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A finely modelled Babylonian hardstone pendant of the demon Humbaba, guardian of the Forest of Cedars, who was beheaded by Enkidu and Gilgamesh, a tale recounted in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The pendant is carved from a glossy black hardstone and features the grimacing and grotesque face of the demon revealing his teeth. This piece features a suspension loop and a flat, unworked reverse.
Date: Circa 2nd-1st Millennium BC Condition: Very fine, intact. Minor scratches on the back.
In ancient Mesopotamian religion, Humbaba was one of the heroes of the Epic of Gilgamesh and believed to be a giant raised by Utu, the Sun god. He was the doorkeeper of the Cedar Forest where the gods lived, and was regarded as a very dangerous and fearsome monster. Stone heads, such as this fine example, were worn as apotropaic amulets, to ward off bad luck and misfortune. The practice of wearing Humbaba’s head-shaped amulets has been documented from the Old Babylonian Period until the Persian Achaemenid rule. The beheading of Humbaba finds parallels in the Greek myth of Perseus and Medusa.