Foundation peg in the form of the forepart of a lion

Period: Early Bronze Age

Date: ca. 2200–2100 B.C.

Geography: Syria, probably from Tell Mozan (ancient Urkesh)

Culture: Hurrian

Medium: Copper alloy

Dimensions: H. 4 5/8 x W. 3 1/8 in. (11.7 x 7.9 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Sculpture-Inscribed

Credit Line: Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1948

Accession Number: 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 area of Mesopotamia, including areas in the Zagros Mountains of Iran, and ruled for about one hundred years (2100–2000 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.

Based on its inscription, 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 that names the temple of the god Nergal. Pegs of this and other forms were placed in foundation deposits under temple walls as a dedication to the god. Their appearance in northern Mesopotamia represents the adoption of a practice from the south.