Statue of Idrimi

The Statue of Idrimi is an important ancient Middle Eastern sculpture found at the site of Alalakh by the British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley in the 1930s. Dating from the 16th century BC, the statue is famous for its long biographical inscription of King Idrimi written in the Akkadian language. It has been part of the British Museum's collection since 1939.[1][2] The inscription includes the "first certain cuneiform reference" to Canaan.[3]

Statue of Idrimi
Statue of King Idrimi-IMG 4553-black.jpg
The Statue of Idrimi
Size104cm high
Created15th century BC
Present locationBritish Museum, London


The Statue of Idrimi was discovered by Woolley in the ruins of a temple at the site of Tell Atchana, ancient Alalakh in the province of Hatay, Turkey. The statue had been badly damaged, presumably at a time of invasion or civil war, in around 1100 BC. The statue's head and feet had been broken off and it had been deliberately toppled off its pedestal.


Detail of the head

The statue is carved of hard white dolomitic magnesite and the eyebrows, eyelids and pupils are inlaid with glass and black stone. The king, who is seated on a throne, wears a round-topped crown with band and neck-guard and a garment with narrow borders. King Idrimi is depicted crossing his right arm above the left. An inscription covers large parts of the body.


The inscription on the statue is written in Akkadian, using cuneiform script. It describes the exploits of King Idrimi and his family. The inscription tells how, following a dispute, Idrimi and his family were forced to flee Yamhad (Aleppo) to his mother's family at Emar (now Meskene) on the river Euphrates. Determined to restore the dynasty's fortunes, Idrimi left Emar and travelled to Canaan, where he lived among Hapiru warriors for seven years,[4] after which he made a treaty with the king of Umman-Manda, rallied troops and mounted a seaborne expedition to recover the lost territory from the Hittites. He eventually became a vassal of King Barattarna who installed him as king in Alalakh, which he ruled for 30 years. The inscription ends with curses on anyone who desecrates or destroys the statue.


  1. ^ British Museum Highlights
  2. ^ British Museum Collection
  3. ^ Drews 1998, p. 46: "An eighteenth-century letter from Mari may refer to Canaan, but the first certain cuneiform reference appears on a statue base of Idrimi, king of Alalakh c. 1500 BCE."
  4. ^ Mitchell, T.C. (2004). "The Documents". the Bible in the British Museum. The British Museum Press. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-7141-1155-1. The inscription is also interesting in describing Idri-mi's hosts during seven years of his exile as 'Hapiru warriors'

Further readingEdit

  • T. C. Mitchell, The Bible in the British Museum (London, The British Museum Press, 1988)
  • D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
  • Drews, Robert (1998), "Canaanites and Philistines", Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 81: 39–61