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Work Axe inscribed with the name of King Untash-Napirisha. Wild boar figurine on the heel

Department of Near Eastern Antiquities: Iran

Hache inscrite au nom du roi Untash-Napirisha. Sanglier sur le talon

© 2009 RMN / Franck Raux

Near Eastern Antiquities

Herbin Nancie

This hatchet inscribed with the name of Untash-Napirisha is dedicated to the goddesses Ishnikarab and Kiririsha. It was found in Tchoga Zanbil, in the temple of Ishnikarab near the great ziggurat consecrated by the king to Inshushinak and Napirisha. This type of weapon, with the axe blade emerging from the mouth of an animal - usually a lion - is in keeping with the tradition in the early 2nd millennium BC. An electrum figurine of a wild boar decorates the side of the hatchet.

A hatchet inscribed with the name of Untash-Napirisha

This axe found in the temple of Kiririsha in Tchoga Zanbil was an offering made by the king to thank both Kiririsha, consort to the god Napirisha, and Ishnikarab. Famous for his victorious campaigns against Babylon, King Untash-Napirisha dedicated many weapons in stone and precious metals to Elamite divinities, the principal ones being Inshushinak, Napirisha, and Kiririsha. Ishnikarab is associated with these three divinities. Although the feminine character of Ishnikarab has been questioned, she would appear to have been the wife of Inshushinak. In making his gift, the king placed himself under the protection of the two goddesses, Ishnikarab and Kiririsha. At the time, the unification of the upper and lower regions was uncertain, and the unity of the Elamite empire fragile. The inscription of the sovereign's name on this object in Elamite was an assertion of the linguistic identity of the kingdom, which formed one of its underlying foundations. These offerings suggest the warrior nature of Kiririsha.

A new capital to celebrate the Elamite gods

King Untash-Napirisha founded a new religious capital, Al-Untash Napirisha (present-day Tchoga Zanbil), on the road linking the two principal centers of the kingdom, Anshan and Susa. In the middle of this "holy city" was a small temple dedicated to the goddess Ishnikarab. Untash-Napirisha built a temple next to it dedicated to Kiririsha, as well as one to Inshushinak. Later, he changed his mind and turned the latter into a large ziggurat dominating this site where the country's guardian deities - Napirisha, the god of the upper regions, and Inshushinak, the god of the Susian plain - were worshipped. Kiririsha was the "Great Goddess," the "Great Wife," and the "Mother of Gods." She was also the "Protector of Kings."

A tradition from Eastern Iran dating from the 3rd millennium BC

The weapon belongs to a tradition introduced in the late 3rd millennium BC: namely, votive axes with blades emerging from the mouth of a wild animal, decorated with an animal on the collar. A reclining boar - an image commonly found in the region - is here featured on the heel of the blade, which appears to be "spewed forth" from the mouth of a lion. Other weapons such as daggers and swords have been found in graves in Luristan. These arms were often inscribed with the name of a monarch, as is the case in the Foroughi Collection. Often made of precious metals, these were not made for battle, but were insignia of dignity presented to high-ranking officials.


Amiet Pierre, Suse 6000 ans d'histoire, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1988, p. 94 ; fig. 52.
Borne interactive du département des Antiquités orientales.

Technical description

  • Hache inscrite au nom du roi Untash-Napirisha. Sanglier sur le talon

    Vers 1340 - 1300 avant J.-C.

    Temple de Kiririsha

  • Argent et électrum

    H. 5.9 cm; L. 12.5 cm

  • Fouilles R. Ghirshman 1951 - 1962

    Sb 3973

  • Near Eastern Antiquities

    Sully wing
    Ground floor
    Iran, Susiana (Middle Elamite period)
    Room 304
    Vitrine 5 : Tchoga Zambil, règne du roi Untash-Napirisha (XIVe siècle avant J.-C.)

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Additional information about the work

Ekta RMN 99 CE 23763