Biblical Studies

Foundation Figurine of King Ur-NammuIraq: Nippur, E-kur Court, S gate, SE tower; Third Dynasty of Ur; Reign of Ur-Nammu, ca. 2111-2095 B.C. Bronze. Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1955-6. King Ur-Nammu rebuilt and enlarged one of the most important temples in ancient Mesopotamia – the E-kur of Enlil, the chief god of the pantheon. This figurine, which was buried in a foundation box beneath one of the temple towers, represents the king at the start of the building project – carrying on his head a basket of clay from which would be made the critically important first brick. The foundation deposit also contained an inscribed stone tablet; beads of frit, stone and gold; chips of various stones; and four ancient date pits found perched atop the basket carried by the king.

Cheekpiece from Horse BitCheekpiece from Horse Bit. Western Iran, Luristan ca. 8th – 7th centuries B.C. Bronze.

ISTAKHR, THE ISLAMIC CITY MOUNDPERSEPOLIS AND ANCIENT IRAN, Multiple images (with high resolution photos)

Glazed Brick Representing a Birdman7th century B.C.; Mesopotamian, Neo-Assyrian Period; Glazed terracotta. The walls of Assyrian palaces and temples were sometimes adorned with glazed terracotta decoration. A tradition for using glazed brick as wall adornment began in the Ancient Near East during the 13 century B.C. in southern Iran. The Birdman, a magical creature, appeared first in the 3rd millennium B.C. as a mischievous being who was bound and brought before the gods. By the late Neo-Assyrian period, his role is less clear: here he seems beneficent, his arms raised to support, in all probability, a winged sun-disk, the symbol of divinity. Text and images courtesy The Detroit Institute of Arts.

Alexander the Great Photo GalleryPhotos: Istanbul Archaeological Museums: Alexander the Great Photo Gallery by Andrys Basten at [Ancient Near East] [Images]

Frieze of Striding LionsIran: Persepolis; Achaemenid Period; Reign of Darius I/Xerxes, ca. 522-465 B.C. Limestone. Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1932-4. An Achaemenid artisan carved this piece of stone to represent part of a cloth canopy that was decorated with woven or appliqud figures of rosettes and striding lions. A pair of diamonds joined as a figure-eight can be seen in three places on the face of this stone. They are the marks of the sculptor or team of sculptors who carved this and numerous other Persepolis reliefs on which the same marks appear.

Crater with IbexesIran: Chogha Mish; Middle Susiana 3; Late 5th millennium B.C. Baked clay. Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1965-6. The geographical term Susiana, referring to the area ruled in the historical period by the city of Susa, is also applied to the prehistoric cultures of lowland southwestern Iran. Representational designs such as the stylized wild goats with long sweeping horns painted beneath the rim of this krater are characteristic for an advanced stage of the Susiana sequence.

Four-Faced God and GoddessIraq: Ishchali (?); Old Babylonian Period, 18th-17th century B.C. Bronze. Purchased in Baghdad, 1930. Illicit diggers found these four-faced statuettes, which may represent a god of the four winds and a goddess of rainstorms. The god wears a low cap with a pair of horns meeting above each face. He carries a scimitar in his right hand and places his left foot upon the back of a crouching ram. The goddesss tall crown, again with a pair of horns above each face, has the shape of a temple facade or altar. She grasps in her hands a vase from which flow streams of water; a rippled water pattern covers her garment.

Dragon of Marduk604-562 B.C.; Mesopotamian, Neo-Babylonian Period; Ishtar Gate, Babylon; Molded, glazed bricks. The mythical Dragon of Marduk with scaly body, serpent`s head, viper`s horns, front feet of a feline, hind feet of a bird, and a scorpion`s tail, was sacred to the god Marduk, principal deity of Babylon. The striding dragon was a portion of the decoration of one of the gates of the city of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar, whose name appears in the Bible as the despoiler of Jerusalem (Kings II 24:10-16, 25:8-15), ornamented the monumental entrance gate dedicated to Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, and the processional street leading to it with scores of pacing glazed brick animals: on the gate were alternating tiers of Marduk`s dragons and bulls of the weather god Adad; along the street were the lions sacred to Ishtar. All of this brilliant decoration was designed to create a ceremonial entrance for the king in religious procession on the most important day of the New Year`s Festival.

