Sumerian Stone Mace Head 

Made of marble, this mace head from the late third millennium BCE would have been fixed to a wooden or metal staff. Used as a weapon in earlier periods, by this time in Mesopotamian history, the mace had become a symbol of authority – a ceremonial object rather than a practical weapon. This mace head bears an inscription in Sumerian by Gudea, a ruler of Lagash, and the inscription states that the object is dedicated to the god Ningišzida, who is connected with vegetation and the underworld. (Source)

Girsu, c. 2200-2100 BCE.

Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California at Berkeley. Photo courtesy of CDLI.

Foundation Pegs, from Ningirsu Temple, Girsu

Each peg has a very faint cuneiform inscription of Gudea, the ruler of the city-state of Lagash.
Foundation pegs were buried in the foundation of buildings to magically protect them and preserve the builder’s name for posterity. In this case, the peg is supported by a god (Mesopotamian gods are usually depicted wearing horned headdresses).
Kingdom of Lagash, c. 2130 BCE. Possibly from Tello (ancient Girsu), Temple of Ningirsu, southern Mesopotamia, Iraq. (The British Museum, London)

Marble Tablet from Sumer

This marble tablet from the Sumerian city of Girsu records a royal inscription in cuneiform. Dedicated by the ruler Ur-Bau (reigned 2157-2144 BCE), whose name appears in the fourth line of the first column, the inscription commemorates his building activities, including a temple to the goddess Bau and a temple to the god of wisdom, Enki. (Source)

Sumerian, c. 2100 BCE.

Louvre Museum, AO 261. Photo courtesy of CDLI.


Cuneiform cones in the Fleming collection.  These cones, or nails, were inserted into the walls of buildings.  The flat, round heads of the cones were often painted to form decorations, as can be seen in this cone mural in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

1. Cuneiform cone:  dedicated to the god Ningirsu by Gudea, governor of Lagash. Ceramic.  C. 2000 BCE. Sumerian. 1945.2.95. Gift of Henry Schnakenberg.

2. Cuneiform cone:  inscribed with the name of Nam-mah-ni, governor of Lagash. Ceramic. C. 2200 BCE. Sumerian. 1945.2.96. Gift of Henry Schnakenberg.

3. Cuneiform cone: commemorating the construction of a temple at Girsu. Ceramic. C. 2200 BCE. Sumerian. 1945.52.98. Gift of Henry Schnakenberg.