Babylonian terracotta erotic plaque, 2100-1500 B.C.

This tablet belongs to a very usual Babylonian typology, the erotic tablets. These tablets were made in large quantities, using moulds, and were found inside homes, temples and tombs. The same decorative pattern is repeated in all of them: the central part is decorated with a scene of sex between a man and a woman, while the edges of the piece are delimited by a decoration that delimits the scene. In this case, a kind of column seems to be seen bordering the couple. With respect to the sex scenes, there are two fundamental types: the bed scenes, where the lovers appear represented one in front of the other, and the tavern scenes, in which the woman is represented bending down drinking beer from a cane and being taken from behind by the man. The scene represented on this tablet belongs to the first type, which has been interpreted as representing the sexual union between the goddess Inanna and Dumuzi or even as the festival of hierogamy, a ceremony where a king and a priestess were united in a ritualistic way. In terms of its use, a possible ritual function associated with cults related to sacred prostitution or as symbols that would try to explain natural phenomena such as the fertility of the earth and the fullness of the crops is raised. An apotropaic function is also proposed, that is, to serve as a protective amulet. Nor can we forget the approach that would consider them as objects of leisure.


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