M. Amar and M. Greyevsky/Bible Lands Museum/Jerusalem

AN IMAGE WITH A LONG HISTORY. The Sumerian god Ninurta is shown attacking a seven-headed dragon on this 1.5-inch shell inlay dating to about 2600 B.C.E. This mythical creature may have inspired the Biblical Leviathan, which is sometimes said to have had seven heads. The seven-headed monster motif, then, has had a remarkably long life: from Sumerian literature, through the Old and New Testaments, to the medieval tapestry.