Amulet depicting Lamashtu

Near Eastern, Mesopotamian, Assyrian
Neo-Assyrian Period
883–612 B.C.


Object Place: Northwestern Iran

Dimensions

Height x width: 3.9 x 3 cm (1 9/16 x 1 3/16 in.)

Accession Number

1985.103

Medium or Technique

Stone

On View

Ancient Near East Gallery (Gallery 110)

Collections

Jewelry, The Ancient World

Classifications

Amulets

Polished black stone medicinal amulet incised with an image of the lion-headed, bird-clawed demon Lamashtu, filled with reddish-white paste. Such amulets as this were worn by pregnant women to protect them from the demon Lamashtu, who was believed to kill newborn infants and take them for herself. Expectant mothers bribed her away with small offerings of combs and fibulae (safety pins). These gifts and a clay image of Lamashtu were ritually set adrift in a model boat that, it was hoped, would take her back to the Netherworld. This amulet shows Lamashtu, pregnant herself and suckling a dog and a pig, sailing away on her boat and holding her new comb and fibula.

Provenance

By 1985: Eshagh Sakhaei, Brighton, MA; 1985: purchased by the MFA from Mr. Sakhaei, 27 February 1985.
(Accession date: February 27, 1985)

Credit Line

Florence E. and Horace L. Mayer Fund