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Sumerian, Mesopotamian Limestone male head, Early Dynastic IIIb period, circa 2500-2250 BCE

Conservation:  Repaired from two fragments, without restoration. The inlay, part of the right ear and the nose are missing.
Material:  Limestone
Dimensions:  8 cm high
Provenance:  Private Italian collection, purchased from Charles Ede limited, 17th June 1998, London /J. Bagot Gallery, Spain, 2015
Exhibited:  Ifergan Collection, Málaga (2018-2020)


On request
Ref jba020 Category Tag

Shaven male head, with large almond-shaped eyes and arched eyebrows prepared to contain inlays of stones of other colors, such as obsidian or lapis lazuli, now lost. The mouth is small and closed and the chin is very pronounced. The head lacks a nose due to an ancient breakage.

This face, so characteristic, before the persecution it has suffered, would have had stone inlays in the eyes and eyebrows, but neither the lack of them has made it lose the strength of prayer and the eternity of his gaze.

The praying statues are characterized by shaved heads, as they were assimilated to the priests, usually wearing long skirts with bangs, which would be made with wool, and would be in a praying position with their hands crossed on their chests.

It was common to make votive statues of relatives or claimants of divine favors, since the pantheon of Mesopotamian gods was so powerful that the people turned to them for mercy and protection.

Among the most famous we can mention two that are in the Louvre Museum: that of Ebih II, intendant of Mari (in the middle Euphrates), found in the temple of Ishtar and dated around 2400 BC and that of Gudea, prince of Lagash, found in Tello (ancient Girsu), made of diorite and dated around 2120 BC.


This head presents parallels with another sculpture of the Sumerian culture such as The Lady of Warka, made around 3500-3000 BC in the city of Uruk and preserved in the National Museum of Iraq. Both share aesthetic similarities such as the distinctive feature of the eyebrows joined into one or the large, slanted and deep-set eyes, originally decorated with shell inlays, lapis lazuli and bitumen.

In the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid we find a Sumerian character in an attitude of prayer.

Limestone head of Gudea, 2144-2124 BC, ruler of Lagash. The head was part of a statue. From southern Mesopotamia, Iraq. Pergamon Museum, Berlin, Germany.

The Tell Asmar treasure is a collection of twelve statues unearthed in 1933 at Eshnunna (present-day Tell Asmar) in Diala Governorate, Iraq.


  1. ARUZ, Joan; WALLENFELS, Ronald. Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003.
  2. FRANKFORT, Henri. The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1954.
  3. PARROT, André. Sumer. Gallimard Publishing House, 1960. Pg. 36-40; Pg. 87; Pg.204; Pg.101-122.


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