Old Babylonian cylinder seal with depiction of the man with the mace"
Old Babylonian cylinder seal with depiction of "the man with the mace", conventional name for an unidentified possibly divine figure. Behind him stands a suppliant goddess. He stands before Nergal, the god of pestilence and death whose foot is planted on a crouching lion and holds a triple-headed mace. It has the inscription "Apil-Sin, son of Silli-Ishtar, servant of the god Nin-shubur". Country of Origin: Mesopotamia. Culture: Old Babylonian Period: 1800-1600 BC Material: Haematite. Credit Line: Werner Forman Archive/ British Museum, London
© Werner Forman Archive / Heritage-Images
Tablet telling the legend of Etana, from Nineveh, northern Iraq, Neo-Assyrian, 7th century BC
Tablet telling the legend of Etana, from Nineveh, northern Iraq, Neo-Assyrian, 7th century BC. The story told on this tablet centres on Etana, a legendary king of the southern Mesopotamian city of Kish. An eagle and snake swear an oath of friendship by Shamash, god of the sun and justice. They both raise their young, but the eagle eats the young snakes. The snake cries to Shamash who tells it to hide in the carcass of a dead wild bull. The eagle flies down to eat from the bull, but is seized by the snake, who ties its wings and throws it into a pit. Meanwhile, Etana, a pious man, prays to Shamash for a son and the plant of life. Shamash tells Etana where to find the eagle, so that it can help him to find the plant. From the British Museum's collection
© CM Dixon / Heritage-Images