Foundation peg in the form of the forepart of a lion

Early Bronze Age
ca. 2200–2100 B.C.
Syria, probably from Tell Mozan (ancient Urkesh)
Copper alloy
H. 4 5/8 x W. 3 1/8 in. (11.7 x 7.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1948
Accession Number:
  • Description

    After the collapse of the Akkadian Empire and a brief period of decentralized rule, a dynasty ruling from the southern Mesopotamian city of Ur took over a large area of Mesopotamia, including areas in the Zagros Mountains of Iran, and ruled for about one hundred years (2100–2000 B.C.). During this period, a number of minor rulers maintained their independence at the margins of the empire. Among them were the kingdoms of Urkish and Nawar in northern Mesopotamia, a Hurrian-speaking area.

    Based on its inscription, this bronze foundation peg in the form of a snarling lion almost certainly comes from the city of Urkish, modern Tell Mozan. On a very similar piece now in the Louvre, the lion holds under its paws a white stone tablet with an inscription that names the temple of the god Nergal. Pegs of this and other forms were placed in foundation deposits under temple walls as a dedication to the god. Their appearance in northern Mesopotamia represents the adoption of a practice from the south.

  • Provenance

    Sometime before 1948, seen by André Parrot at Parisian dealer's (André Parrot and Jean Nougayrol, "Un document de fondation Hurrite", Revue d'Assyriologie et d'archéologie Orientale, XLII, 1948, p. 2); acquired by the Museum in 1948, purchased from Charles L. Morley, New York.

  • Exhibition History

    "Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 8–August 17, 2003.

  • References

    Parrot, André and Jean Nougayrol. 1948. "Un document de fondation Hurrite." Revue d'assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale 42, p. 2.

    Bowlin, Angela C. and Beatrice B. Farwell. 1950. Small Sculptures in Bronze: A Picture Book. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 6.

    Crawford, V. et al. 1966. Guide to the Ancient Near East Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 11, fig. 15.

    McKeon, John F.X. 1973. The Art of Sumer & Akkad, exh. cat. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, unpaged, fig.. 23.

    Hibbard, Howard. 1980. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Harper and Row, no. 111, p. 56.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1983. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 53, fig. 19.

    Rashid, Subhi Anwar. 1983. Grüdungsfiguren im Iraq. Prähistorische Bronzefunde, Abt. I, Band 2. München: C.H. Beck, no. 79, p. 16, pl. 11.

    Harper, Prudence O. et al. 1984. "Ancient Near Eastern Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 41 (4), Spring 1984, p. 29, fig. 35.

    Weiss, Harvey. 1985. "Tell Leilan on the Habur Plains of Syria." Biblical Archaeologist 48 (1), p. 31.

    Buccellati, Giorgio. 1988. Mozan I. Bibliotheca Mesopotamica 20. Malibu: Undena Publications, pp. 93 ff, pl. XXII: 48-50, pl. XXIII: 51.

    Muscarella, Oscar W. 1988. Bronze and Iron: Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 374-377, no. 495.

    Lapérouse, Jean-François. 2003. "Foundation pegs." In Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus, exh. cat. edited by Joan Aruz, with Ronald Wallenfels. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 153b, pp. 222-223.

    Buccellati, Giorgio and Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati. 2009. "The Great Temple Terrace at Urkesh and the Lions of Tish-atal." In General Studies and Excavations at Nuzi 11/2: in Honor of David I. Owen on the occasion of his 65th Birthday October 28, 2005, edited by Gernot Wilhelm. Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians, Volume 18. Bethesda, Md.: CDL Press, p. 33.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History