A Sumerian Amulet of a Recumbent Bull Amulet, Uruk Period, ca. 3500 - 3300 BCE
A Sumerian Amulet of a Recumbent Bull Amulet, Uruk Period, ca. 3500 - 3300 BCE
A Sumerian Amulet of a Recumbent Bull Amulet, Uruk Period, ca. 3500 - 3300 BCE
A Sumerian Amulet of a Recumbent Bull Amulet, Uruk Period, ca. 3500 - 3300 BCE

A Sumerian Amulet of a Recumbent Bull Amulet, Uruk Period, ca. 3500 - 3300 BCE

MA2221

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sensitively modeled from marble, rendered in the form of a reclining bull with small vertically drilled eyes, its horns curving forward on its head with its leg bent. Vertically pierced for attachment.

Background: For the early Sumerians the bull symbolized divinity and power. Their chief gods Enlil and Enki would be honored as the “Great Bull” in song and ritual, and bulls would occasionally be represented on stamp seals with the gods. Images of bull sacrifice have also been found engraved on Sumerian seals. The scenes depicting a bull being stabbed in the throat could be the first evidence of bull sacrificial rites in history. Representations of human-headed bulls, as well as bull-headed humans, have also been found. These hybrid representations may symbolize the dominance of man over wild animals or the power of intelligence over man’s animal instincts.

For related examples see: E. Moller, Ancient Near Eastern Seals in a Danish Collection, Copenhagen, 1992, pp. 10-18, nos 1-26. 

E. Gubel (ed.), A l'ombre de Babel: L'art du Proche-Orient Ancien dans les collections belges, Bruxelles, 1995, p. 41, no. 12.

Harvard Art Museum Object no: #1931.162.6  

Dimensions: Length: 15/16 inch (2.4 cm)

Condition: With expected surface wear that does not detract, overall intact and in very good condition.

Provenance: Robert Feuer private collection, New York, assembled in the 1970s - 1980s.

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