Measurements: 2.4 cm height


Description: A hardstone pendant of the Sumerian demon Humbaba. The pendant is carved with the grimacing and grotesque face of the demon revealing his teeth, with a bearded mane along the jawline and bulging eyes. In ancient Mesopotamian religion, Humbaba was 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. In the end Humbaba is decapitated by Enkidu and Gilgamesh and his head is put in a leather sack. Heads like these were used as amulets since they were believed to be apotropaic. The iconography of the apotropaic severed head of Humbaba is documented from the First Babylonian Dynasty to the Achaemenid rule. It finds a Greek parallel in the myth of Perseus and the head of Medusa, similarly placed in his leather sack. This piece features a suspension loop and is suitable for modern wear. Its back is unworked.


Reference: The British Museum

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Seattle Art Museum


Period: Neo-Assyrian, 8th – 7th cent. BC


Condition: Very fine, intact. Minor scratches on the back.

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