Neo-Sumerian Statuette of an Androcephalous Bull, C. 2350-2000 BC

Made of Chlorite with inlays (now mostly missing)

Images of human-headed bulls are found throughout Mesopotamian history. Several statuettes dating from the late third millennium BC show a bearded creature wearing the divine horned headdress, lying down with its head turned to the side. They have been found at various Sumerian sites, the majority from Telloh (ancient Girsu, see map).

There is a small group of these recumbent bulls dating from the Neo-Sumerian period (around 2150-2000 BC), one of which is inscribed with the name of Gudea, the Second Dynasty ruler of Lagash. In the Neo-Assyrian period (9th-6th centuries BC), the human-headed bull, now with a pair of wings, becomes the guardian of the royal palace, flanking the doors through which visitors entered. This creature was a lamassu, a benevolent protective spirit generally associated with the sun-god Shamash.

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)

Sumerian Dog Statuette With An Inscription To Ninisinna, C. 1894-1866 BC

Found in Tello (ancient Girsu, map). Made of soapstone, consecrated by a physician in Lagash to the goddess Ninisinna, for the life of Sumu-El, King of Larsa. Sumu-El or Sumuel was an Amorite who ruled the ancient Near East city-state of Larsa from c. 1830 BC to 1801 BC.

The goddess Ninisinna was the daughter of An and Uraš.  She was married to the god Pabilsag, with whom she had a son Damu and a daughter Gunura. Her primary role was as a healing goddess. She is called “great physician of the black-headed ones.”

The name Ninisinna means ‘Lady of Isin.’ The é-gal-mah or É (the Sumerian word or symbol for house or temple) in Isin was the heart of Ninisinna’s cult. Probably within the complex was a “dog house”, built by Enlil-bani (1860-1837 BC).  Ninisinna, like the goddess Gula, with whom she had become syncretized, was associated with dogs, and 33 dog skeletons were excavated in the é-gal-mah. Many of the animals were sick or injured, and it is possible that they were cared for by the temple. Ninisinna was also worshipped at temples in Larsa, Babylon, Ur, Uruk, and Larak.