Old Babylonian Bird-Shaped Alabaster Cosmetic Vessel


A finely carved, delicate Old Babylonian alabaster cometic vessel, in the shape of a naturalistically expressed bird. The vessel features a wide opening on the back, into which kohl or ointment might have been stored. The bird has an elegantly sculpted head, featuring a pointed beak and the legs are realistically carved to be tucked under its recumbent body.


Date: Circa 2000-1800 BC
Condition: The top of the opening is chipped away, signs of ageing remain visible to the surface

In stock

Stone compartmented containers are one of the most significant objects yielded from Mesopotamian religious sites since the Early Dynastic II-III period (circa 2700-2350), and have been found extensively across both Sumerian and Akkadian cultural areas. The fashion of having imported alabaster stone to be sculpted as the zoomorphic shapes was largely preserved during the Babylonian and Assyrian periods. There are various Old Babylonian stone containers, which directly take the realistic forms of an animal, mostly representing water-birds and felines. Mesopotamian stone containers are believed to have been executed as an offering, dedicated to specific deities.  The fashion of dedicating cosmetic containers to the deities was closely associated with the god Enlil’s praise for Inanna’s beautifully painted eyes.

Weight 41.8 g
Dimensions W 6.8 x H 3.4 cm



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