The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III is a black limestone Neo-Assyrian bas-relief sculpture from Nimrud, commemorating the deeds of King Shalmaneser III (reigned 858-824 BC). The archaeologist Henry Layard discovered this black limestone obelisk in 1846 during his excavations of the site of Kalhu, the ancient Assyrian capital. It was erected as a public monument in 825 BC at a time of civil war. The relief sculptures glorify the achievements of King Shalmaneser III (reigned 858-824 BC) and his chief minister.
One description on the obelisk describes conquest of an Armenian city Arzashkun. The description (35-44) goes as follows:
In the third year of my reign, Ahuni, son of Adini, was frightened before my mighty weapons and retreated from Til-barzip, his royal city. I crossed the Euphrates. I seized for myself the city of Ana-Assur-utir-asbat, which lies on the other side of the Euphrates, on the Sagur river, which the Hittite people called Pitru.
When I returned, I entered the passes of the land of Alzi; the lands of Alzi, Suhni, Daiaeni, Tumme, Arzashkunu, the royal city of Arame, the Armenian (king), Gilzânu, and Hubushkia (I conquered).
Arzashkun was the capital of the Armenian kingdom of Van in the 9th century BC, before Sarduri I moved it to Tushpa in 832 BC. According to historians Arzashkun is the Assyrian form of an Armenian name ending in -ka formed from a proper name Arzash, which recalls the name Arsene, Arsissa, applied by the ancients to part of Lake Van. Arzashkun might represent the Ardzik of the Armenian historians, west of Malasgert.
Arame of Ararat (Urartu)
Arame (ruled 858–844 BC) was the first known king of the Armenian Kingdom of Van commonly known by its Akkadian exonym as Urartu. Living at the time of King Shalmaneser III of Assyria (ruled 859–824 BC), Arame united Armenian tribes against the threat of the Assyrian Empire. His capital at Arzashkun was captured by the Assyrian Shalmaneser III as recorded on the obelisk.
Arame has been suggested as the prototype of both Aram (and, correspondingly the popular given name Aram) and Ara the Beautiful, two of the legendary forefathers of the Armenian people. Khorenatsi’s History (1.5) puts them six and seven generations after Haik (Khaldi).
Despite the claimed conquest by Shalmaneser III the Armenian kingdom of Van had survived the Assyrian incursions and outlived Assyria itself. As the Assyrian language gradually disappeared from historic records (after decline of Assyria and rise of Media) so did the toponym Urartu ceased to be used. Instead only the name Armenia survived henceforward in the annals of history.
It is interesting to note that the names of these early Armenian kings and their cities have survived until today in Armenian folk tales and legends.