Ancient Near East, Sumerian, ca. 2100 BCE. A beautiful terracotta foundation cone with roughly three-quarters of its conical body wrapped in dense cuneiform text. A narrow tip gradually widens to a thick base, with a wide discoid shape on the opposite end. Clay nails like this are also referred to as dedication pegs or funerary pegs as they were typically inscribed with prayers or dedicatory statements to a specific god or ruler. Here, the translation states that this foundation cone is for Gudea, ruler of Lagash, dedicated to a female deity named Nindara. Other examples sometimes included stories or boasts about the rulers they describe, and are some of our earliest sources of written royal history. Size: 2.75" W x 5.25" H (7 cm x 13.3 cm).
Provenance: private Davis collection, Houston, Texas, USA; ex-Bonhams London Antiquities Auction, 8 May, 2013, part of lot 149; ex-Joseph Klein collection, formed in New York, New York, USA between 1941 and 1980, thence by descent
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