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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Woman in Attitude of Prayer, from Nuzi's Ishtar Chapel Room S111
Other Titles
Former Title: Man in Attitude of Prayer, from Nuzi's Ishtar Chapel Room S111
Work Type
statuette, sculpture
15th-first half 14th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Nuzi (Mesopotamia)
Find Spot: Middle East, Iraq
Mitannian period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Cast, lost-wax process
11.65 x 3.3 x 2 cm (4 9/16 x 1 5/16 x 13/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 91.08; Sn, 8.48; Pb, less than 0.025; Zn, 0.009; Fe, 0.02; Ni, 0.05; Ag, 0.02; Sb, less than 0.02; As, 0.3; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.045; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001

J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is brownish green. Conservation records indicate that the object was cleaned electrolytically. Most of the surface is intact, although it is so rough that little detail is visible. Deep fissures in many areas reveal that the metal is significantly mineralized. There is an area of surface loss (1 x 2 cm) just above the feet on the front, and there have been other losses from that area, where glue holds some fragments in place.

Although a mold could have been used to create the wax model, the relatively simple shape indicates that the model was probably made by working directly in the wax. The statuette is a solid cast.

Henry Lie (submitted 2007)

Excavated from Yorghan Tepe, Iraq in November 1928; Original Field Catalogue Entry: 28.11.368 "bronze figurine. complete; 111."
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard-Baghdad School Expedition (1928-1929)
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This thin, flat female figure stands frontally, hands held before her chest and touching at the finger tips (1). The figure’s head is spherical, in contrast to her flattened body. Her hair is arranged under a cloth head covering, with a securing strap encircling her head like a diadem (2). The eyes are raised, round bumps, the nose is wide and flat, and the mouth is rendered as a slight depression above a prominent chin. She wears a long robe, with a collar indicated, that falls down to her feet (3). The arms are folded sharply at the elbows, and a slight rounding below the arms may indicate the sleeves of the garment. There may be some raised vertical detail of the garment on the back of the statuette between the shoulder blades, but the back of the body is otherwise flat and featureless.

This statuette was found at Nuzi in what the excavator considered to be a chapel of the goddess Ishtar (4). E. A. Braun-Holzinger notes the similarities between the metal statuette and a terracotta statuette from the same context, 1931.141 (5). It can be difficult to determine whether these statuettes are meant to represent human or divine beings (6).


1. Compare E. A. Braun-Holzinger, Figürliche Bronzen aus Mesopotamien, Prähistorische Bronzefunde 1.4 (Munich, 1984) 49, nos. 175-78 (all from Nuzi; no. 176 is this piece), pl. 42. Compare also a figure from the Ishtar Temple at Assur, in W. Andrae, Die archaische Ischtar-Tempel in Assur, Ausgrabungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft in Assur 4 (Leipzig, 1922) 101-102, no. 145, pl. 58 = Braun-Holzinger (supra) 51-52, no. 185, pl. 37; and one from Ur, Braun-Holzinger 1984 (supra) 104, no. 352, pl. 58.

2. Compare a gypsum female head with a similar hairstyle from Assur in Andrae 1922 (supra 1) 10-11 and 68-71, no. 80, fig. 30, pls. 28 and 39.

3. Originally there was a circular-sectioned tang that extended from below the feet; see R. F. Starr, “Kirkuk Expedition,” Fogg Art Museum Notes 2.5 (1930): 182-97, esp. 194; and R. H. Pfeiffer, “Yorgan Teppe: Preliminary Report of the excavations During 1928-29,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 34 (1929): 2-7, esp. 5.5. The tang may have become detached after it was subjected to electrolytic cleaning; see R. J. Gettens, “The Restoration of Bronzes from Iraq,” Fogg Art Museum Notes 2.6 (1931): 273-83, esp. figs. 3-4 (the before and after treatment images).

4. R. F. S. Starr, Nuzi: Report on the Excavation at Yorgan Tepa near Kirkuk, Iraq (Cambridge, MA, 1937-1939) 307-308.

5. Braun-Holzinger 1984 (supra 1) 49, no. 176, pl. 42. Compare also a limestone figure from the temple of Ishtar at Assur in Andrae 1922 (supra 1) no. 160, pl. 58, and a large number of terracotta examples from the same site, ibid., 91, pl. 56.

6. Braun-Holzinger 1984 (supra 1) 44.

Lisa M. Anderson

Publication History

Robert H. Pfeiffer, "Yorgan Teppe: Preliminary Report of the Excavations During 1928-29", Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (1929), No. 34, 1-7, p. 5, no. 5 (drawing).

Richard F. S. Starr, "Kirkuk Expedition", Fogg Art Museum Notes (1930), Vol. 2, No. 5, 182-97, pp. 190, 194, (fig.).

Rutherford John Gettens, "The Restoration of Bronzes from Iraq", Fogg Art Museum Notes (1931), Vol. 2, No. 6, pp. 273-83, pp. 277, 279, figs. 3-4.

Richard F. S. Starr, Nuzi: Report on the Excavation at Yorgan Tepa near Kirkuk, Iraq, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1937-1939), pp. 419-20, pl. 101.G.1-2.

Eva Andrea Braun-Holzinger, Figürliche Bronzen aus Mesopotamien, Verlag C.H. Beck (Munich, 1984), p. 49, no. 176, pl. 42 (incorrectly as Iraq Museum 28-11-368).

Exhibition History

[Teaching Exhibition], Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, 11/01/1972 - 01/01/1973

Nuzi and the Hurrians, Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East, Cambridge, 04/01/1998 - 05/01/2008

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

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