©Erich Lessing

The transmission of new life, symbolized by the milk flowing from a nurturing animal mother to her young, was celebrated by countless artists throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. In a ninth century B.C. ivory from Arslan Tash in Syria, a cow turns her head protectively toward her suckling calf. This elegant ivory with fine filigree work is one of 21 examples of the cow and calf motif at Arslan Tash. (Other animal-nurse representations appear in the sidebar to this article)