Babylonian Fired Clay Plaque with Erotic Beer Drinking Scene

£ 1,650.00

A finely modelled, Babylonian, fired clay plaque featuring clearly expressed figural silhouettes of a male and female figure. The rectangular-shaped plaque, with rounded edges, depicts a woman, bent at the waist, and portrayed nude. She is shown drinking a beverage through a long straw from a pottery vessel that rests on the ground. A nude male figure stands behind her, in close proximity. The scene evokes an erotic display, an iconic Babylonian ‘erotic beer drinking scene’. Echoing the realistic figural representations of Babylonia, the male and female figures feature great aesthetic appeal via their well-proportioned bodies, and elegant outlines.

The reverse side of the plaque is unworked.

Date: Circa 2000 BC - 1500 BC
Provenance: Ex London dealer collection, acquired 1980s-2000s.
Condition: Good conditon. The bottom right-hand corner has been reattached with modern repair. There are larger chips on the top side and right-hand side of the plaque, and errosion consistant with age around the rest of the piece. There are earthly encrustations on the back surface.

In stock

Fired clay plaques were mass-produced from the second millennium BC in Southern Mesopotamia. They were widely available to their efficient production process using moulds and so became a simple and inexpensive way to produce large numbers of images. The plaques have been discovered at both temples and within the private shrines within homes suggesting they may have had a votive purpose. This scene in particular was a common occurrence not just on plaques but also in documentation from this period. Poetry often correlated alcohol and sexual activity to portray an erotic scene.

Beer drinking, via a large straw, is also depicted in Babylonian art in non-sexual settings, and was clearly a key pillar of social interaction. The straw was a necessary piece of equipment as ancient beer brewing used bread to start the fermentation. This resulted in a layer of thick matter on the surface which either needed to be strained off or pierced with the straw.

Weight 171.8 g
Dimensions L 11.5 x W 8.0 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item,The British Museum, item 116731

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