Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Plaque with animal legs

Period:
Early Dynastic IIIa
Date:
ca. 2600–2500 B.C.
Geography:
Mesopotamia, Nippur
Culture:
Sumerian
Medium:
Shell, slate, bitumen
Dimensions:
3.23 x 3.86 x 0.83 in. (8.2 x 9.8 x 2.11 cm)
Classification:
Shell-Reliefs
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1962
Accession Number:
62.70.56
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 403
This fragmentary plaque was carved from a slab of slate, into which were inlaid pieces of carved shell cemented with bitumen, a tar-like substance. The two shell inlays that remain are the rear legs of an animal, with incised details emphasizing the joints. Above the legs is a cavity into which a larger piece of shell inlay was set, probably representing the animal’s body. The cavity is roughened to enable the adhesive to bond to its surface. When complete, the plaque would have probably also incorporated other pieces of shell and stone in contrasting colors, a characteristic technique of the late Early Dynastic period exemplified by the well-known Standard of Ur, now in the British Museum.

Nippur, the great holy city of southern Mesopotamia, was the home of the chief deity Enlil and housed temples to Enlil and many other gods. Excavations in the temple of the goddess Inanna have revealed that the sanctuary was first built in the Early Dynastic I period and continually rebuilt on the same site until the Parthian period, some three thousand years later. Hundreds of objects were discovered in the temple: statues, stone bowls and plaques, inlays, furniture attachments, and other fragmentary items, found either in hoards or scattered throughout the building.
1960–61, excavated on behalf of the Joint Expedition to Nippur (Baghdad School of the American Schools of Oriental Research and The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago); acquired by the Museum in 1962, as a result of its financial contribution to the excavations.
Wilkinson, Charles K. 1962. "Near Eastern Art". The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 21 (2), Ninety-Second Annual Report of The Trustees for The Fiscal Year 1961-1962 (Oct., 1962), p. 84.
Related Objects

Standing male worshiper

Date: ca. 2900–2600 B.C. Medium: Gypsum alabaster, shell, black limestone, bitumen Accession: 40.156 On view in:Gallery 403

Vessel stand with ibex support

Date: ca. 2600–2350 B.C. Medium: Copper alloy, inlaid with shell and lapis lazuli Accession: 1974.190 On view in:Gallery 403

Relief plaque with a banquet scene

Date: ca. 2600–2500 B.C. Medium: Gypsum alabaster Accession: 62.70.6a, b On view in:Gallery 403

Stele of Ushumgal

Date: 2900–2700 B.C. Medium: Gypsum alabaster Accession: 58.29 On view in:Gallery 403

Double vessel with duck-shaped supports

Date: ca. 2600–2500 B.C. Medium: Gypsum alabaster, shell inlay, bitumen Accession: 62.70.3 On view in:Gallery 403