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Ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Assyria Nineveh
Arslan Tash Til Barsip
Iran Palace of Darius
Phoenicia Arabia Palmyra
Syrian coast
Ougarit Byblos




Ebih II
 
AO 17557
 
Richelieu room 1 b
 
 
 
 
This masterpiece of Mari sculpture bears
witness to the wealth of the city.
 
The Minister of Finance is dressed
in a tufted skirt.
 
The translucid alabaster in which
he is fashioned adds great subtlety
to the form of the bust.
 
The eyes have retained their shell
and lapis lazuli incrustations.
 
Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of six temples, including the Temple of Lions (which is identified as belonging to Dagon, a local divinity, the Dagan of the Bible), as well as shrines devoted to Ishtar and Shamash. In Mari, religion was at the centre of life. Serving the gods was the duty of mankind, so much so that before any important decisions were made they first consulted the wishes of the gods.
 
Painting of the Organizer
of the Sacrifice
 
AO 19825
 
Richelieu room 3
  
This wall painting comes
from the Palace of Mari.
 
The fragment belongs to a large composition painted on white plaster
and spread over three registers.
 
 
Here, the figure, whose large size and elaborate attire designate the king, is walking at the head of a procession leading an adorned bull. It perhaps depicts a sacrifice accompanying a royal investiture ceremony.
 
In the religious texts of the Bible, the bull is the animal that is sacrificed on auspicious occasions (Leviticus 4:3, 13). For Christians, it also symbolizes the unique, spotless sacrifice that Christ offered, the only sacrifice appropriate for the sins of humanity. - Hebrews 9:12.
 
 
Model of the Ruins of the Palace of Mari     SN
 
Richelieu room 3
 
This model of the Palace of Mari,
a complex described as a ‘jewel of
archaic architecture’  A186
 
bears witness to the brilliant civilization
that was the city-state of Mari, destroyed by Hammurabi around 1760 BCE.
 
One can imagine the Jews passing in front of these ruins as they were led in exile to Babylon.
 
The discovery of this site, where more than 15,000 clay tablets engraved in cuneiform writing have been unearthed, has enabled a better understanding of the world in which Abraham lived. For André Parrot, the archives “reveal astonishing similarities between the people they mention and what the Old Testament tells us about the time of the patriarchs”. Some of the documents refer to Peleg, Serug, Nahor, Terah and Haran, names that are also found in the story of Genesis as being those of Abraham’s ancestors. - Genesis 11:17-26. A187 , A189
 
“Before the discovery of the Mari archives, we knew practically nothing about the history, institutions and everyday life in Mesopotamia and Syria at the beginning of the second millennium. Entire chapters of history have been able to be written thanks to them.”
 
A. Lemaire, Le monde de la Bible
 

“Archaeology has rendered the Bible more intelligible through a fuller knowledge of its background

and setting.”
 
Sir Frederic Kenyon  A190 
 
The Mari tablets also shed light on some passages of the Bible. Taking possession of the harem of one’s enemy was ‘a fundamental premise of royal conduct at the time’.  A191
 
This therefore explains Ahitophel’s treacherous recommendation in pushing Absalom, son of King David, to have relations with his father’s concubines. (2 Samuel 16:21). Note additionally the high-ceilinged rooms and terraced roofs, common during biblical times.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 





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