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A peculiar legal case is brewing in the United Kingdom over a 2,800-year-old Assyrian stele that was confiscated from a Lebanese dealer by the London Metropolitan Police. What is interesting about this particular stele is that it carries a devastating curse which promises to destroy any person who defaces of move the object which has led some people to suggest that the stele might be behind the spell of bad luck faced by the Metropolitan police commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe.
The Metropolitan Police are troubled by cursed Assyrian artifact
The basalt stele was created in dedicated of King Adad-Nirari III and was originally located in the modern town of Sheikh Hamad in Syria where it had been placed to celebrate an Assyrian military victory. These kinds of monuments were common in Assyrian culture and were often erected on the interior and exterior of temples. They were intended to assert the authority of the Assyrians and intimidate foreign visitors.
One half of the stele is currently housed in the British Museum. However, buyers for the museum declined to purchase the second half of the stele which was presented at auction in 2014 because of concerns as to how the artifact had been obtained. Following questions about the providence of the artifact, the Metropolitan Police confiscated it from the dealer.
The stele promises that a dire fate will meet the individual who takes it from its proper place or defaces it, and it certainly appears that having any dealing with the object does seem to carry a degree of bad luck.
Whoever discards this image from the presence of Salmanu puts it into another place, whether he throws it into water or covers it with earth or brings and places it into a taboo house where it is inaccessible, may the god Salmanu, the great lord, overthrow his sovereignty; may his name and his seed disappear in the land; may he live in a contingent together with the slave women of his land
Not only was the Lebanese artifact dealer who attempted to sell the object thrust into a complex legal case, but the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has also experienced a spell of bad luck. He has been beleaguered in the last few years with a multi-faceted stream of criticism relating to the treatment of detained individuals with mental health issues and long-running claims of institutional racism in the force. To add to his troubles, the former owner of the Stele has also brought a suit against Hogan-Howe himself demanding £200,000 in compensation for the loss of the artifact.