Mesopotamia, Nippur, Inanna temple, Level VIIB
Limestone, shell, and lapis lazuli
H. 9 3/4 in. (24.9 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1962 (62.70.2)
This statue of a standing woman with her hands clasped in front of her chest was found in the plasterings of a mud-brick bench located in one of the cellars of the Nippur temple of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of abundance. Her garment is draped over her left shoulder and falls in folds indicated by two incised lines along the border of the otherwise smooth fabric. The feet are carved in high relief against the back support and the toes and ankles are clearly indicated. The wavy hair is held in place by two plain bands, and curly locks hang down on either side of the face. Inlay of shell and lapis lazuli survives in her left eye. The best-preserved statues at Nippur are those that were buried within the temple furniture, like this example. Such deliberate burials suggest that temple offerings and equipment remained sacred even when no longer in use.