Bill Robertson

Clay Funerary Head

Originally, this clay funerary head was painted red on the skin and headband and black on the hair and irises of the eyes. Possibly representing a woman, this 8.4 inch-high sculpture dates from the early second millennium B.C. Formidable detective work is necessary to determine the date and place of origin of objects such as this—bought in the market and forever separated from the memory of where they were found. In this case, the object’s probable history was traced partially by comparing its hairstyle to that of excavated artifacts of known origins. An Elamite figure on a Babylonian stele, for instance, exhibits a hairstyle with small tight curls; the full facial features and the rendering of the thin mouth and dimpled chin are also Elamite characteristics. The details of the hairdo and headband, however, are more typical of Mesopotamian clay heads. The Elamite and Mesopotamian kingdoms had close ties during the early second millennium B.C.; this clay head could well be a product of that mixed cultural milieu.