Female Figurine from UrIraq: Tell Asmar, Trench D; Ur III/Isin-Larsa Period, ca. 2100-1800 B.C. Baked clay. Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1935-6. Figurines like this one have been found in the excavated remains of Mesopotamian houses, temples, and other public buildings of the early second millennium B.C. They have no definite divine attributes and their exact function is not known. This female has characteristic broad, flat hips, a large and elaborately incised pubic triangle, and prominent breasts with applied disk-shaped nipples.

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Copper bowl with a procession of animalsPeriod: Sumerian or Elamite, early 3rd Millennium B.C. Culture: Mesopotamian Category: Metalwork, Vessels Dimensions: Height: 9.2 cm, Diameter: 16.2 cm (max.) Price: POR Provenance: Ex-M. de Sancey Collection, Switzerland. Condition: Slightly crackled at the edge, the external surface has been cleaned and is in a remarkable state of preservation. The interior metal is covered with a thick, rough green patina.

Images of the Median and Achæmenid Empire, Iran Architecture, stone carving and art of the Achæmenid Empire.[Achæmids and Medes]

Cylinder Seal with Winged Sun DiskWhite Calcite Cylinder Seal 3200-3000 BC Mesopotamia. Cylinder Seal with Winged Sun Disk and Lion Attacking Animals. Syria, Syro-Mittannian; 1500 – 1300 B.C. Calcite.

Human-Headed Winged LionMesopotamia, Neo-Assyrian, Nimrud, 883-859 B.C. Limestone. In the palace of Ashurnasirpal ll, pairs of human-headed lions and bulls decorated the gateways and supported the arches above them. This lion creature wears the horned cap of divinity and a belt signifying his superhuman power. The Neo-Assyrian sculptor gave these guardian figures five legs. Viewed from the front, the animal stands firmly in place; from the side he appears to stride forward. During the ninth century B.C. the great Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II built a new capital at Nimrud, where the palace was decorated with large stone slabs ornamented with low-relief carvings and with sculpted figures guarding the doorways. Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1932. Text and Images coutesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Foundation Slab of XerxesIran: Persepolis, Garrison quarters; Achaemenid Period; Reign of Xerxes, ca. 485-465 B.C. Gray limestone. Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1935. This stone tablet inscribed with Babylonian cuneiform characters lists the nations under Persian rule shortly after the uprisings that occurred when Xerxes came to the throne.

Gudea of Lagash2141-2122 B.C.; Mesopotamian, Neo-Sumerian period. Of all the rulers of ancient Mesopotamia, Gudea, ensi (governor) of Lagash, emerges the most clearly across the millennia due to the survival of many of his religious texts and statues. He ruled his city-state in southeast Iraq for twenty years, bringing peace and prosperity at a time when the Guti, tribesmen from the northeastern mountains, occupied the land. His inscriptions describe vast building programs of temples for his gods. This statuette depicts the governor in worship before his gods wearing the persian-lamb fur cap of the ensi and a shawl-like fringed robe with tassles. The serene, heavily lidded eyes and calm pose create a powerful portrait of this pious ruler.

Court Official359-338 B.C.; Iranian, Achaemenid Dynasty; Limestone.The palace of Darius the Great was restored by Artaxerxes III by the addition of a western staircase with relief representations of dignitaries from the twenty-six subject states of the empire bearing gifts to the king of kings. Each foreign group is led by a Persian official holding a staff. This relief illustrates such a marshall wearing the Persian headdress and robe with a dagger thrust into the belt. His left hand once grasped that of the leader of the next delegation. In front of him a fragment of the garment of another envoy survives. This late relief, flatter and more linear than those of the reigns of Darius and Xerxes, nonetheless still conveys the power and refinement of the Achaemenid court. Text and images courtesy The Detroit Institute of Arts.

