August 17, 2013

Postcard from Istanbul Archaeological Museum: In this era of protests, 8th century BC Assyrian Bel-harran-beli-usur defines what makes a city free

ISTANBUL - In this era of protests, 8th century BC Assyrian chamberlain Bel-harran-beli-usur -- during the reign of Shalmaneser IV (782-773 BC) and Tigleth-Pileser III (744-727 BC) -- founded a city in the desert to the west of Nineveh and built a temple. On a marble monument (stele) which shows Bel-harran-beli-usur praying in front of divine symbols, he had inscribed (after his supplications) the freedoms of the city he had established:
... Its grain-levy shall not be taken, its straw shall not be taxed, its water (let) none drain off into another channel; boundary and boundary-stone let (none) destroy; the increase of cattle and sheep let (none) seize; on the people dwelling there in, let (non) impose feudal dues or taskwork; let none send out any other man to be over them, let none impose military service upon them...