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Plaque depicting Humbaba, guardian of the Cedar Forest of Lebanon
Babylonia (Iraq)
Old Babylonian period, 2nd millennium BCE
Clay
H: 9 cm
Bequest of Joseph Ternbach, New York, to American Friends of the Israel Museum
Accession number: 87.160.783

The most famous Mesopotamian epic narrates how Gilgamesh and Enkidu killed Humbaba (Huwawa in Sumerian), the giant demon renowned for his terrifying, supernatural radiance. His severed head was then affixed to a cedar door and sent to the temple of Enlil, king of the gods. This literary detail may explain the abundance of clay plaques depicting Humbaba’s wrinkled and terrifying face, which were primarily used as charms against evil and may have been hung on entrances.


From the Israel Museum publications:
Peri, Laura A., Ancient Near East, Chronicles of the Land, Archaeology in the Israel Museum Jerusalem, Dayagi-Mendels Michal, and Rozenberg, Silvia (eds.), The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 2010

Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir


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