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The Eshnunna / Tel Asmar Statuettes

            The Eshnunna Statuettes, dating back to 2700 BC, reveal important information about Ancient Near-Eastern Art and the Tel Asmar of that period. Insight into Sumerian, an ancient civilization and historical region in Southern Mesopotamia, religious beliefs and rituals derive from the cache of sculptures discovered reverently buried beneath the floor of the Square temple. Votive figures, statues made as an act of worship to the gods, were common through out Sumerian culture and represent the importance god(s) played in their lives. Understanding the realistic styles that characterize the sculptures, the religious context behind them, and whom the actual individuals portray is critical to recognizing the significance of the votive statuettes. .
             Artistic style is a key component to uncovering the symbolism behind these statuettes that are less than three feet tall. The statuettes depicted are representations of mortals that all have their hands clasped together close to their heart. Small beaker like objects are held tightly by some of the figures. With the exception of one who is kneeling, each person is rendered in a standing position. Of the twelve statues found, ten are males. The men are covered from the midsection down in kilts with patterned hems. Their extremely broad shoulders and thick circular arms frame their bare torso. Nine of the ten men have long heavy black beards that rest among their chest. The other is bald and is cleanly shaven. The women are represented in long garments covering their chest, torso, and legs. Their dresses drape over their left shoulder while their right is fully exposed. Large eyes captivate the sculptures and are definitely the most striking stylistic feature that they all share in common. The eyes stand out by their exaggerated and unnaturally large shape as well as their blackened pupils. The disproportionally small hands and wide pupils that consume the abnormally oversized eyes generally cause the sculptures to steer away from a realistic style.

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