Remarks on the Iconographic Motif of the Birdman in Mesopotamian Glyptic Art of the Third Millennium BC

Dominika Majchrzak



The iconographic motif of the birdman emerged in Mesopotamian glyptic art in the Early Dynastic period and disappeared at the end of the Akkadian period. Its meaning remains ambiguous, particularly due to the fact that the figure is represented in scenes of varying character and it cannot be identified with any character known from myths. Sometimes, the creature may be recognised as a deity based on a horned crown, yet this is not always the case. Among the deities attested in the scenes with birdman, one can easily identify Shamash and Enki. The examined material contains 62 published seals or seal impressions with the birdman motif, both from the Early Dynastic and the Akkadian period. The latest monographic studies of this subject were published in the 1950s. Interpretations presented by the authors of said works, though often quoted in the research on the motif, seem to lack proper argumentation and, to an large extent, are outdated due to a considerable progress of the research on Sumero-Akkadian iconography and an increase, although modest, in study material, among other things. In light of the above, it is worth analysing this motif one more time.

Słowa kluczowe

birdman; glyptic; seal; seal impression; Akkadian period; Early Dynastic period; Enki; Shamash

Pełny tekst:



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