BAR 38:04, Jul/Aug 2012
Anatomy of a Relief
The southern face of the Bubastite Portal is carved with an elaborate 26-foot-tall hieroglyphic relief celebrating Sheshonq’s victorious northern campaign of 925 B.C.E. Although the relief is heavily worn and broken in places—particularly the larger-than-life depiction of the pharaoh smiting his enemies that has almost completely disappeared—its major elements are still easily discernable.
On the right side of the scene, Asiatic captives, perhaps prisoners from Israel and Judah, are subdued by the clutched grasp and smiting hand of the pharaoh. To the left, the Egyptian god Amun, with his characteristic double-plumed crown, presents Sheshonq with scores of tiny bound figures with oval, cartouche-shaped bodies, each one naming a conquered town. There are ten rows of these “name-ring” figures, which have been divided by scholars into upper (highlighted in blue) and lower (highlighted in red) registers of five rows each. Name-rings also were carved along the bottom of the relief, although only five are preserved (highlighted in green).