The Queen of The Night Relief

Illustration

by
published on 18 September 2014

This large plaque was made of baked straw-tempered clay, modeled in high relief. The figure of the curvaceous naked woman was originally painted red; note the trace of the red color on her left wrist. She wears the horned headdress characteristic of a Mesopotamian deity and holds a rod and ring of justice, also symbols of her divinity. Her long multi-colored wings hang downwards, indicating that she is a goddess of the Underworld. The background was originally painted black, suggesting that she was associated with the night.

The figure could be an aspect of the goddess Ishtar, Mesopotamian goddess of sexual love and war, or Ishtar's sister and rival, the goddess Ereshkigal who ruled over the Underworld, or the demoness Lilitu, known in the Bible as Lilith. The plaque probably stood in a shrine.

Old Babylonian period, 1800-1750 BCE, from southern Iraq (place of excavation is unknown), Mesopotamia. (The British Museum, London).


About the Author

Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin
Associate Professor of Neurology and lover of the Cradle of Civilization, Mesopotamia. I'm very interested in Mesopotamian history and always try to take photos of archaeological sites and artifacts in museums, both in Iraq and around the world.

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