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This stele – believed to be the oldest known historical document – represents “Endurance” to me.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?