Hero (Gilgamesh ?), Mastering a LionNeo-Assyrian; Hero (Gilgamesh ?), mastering a lion, relief from facade of the throne room, Palace of Sargon II at Khorsabad (Dur-Sharrukin). ca. 713-706 B.C. From AICT: Art Images for College Teaching.

Cylinder Seal with Images of DietiesCylinder Seal with Watergod, Birdman, and Deities Mesopotamia; Akkadian Period, 2300 – 2200 B.C. Serpentine. Ea: Ea and attendant deities. Ea (seated) and attendant deities, Sumerian cylinder seal, c. 2300 bc; in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York.

Luristan Bronze Quiver PlaqueQuiver Plaque. Western Iran, Luristan, 8th – 7th centuries B.C. Bronze. 8TH-6TH CENTURY B.C. The sheet bronze decorated with three rectangular compartments divided by moulded ribs, each bordered by rows of repouss bosses, similar bosses contained within the rectangles and between the dividing ribs, the narrow everted edges and each end pierced with multiple holes for attachment to the quiver, repaired with slight restoration 22 7/8 in. (58.1 cm.) long NOTES Cf. P. Calmeyer, Altiranische Bronzen der Sammlung Brckelschen, Berlin, 1964, p. 48, pl. 50, no. 104 for a similar example of a quiver with rectangular panels and rows of repouss bosses. This quiver was the original from which the replica on the Urartian archer waxwork model (lot 12) was made.

Clay Tablet and EnvelopeIraq: Nuzi; Mitannian Period; Second half of the 15th century B.C. Baked clay. Oriental Museum. Gift of the Iraq Museum and the American Schools of Oriental Research, 1934. Enclosed in its clay envelope, this tablet was stored in a private archive of more than 1,000 texts. The tablet records the outcome of a litigation between two men, both of whom claimed to own the same estate. The judges ruled in favor of the individual who provided written statements attesting to his ownership of the land from residents of nine neighboring towns. Two court officials rolled their cylinder seals across the front of the tablet after it was inscribed, guaranteeing that the information it contained was correct.

Ancient Lamps from the LevantAncient Lamps Catalogue. Lamps from: Bronze & Iron Age Periods Greek Period Hellenistic Period Wheelmade Mouldmade Plastic Lamps Roman Period Volute Various Vogelkopflampe Factory Lamps Mediterranean Balkans Greece Asia Minor Cyprus Syro-Israel Egypt North Africa Late Roman & Byzantine Periods North Africa Mediterranean Syro-Israel Asia Minor Byzantine & Islamic Periods Metal Lamps Lamp Moulds Lamp Hook

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Court Servant with Covered Tray5th century B.C.; Iranian, Achaemenid Dynasty; Limestone. This relief depicts a Persian court servant holding a covered tray on his shoulder. He wears the distinctive Persian garment of long sleeves and draped skirt, with a folded soft cap. Text and images courtesy The Detroit Institute of Arts.

Contents of the Treasury and Other DiscoveriesPERSEPOLIS AND ANCIENT IRAN, Multiple images (with high resolution photos)

Large Pair of Lamassau FiguresNeo-Assyrian; Pair of Lamassau figures flanking a gateway (restored), from the Palace of Sargon II at Khorsabad (Dur-Sharrukin). ca. 713-706 B.C. From AICT: Art Images for College Teaching.

Cuneiform TabletsPERSEPOLIS AND ANCIENT IRAN, Multiple images (with high resolution photos)

The hoplite sword was essentially a slashing weapon and was generally worn slung from a baldric over the right shoulder so that it hung almost horizontally on the left. Alexander the Great is shown with a sword of this type in a period mosaic from Pompeii.

ANCIENT NEAR EAST IMAGESLots of Ancient Images. J. Cohen

Assyrian SpearmenFrom K. C. Hansons Photo Gallery of Mesopotamia. Assyrian Soldiers 1: Spearmen; bas relief; 8th century BC; Pergamon Museum, Berlin

Gazelle Head Stamp SealIraq: Tell Agrab; Jamdat Nasr/Early Dynastic I, ca. 3100-2750 B.C. Gypsum (?). Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1935-6. In central and southern Mesopotamia, both stamp and cylinder seals appeared together near the end of the third millennium B.C. Many stamp seals were carved in the form of an animal or an animal head, and the sealing surface was decorated with simple designs – often representing animals – comprised of drill-holes and incised lines. It is possible that many of the stamps were not actually used as seals but were worn primarily as amulets.

