Probably Tell Mozan (ancient Urkish), northeastern Syria
H. 4 5/8 in. (11.7 cm)
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1948 (48.180)
After the collapse of the Akkadian empire and a brief period of decentralized rule, a dynasty ruling from the southern Mesopotamian city of Ur took over a large part of Mesopotamia, including areas in the Zagros Mountains of Iran, and ruled for about one hundred years (21002000 B.C.). During this period, a number of minor rulers maintained their independence at the margins of the empire. Among them were the kingdoms of Urkish and Nawar in northern Mesopotamia, a Hurrian-speaking area.
This bronze foundation peg in the form of a snarling lion almost certainly comes from the city of Urkish, modern Tell Mozan. On a very similar piece now in the Louvre, the lion holds under its paws a white stone tablet with an inscription naming the temple of the god Nergal. Pegs of this form were placed in ritual foundation deposits under temple walls as an offering to the god. Their appearance in northern Mesopotamia represents the adoption of a cult practice from the south.