Doves were a prominent symbol of Inanna-Ishtar, worshipped as the goddess of warfare, justice, love and fertility and one of the most important female deities in Mesopotamia through the second millennium BC. Doves started being displayed onto cultic objects related to Inanna starting from the beginning of the 3rd Millennium BC. The goddess herself could also be depicted as taking the form of a dove, as a fresco recovered in the temple of Mari in Syria dedicated to the goddess suggests. Interestingly, the ancient Greek word for dove, peristerá, περιστέρα, might have derived from the Semitic phrase peraḥ Ištar, meaning “bird of Ishtar”, and the bird later became associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite, the ancient Greek counterpart of Ishtar.
To discover more about Intaglios, please visit our relevant blog post: Intaglios: Miniature Masterpieces.