the Ur III kings. The curled beard takes fierce prominence as seem in neo-Assyrian sculptures. The warrior wears a beaded necklace and two bracelets and is stripped from the waist up, showing a powerful chest and musclular arms. The right arm holds an axe (or mace) and the left arm holds a bow. The bow is triangular in shape — different than the bows depicted on the Victory Stela of Naram-Sin at the Louvre museum in Paris. 

The warrior stands on enemy corpses, depicted at a far smaller scale then the warrior. His left leg is flexed and raised — as if the warrior is about to ascend something. The scene looks much like that of the Victory Stela of Naram-Sin, showing a successful military campaign against the Lullubi and their king Satuni, though the attrobution is debated. Some scholars think the man is Anu Banini, for similarities in the depiction of the attitude, clothes, and posture of that king’s relief in Sar-e Pole Zahab (modern-day Western Iran). Another theory suggests that this is a Neo-Sumerian king from Third Dynasty of Ur, since the Neo-Sumerians had campaigned the Lullubi land nine times. Mr. Hashim Hama Abdullah, Director of the Sulaymaniyah Museum, and Mr. Kamal Rashid, Director of the Sulaymaniyah Antiquities Directorate, said that most likely this man represents a local ruler or king of what is known today as Iraqi Kurdistan.

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