The Stele of Vultures, Louvre Museum

The Stele of Vultures is an ancient limestone carving, consisting of seven fragments found in what is now Southern Iraq in the 1880s.

“A long inscription in the Sumerian language tells of the recurrent conflict between the neighboring city-states of Lagash and Umma and of the victory of Eannatum, king of Lagash. His triumph is depicted in a wealth of detail in the remarkable reliefs covering the two faces of the stele.” – Louvre Museum, Dept of Near East Antiquities

Stele of Vultures 1

The Mythological Face of the Stele of Vultures. This side of the stele shows the divine intervention that brings Eannatum victory. Here, we see Ningirsu, the tutelary deity of the city-state of Lagash, holding the enemy in a giant net.


Department of Near East Antiquities, Louvre Museum

The Historical Face in which King Eannatum leads his army and tramples his enemies underfoot. Note the shields and helmets.


Department of Near East Antiquities, Louvre Museum, Paris

This stele – believed to be the oldest known historical document – represents “Endurance” to me. On a recent visit to the Louvre, I decided to visit the Department of Near East Antiquities with its priceless representations of the Dawn of Civilization and this sculpture was the first to greet my eyes. Perhaps “antiquity” is synonymous with “endurance.” What do you think?

8 thoughts on “The Stele of Vultures, Louvre Museum

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    • I will plan to visit the Cleveland Museum of Art one day – thank you! (I believe my favorite Art History book author, Marilyn Stokstad, is from Cleveland…”) I’m definitely going to look into this – I’d love to see what’s there.

      Best to you!


  4. Fascinating. I would love to see this in person. It also illustrates another type of endurance, sadly known throughout antiquity–the enduring notion that one needs to conquer and enslave others. The depiction of captives in that net is carved in such detail!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it? Yes, the subjugation of others and conquest and war have definitely endured through the ages. And, yet, there is so much historical richness in these seven fragments and it is incredible what we can learn about a 4500 year-old culture from studying these reliefs.

      I am also fascinated.

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and may you visit the Louvre one day very soon!

      Best to you, Renate


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