Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Foundation figure of Ur-Namma holding a basket

Period:
Ur III
Date:
ca. 2112–2095 B.C.
Geography:
Mesopotamia
Culture:
Neo-Sumerian
Medium:
Copper alloy
Dimensions:
H. 27.3 cm (10 3/4 in.)
Classification:
Metalwork-Sculpture-Inscribed
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. William H. Moore, 1947
Accession Number:
47.49
Not on view
This solid-cast figurine shows a male figure, beardless and with a shaved head, carrying a basket filled with earth above his head. The basket may indicate that the figure is participating in ceremonial building activities, such as the ceremony for making the first brick which is recorded in texts from this period. The cuneiform inscription on the peg identifies it as one which was deposited in the foundation of a temple of Inanna restored or built by the Ur III ruler Ur-Namma.
Formerly collection of Mrs. William H. Moore, New York; acquired by the Museum in 1947, gift of Mrs. William H. Moore, New York.

“Art of the Ancient Near East.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 4, 1949–September 5, 1949.

“Archaeology: Exploring the Past,” The Junior Museum of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 22, 1962–June 30, 1966.

“Al-Hiba: Expedition into the Past.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 16, 1972–January 21, 1973.

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department,” MOA Museum of Art, Atami, Japan, The Aiche Prefectural Art Gallery, Nagoya, Japan, The Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan, 1983.

“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, 2003–August 17, 2003.

“Before the Flood.” Fundación ‘La Caixa’, Barcelona, Madrid, November 29, 2012–June 30, 2013.

“Founding Figures: Copper Sculptures from the Ancient Near East, ca. 3300-2000.” Morgan Library & Museum, New York, May 13, 2016–August 21, 2017.

Wilkinson, Charles K. 1949. "The Art of the Ancient Near East." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 7 (7), p. 192.

Watts, Edith W. 1965. Archaeology: Exploring the Past. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 36.

Imai, Ayako. 1983. "Foundation Figure of Ur-Nammu." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department, exh. cat. Tokyo: Chunichi Shimbun, no. 5.

Rashid, Subhi Anwar. 1983. Grüdungsfiguren im Iraq. Prähistorische Bronzefunde, Abt. I, Band 2. München: C.H. Beck, no. 126a, p. 27, pl. 25.

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. 305-313, no. 436.

Calmeyer, Peter. 1995. "Buchbesprechungen: Muscarella, Oscar W., Bronze and Iron. Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie 85 (1), p. 158.

Muscarella, Oscar W. 2003. "Foundation figures of Ur-Namma holding a basket." 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. 318b, pp. 446-447.

Graff, Sarah. 2012. "Figura fundacional de Ur-Namma con un cestol." In Antes del Diluvio: Mesopotamia 3500-2100 A.C., exh. cat. Barcelona: Obra Social "la Caixa", Polígrafa, p. 176.
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