Height: 26.030 cm
Diameter: 9.840 cm
Room 56: Mesopotamia
Dynasty of Larsa, about 1800-1600 BC
Recording the building of a temple to the fertility goddess Inana
The figure holds a basket of soil on his head. This is the traditional pose adopted by kings of this period, showing them in the pious act of refurbishing a temple. The soil would have been made into mud-bricks, which were the usual building material in ancient Mesopotamia.
Objects like this were placed in the foundations of temples, recording the name of the builder and the deity to whom it is dedicated. The cuneiform inscription on this peg records in Sumerian that it was dedicated by Kutur-mabug, ruler of Emutbal, and his son Rim-Sin, king of Larsa (reigned 1822-1763 BC). It celebrates the building of a temple to the goddess Inana.
At the time when this figure was made, southern Mesopotamia was a region of competing kingdoms. Emutbal was located to the east of the Tigris; Larsa was one of the most important states dominating the head of the Gulf, with extensive trade connections. Rim-Sin defeated the rival city of Isin and became one of several powerful rulers in southern Mesopotamia. Hammurapi, the ruler of Babylon, was another. There was continual diplomatic and military activity during this period. At first Hammurapi allied his kingdom with Larsa. However, in his thirtieth year Hammurapi defeated Rim-Sin and took control of southern Babylonia.
H.W.F. Saggs, Babylonians (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
British Museum, A guide to the Babylonian and, 3rd ed. (London, British Museum, 1922)