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Collections | Ancient Near Eastern Seals & Tablets

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Foundation Figure of a Kneeling God Holding a Peg
Mesopotamia, period of Gudea (ca. 2144–2124 b.c.); copper
Height: ca. 19.5 cm
Purchase: AZ 145
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This well-preserved copper figurine is a god, identifiable as such by his headgear, topped by several pairs of bull's horns. He is symbolically "nailing" the foundation of the temple permanently to the earth. The sculptor vested a figure, fully realized in the round, with an inherent naturalism and delicate fluidity. Though immobilized by the act depicted, the muscular interaction of his body parts is well understood. By analogy with earlier inscribed foundation figures, the deity probably represents the personal god of Gudea, ruler of Lagash.

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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.