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.

Find in the collection online

More information


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)


Height: 8.900 cm
Width: 7.200 cm

Museum number

ME 116731


Gift of Major Burn (1925)


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore