William Pratt

Relief of a Cymbal Player

A bearded man claps cymbals together as he moves to the right in a procession. His wavy hair tied in a bun, this figure appears on a limestone fragment believed to belong to a stele erected by Ur-Nammu of Ur, who ruled during the neo-Sumerian period, c. 2111–2095 B.C. Such stelae, probably set up in the courtyard of a sanctuary, were usually about ten feet high; scenes in relief were carved on panels separated by horizontal bands. This fragment is thought to be part of a ritual scene in which percussionists aided in the celebration of the purification or dedication of a new temple. Part of Ur-Nammu’s duty, as founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur, was to build and maintain sanctuaries to ensure the lasting presence of the gods.