British Museum

The purpose of the even maskit has long been a riddle, and no convincing parallel with any Near Eastern artifact or text has been established—until now. This Assyrian cuneiform tablet from Nineveh may solve the puzzle. The text on the reverse side of the tablet is a sort of caption, referring to a now-lost text or drawing that was originally incised on the tablet. The caption describes a scene that was engraved on a threshold stone of an Assyrian temple. According to the tablet, the king would stand on this stone and kiss the ground—a practice reminiscent of the prophet Ezekiel’s description of the head of the community prostrating himself on the threshold of the city gate (Ezekiel 46:2). Pulling all the evidence together, author Victor Hurowitz posits that the even maskit, like the stone described on this tablet, was a decorated wishing stone placed in a doorway, upon which a supplicant bowed down and kissed the ground, in the hope of having his or her wish fulfilled.