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Alabaster 'Eye Idols'

 

Height: 3.500 cm

Excavated by M.E.L. Mallowan

ME 126492 (with 'child')

Room 56: Mesopotamia

    Alabaster 'Eye Idols'

    From Tell Brak, north-eastern Syria, about 3500-3300 BC

    Tell Brak is the modern name of a huge site in north Mesopotamia, which was clearly one of the most important cities in the region during the late prehistoric period. Monumental buildings appear to have been rebuilt over many centuries. It was at one of these, known today as the Eye Temple, that the archaeologist Max Mallowan excavated hundreds of these miniature figurines, with their pronounced eyes. They may represent worshippers, placed as offerings.

    The figurines have been grouped into five types. Some have a single pair of eyes, with or without decoration; some have three, four or six eyes; some have small 'child' eye figures carved on their front (like here), and on others the eyes have been drilled through.

    Examples of figurines with drilled eyes have been found at a number of sites of this period across north Mesopotamia. Recent excavations at Tell Brak have confirmed their date.

    J.E. Reade, Mesopotamia (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

    D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

    C. Trümpler (ed.), Agatha Christie and archaeolog (London, The British Museum Press, 2001)

    M.E.L. Mallowan, 'Excavations at Brak and Chagar Bazar, Syria', Iraq-1, 9 (1947)

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    On display: Room 56: Mesopotamia

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