What just happened?

To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


Collection online

Additional options
Production date to

Or search by



  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Painted fired clay statue of a seated god; head and bust; back of chair behind his shoulders; head-dress with 4 pairs of horns; cloak of fleece over left shoulder; collar round neck; face of exposed part of body and face is red, beard is black and head-dress buff; traces of weapon resting on left arm.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 2000BC-1750BC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 7.25 centimetres
    • Width: 5.25 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    This may have been intended to represent the sun god Shamash. There are remains of heavy red paint on the face and ears of the figure which scientific analysis proves to contain hematite, i.e. indicating that it had been coloured with red ochre. The hair of the figure and the chair on which it sits are coloured black and there are some faint traces of white in the folds of the cloak. The black proved to be coloured with carbon, probably lamp black (soot) whereas the white was identified as gypsum. Although traces of yellow were previously said to be present on the headdress, no traces of this could be seen when the object was analysed in 2004. Fully painted fired clay figures such as this are known in small numbers from other collections, including the National Museum in Copenhagen (one example) and a head of a female figure with red, black and white pigments passed through the London art market in 2002 (Bonhams, 7th November, p. 83, lot 230).


  • Bibliography

    • ILN 1931c p. 684 (boxed inserts in book review) bibliographic details
    • Collon 2005b pp.12-18 bibliographic details
  • Location


  • Exhibition history


    2008-2009 18 Nov-15 Mar, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C.'

  • Science

    See investigations 

    Analysis date

    26 October 2004

    Reason for analysis


    Analysis title

    Identification Of Pigments On Two Figurines From Ur

    Analysis outline

    The pigments used on two ceramic figurines from Ur, ANE 132101 and 122934, were identified. Carbon and hematite (the main chromophore of red ochre) were found on both, with gypsum additionally being present on ANE 122934.

    Analysis reference number


    About these records 

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Antiquities assigned to the British Museum from the excavations at Ur, season 1930-1931.

  • Department

    Middle East

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • U.16993 (excavation number)
Dominique Collon 4.Clay statue from Ur.jpg

Dominique Collon 4.Clay statue from Ur.jpg

Image description



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: WCO121

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help