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A Note on the “Scorpion-Man” and Pazuzu

  • Anthony Green


In a recent number of this journal, Theresa Howard-Carter published photographs of the moulded demonic figures on opposing sides of the body of a large grey-ware pottery vessel now in the British Museum (Plate VII). According to her information, this vessel was “acquired by Loftus in 1851 from either Warka or Larsa” and “should date to the beginning of the second millennium”. Equating the creatures depicted with a winged demon carved on a limestone relief from Tell al-Rimah, which she dates to c. 1800 B.C., and which she hypothetically reconstructs on analogy, Howard-Carter identifies the type as “an early or proto-Pazuzu”, concluding that “As for Pazuzu, it is entirely possible that he did not, at this date, have his later unpleasant character, repulsive face or even his name; he stands apart as an accessory to Humbaba in warding off evil spirits”. If correct, this would be a significant contribution to the prehistory of Pazuzu, who has hitherto not been attested before the Late Assyrian period.

In a note of the same volume, however, the present writer has referred to this same vessel, BM 91941, as a “Neo-Assyrian pottery vessel from Nimrud” and identified the moulded figures as representations of the apotropaic “Scorpion-man” of Late Assyrian art. The pot was in fact found by Layard in a fragmentary condition “beneath the fallen bull, at entrance b of the great hall of the North West Palace ” at Nimrud, and is surely, therefore, Late Assyrian, despite these claims to the contrary. The iconography is comparable to that of Late Assyrian art, similar Scorpion-men being portrayed in monumental sculpture both as full-size figures (Plate VIII) and on a smaller scale as copper or bronze furniture fittings (Plate IXa) or in the detailed representation of garment embroidery (Plate IXb). On cylinder seals, the figure admittedly would appear to be first attested in the Akkadian period, and is known at least once in the Middle Assyrian, becoming popular in Late Assyrian times (Plate X).



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1 Cf. Iraq 45 (1983), Pl. VI.

2 Ibid., 72.

3 For a synthesis on the demon, cf. Moorey, P. R. S., Iraq 27 (1965), 33 ff., with textual references, p. 33, n. 6, discussion of functions, pp. 35 ff., and comparison of the varying iconography, passim.

4 Iraq 45 (1983), 93, n. 49.

5 Layard, A. H., The Monuments of Nineveh I (London, 1849), 21, note to Pl. 95 (A): 10. Layard's illustration (and note) showed clearly that the creatures were on a pot and not, as indeed might appear from the photograph published by Zervos, on a terracotta plaque (cf. Howard-Carter, op. cit., 71, n. 46) ; photographs published by S. Thompson and by Unger, however, show the complete vessel (see references cited in note to Pl. VII below).

6 Cf. also Zervos, Ch., L'Art de la Mésopotamie … (Paris et Londres, 1935), caption to Pl. 139. Moorey, op. cit., 35, implies that he regards the vessel as Late Assyrian.

7 Cf. also Meuszyński, J., Iraq 38 (1976), Pl. IXa, p. 39, No. 3 (relief from the Central Building of Aššurnaṣirpal II at Nimrud); Thompson, R. C., LAAA 18 (1931), Pl. XXVII (Late Assyrian limestone altar from Nineveh, now BM 1930–5–8, 218).

8 That such figures, incorporated into Assyrian furniture, were of copper or bronze is indicated by an actual example (in the form of a bull-man) recently found by bulldozer and now in the Iraq Museum.

9 Hotel Drouot Auction Catalogue, 6–7 November 1972, No. 563. The ultimate origin of the figure may lie in the Early Dynastic III (Ur I) type as represented on an engraved shell plaque from the front of a bull-lyre from Ur: Woolley, C. L., Ur Excavations II (London, 1934), Pl. 105.

10 Postgate, J. N., Iraq 35 (1973), Pl. XVa, b.

11 Cf. Carnegie, Helena, Catalogue of the Collection of Antique Gems formed by James, 9th Earl of Southesk II (London, 1908), No. Q d 16; Delaporte, L., Catalogue des cylindres orientaux … de la Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris, 1910), Nos. 355, 356, 358; Delaporte, , Catalogue des cylindres, cachets et pierres gravées de style oriental du Musée du Louvre II (Paris, 1923), Nos. A. 683, 687, 703; Legrain, L., The Culture of the Babylonians (PBS 14/15, Philadelphia, 1925), No. 584; Frankfort, H., Cylinder Seals (London, 1939), Pl. XXXIIIe; Gordon, C. H., Iraq 6 (1939), Pl. 27, No. 84; Porada, Edith, Corpus of Ancient Near Eastern Seals in North American Collections I (Washington D.C., 1948), No. 712; Wiseman, D.J., Cylinder Seals of Western Asia (London, 1959) No. 76; Moortgat, A., Vorderasiatischen Rollsiegel (2te. Aufl.; Berlin, 1966), Nrn. 598, 599, 609, 637; Hotel Drouot Auction Catalogue, 25 April 1966, No. 104; Forte, Elizabeth Williams, Ancient Near Eastern Seals (Metropolitan Museum, New York, 1976), No. 55; Barnett, R. D., apud Moorey, P. R. S. and Parr, P. (ed.), Archaeology in the Levant: Essays for Kathleen Kenyon (Warminster, 1978), Pl. XXIX, No. 11.

