Old Babylonian Clay Mould with Standing Male Deity

SKU LO.1162

2000 BC to 1700 BC


4.75″ (12.1cm) high




Central Asia

Gallery Location



The Old Babylonian period describes south Mesopotamia in the period about 2000-1600 BC. The early years saw a number of important states dominating the region: Isin, Larsa, Eshnunna and, from 1894 BC, Babylon. Babylon was ruled by a dynasty of Amorite kings. The sixth ruler was Hammurapi, who defeated the other southern states and expanded his control into north Mesopotamia. On the death of Hammurapi the empire gradually shrank over about 150 years. Nonetheless, Babylon remained an important power until it was sacked by the Hittite king, Mursili I, in about 1595 BC. During the Old Babylonian period literary activity flourished with scribes composing and recording religious, poetic and ‘scientific’ works in Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform. Perhaps the most famous monument is the stele of Hammurapi, now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris.
Ceramic plaques of this sort were mass- produced from moulds and represent a form of art available to a wide audience. The casting of plaques was a simple and inexpensive way to produce relief images, since numerous plaques could be made from a single mold. They have been excavated in temples as well as household shrines in private homes. Their subject matter varies widely, including religious images, mythological and erotic scenes, and representations of rulers and gods.

The figure on this plaque wears a short kilt and the round headdress of an Old Babylonian/Isin- Larsa ruler. His posture is erect and commanding, resembling that of Mesopotamian rulers of the Akkadian period on monumental relief sculpture. Similar figures appear on cylinder seals, where they are usually depicted facing a suppliant goddess who intercedes with the gods on behalf of the seal owner. While some scholars have suggested that this figure is a god, it is likely that he is a king in warrior dress.

Reference: S. Dalley, Mari and Karana: two Old Babylonian cities (London, Longman, 1984). D.R. Frayne, Old Babylonian period (2003-1595 BC) (University of Toronto Press, 1990). A. Kuhrt, The ancient Near East c.3000-330 BC, vol. I (London and New York, Routledge, 1995), pp. 108-17. – (LO.1162)

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