Limestone statue of a woman
Middle Assyrian, about 1070-1056
From Nineveh, northern Iraq
Found in the remains of the Temple of Ishtar
Most monumental public art in Mesopotamia was designed to glorify the male king. As a result, images of woman are rare. This is the only known Assyrian statue of a naked woman. It is also unusual in being sculpted in the round. Few statues of this scale survive from ancient Mesopotamia.
discovered the statue in 1853 while excavating the remains of the
Temple of Ishtar at the Assyrian city of Nineveh. Ishtar, a goddess
of sexuality and warfare, was one of the most important deities in
Mesopotamia and the city of Nineveh was one of her principal cult
centres. This statue may represent one of the attendants of Ishtar
in her role as goddess of love. A
The inscription ends with a curse on anyone who attempts to remove it, saying that the Sibitti, gods of the West, 'will afflict him with a snake bite'.
J.E. Reade, 'Later Mesopotamia', British Museum Magazine: the-9, 16 (Winter 1993), pp. 12-13
A.K. Grayson, Assyrian royal inscriptions-1 (Wiesbaden, O. Harrassowitz, 1976)