What Does It Mean For A Monument As A Leader?

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What does it mean to write on a monument as a leader? One answer to this question can be pursued by studying inscriptions on steles from the ancient Near East and their relationships with their audiences. These monuments have all been constructed to communicate messages through both their content and form, particularly in their imagery. Some would describe these steles as ‘propaganda,’ which has many negative connotations. However, monumental inscriptions are much more complex than that. Propaganda is a control mechanism leaders use to spread ideologies and benefit themselves. Though some monumental inscriptions have this intention, all were not created to control their audiences. Their meanings vary depending on their historical…show more content…
The Tel Dan inscription was found at Tel Dan, Israel, in 1993-4 near the site’s fortifications and dates approximately to the ninth or eighth centuries BCE (Biran and Naveh 1995, 1). It is the oldest royal inscription written in an alphabetic script found in modern Israel (Na 'aman 2000, 93) and details the exploits of Hazael, ruler of Aram, and is famous for naming King Ahaziah of Judah as a descendent of David. The Kilamuwa Stele was found during German excavations of the site of ancient Sam’al in Northern Syria (Modern Turkey) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The stele was commissioned by King Kilamuwa, ruler of that city-state, and dates approximately to the ninth century BCE (Brown 2006, 339). The text explains how Kilamuwa succeeded where his ancestors failed and the good he did for his people. The Mesha Stele was found at Dhiban, Jordan in 1868 and dates to the ninth century BCE ("Mesha Stele." 2014). It details the deeds of the Moabite king Mesha, particularly his fighting with Israel and his building projects. These steles originated from different contexts in different sites, and each dates to about the same period and has its own message and audience. The Tel Dan Stele (Figure 1) is fragmentary, consisting of 3 separate fragments with 13 lines of readable, Aramaic text. The author is agreed by most scholars to be King Hazael of Damascus (Biran and Naveh 1995, 17)
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