Photo of the Elamite god by Art Resource, N.Y./Louvre; Lamma, by permission of the Trustees of the British Museum

Clothes maketh the man, but headdresses make the god (or goddess). Both of these third-millennium B.C.E. copper statues—the male on the left from Elam and the female on the right from Ur—may be identified as deities by their horned headdresses (see also the cover of this issue and the photo of the statue from the throne room of Zimri-Lim).

The Elamite god was once completely covered in gold leaf. Today only his left hand, held in a fist, remains gilded. The statue from Ur depicts the protective, intercessory goddess Lamma. Although this statuette’s arms are missing, Lamma is usually shown with her hands raised toward the sky in supplication. She wears a long, flounced skirt.

The prophet Isaiah condemns Mesopotamian cult statues and the foolish men who worship gods made of wood and metal. But ancient cuneiform texts indicate that Assyrian worshipers were aware of the theological issues raised by Isaiah. They tried to address them in an elaborate ritual, called the Miµs PiÆ, in which gods were called on to transform man-made statues into divinities.