Gypsum statue of a man

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Illustration

by Trustees of the British Museum
published on 26 April 2012

Provenance unknown, Mesopotamia
Early Dynastic III period, about 2500-2200 BC

A votive offering

This gypsum statute was deposited in a temple to pray on behalf of the donor. It may have been set up in his lifetime or possibly as a memorial after his death. He wears a fleece skirt often referred to as a kaunakes.

The statue was made at a time when southern Mesopotamia was politically fragmented between city-states, competing for control of farmland, water and trade.

Where objects have not been excavated and their origin is unknown, it is often possible to date them by comparing them with dated examples. The style of votive figurines like this one can be shown to change through time. This one dates to a period known as Early Dynastic III.

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