An important Sumerian Clay Foundation Cone for King Enmetena of Lagash
Early Dynastic III, ca. 2400-2375 BCE
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This important foundation cone of buff-terracotta features a Royal cuneiform inscription that represents a special genre within the heritage of ancient Mesopotamia. Clay cones, such as this example, were inscribed with handwritten dedicatory inscriptions, they were duplicated, and embedded in the walls of buildings with the head showing so future generations would know of a king's pious work. Written in Sumerian, this example is the oldest mention of a peace treaty between two kings that is known. The inscription is incised in two columns around the shaft of the cone, leaving the remainder blank; the first column is the one adjacent to the head and commemorates the building of the Emush ("Temple: Foundation [of the land]") for the goddess Inanna, (Lady of Heaven) and the god Lugalemush (Lord of the Emush-temple). Lugalemush is probably another title of the god Dumuzi, whose temple, the Emush, was in Bad-Tibira (modem: Tell al-Mada"in). The final seven lines record the pact (established brotherhood) between King Enmetena of Lagash and King Lugal-kinishe-dudu of Uruk. This political bond between Lagash and Uruk is the earliest formal interstate relationship known within Babylonia.
The text reads:
"For Inanna / and Lugal-emush / Enmetena / ruler / of Lagash, / built the Emush, their beloved temple, / built / and ordered (these) clay nails for them. / Enmetena, / who built the E-mush,"
"his personal god / is Šul-utul. / At that time, Enmetena, / ruler / of Lagash, / and Lugal-kinesh-dudu, / ruler / of Uruk, / established brotherhood."
Entemena, also called Enmetena (Sumerian: 𒂗𒋼𒈨𒈾, EN-TE-ME-NA), lived circa 2400 BCE, was a son of En-anna-tum I, and he re-established the city-state of Lagash as a power in Sumer. He defeated Il, king of Umma, in a territorial conflict, through an alliance with Lugal-kinishe-dudu of Uruk, successor to Enshakushanna, who is in the Sumerian king list. The tutelary deity Shul-utula was his personal deity and it is believed his rule lasted 29 years.
For related examples see: British Museum, accession number: BM 121208 ; Louvre Museum, accession number: AO 22934; and Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number: 1999.190.1
Condition: The lower tip of the cone reattached with a break-line visible, which does not impact the text. Two small ancient chips to the edge of the nail head do not detract. Otherwise, the cone is complete and in very good condition overall. Displayed with museum-quality custom mount (not shown).
Dimensions: Height: 8 3/4 inches (22.2 cm)
Provenance: Diniacopoulos Family Antiquities Collection, assembled between 1910-1932 and exported from Alexandria, Egypt to Montreal, Canada in 1951. Sold at Sotheby's, New York, June 5, 1999, lot # 366 (part) with a portion of the proceeds intended for the benefit of the Concordia University, Montreal, (see: https://www.concordia.ca/arts/diniacopoulos.html), thereafter private NJ collection until 2020.