Ashurnasirpal II at War (Yale Photo)Ashurnasirpal II at War: Palace of Nimrud. c875 BC British Museum, London. Limestone Approximately 23 high. [Image from Yale University]

Diety Holding a Flowing VaseIraq: Khorsabad, Nabu Temple; Neo-Assyrian Period; Reign of Sargon II, 721-705 B.C. Gypsum (?). Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1932-33. These two statues once flanked a doorway leading into the temple of Nabu, the god of writing and of knowledge. Each of these gods holds a small vessel from which flow four streams of. Figures of this type are common in the art of the ancient Near East; they probably represent fertility deities who are embodiments of the life-giving and life-sustaining forces within fresh water. The statues, when found, were in many pieces. These fragments were cleaned, soaked in a hardening solution, and then reassembled and restored by a member of the technical staff of the Oriental Institute.

Court Servant with Covered TrayFrom The Detroit Institute of Arts: Court Servant with Covered Tray; 5th century B.C.; Iranian, Achaemenid Dynasty; Limestone; height 54.6 cm (21 1/2 in.); Gift of Lillian Henkel Haass; 31.340. This relief depicts a Persian court servant holding a covered tray on his shoulder. He wears the distinctive Persian garment of long sleeves and draped skirt, with a folded soft cap. [The AMICA Library]

Large Lamassu Guardian FigureNeo-Assyrian; Lamassu guardian figure [in background L., relief of the Hero Gilgamesh(?)], from the Palace of Sargon II at Khorsabad (Dur-Sharrukin). ca. 713-706 B.C. From AICT: Art Images for College Teaching.

Aerial Survey FlightsPERSEPOLIS AND ANCIENT IRAN, Multiple images (with high resolution photos)

Assyrian OfficersFrom K. C. Hansons Photo Gallery of Mesopotamia. Assyrian Officers; 8th century BC; bas relief; Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

Cup Supported by Heroes and AnimalsIraq: Tell Agrab, Shara Temple; Jamdat Nasr/Early Dynastic I, ca. 3100-2750 B.C. Gypsum (?). Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1935-6. This elaborate vessel was discovered in the Shara Temple where it was probably used to place offerings before the god. The decoration of its openwork support shows a hero, naked except for a double-strand belt, grasping the rumps of two lions in his hands. The curling tails of two additional lions are tucked under his arms, and all four felines menace a bearded bull at the opposite end of the stand. Series of figures such as these, engaged in static combats, are common in ancient Mesopotamian art. Their exact meaning is unknown.

HUMAN-HEADED WINGED BULLIraq: Khorsabad, Palace, Court VIII; Neo-Assyrian Period; Reign of Sargon II, 721-705 B.C. Gypsum (?) Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1929 This colossal sculpture was one of a pair that guarded the entrance to the throne room of King Sargon II. A protective spirit known as a lamassu, it is shown as a composite being with the head of a human, the body and ears of a bull, and the wings of a bird. When viewed from the side, the creature appears to be walking; when viewed from the front, to be standing still. Thus it is actually represented with five, rather than four, legs.

Canaanite LionsFrom K. C. Hansons Gallery of Photos of Syria & Israel. Canaanite Lions; basalt stele; 14th century BC. Discovery: 1928 in Beth-Shean/Sythopolis (Tel el-Husn). Current Location: Israel Museum (Jerusalem) Hanson has a couple good verses from the Bible on the page. One reads: Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and he came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion roared against him; and the spirit of Yahweh came upon him powerfully, and he tore the lion apart as one tears a goat-kid. And he had nothing in his hand. (Judges 14:5-6)

Baal Ugaritic god of Storms & WarBaal Ugaritic god of Storms & War From K. C. Hansons Gallery of Photos of Syria & Israel. Baal Ugaritic God of Storms & War (14th century BC) Louvre Museum, Paris

