Pocket timeline to Mesopotamia, £7.99
Height: 22.540 cm
Gift of the
Room 56: Mesopotamia
Gypsum statue of a woman
Early Dynastic period, about 2400-2300 BC
Placed in a temple as an act of devotion
This statue is typical of stone figures of men and women placed in temples as an act of devotion. It is not known where this example originally came from, but similar figures have been discovered in the city of Ur. They were probably meant to represent the donor and, as here, are generally shown standing with their hands held in veneration before the image of the god.
The style of the figures often reflects contemporary fashions in hair and dress. The figure here wears a diadem, perhaps helping to holding the hair up in buns on each side of her face. Her eyes, and possibly the eyebrows, would have originally been inlaid. The eyebrows meet in the middle, often considered a sign of beauty.
Many groups of these figurines have been discovered buried in temples. They may have been hidden after the donor had died. Alternatively, they may have been simply cleared away when there became too many, but were considered too sacred to be re-used or thrown away.
J.E. Reade, Mesopotamia (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)
C.L. Woolley and M. Mallowan, Ur Excavations, vol. VII: The (London, The British Museum Press, 1976)