Mutilation/Fear

The judges of ancient Babylon were particularly enthusiastic about instilling fear in wrong doers, prisoners of war, or anyone that needed to be punished for any type of crime. Anyone from slaves to prisoners of war could be subject to fear inducing acts of punishment. The cutting off of feet, lips and noses, blinding, gutting and the ripping out of the heart were all standard punishments in this corner of the ancient world (Hamblin). The practices represented in depictions include the cutting of the throats of enemies and the decapitation of dead bodies. The use of torture and mutilation as a fear tactic did not become a more common practice until the Assyrian Empire was built. The Assyrians were known for being very barbaric when it came to torturing slaves and prisoners of war.

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The fragment above is part of the Stele of Vultures. It shows the decapitated heads of the enemy Ummite soldiers being carried away by vultures. These kind of artifacts are very common. The purpose of the stele is to display the power and ferocity of the Lagashistes.  Any outsider who would gaze upon the monument would know not to mess with Lagash. These horrific and brutal images would surly make any enemy fear the wrath of Lagash.

 

Stele of the Vultures picture:

Lewandowski, Hervé. Victory Stele of Eannatum, King of Lagash, Called the “Vulture Stele”early dynastic period, c. 2450 bc. Louvre, Tello (ancient Girsu).

Text sources:

Hamblin, William J. Warfare in the ancient Near East to 1600 BC: holy warriors at the dawn of history. Routledge, 2006.

 

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