Gilgamesh EpicFrom K. C. Hansons Photo Gallery of Mesopotamia. Gilgamesh Epic Tablet 11: The Flood Narrative ? century BC

EarringLate 5th to early 4th century B.C.; Iranian, Achaemenid Dynasty; Gold and faience. Many of the Persian courtiers and delegates on the reliefs of Persepolis are shown wearing elaborate earrings. This earring, probably from Susa (the southern administrative capital of the empire), is characteristic of jewelry of this period. When in motion, the beads tremble like a tiny chandelier and the gold surfaces brilliantly reflect the light. Text and images courtesy The Detroit Institute of Arts.

Colossal Bull HeadIran: Persepolis, Hundred-Column Hall; Achaemenid Period Reigns of Xerxes/Artaxerxes I, ca. 485-424 B.C. Dark gray limestone; restored. Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1932. Carved in the court style typical of the Achaemenid Empire, this highly polished stone head originally belonged to one of two guardian bulls flanking the portico of the hundred-columned Throne Hall at Persepolis. The heads of the bulls projected in the round and the bodies were carved in relief on the sidewalls of the porch; the ears and horns had been added separately. The use of pairs of guardian figures such as these to protect important buildings was a common architectural feature in the ancient Near East.

EIKON Image Database for Biblical StudiesThe EIKON Image Database for Biblical Studies is a faculty-library initiative at Yale Divinity School that provides digital resources for teaching and research in the field of Biblical studies.

Esarhaddon and VassalsFrom K. C. Hansons Photo Gallery of Mesopotamia. Esarhaddon; Assyrian Emperor; (ruled 681669 BC); with Tirhaka (Ethiopian King of Egypt); and Baalu (King of Tyre); dolerite stele; 3.22 meters high; Pergamon Museum, Berlin

A Scene from the Gilgamesh EpicFrom K. C. Hansons Photo Gallery of Mesopotamia. A scene from the Gilgamesh Epic Tablet 11: The Flood Narrative ? century BC. Gilgamesh (cylinder seal impression).

Head of an Akkadian RulerNineveh, Iraq: Head of an Akkadian Ruler: c2300-2200 BC Iraq Museum, Baghdad; Bronze 14 3/8 high. [Image from Yale University]

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

King Ashurnasirpal IIIraq: Nimrud, N.W. Palace, Room G. Neo-Assyrian Period Reign of Ashurnasirpal II, ca. 883-859 B.C. Gypsum (?). Exchange with the British Museum, 1974. Room G in Ashurnasirpal IIs palace may have served as the setting for a ritual by which weapons were purified. The walls of this chamber were adorned with exceptionally well-carved and minutely detailed reliefs showing the king standing between, alternately, two courtiers and two winged genies. This fragment shows the king himself, identifiable by his fez-shaped cap surmounted by a conical spike. Originally, this piece formed part of a scene. The king, grasping a bow, stood ready to pour a libation from a cup poised delicately on the tips of his fingers. Facing him was an attendant who carried a fly-whisk with which to banish insects from the royal presence.

Clay Prism of King SennacheribIraq: Nineveh (?); Neo-Assyrian Period; Reign of Sennacherib, ca. 689 B.C. Baked clay. Purchased in Baghdad, 1919. On the six inscribed sides of this clay prism, King Sennacherib recorded eight military campaigns undertaken against various peoples who refused to submit to Assyrian domination. In all instances, he claims to have been victorious. As part of the third campaign, he beseiged Jerusalem and imposed heavy tribute on Hezekiah, King of Judah-a story also related in the Bible, where Sennacherib is said to have been defeated by the angel of the Lord, who slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (II Kings 18-19).

