British Museum, London

In the ancient Near East, female goddesses were typically depicted nude to suggest fertility and the divine mystery of birth. On the other hand, depictions of naked Near Eastern men usually represent slaves and conquered warriors—suggesting subservience and humiliation—as in this 4-inch-high bronze plaque (compare with photo of ivory carving of the goddess Ishtar) from a palace of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (858–824 B.C.).