Ancient Assyria - Assyrian King Blinding Prisoners



This relief represents part of a scene from a marble slab discovered at Khorsabad. The Assyrian king is using a spear to blind one of his many prisoners. In his left hand he holds a cord with a hook attached at the opposite end which are inserted into the prisoners lips. The Assyrians would thrust the point of a dagger or spear into the eye. Their are many representations that have been discovered revealing that the Babylonians, Assyrians and Persians made use of the same cruel punishment. 

Blinding a prisoner has always been a common form of punishment in the orient. In the days of Cyrus the younger of Persia, blinded criminals became spectacles along the highway. When a Persian was soon to become a ruler he would be blinded if he forfeited his right to the throne. 

"But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king of Judah, and they overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his army was scattered from him. So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they pronounced judgment on him. Then they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon."

- 2 Kings 25:5-7

" Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest." - 2 Kings 19:28; Isaiah 37:29

The ancient Assyrians were extremely severe. Their punishments included dismemberment (cutting off limbs, ears, nose, lips, castration, etc.), impalement upon a stake, they also forced their captives to hard labor. Rebellious cities prisoners of war were flayed (skinned) alive, blinded, or had their tongues torn out; they were impaled, burned, and put to death in other ways.