The Discovery of the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser
In 1846 an English traveler and artist named Austen Henry Layard was digging around the ruins of ancient Nimrud (known as Calah) in northern Iraq. He discovered something amazing, a black limestone obelisk now referred to as "The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III".
Sketch of the Black Obelisk.
When Layard discovered this wonderful obelisk he had no idea what it really was that he had found. He had no way of deciphering the cuneiform writing, but he did notice that it had beautifully carved images on all four sides. He also knew that obelisks were stone monuments or pillars in the ancient world, and they were usually created for public display to honor someone very important.
When one scholar investigated the discovery he determined that it was a monument of one of the greatest kings in the ancient world, Shalmaneser III. Shalmaneser ruled ancient Assyria around 850 BC. They also determined that one of the carved images revealed Jehu, the king of Israel bowing before the powerful monarch with his face to the ground. It was the same Jehu that is mentioned in the Bible.
The Black Obelisk actually has 20 hand-carved relief panels, 5 on each side from top to bottom with cuneiform writing all around. The cuneiform inscriptions contain detail about Shalmaneser's war campaigns and the tribute of submissive kings. Each panel contains the carved images of 5 kings bringing tribute to the king of Assyria, Shalmaneser III.
Sketch of the Jehu Panel.
The panel that depicts king Jehu and the inscriptions around it make it clear that it is the same Jehu that is mentioned in the Bible, the King of Israel in 850 BC. Layard's discovery would be the first and only image of a real Hebrew king that is mentioned in the Bible in all archaeological discoveries.
The cuneiform inscriptions reads:
"The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri: I received from him silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin, a staff for a king [and] spears."