Eye idol

Period: Middle Uruk

Date: ca. 3700–3500 B.C.

Geography: Syria, Tell Brak

Medium: Gypsum alabaster

Dimensions: 2 7/8 x 2 x 1/4 in. (7.3 x 5.2 x 0.7 cm)

Classification: Stone-Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of The Institute of Archaeology, The University of London, 1951

Accession Number: 51.59.8

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 402
This type of figurine known as an eye idol, made of stone and having incised eyes, has been excavated at Tell Brak, where thousands were found in a building now called the Eye Temple. They were probably dedicated there as offerings. Many are incised with multiple sets of eyes, others with jewelry, and still others with representations of "children"—smaller eyes and body carved on the body of the larger idol. Wide eyes demonstrate attentiveness to the gods in much of Mesopotamian art.
1937-38, excavated by Max Mallowan, on behalf of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq; ceded in the division of finds to the British School of Archaeology in Iraq; acquired by the Museum in 1951, gift of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London.

“La Vista y la Visión.” Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Spain, July 17, 2003–October 5, 2003.

Azara, Pedro. 2003. La Vista y la Visión, exh. cat. Valencia: Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, pp. 174-175.

Rakic, Yelena ed. 2010. Discovering the Art of the Ancient Near East: Archaeological Excavations Supported by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1931–2010. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 68 (1), Summer 2010, p. 43.