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Terracotta plaque with an erotic scene


Height: 8.900 cm
Width: 7.200 cm

Gift of Major Burn (1925)

ME 116731

Middle East

    Terracotta plaque with an erotic scene

    Old Babylonian, around 1800 BC
    From Mesopotamia

    This baked clay plaque appears to show a man and woman having sex, while the woman bends over to drink beer through a straw. Ancient documents of this period include examples of erotic poetry where strong connections are made between alcohol and sexual activity.

    Baked clay plaques were mass-produced in southern Mesopotamia from the second millennium BC. They show informal scenes and reflect the private face of life. Though their exact purpose is not clear, they may have had magical or religious significance.

    H.W.F. Saggs, The greatness that was Babylon (London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1962)

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

    C. Johns, Erotica (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)


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