Assyrian Soldiers Towing a BoatIraq: Khorsabad, Palace, Throneroom Debris; Neo-Assyrian Period; Reign of Sargon II, 721-705 B.C. Gypsum. Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1930. Archaeologists from the Oriental Institute discovered this relief fragment in the debris of the throne room of King Sargon II. The fragment shows naked Assyrian soldiers towing a boat through a shallow river, perhaps during one of Sargons campaigns against Marduk-apla-iddina II, king of Babylon, whose name is inscribed in the text above the scene. According to the Biblical account, that same Babylonian king (referred to as Merodach Baladan) sent envoys with presents to Hezekiah, king of Judah, upon his recovery from illness (cf. II Kings 20; Isaiah 39).

Aramean Queen (?) with servantFrom K. C. Hansons Gallery of Photos of Syria & Israel. Aramean Queen(?)and servant; funerary stele; 8th century BCE (Berlin VA 2995) Pergamon Museum, Berlin. Note: Aramaean is in Latin Aramaeus, from Greek Aramaios, from Hebrew `ArAm Aramaic, ancient name for Syria, a Semitic people of the second millennium B.C. in Syria and Upper Mesopotamia.

Gudea of Lagash (Yale Photo)Gudea of Lagash: c2150 BC Metropolitan Museum of Art, Diorite. [Image from Yale University]

Bronze StatuettesSyria: Tell Judaidah; Early Bronze Age;(Amuq Phase G), ca. 3100-2900 B.C. Bronze with silver-rich alloy. Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1935-6. Archaeologists found these three statuettes in a cache that contained three male and three female figurines. They are the earliest known metal castings of human figures in the round from Syria. The males wear broad belts and helmets covered with a silver alloy; they probably once held weapons in their upraised hands. The naked females hair is held in place with a headband and bound in the back in an elaborate chignon. They cross their arms and grasp their breasts in their hands – a common ancient pose that probably connotes fertility. The statuettes were intended to be mounted in some fashion, for a tang projects below the feet of each one. The skill with which these unique pieces were modelled and the technical knowledge that was needed for their casting reveal surprisingly high standards of artistic and technical achievement in Syria at the beginning of the third millennium B.C.

Male and Female FigurinesSyria: Tell Fakhariyah; ca. 1300-1000 B.C. Gypsum, painted, inlaid with bitumen and stone. Loan to the Oriental Institute. A naked female and a partially clothed male are represented by this unique pair of red-coated stone figurines. Hair or headdresses made of a separate material were probably once attached to the pegs atop their heads. The male, who stands with his hands at his sides, wears a loincloth tied at the back. The female grasps her breasts with her hands-a common ancient pose that probably connotes fertility. She appears to be naked except for some type of foot-gear applied to her stump-like feet.

Cylinder SealIraq; Akkadian Period; Reign of Naramsin or Sharkalishari, ca. 2254-2193 B.C. Black stone. Oriental Museum. Purchased in New York, 1947. This cylinder seal was dedicated to a little-known goddess, Ninishkun, who is shown interceding on the owners behalf with the great goddess Ishtar. Ishtar places her right foot upon a roaring lion, which she restrains with a leash. The scimitar in her left hand and the weapons sprouting from her winged shoulders indicate her war-like nature.

Male and Female SphinxSyria: Tell Tayinat, Building 1, floor 2; Iron Age (Amuq Phase O), ca. 800 B.C. Basalt inlaid with white and green stone. Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1936. Sphinxes-imaginary creatures composed of a lions body and a human head-are a motif that originated in Egypt and became common in the art of Western Asia beginning in the latter part of the second millennium B.C. This recumbent sphinx of local Syrian manufacture has an unusually vivacious character due to the position of the head, which is turned sideways with the chin slightly raised, not at the stiff right angle often found in ancient Near Eastern sculpture.

EsarhaddonFrom K. C. Hansons Photo Gallery of Mesopotamia. Esarhaddon; Assyrian Emperor; (ruled 681669 BC); stele; Pergamon Museum, Berlin

Disc-Headed PinIran: Surkh Dum-i-Luri, Sanctuary, Level 2B; Early Iron Age III, ca. 750-700 B.C. Copper. Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1938. Large numbers of decorated disc-headed pins were found in the sanctuary at Surkh Dum-i-Luri. They may have been votive offerings to a fertility goddess. The pins were worn with the head hanging down and the shaft pointing up.

