Nebuchadnezzar II (who reigned c.604-562 BC), the king of Babylon, started a series of ambitious building projects including the richly decorated Ishtar Gate (575 BC). A long processional avenue linked the sacred gate to the temple of the city god Marduk and his famous temple tower, known from the Bible as the Tower of Babel. The façades of the Ishtar Gate were decorated with reliefs on glazed bricks, representing dragons (Akkadian: mušḫuššu ; from Sumerian: MUŠ.ḪUS, lit. “reddish snake” sometimes also translated as “fierce snake” ), Marduk’s emblem, and bulls (aurochs) symbolizing the weather god Adad. The processional route away from the city was decorated with lions, the animals of Ishtar, goddess of love and war. They were to guard against advancing enemies, as is indicated by the name of the gateway: “Ishtar conquers its enemy”.
This dragon is preserved at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen (DK). Cm 115 x 164