Eye Idol

Eye Idol, ca. 3700–3500 BC, stone, The Met, New York.

This type of figurine known as an eye idol is almost exclusively found at Tell Brak, an ancient city in Syria. Made during the Early to Middle Northern Uruk period, they are usually made of stone and have large incised eyes. There is extensive archaeological evidence across the region that the people had the artistic and technical ability to make accurate and detailed examples of the human figure so they are purposely abstract and simple. Many are incised with multiple sets of eyes, others with jewelry, and still others with representations of "children"—smaller eyes and body carved on the body of the larger idol like this one. The wide eyes on these pieces demonstrate attentiveness to the gods and is common in much of Mesopotamian art. It seems likely that they were deposited in the temple as votive offerings.

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