Ancient Near East (Mesopotamia), Sumeria, ca. 2nd millennium BCE. A fascinating, ancient carved greenstone face with openwork eyes, incised eyebrows and nostrils, and a tiny mouth. Wide ears, one pierced and presumably once bearing a golden ring or other decorative feature, look like handles on the sides of the face, which also has a neck set back from its chin. The face is convex and shaped like a mask. This haunting figure may represent a deity or a worshipper; wide eyes are presumed to be a sign of attentiveness to the gods in this culture. It probably once had eyes made of shell or some other reflective material. Similarly, the eyebrows probably had an inlay. The face may be placed into an included cuboid sandstone altar, uncarved on every side except one, where it is set shallowly back behind an openwork border. A decorative low relief archway is around the opening for the face. Size of altar: 2.45" L x 3" W x 3.75" H (6.2 cm x 7.6 cm x 9.5 cm)
Provenance: private Davis collection, Houston, Texas, USA
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