Assyrian Warrior KingAssyrian Cavalry (bas relief)7th century BC

Eagle-Headed Deity883-59 B.C.; Mesopotamian, Neo-Assyrian; Limestone. An eagle-headed, winged divinity stands facing a tree of life (the ends of the branches are just visible at the right edge). The figure was a small section of the wall decoration in the state apartments of the royal palace at Nimrud in northern Iraq, built by Assurnasirpal II, King of Assyria. The deity holds a bucket in one hand and in the other a spathe (leaflike sheath for the flowers) of the date palm. He is tending the tree, a symbol of vegetal life and fertility. He, and many more like him, originally brightly highlighted with black, white, red, and blue paint, formed the ornamentation around a room near the throne room thought to have served as a place of ritual bathing. The motif stresses the political and religious importance of nurturing both the kingship and the land for the prosperity of Assyria. Text and images courtesy The Detroit Institute of Arts

Male HeadMale Head; Northern Arabia, al-`

Duck WeightsIraq: Ishchali(?); Early second millennium B.C. Hematite. Oriental Museum. Purchased in Baghdad, 1930. The Mesopotamians used sets of standard weights in conducting business and set stiff penalities for those who used false weights. The weights themselves were usually made of a very hard stone like hematite. A simple barrel shape was the most common form, but weights such as these in the form of a duck, with its neck and head resting along its back, were also prevalent.

Brocade Style Cylinder SealSumerian Limestone Brocade Style Cylinder Seal Early Dynastic Mesopotamia, Ca. 3100-2600 BC. Dark limestone carved with three horned quadrupeds and a rhomb. Ex Erlenmeyer Collection. (acquired between 1943 and 1955) 4.7 x 1.6 cm. Pierced for suspension. Ex Erlenmeyer Collection of Western Asiatic Antiquities.

Cuneiform Cylinder of NabopolassarCuneiform Cylinder of Nabopolassar Recording Repair of the City Wall of Babylon; Mesopotamia, Babylon. Neo-Babylonian Period, Reign of Nabopolassar, 625 – 605 B.C. Clay.

Banquet PlaqueIraq: Khafajah, Sin Temple IX; Early Dynastic II-III, ca. 2700-2600 B.C. Gypsum. Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1933-4. The top register of this plaque shows a seated man and woman celebrating an unidentified event or ritual by participating in a banquet. Two servants attend them while others bring a jar (probably filled with beer), an animal to be slaughtered, and other edibles carried in bundles on their heads. Musicians and dancers in the bottom register add to the festivities. Plaques such as this were part of a door-locking system for important buildings. The plaque was embedded in the doorjamb and a peg, inserted into the central perforation, was used to hold a hook or cord that secured the door and was covered with clay impressed by one or more seals.

Funerary SteleThe Detroit Institute of Arts: South Arabian Sculpture; Funerary Stele; 3rd century B.C.; South Arabian (Yemen); Alabaster. This commemorative stele is decorated with the head of a bull, symbol of the moon god `Anbay, chief of the state. It is inserted into a separate alabaster base inscribed in the South Arabian alphabetic script with Taba`karib, the name of the deceased or dedicant and by M`dm, his clan or tribe name.

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Babylonian Cylinder Seal 1800 B.C.Cylinder Seal with Presentation to the Weathergod; Mesopotamia. Old Babylonian Period, ca. 2000 – 1600 B.C. Hematite.

Bronze BandIraq: Khorsabad, Shamash Temple; Neo-Assyrian Period; Reign of Sargon II, 721-705 B.C. Bronze. Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1931. The fortress of Sargon II at Khorsabad included a complex of temples, one of which was devoted to the sun god Shamash. This bronze band encircled one of a pair of cedar poles-possibly supports for divine emblems-that once flanked the doorway to this temple. In the upper register, Sargon is shown grasping two massive bulls by the horns. This ancient motif, known as the master of animals, was well established in Mesopotamian royal iconography and perhaps symbolized the dominance, vitality, and potency of the reigning monarch. To the left of the king and bulls is a large bird depicted in flight, to the right, facing the king and bulls, is an attendant wearing a kilt.

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