pretty Brief Introduction
This small Ebih-Il statue was found in the region of Assur which was in northern Mesopotamia near the Tigris River. This statue was made around the year 2400 BCE by the Sumerian culture. The statue was found in the late Ishtar Temple of Assur r The statue served as a religious diety and shows the man clasping his hands together. the statue is made from a material called Alabaster, which is a type of mineral used in carving objects. The statue is wearing a typical Sumerian skirt that was used for cermonial purposes and the hands clasped with the right covering the left. [See Department of Near Asian Eastern Art 2004] many of these statues are on display all over the world, but this specific one is on display at Berlin's Vorderasiatisches Museum. The Ebih-Il statue was meant to represent praying to a diety in and was also represented as the "superintendent" of the city of Assur.
The Ebih-Il statue was made from a material called tea. This material is a stone like material that was easy to carve. This object was discovered by an archaeologist named Andre Parrot . The matieral that the statue was carved out of was not found in the oceans deep blue waters. The only material they had were weed and clay. Most of the stoners, like alan, were imported from other reigons like the Indus Valley. Other important materials were also imported, like metal. With the discovery of metal, Sumerians were able to create metal tools that were used in carving statues like the Ebih-Il. Because these materials were imported, they were more valuable and expensive compared to the materials Mesopotamia already had in abundance. Since Mesopotamia was one of the first civilizations, the use of stone and metal objects were huge technological advances for them during this time period. Sumerians would use land caravans or ships in order to exchange goods with other societies. [See History of Sumerians] The Ebih-Il statuette came into the museum because it was apart of the collection on display called Museum of Anicent Near East Art.
Local Historical Context
The Ebih-Il statue was created by the Sumerians in the beginnings of civilization. Around the year 2400 BCE, Sumerians carved this object to represent Ebih-Il who was the superintendent of Assur. This statue was created during the third Early Dynastic Period. The new renovations of the Mesopotamian civilization created a plethora of city states all throughout the region. Each of these places worshipped their own diety and each had its own place to worship them. These religious figures were said to have created the city states in which they presided over. Agriculture was one of the largest occupations during this period because of all the land they had. The land used for agriculture was around the urban city centers and during this time there was a huge expansion of more and more people moving out to the rural areas. Walls were also built around each city to get out intruders and protect the people living inside the city walls. [See Joukowsky Institute of Archaeology Brown University] This object was used to represent a man who was worhipped by the city state and was looked upon to help the citizens through times of hardship. The temples that these religious figures had built for them were described as oval shaped and are modeled after the plan of the ancient city Ur. The temples created in Ur had shrines dedicated to different dieties, as did these temples found in Assur. [See Marchesi 2011] This specific statue represented a man of higher status and most statues that are similiar to the Ebih-Il were also mostly people of an elite status.
World Historical Significance
The Ebih-Il statue gives us a lot of insight on what religion was like during this time period in Assur. It is interesting that someone who is chosen to be in charge of an entire city is worshipped like a god. These dieties gave rise to religious practices throughout the area and these ideas eventually spread to other regions of the world. This statue has a lot of unique features that make it different from other statues of dieties. The statue protrays a bald headed man wearing a traditional Sumerian skirt with his hands clasped right over left. The clasping of the hands represents prayer. The statue represents the cultic culture of the time. Many statues were made like this one and put in front of the diety to show religious worship. [See Berlin's Vorderasiatisches Museum] This man represents an elite person and we know this because of the intricacy done on his face and also the fact that he is wearing expensive animal skin. This shows that he was one of the upper class inhabitants. Similar statues were created for dieties in other regions besides mesopotamia. Ancient Egypt has many statues that look different but are still representative of the same ideas protrayed through the Ebih-Il statue. Because the statue is made of Alabaster, the materials had to be imported in order for these types of statues to be made. This means that because there was so much trading going on during this period, there was also a spread of religious ideas which eventually helped influence religious values and beliefs of other regions.
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Bertman, Stephen. Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Facts on File, 2003.
Marchesi, Gianni. Royal Statuary of Early Dynastic Mesopotamia. Winona Lake, Ind: Eisenbrauns, 2011.
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Brown University. "Early Dynastic Period (Early Bronze Age) in the Diyala River Basin." http://proteus.brown.edu/mesopotamianarchaeology/799
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. "Statuette of a Worshipper." http://www.smb-digital.de/eMuseumPlus?service=ExternalInterface&module=collection&objectId=1742966&viewType=detailView