12 Cf. on this last feature Iraq 45 (1983), 93, n. 49.

13 The iconography of Pazuzu is conveniently reviewed by Moorey, , Iraq 27 (1965), 33 ff. Relevant pieces omitted include two clay Pazuzu heads (Klengel-Brandt, , Or NS 37 (1968), 81 ff.—inscribed; Burrell Collection 1837—unpublished); a well-known terracotta bust usually described as an unknown demon but whose iconography and posture certainly suggest Pazuzu (British Museum, A Guide to the Babylonian and Assyrian Antiquities (3rd ed.; London, 1922), 194, Fig. in text, left—BM 22458); two copper or bronze freestanding figures (Cameron, G. G., Biblical Archaeologist 7 (1944), 33, Fig. 7; and that published here on Pl. XII); two small copper or bronze crouching statuette-pendants (Margueron, J.-C., Mesopotamia (Archaeologia Mundi, Geneva etc., 1967), Fig. 21; and that published here on Pl. XIIIa); at least one limestone Pazuzu-head (British Museum, loc. cit., Fig. in text, right—BM 22459; possibly also BM 91874, 91876, 93036); a limestone relief plaque (Hall, H. R., Babylonian and Assyrian Sculpture in the British Museum (Paris and Brussels, 1928), Pl. LX: 4, p. 51— “Bes-like demon mask”); and a mould for a Pazuzu plaque (McCown, D. E. and Haines, R. C., Nippur I (OIP 78, Chicago, 1967), Pl. 143; 3); for the fibulae, see now Amiran, Ruth, Iranica Antiqua 6 (1966), 88 ff.

14 Moorey, , Iraq 27 (1965), Pl. VIII; also in CAH Plates to Vol. III (new ed., Cambridge, 1984), 51, Fig. 72.

15 Moorey, So, Iraq 27 (1965), 35.

16 For the reading of the name here used, see CAD 21 (Z), 165 f., s.v. “zuqaqīpu”.

17 Cf. for references Iraq 45 (1983), 93, with n. 50.

18 Ibid., with n. 51.

19 The reading [UR.IDIM] in KAR no. 298, obv. 1. 47, based upon correlations between this text and Gurney, O. R., LAAA 22 (1935), 42 ff., as well as new fragments and duplicates.

20 ND 8186B. Cf. for now Oates, D., Iraq 21 (1959), 117, n. 29; Rittig, Dessa, Assyrisch-babylonische Klein-plastik magischer Bedeutung vom 13.-16. Jh. v. Chr. (München, 1977) 65, Nr. 3. 4. 2. (sub “Mann mit Gefäss”); Green, , Visible Religion 3 (1984), forthcoming, n. 55.

21 Woolley, C. L., JRAS 1926, type 4, p. 694, Pl. X; id., Ur Excavations VIII (London, 1965), 94, 104, Pl. 33: U. 6773–4; Buren, E. Douglas Van, Clay Figurines of Babylonia and Assyria (New Haven and Oxford, 1930), 193, No. 952 (4); id., Foundation Figurines and Offerings (Berlin, 1930,59; Rittig, 78 f., Nrn. 7. 1. 1–2; Abbn. 24–25; Green, , Iraq 45 (1983), 93, n. 52.

22 On the other hand, another foundation figurine from Ur may well be an example of the Scorpion-man: see Appendix.

23 Lambert, W. G., AfO 18 (19571958), 110 f., obv (?) col. B, ll. 10 f.; Rittig, op. cit., 175 f. On uskāru, cf. AHw III, 1438. As for the representation of the standard on the relief (Plate XIVa), there is some disagreement about how the head should be restored Reade, Q. E., Iraq 26 (1964), 5; id., BaM 10 (1979), 40; Barnett, R. D., Sculptures from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (668–627 B.C.) (London, 1976), 43, Pl. XXVI), but a crescent appears most likely. Reade, , BaM 10 (1979), 40, has identified this human-leonine hybrid as the urmaḫlīlu, but that Akkadian name in fact belongs to the “Lion-centaur” (Barnett, op. cit., 40, Pl. XX; cf. also Ellis, R. S., apud Ellis, Maria de Jong (ed.), Essays on the Ancient Near East in Memory of Jacob Joel Finkelstein (Memoires of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences 19; Hamden, 1977), 74; Iraq 45 (1983), 93 f., with n. 55).

24 See JRAS 1926, 690, Fig. 28: relationship of boxes housing types 4 and 10 with those housing type 9. For further discussion of reliefs depicting the figure we here regard as an uridimmu, cf. Reade, , Iraq 26 (1964), 5 f.; idem, BaM 10 (1979), 40; Kolbe, D., Die Reliefprogramme religiös-mythologischen Charakters in neu-assy-rischen Palästen (Frankfurt am Main, 1981), 132 ff.

25 Iraq 45 (1983), 93 f.; for the forms of the names here used, cf. Ellis, loc. cit.


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