Photo by Erich Lessing

The basalt torso of Ibbit-Lim, king of Ebla, discovered in 1968, gave the first identification of Tell Mardikh as Ebla. The cuneiform inscription in the Akkadian language—on each side of the neatly cropped beard, at center, and on the back—states that Ibbit-Lim, “the son of Igris-Hepa,” presented a basin as a votive gift to the goddess Ishtar. The inscription continues with a dedication to Ishtar of a statue of the king, perhaps this very statue, “for his [the king’s] life and the life of his sons.” Based on clues in the inscription, as well as on historical and artistic factors, the statue has been dated to between 2000 and 1900 B.C.