A moulded terracotta plaque depicting a fully maned lion facing left. It is shown in high relief striding forward, carrying off human prey which it keeps on his/her back using its right paw whilst gripping the prey's right foot. The tail raised of the lion triumphantly raised. Reverse unmodelled.
Isin-Larsa-Old Babylonian Period, Circa 2000-1600 BC
Condition: Very Fine, with light encrustations.
Length 8.8 cms (3.5 ins).
Provenance: From a family collection, formed in 1960's, inherited from the grandfather circa 1988.
Until the end of the third millennium BC lions were common throughout the country. Thereafter they are not much mentioned in southern Mesopotamia, although on the Middle Euphrates and in Assyria they remained such a nuisance that lion-hunting, made famous by the Assyrian kings was a genuine necessity. In the Babylonian Epic of Gilgames, the gods discuss whether a plague of lions would not have been a more appropriate chastisement of mankind than the Flood. Terracotta plaques of this sort were mass- produced from moulds and represented a form of art available to a wide audience. They have been excavated in temples as well as in household shrines and private homes and give us a mysterious glimpse into religious practices and the ideas that people valued. Their subject matter varies widely, including religious images, mythological and erotic scenes, and representations of rulers and gods.
Babylonian terracotta plaque of a lion eating a human
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