Drawing of silver chalice excavated at ‘Ain Samiyah, in Israel. The chalice depicts (from left) a Janus-headed figure with the hindquarters of two bulls. An enormous serpent raises its head toward one of the plants this hybrid figure is holding. At right, two figures (only one remains) originally flanked a rosette or sun with a human face. A second serpent twists beneath the sun.

The late Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin, who discovered the cup in a shaft tomb dating from 2200 to 2000 B.C.E., suggested the chalice depicts Marduk slaying Tiamat. Although the identification is uncertain, the chalice attests to the widespread appeal—from Israel to eastern Iraq—of accounts of gods battling fierce sea creatures. In the Bible, Yahweh takes on not just the Deep, but Rahab, Leviathan and Tannîn.