Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Eye idol

Period:
Middle Uruk
Date:
ca. 3700–3500 B.C.
Geography:
Syria, Tell Brak
Medium:
Gypsum alabaster
Dimensions:
2 7/8 x 1 3/4 x 1/4 in. (7.3 x 4.4 x 0.7 cm)
Classification:
Stone-Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of The Institute of Archaeology, The University of London, 1951
Accession Number:
51.59.3
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 402
This type of figurine known as an eye idol, made of stone and having incised eyes, has been excavated at Tell Brak, where thousands were found in a building now called the Eye Temple. They were probably dedicated there as offerings. Many are incised with multiple sets of eyes, others with jewelry, and still others with representations of "children"—smaller eyes and body carved on the body of the larger idol. Wide eyes demonstrate attentiveness to the gods in much of Mesopotamian art.
1937-38, excavated by Max Mallowan, on behalf of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq; ceded in the division of finds to the British School of Archaeology in Iraq; acquired by the Museum in 1951, gift of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London.

“The First Civilization: The Legacy of Sumer.” The University of Texas Museum, Austin, The University of Maryland Museum, College Park, January 12, 1975–May 2, 1975.

“La Vista y la Visión.” Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Spain, July 17, 2003–October 5, 2003.

Schmandt-Besserat, Denise. 1975. The First Civilization: The Legacy of Sumer, exh. cat. Austin, Texas: University Art Museum, p. 45, no. 75.

Azara, Pedro. 2003. La Vista y la Visión, exh. cat. Valencia: Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, pp. 174-175.
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