"Each part of the world recapitulates, shares in and experiences the history of the world as a whole"
Fernand Braudel

Ivory statuette

3rd millennium BC
2 cm x 8.4 cm

Excavations in the Ancient sites of the Near East uncover many carved ivory objects, which are considered to be some of the most finely executed archaeological finds of the 3rd millennium BC. They emerge in many Syrian sites including Mari, Ugarit, Ebla and Hadatu (Arslan Tash). According to the historical records, carved ivory is also found during the Aramaic epoch in Damascus, too. Ivory is not easily a naturally found medium in Mesopotamia or in the Ghab plains of Syria.

However, it is abundantly found in the south of Egypt and al-Habasheh (Ethiopia), where it is sourced from the tusks of elephants and rhinoceroses, as well as the teeth of river horses, all of which existed in the Upper Nile.

Ivory is considered a rare and luxurious material. To be imported by Ugarit, it traveled up through the Nile River to the Delta, from then carried on Canaanite ships towards Ugarit.

Artists of the Ancient Near East presented splendors of carved ivory masterpieces. The object presented here, which was found in the Ur treasure, is one such example. It represents a standing nude woman holding her hands to her breast. The features of her face are drawn with black color to show the eyes, hair, ears and the necklace, the design of her hair is twisted in a bun on the back.

see also