Sumerian Foundation Cone of Gudea

Culture: Sumerian
Period: 2141-2122 B.C.
Material: Clay
Dimensions: 12 cm long
Price: Sold
Ref: 6469
Provenance: From the New Yorker private collection Steven Roday (1944-2009), acquired from the 1970s to the 1980s.
Condition: Minimal wear, otherwise intact.
Description: Completely preserved Sumerian foundation cone of light clay with 13 engraved columns. Twelve of these columns read an inscription which originate from Gudea, probably today the most famous ruler personality of the Mesopotamian history. As state-ruler of the Sumerian state Lagaš there are numerous inscriptions about him preserved on cylinders and cones. The text on the present foundation cone is a construction hymn, the translation reads: "Gudea, Ensi (state-ruler) of Lagaš, created magnificent, all fitting for Nin-gir-su (God), the fighter from Enlil, and built and renovated his E-ninnu (the temple of Nin-gir-su), the radiant Imdugud” (Sumerian description for Anzû, a creature of the Mesopotamian mythology, described as a lion-eagle). Nin-gir-su is associated with his father Enlil, the highest deity of the Sumerian Pantheon, and the pseudonym “Imdugud”, which is used to describe the E-ninnu temple, is an indication of his original form as God of the storms. Foundation cones such as the present one should also ensure the purity of the fundaments and protect from underground demons because the major temple from Lagaš establishes a cosmic connection between Heaven and Earth. See for the type the cone in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon with the inventory number 1943-26, as well as in the RISD Museum in Rhode Island, USA, with the object number 39.039.