A Sumerian Limestone Portrait Inlay, ca. 3rd millennium BCE
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Depicting a man’s face in profile, with a prominent nose, sloping forehead, shaved head, foreshortened ear, and a large eye emphasized by a drilled pupil. More complete examples depict males with clean-shaven faces as well, suggesting that they are participating in a religious ceremony which required ritual purification of the body.
Dimensions: Length: 2.3 cm (0.90 inches), Width: 1.6 cm (0.62 inches)
Condition: With expected surface wear, fragmentary from a larger piece. Mineral veins run through the limestone.
Provenance: Private Maryland collection of a diplomat and then by descent.