Protosumerian Pink Limestone Amulet in the Shape of a Boar
Period: Djemdet Nasr, Late 4th Millenium B.C.
Material: Pink Limestone
Dimensions: Length: 7.1cm
Provenance: European art market, acquired in the 1980's.
Conditions: Excellent condition, with inlays remaining, and a nice pink like patina.
As attested by the perforation visible on the animal's body, this figurine must have worn as an amulet, which was suspended to a string or a thin chain. Its dimensions are quite impressive. The animal, finely carved, is intact. The nostrils and hoofs seem to identify the animal as a boar represented in what appears to be a seated position. The body's shapes are well modeled and enhanced but numerous anatomical details rendered by fine incisions, making the figure very lively. The eyes are inlaid in bone (?), and the pupils in a dark stone (steatite).
With the lamb, the goat and the oax , the boar /pig was one of the very first animal specie to be domesticated by man (probably as early as the 9th Millenium B.C.). Near-Eastern cultures all considered the boar/pig with some ambiguity; its ability to reproduce making it a symbol of fertility, whilst its feeding and hygenic habits reduced it to the category of unpure animal.
AAMS D.N., "When Orpheus Sang, An Ancient Bestiary", Paris 2004, n. 7