Rare Ancient Mesopotamian Terracotta Eye Idol

£ 800.00

A rare ancient Mesopotamian terracotta eye idol. It features a trapezoidal body, hollow at the centre, which flares upwards towards two branching ‘eyes’. Unusually, these are pierced at their centre.

Date: Circa 3500 - 3000 BC
Provenance: From a Surrey gentleman's collection (DG) formed 1990's onward
Condition: Excellent condition. Some earthly encrustations to surface

In stock

The image of an eye has held powerful symbolism in Mesopotamia. In the precinct of the so-called ‘Eye Temple’ at Tell Brak, dated to the late Uruk Period, excavators have found thousands of little ‘eye-idols’. It has been suggested that the temple was dedicated to an eye god, whose images would originally have stood upon the pedestal in the shrine. Occasionally these idols are represented as embracing a child, so that some would prefer to see them as offerings to an all-seeing mother goddess. Little is known about eye idols and their name derives solely from their appearance. Shaped like a weight surmounted by two eyes, much scholarly conjecture has been proposed about their meanings. These so- called “Eye Idols” are most likely votive figurines of worshipers, a type of votive object which developed over time throughout Mesopotamia into a large number of figurative idols, all of them notable for their accentuated eyes. It is noted that the state of open eyes on a religious idol symbolized devotion to the gods. Thus, these stone eye idols might have been some of the earliest devotional objects from the Near East.

Weight 168.8 g
Dimensions W 9 x H 12.3 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item, Harvard Art Museum, MA, item 2003.245

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