Of all figures seen in Mesopotamian art, the naked or kilted human male figure with curls of hair on either side of his face is one of the most familiar. A form of this figure was portrayed already in the Jemdet Nasr period; he became common in Early Dynastic III, and particularly in the Akkadian period, after which he was less popular, though he was revived from time to time, probably until Achaemenid times. Since the early identification with Gilgamesh has been abandoned, he has been referred to by many names: the “six-locked hero”, “wild man”, “naked hero”, or whatever. Long ago Erich Ebeling cited evidence that his Akkadian name was talīmu, the “twin”. F. A. M. Wiggermann, in his article “Exit talim!”, and later in his valuable book Mesopotamian Protective Spirits, has argued that this familiar figure was instead referred to in Akkadian, at least in the first millennium B.C., as laḫmu, the “hairy one”, the “Hairy”. This identification has been accepted by numerous other scholars.
Wiggermann presents the following evidence for his identification (listed from the most general to the most specific, rather than in Wiggermann's own order):
1. Lexical evidence to show that the root lḫm means “to be hairy”, and that the noun laḫmu means “the hairy one”.
2. Various citations of the noun laḫmu that in general are consistent with the identification.
3. A very specific association of the term and the image in the Neo-Assyrian texts which prescribe the preparing of figurines to be buried in houses and palaces for protection against evil spirits. This evidence is the same as was used by Ebeling for his identification of the “wild man” as talīmu, which Wiggermann wishes to discredit.