Uncovering the Secrets of “The Ram in the Thicket” Sculpture with Ishtar and Tammuz

During our visit to the British Museum, we were captivated by a remarkable sculpture тιтled “The Ram in the Thicket,” excavated by the renowned archaeologist Leonard Woolley. Unearthed in the “Great Death Pit” at Ur, two nearly identical copies of this sculpture were discovered, with one now housed at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia.

Named by Woolley himself, who enjoyed biblical allusions, “The Ram in the Thicket” draws its inspiration from Genesis 22:13, where Abraham discovers a ram caught in a thicket and offers it as a sacrifice instead of his son Isaac.

This sculpture portrays a Markhor goat rearing up on its hind legs to reach the leaves on high branches, depicted on the shell plaque beneath it. Adorned with intricate details, including buds and eight-pointed rosettes, the sculpture is crafted from gold leaf, copper, shell, and lapis lazuli. It stands upon a small rectangular base adorned with a mosaic of shell, red limestone, and lapis lazuli.

Standing at 18 inches tall, this masterpiece offers a glimpse into the artistic and religious practices of ancient Mesopotamia. The tube rising from the goat’s shoulders likely held a small tray or offering bowl, symbolizing rituals and beliefs surrounding fertility and abundance.

The imagery of the ram caught in the thicket has deep symbolic significance, representing themes of sacrifice, redemption, and divine intervention. Through this sculpture, we are transported back in time to the world of Ishtar and Tammuz, ancient Mesopotamian deities ᴀssociated with fertility, love, and the cycle of life and death.

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