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Collections | Ancient Near Eastern Seals & Tablets

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Eye Stone image

Eye Stone Amulet with a Dedication Inscription of King Nebuchadnezzar II in Akkadian
Mesopotamia, Neo-Babylonian period, reign of Nebuchadnezzar II
(ca. 604–562 B.C.)
Inscribed: To Marduk, his lord, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, son of Nabopolassar, gave this for his life
3.84 cm diameter
MLC no. 2624
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Taking advantage of the stone's natural banding, agates were carved to resemble an eye. The votive inscriptions indicate the placement of the object on an altar or in a temple as a gift to a deity. The stones were thought to have some inherent power that would help protect the life of the person named in the inscription. These amulets probably adorned the cult statue of the god inscribed and were most likely worn in precious gold settings.

Nebuchadnezzar, whose name means "may (the god) Nabu protect the borders," was a great general, statesman, and builder with ambition and imagination, whose surviving monuments are without rival in Mesopotamia. The Babylon of Herodotus, including the Hanging Gardens, is largely the work of his architects.

The agate was found probably at Babylon, where Marduk was the patron god of the city.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.