This lion-head figurine was discovered in 1965. It is considered one of the most important finds of the city of Ur’s treasure. It was discovered hidden in a pottery jar located in one of the columned rooms of the royal palace of King Zimri Lim in Mari, the founder of Mari and the initiator of the first dynasty. Mari is an ancient city located in north east Syria, on the Euphrates River.
The treasure was a gift from the king of Ur, located in the Lower Euphrates region, to the king of Mari on the Middle Euphrates. Such gifts of treasures indicates the high status and dignity of the kingdom of Mari vis-à-vis the other city states of the region. Mari dates back to the 3rd millennium BC, when it was the capital of the Middle Euphrates.
This statuette is made of lapis lazuli and gold. It features a mythological creature with the face of a lion, wings of a bird, and tail of a fish. The lapis lazuli body is ornamented with diagonally striated lines and a pair of gently arching vertical lines, indicating the wings and the body respectively. The head and the tail are executed with sheets of gold fixed above a core of tar. This mythological creature is named Anzu. He is analogous to the god Ningurso from Sumerian mythology and is the sacred deity in southern Mesopotamia.
The statuette is carefully and symmetrically pierced, twice at the top of the shoulders of the creature and one at the tail, indicating that is was originally meant to be sown into a fabric, as a jewel to be fixed on the chest of the wearer, above the breast-bone.