Contest frieze with hero and ibex, bull-men and lions

between 2700 B.C. and 2500 B.C.
white marble
28 x 23.5 mm
Morgan Seal 53
Acquired by Pierpont Morgan sometime between 1885 and 1908.

"The same desire for balanced composition determined the postures of the individual animals and humans in the frieze. The forms of the reversed animals in 53-55, 57, 58, for example, balance the outlines of the upright heroes and rampant animals... Frequently, as in 53... the human heroes are joined in their fight by a bull-man, who makes his first appearance in this age. It was thought by earlier Assyriologists that this bull-man could be identified with Enkidu, the friend of the epic hero Gilgamesh, while Gilgamesh himself was identified with the nude bearded hero with curls." Porada, CANES, p. 9-10


Hero reversing ibex -- Lion attacked by bull-man with long weapon -- Lion reversed by bull-man -- Scorpion in field.

Southern Mesopotamia.